Comparing Interview Interaction Modes in Management Accounting Research: A Case to Answer?
54 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2014
Date Written: June 3, 2014
The medium by which interviews are conducted is of potentially important consequence in qualitative management accounting research. Advances in communications technology have largely mitigated the ‘tyranny of distance’ challenges experienced by geographically disparate researchers and research participants. In addition to face-to-face interviewing, researchers now have the option of using telephone as well as videoconferencing mediums through which to collect data, thereby enhancing their accessibility to data sources that have previously been prohibitive for reasons relating to both time and expense. Limited empirical attention, however, has been directed towards the similarities and differences between face-to-face, telephone and videoconferencing interview interactions. Indeed, the equivalence of these forms of qualitative data collection has rarely been questioned in the management accounting literature. The current study challenges the seemingly uncontested premise that ‘all interviews are alike’, and in so doing, aims to provide insights into the extent to which data obtained by interviews in face-to-face, telephone and videoconferencing modes in qualitative management accounting research may be comparable.
Our investigation is informed by the opinions of 25 senior management accounting academics from 21 universities in the UK, Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand who have published qualitative interview-based research in selected international peer-reviewed academic journals in the 25-year period from 1988-2013. The perceptions of these academic participants clearly reflect a view that, ‘all interviews are not alike’ in the characteristics of the data they capture, and the implications of this variation for the ensuing analysis and interpretation of findings. Information Richness Theory (IRT) provides a partial explanation for these perceptions, but the predictions of IRT are moderated for all three modes of interaction. Channel Expansion Theory (CET) offers insights into why these perceptions may prevail, and these influence-shaping perceptions serve as the basis of a provision typology of interview modes, and their contextual suitability. Rather than a prescriptive or normative base upon which future interview-based management accounting research ‘should’ be undertaken, our findings serve as a starting point for further consideration and reflection, with direct implications for the credibility and validity of qualitative management accounting research.
Keywords: qualitative research, management accounting research, research methods, interviews, mode comparison
JEL Classification: M41
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