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How to use the qualitative research methods

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The purpose of qualitative research is to find out what is going on in a person’s mind. Although focus group interviews are the most frequently used qualitative research methods, they are not the only type of non-structured research.

Frequently, decision makers need current information that can be obtained by directly asking people questions, i.e. making use of in-depth interviews.

Other popular methods include grounded theory, protocol analysis, various projective techniques, and physiological measurements.

Individual, in-depth interviews
Individual in-depth interviews are non-directive or semi-structured interviews in which the respondent is encouraged to talk about the subject rather than to answer “yes” or “no” to specific questions.

Like the group discussion technique to which it is closely related, interview endeavours to understand the nature of the area being researched, rather than gauge its size.

In non-directive interviews, the respondent is given freedom to respond, within the bounds of topics of interest to the interviewer. Success depends on:

? establishing a relaxed and sympathetic relationship;

? the ability to probe to clarify and elaborate on interesting responses, without biasing the content of the responses; and

? the skill of guiding the discussion back to the topic when digressions are unfruitful. always pursuing reasons behind the comments and answers.

Such sessions normally are one to two hours long and may be tape-recorded (with the permission of the respondent) for later interpretation.

In semi-structured or focused individual interviews the interviewer attempts to cover a specific list of topics or sub-areas.

The timing, exact wording, and time allocated to each question area are left to the interviewer’s discretion.

This mode of interviewing is especially effective with busy executives and technical experts.

Basic market intelligence, such as trends in technology, market demand, legislation, competitive activity, and similar information are amenable to such interviews. The open structure ensures that unexpected facts or attitudes can be pursued.

This type of interview is demanding, and much depends on the interviewer’s skill. First, the interviewer must be sufficiently persuasive to get through the shield of secretaries and receptionists around many executives, to get an appointment.

The challenge is to establish rapport and credibility in the early moments of the interview, and then maintain that atmosphere.

For this, there is no substitute for an informed, authoritative person who can relate to respondents on their own terms.

This can be achieved by asking the respondent to react to specific information provided by the interviewer.

Care should be taken to avoid threatening questions. A good opener might be, “If you had to pick one critical problem affecting your industry, what would it be?”

Co-operation sometimes can be improved by offering a quid pro quo, such as a summary of some of the study findings.

Keeping records is a problem with these interviews. Some executives dislike tape recorders, so it may be necessary to use a team of interviewers who alternate between asking questions and recording responses.

To keep the interview as short as possible, it is usually best to leave behind a structured questionnaire for any specific data that are wanted, because this can be assigned to the interviewee’s staff for answering.

Finally, since the appropriate respondents for these studies are often difficult to identify, and may represent many parts of an organization, it is always advisable to ask for recommendations about which other people it might be useful to interview.

Individual in-depth interviews are also used in consumer markets to identify product benefits and trigger creative insight.

The interview is typically conducted by a trained field worker who is equipped with a list of topics or open-ended questions.

The respondent is encouraged to respond in his or her own words, and the interviewer is trained in asking probing questions such as, “Why is that so?,” “Can you elaborate on your point?,” or “Would you give me some specific reasons?”

These questions are not intended to tap subconscious motivations; rather, they simply ask about conscious reasons to help the researcher form a better picture of what is going on in the respondent’s mind.

In-depth interviews are versatile, but they require careful planning, training, and preparation.

Verbatim responses are included to support the analyst’s conclusion, and any significant differences of opinion that are found in the respondents’ comments are noted.

Again, it is vital to use an analyst who is trained and experienced in interpreting such qualitative data.

There are no hard-and-fast rules for choosing focus groups rather than individual interviews for qualitative studies. The comparison in Table 1 may help make the choice.

The essence of these interviews is that people may be questioned and probed extensively about issues they rarely reflect upon.

Therefore care must be taken not to upset or disturb respondents. Another methodological issue is the question of confidentiality.

In quantitative research, the respondent identity is generally unimportant. The essence of sampling theory is that a sufficiently large and randomly chosen sample will represent the views.

In qualitative research (and especially at in-depth interviews) the relationship between the individual respondents and their views is at the heart of analyses and interpretation.

It is not possible to reach qualitative findings without having `revealed’ the individual as part of the research process.

Because of this, respondents may be unwilling to take part in qualitative research or, if they do, are guarded with their responses.

If respondents are to reveal deeply held feelings, perhaps in front of strangers, they have to be reassured of how the data captured will be used.

Ethical problems also arise when videotaping interviews. How much to tell respondents and what information the clients should be allowed to access can be an issue.

However, the researcher should always be sensitive to the questions and the comfort level of the respondents.

Protocol analysis
Protocol analysis involves placing people in decision-making situations and asking them to talk about everything they consider when making a choice.

It is a qualitative research technique that has been developed to gain insight into the consumer’s decision-making processes.

After several people have provided protocols, the researcher reviews them and looks for commonalities such as evaluative criteria used, number of brands considered, types and sources of information, and so forth.

Protocol studies are useful in two situations. First, they are helpful for purchases involving a long time frame in which several decision factors must be considered, such as buying a house.

By having people describe the steps they go through, a researcher can piece together the process.

Second, when the decision process is very short, recall may be faulty and protocol analysis can be used to slow down the process.

Projective methods
Projective techniques involve situations in which participants are placed in simulated activities in the hopes that they will divulge things about themselves that they might not reveal under direct questioning.

Respondents are asked to respond to stimuli and the hope is they will project aspects of their own thoughts or feelings via the use of stimuli.

Projective methods were introduced by Mason Haire (1950), famous for his psychological study of buyers `shopping lists’ (Anderson, 1978), and developed by motivational researchers such as James M. Vicary (1955) and psychologist Ernest Dichter (1960, 1962, 1964, 1971).

Dichter founded the Institute for Motivational Research and became “immortalized” in Vance Packard’s bestseller The Hidden Persuaders (1957), a critical book about how psychological techniques were being used by companies for persuading consumers to buy products.

Projective techniques are appropriate in situations in which the researcher is convinced that respondents will hesitate to relate their true opinions.

There are five common projective techniques used by marketers. These are discussed below.

Word association test
The word association technique asks respondents to give the first word or phrase that comes to mind after the researcher says a word or phrase.

The list of items used as stimuli should include a random mix of such neutral items as “chair,” “sky,” and “water,” interspersed with the items of interest, such as “shopping downtown,” “holiday in Greece,” or “hamburger helper.”

The list is read quickly to avoid allowing time for defence mechanisms to come into play. Responses are analyzed by calculating:

? the frequency with which any word is given as a response;
? the time taken for a response; and
? the number of respondents who do not respond at all to a test word within a reasonable time.

The result of a word association task is often hundreds of words and ideas. To evaluate quantitatively the relative importance of each, a representative set of the target segment can be asked to rate, on a five-point scale, how well the word fits the brand, from “fits extremely well” to “fits not well at all.”

It is also useful to conduct the same associative research on competitive brands. When such a scaling task was performed for McDonald’s on words generated from a word association task, the strongest associations were with the words Big Macs, Golden Arches, Ronald, Chicken McNuggets, Egg McMuffin, everywhere, familiar, greasy, clean, food, cheap, kids, well-known, French fries, fast, hamburgers, and fat (Baker, 2001, 392).

The word association technique has also been particularly useful for obtaining reactions to potential brand names.

Consumers associate a brand with: product attributes; intangibles; customer benefits; relative price; use/application; user/customer; celebrity/person; lifestyle personality; product class; competitors; and country/geographic area.

This technique is used extensively to explore these brand associations. Word association has also been used to obtain reactions to and opinions about advertising slogans.

Sentence completion test
With sentence completion, respondents are given incomplete sentences and asked to complete them in their own words.

The researcher then inspects these sentences to identify themes or concepts. The notion here is that respondents will reveal something about themselves in their responses.

For instance, suppose that a make of tea was interested in expanding its market to teenagers.

A researcher might recruit high-school students and instruct them to complete the following sentences:

Someone who drinks hot tea is…
A mother who serves tea to her family is…

The researcher would look at the responses and attempt to identify themes. For example, the theme identified for the first sentence might be “healthy,” which would signify that tea was perceived as a drink for those who are health-conscious.

Given this information, the company might deduce that there is room to capitalize on the hot tea market with teens.

Picture test
With a picture test, an image is shown to participants who are instructed to describe their reactions by writing a short story about the picture.

The researcher analyzes the content of these stories to ascertain feelings, reaction, or concerns generated by the picture.

Such tests are useful when testing pictures being considered for use in brochures, advertisements, and on product packaging. Reactions would be subjected to expert interpretation.

Cartoon or balloon test
With a balloon test, a cartoon with an empty “balloon” above the head of one of the characters is given to subjects who are instructed to write in the balloon what the character is saying or thinking.

The researcher then inspects these thoughts to find out how subjects feel about the situation in the cartoon.

These frequently depict two people talking in a particular setting. The comments of one
person are shown in a “speech balloon”; the other person’s “balloon” is empty and the informant is asked to give a reply that fits the situation.

Typical situations could cover conversations between husband and wife, mother and child, shop assistant and customer, garage mechanic and car owner, etc.

This “third party” test is particularly useful because it allows people to be less inhibited than they might be if asked to describe their own reactions.

Third-person techniques
By asking how friends, neighbours, or the average person would think or react to a given situation, the researcher can observe, to some extent, the respondents projecting their own attitudes onto this third person, so revealing more of their own true feelings.

Magazines use this technique to identify which articles to feature on the cover, to stimulate news stand sales.

Direct questioning as to the articles of greatest interest to the respondent tends to be confounded by socially desirable responses.

For instance, articles on complex issues of foreign affairs are rated highly interesting to the respondent during direct questioning, but are not thought to be of interest to the neighbours.

Another variant of this technique provides a shopping list or a description of a person’s activities, and asks respondents to describe the person.

The respondents’ attitudes towards the activities or items on the list will be reflected in their descriptions of the person.

Usually, two lists are prepared and presented to matched sets of respondents; these could be grocery shopping lists, in which all items are identical except one.

Differences in the descriptions attributed to the two lists can reveal the respondents’ underlying attitudes toward the product or activity being studied.

A pioneer study involving third-person technique was connected with stereotyping of types of US housewives’ grocery-buying habits.

In 1949, a study was undertaken by Haire to determine the motivations of consumers towards instant coffee in general and the Nescafe product in particular (Haire, 1950).

When housewives were asked whether they liked instant coffee, most of those who rejected it blamed the taste.

However, there was a suspicion that this was not the real reason. Two shopping lists were prepared, identical except that one had Nescafe instant coffee and the other Maxwell House (drip-grind) coffee. These shopping lists are given below:

Shopping list 1  Shopping list 2
1 ½  lb hamburger meat  1 ½  lb hamburger meat
2 loaves of Wonderbread  2 loaves of Wonderbread
Bunch of carrots  Bunch of carrots
1 can Rumford’s baking power 1 can Rumford’s baking power
11b Nescafe instant coffee  1 lb Maxwell House coffee (drip grind)
2 cans Del Monte peaches  2 cans Del Monte peaches
5 lb potatoes   5 lb potatoes

A hundred respondents were asked to project themselves into the buying situation and characterize the woman who bought the groceries.

The two lists were distributed (only one list to each person), each respondent being unaware of the existence of an alternative list.

The findings revealed that the buyer of instant coffee was seen as lazier, less well organized, more spendthrift, and not as good a wife as the housewife using the
other coffee.

The research has been subject to considerable scrutiny over the years. Arndt undertook a similar survey among Norwegian housewives in 1971 with different products: the baking powder was changed to Freia, and Nescafe replaced by Friele coffee.

Because pilot research revealed criticism of the Haire shopping list for alleged lack of proportion in the quantities specified for the various items, some modifications were also made to quantities, e.g. carrots were increased from one to two bunches.

The results indicated that the “instant coffee” housewife may have become associated with “modernity and more intense involvement in the world around.”

Role playing
With role playing, participants are asked to pretend they are a “third person,” such as a friend or neighbour, and to describe how they would act in a certain situation or to a specific statement.

By reviewing their comments, the researcher can spot latent reactions, positive or negative, conjured up by the situation.

It is believed that some of the respondents’ true feelings and beliefs will be revealed by this method because they can pretend to be another individual.

Another technique with similar expressive objectives is the role rehearsal procedure used as part of a focus group discussion.

The participants in a focus group are encouraged, by offering them an incentive, to alter their behaviour pattern in some extreme way.

4.5  Grounded theory
Grounded theory is used to explore phenomena within their own terms of reference
“grounded” in reality.

A differentiating feature of grounded theory is the emphasis on a close examination of empirical data prior to focused reading of the literature.

In 1967, Glaser and Strauss (1967) developed a method of analyzing data that built its own (“grounded”) theories while data was being collected, rather than testing hypotheses about theories that had been determined before the data collection began.

The methodology has since been widely used in sociology and many other areas, such as psychology, nursing, education, social work and anthropology, and recently in management and business research.

Glaser and Strauss accepted that the study of people should be scientific, in the way understood by quantitative researchers.

This means that it should seek to produce theoretical propositions that were testable and verifiable, produced by a clear set of replicable procedures.

Glaser and Strauss defined theory as: “theory in sociology is a strategy for handling data in research, providing modes of conceptualisation for describing and explaining.

The theory should provide clear enough categories and hypotheses so that crucial ones can be verified in present and future research; they must be clear enough to be readily operationalised in quantitative studies when these are appropriate.”

The grounded theorist follows a set of systematic procedures for collecting and analyzing data.

The grounded theory process involves identifying theoretical categories that are derived from the data through the use of the constant comparative method.

This requires the researcher to compare the contents of one interview or observation episode with another or with emerging theoretical concepts in an effort to identify underlying themes.

Similarities and differences in the data are noted, leading to the derivation of theoretical categories that can help explain the phenomenon under investigation (Glaser and Strauss, 1967; Glaser, 1992).

Not only is the intention to provide explanations of social phenomena, but also to provide insight to those engaged in the behaviour under investigation.

Data collection
A distinctive feature of this approach is that both the collection of data and the analysis take place simultaneously, with the aim of developing general concepts to organize data and to integrate the data into a more general, formal set of categories. The research process involves progressing through several stages.

The data collector should try not to impose a prior framework on the perceptions of meanings, definitions or interpretations that respondents provide, and not contaminate the meanings of the respondents.

So interviews of individuals and groups will usually appear to be conversations where the interviewer operates at the same level as the respondent, usually in the field like “give and take” and empathetic understanding.

A grounded theory researcher will not have an interview protocol, but may have a short list of probe issues that grows as the number of interviews increases.

Analyses of these will unearth issues that need to be checked in later interviews. These issues may or may not come from prior knowledge or research.

Examination of data
This is usually completed in a group situation where different people focus on sections of interviews and are asked to interpret what they are seeing.

These are written up on a flipchart to examine the range of perspectives, but also identify connections among the issues, problems or themes. At this stage the issues are implicit and not systematically worked out.

Coding
This procedure aims to organize data into themes or codes. This is done firstly by “open coding.” Researchers are then encouraged to think about different dimensions of the open-coded categories, termed “dimensional iaing,” and to find links between categories by “axial coding.”

Different events and situations are observed to build up a complete picture of the variations within a theoretical category through “theoretical sampling.”

Then, more data would be gathered in a direction driven by the concepts derived from the evolving theory and based on the concept of “making comparisons” – looking for further instances of the derived theory that present a contradictory view, to a point where there are no contradictory views.

Eventually, categories are refined so that a theoretical framework emerges, termed “selective coding.” Coding procedures help to:

? Build rather than test theory;
? Provide researchers with analytic tools for handling masses of raw data;
? Help analysts to consider different meanings of phenomenon;
? Be simultaneously systematic and creative;
? Identify, develop, and relate the concepts that are the building blocks of theory.

Using qualitative data analysis software
The process of coding described above would typically be conducted using proprietary software, helping the researcher to code data in a consistent manner, to search for themes and codes, and examine the context in which they emerge in a transcript of an interview or number of interviews.

The connection of codes and themes help to establish the nature of grounded theory. The software allows codes and themes to be changed so they may be
viewed from different perspectives.

From this, the researcher develops further issues and individuals to investigate, and the interpretation and theory emerge.

4.6 Action research
The social psychologist Kurt Lewin is generally thought to have coined the term “action research.”

He envisaged a process whereby one could construct a social experiment with the aim of achieving a certain goal.

He set the stage for knowledge production based on solving real-life problems. From the outset, he changed the role of researchers from being a distant observer to being involved in solving problems.

Action research is composed of three elements, all of which have to be present.
? Research. Research based on any quantitative or qualitative techniques, or combination of them, generates data, with subsequent analyses and interpretation and shared knowledge.

? Participation. Trained researchers serve as facilitators and “teachers” to team members.

All individuals set their action research agenda, generating the knowledge necessary to transform the situation and put the results to work. Action research is a participatory process in which everyone involved takes some responsibility.

? Action. The research aims to alter the initial situation of the organization in the direction of a more self-managed and more rewarding state for all parties.

4.7 The Delphi method
Forecasting sales for a new product has long been a challenge. For companies producing and selling high-volume items, such as a national packaged foods manufacturer, this task has huge economic effects especially in the first few months.

At the very least, underforecasting may result in lost sales and market opportunities while over-forecasting may result in huge inventory and spoilage costs.

Classical forecasting techniques (e.g., time series) are difficult to apply to products that have no history, which means that a judgemental method must be used.

The method recognizes that using the estimates of many experienced and knowledgeable people is better than using the judgement of a few and provides a framework for doing this.

The technique was developed at the Rand Corporation in the 1950s. It is based on an independent survey of a group of experts.

The results are fed back anonymously to the experts for subsequent rounds of projections, in which individuals may modify their views because of the consensus.

The independence (i.e., not seeing who projected what but just the consensus average and range), avoids bias transfer and intimidation.

The name was coined by Kaplan (Woudenberg, 1991), who headed a research program trying to improve the use of expert opinion in policy-making at the Rand Corporation following the Second World War.

In Greek mythology, the oracle at Delphi was consulted to forecast the future so that correct and timely decisions could be made before embarking upon a course of action such as waging war.

Kaplan had the notion that experts could be solicited for their opinions or expectations about the likelihood of events or scenarios of interest to the company.

The Delphi method has five characteristics:
? The sample consists of a “panel” of carefully selected experts representing a broad spectrum of opinion on the topic or issue being examined.
? Participants are usually anonymous.
? The “moderator” (researcher) constructs a series of structured questionnaires and feed back reports for the panel over the course of the study.
? It is an iterative process often involving three or four iterations or “rounds” of question naires and feedback reports.
? There is an output typically in the form of a research report with the Delphi results, the forecasts, policy and options with their strengths and weaknesses, recommendations to senior management and, possibly, action plans for developing and implementing the programs.

Advantages and limitations of the Delphi technique
The use of the Delphi technique generally offers the following advantages:
? It can help identify the questions critical to change in areas where conventional methodology is inadequate.
? Forecasting can be made relatively quickly and inexpensively.
? Different points of view, ranging from public policy-makers to industry executives, are elicited and weighed.
? If basic data are sparse or lacking, there may be no alternative to the Delphi technique.

The technique also has limitations or disadvantages:
? Expert opinions are generally less satisfactory than facts.
? Responsibility is dispersed, and good and bad estimates are given equal weight.
? The method is usually more reliable for aggregate forecasting than for developing reli
able breakdowns by specific territory, customer groups.

Linstone and Simmonds (1977) contend that the main weakness in Delphi is that some questions are not asked – especially those that seem unimportant when beginning the study.

Although the technique is generally considered worthy of continued use and
development, it is nevertheless looked on as a rather special methodology for modeling.

A further problem encountered in Delphi studies is a high drop-out rate, up to half in each round (Laczniak and Lusch, 1979).

A recent development is the “Delphi conference,” in which a computer operates as a real-time accounting system of members’ responses.

This allows a set of individuals to communicate rapidly with one another in generating group forecasts and in making policy decisions.

4.8  Scenario planning
This section is based on Verity (2003). Scenario techniques can be applied to almost any business issue that contains degrees of uncertainty.

They are best known for their corporate, high-level, global and long-term use, but scenarios can be used to answer any specific issues of competitive strategy, marketing and organizational capability.

The paradox is that this very flexibility and widespread applicability seems to limit the technique’s acceptance in everyday use.

It is a difficult technique to define and describe. There are different schools of thought about what scenarios are for, how they should be built and when they should be used.

What is scenario planning?
Herman Khan and his associates at the Rand Corporation in the 1950s and 1960s first started building scenarios.

Their objective was to explore how a nuclear war might erupt between the USA and the Soviet Union, by describing possible logical paths to different outcomes.

Khan pioneered the technique of “future-now” thinking, aiming through the use of detailed analysis plus imagination, to be able to write a report in the present as if it were being written in the future.

Into the 1970s the technique was extended, by Khan at the Rand Corporation and later at the Hudson Institute (a think tank, which Khan set up) for corporate use and for application to thinking about societies in general.

General Electric was one of the first companies to use the technique in the 1960s and 1970s, but it was Pierre Wack at Shell and Peter Schwartz (1991) at Stanford Research Institute at Stanford University during the 1970s and 1980s who really introduced scenario planning to management as a strategy tool.

Schwartz (1991) defined scenarios as: “alternative, plausible stories of how the world may develop.”

He emphasized that the outcome was not an accurate forecast of future events, but a deeper understanding of the forces that might push the future along different paths.

Therefore, describing what scenario planning is and choosing a process is not straightforward.

To quote Schoemaker (1993): “The term scenario has many meanings, ranging from movie scripts and loose projections to statistical combinations of uncertainties.”

Scenarios have been developed for countries, for regions, for issues (the future of crime, the future of women) and for companies.

Among those examples developed for organizations, there can be many levels of analysis, from global, external, environmental to focused, internal issues.

The length of the time considered tends to correlate with the scale and scope of the exercise.

Macro/industry scenarios
Macro scenarios can provide insights into possible industry changes. They can expose possible shifts in macroeconomic, political, or social variables that are not foreseen in a more industry centered view of the external environment.

By macro scenario, Porter (1985) is referring to changes that might occur outside of his industry structure forces, i.e., those that are covered by the PEST model in other textbooks (Hollensen, 2004).

Application of scenario planning
Scenario techniques can be applied to almost any business issue. They are best known for their corporate, high-level, global and long-term use, but the method can be used to answer specific issues of competitive strategy, marketing problems or problems of organizational capability.

Scenario thinking has led to a product launch. Millett (2003) describes how, in the mid-1990s, the US technology company Battelle worked with a company to think about cleaning products by exploring trends such as an ageing population, more households with two wage-earners, and growing concerns about health and welfare.

From these trends emerged future consumer values of convenience, speed and thoroughness that led to the launch of a hygienic, disposable cloth for cleaning surfaces (Battelle, 1998).

A focused scenario technique was similarly used to investigate the next decade of the UK market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an environmentally friendly replacement for petrol, in the light of the development of cleaner petrol, inner-city pollution and the prospect of hydrogen-fuelled car engines.

The outcomes were used to test how effectively the assets, capabilities and culture of the company conducting the research could deliver the fuel.

Risks for the near-term future if contingencies were not immediately addressed were clear. For instance, the fuels network could not cope with consumer expectations in two of the three scenarios.

Given the time required to build this capability, it was seen as urgent to make plans for strategic investment in distribution.

This was especially important since it was clear that the closest competitor was in a stronger position with a more flexible system already in place.

Guidelines for scenario planning
? Establish a core planning team. Analyzing the strategic implications of scenarios is best done in teams.

The creative dynamics of an effective group are likely to provide the type of breakthroughs that will make the process worthwhile. A good rule of thumb is to have five to eight people in the planning group.

? Get a cross-section of expertise. Include the heads of all functional areas. Also, include individuals outside the top executives to bring new perspectives.

? Include outside information and outside people. Focus on injecting interesting and challenging perspectives into the discussion.

Summing up
Qualitative research techniques aim to understand people’s thinking. In-depth interviews have been adapted to probe into consumer motivations and hidden concerns.

Protocol analysis induces participants to “think aloud” so researchers can map the decision-making process.

Projective techniques, such as word association, sentence completion, and role playing, are also useful in unearthing motivations, beliefs, and attitudes that subjects may not be able to express well verbally.

Grounded theory is complex and time-consuming, and its potential to help understand some aspects of some social marketing processes has not been realized.

Similarly, ethnographic studies are also complex and time-consuming. However, the benefits of closeness to a reality and the depth of understanding that can be achieved, which may also lead to new insights, far outweigh the disadvantages.

Data collection largely precedes the review of the relevant literature to allow the emergent themes to most closely reflect the nature of the data as opposed to conclusions drawn from the existing literature.

The Delphi method has mainly been developed for forecasting developments in the environment.

The method recognizes that the synergy of using the estimates of many experienced and knowledgeable people is better than using the judgement of a single person.

This method uses an independent survey of a group of experts. Results, including comments, are fed back anonymously to the experts for subsequent rounds of their projections, which they may modify because of their view of the consensus.

Scenario planning techniques are best known for their corporate, high-level, global and long-term use, but they can also be used to answer specific issues of competitive strategy, marketing and organizational capability.

The Delphi method and scenario planning can also be used internally in compiling a SWOT analysis for a specific company. The moderator should try and circulate the views until consensus is reached.

Compare and contrast the unique characteristics and advantages/disadvantages of the in-depth and focus group interviewing techniques.

What are the requirements of a researcher undertaking in-depth interviews? Why are these requirements particularly important when conducting interviews with managers?

Why is the context of questioning particularly important when conducting in-depth interviews in international marketing research?

Which difficulties might be encountered when conducting qualitative in-depth interviews in an international context?

What is the purpose of projective techniques? Under what circumstances should projective techniques be used?

Could you cite a situation where an in-depth interview or a projective technique might upset potential respondents.

Can you describe a projective technique that you feel would work particularly well by e-mail?

In which circumstances is it relevant to conduct a Delphi study within a company?

Keywords: interview, non-directive interviews, semi-structured interviews, focused individual interviews, interviewer, Focus groups, research, sampling theory, Protocol analysis, Projective methods, marketers, Consumers, brand, Data collection, Coding, action research, Delphi method, Macro scenarios, Protocol analysis,

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