Despite the fact that qualitative interviews are reputed to be an effective method of obtaining data from organizational elites, studies are concurrent on a number of obstacles which surround the interviewing of senior management. Problem areas flagged by the literature include issues of access and suspicion towards the interviewer as an outsider. Welch et al (2002) posit that, to successfully engage with executives in an interview setting, the researcher needs to adopt a position between two roles: therapist and spy. This paper presents experiences with interviewing senior-level HR managers in German organizations. The author attempted to overcome some of the established barriers to interviewing internationals and organizational elites. However, as the paper argues, unique working experience collected in Germany gave the researcher insights into how to interact with senior German managers. In particular, the researcher drew on a previous role as a language trainer to create a method of engaging managers. The semi-structured interviews that followed were free from barriers and resulted in the gathering of rich data which enabled the researcher to better understand processes, networks and relationships.
Drew, H. (2014, June). Therapeutin oder spionin? Qualitative interviews with German senior managers. Paper presented at 13th European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies