Method – Semi-structured interviews

Description

Semi-structured interviews is a method to collect information on stakeholders perspectives and interests and the context by asking questions. A semi-structured interview entails open and closed questions. This approach provides reliable, comparable and qualitative data on stakeholders’ roles, interests, perceptions, their problems, issues they have and challenges they see1)Hermans, L.M., 2005, Actor Analysis for Water Resources Management, putting the promise into practice, ISBN 90-5972-091-1, Eburon, 20052)Reed, M.S., Graves, A., Dandy, N., Posthumus, H., Hubacek, K., Morris, J., Prell, C., Quinn, C.H. and Stringer, L.C. (2009) Who’s in and why? A typology of stakeholder analysis methods for natural resource management, Journal of Environmental Management 90, 1933-1949.

Strengths

  • It is useful for in-depth insights in stakeholders interests and position, to stakeholder relationships and to triangulate data collected in focus groups
  • It can be used when there are conflicting interests of stakeholders
  • It is a flexible method both for interviewee and interviewer. An interview with open questions gives space for new ideas things to share.
  • It helps to have a good understanding of the different stakeholders and who to select for further stakeholder engagement and involvement.
  • It is also a way to start building a relationship with stakeholders.

Weaknesses

  • It is a time-consuming (for the interviewer and interviewees), hence costly method.
  • It can be a challenge to reach consensus over stakeholder categories.

Use in decision framework

Stakeholder analysis

Input

  • identified stakeholders
  • contact information of the stakeholders to be able to plan the meetings, face-to-face or by telephone.
  • skilled interviewer
  • recording device can be used
  • depending on method used, making transcripts and using coding – coding software – or making a brief interview report and validating this by the interviewee.

Outline

  • Preparation interview
    • Define who to interview and who will conduct the interviews. Interviewer should have interview skills.
    • Make an interview protocol, i.e. formulate introduction and interview questions on specific topics and structure the interview
    • Decide on face-to-face interviews or on the telephone
    • Plan the interviews by inviting the interviewees
  • Conduct interview
    • Take into account the interview time and the travel time for you or interviewee
    • Make notes during the interview and/or choose to record the interview
  • Write an interview report and ask for verification of the interviewee or make the transcript and code with the required software
  • Validate the interview report by getting approval of the interviewee, when getting feedback integrate this feedback and finalise the validated interview report.
  • Analyse the interview report and based on this collected information stakeholder the interestest, views and perspectives and the different roles has been collected.

Output

Information on the context, the interest and perspectives of the stakeholders and the different roles of the stakeholders are collected. In short, the stakeholders have been identified.

Experiences

For examples see here: http://designresearchtechniques.com/casestudies/semi-structured-interviews/

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Hermans, L.M., 2005, Actor Analysis for Water Resources Management, putting the promise into practice, ISBN 90-5972-091-1, Eburon, 2005
2. Reed, M.S., Graves, A., Dandy, N., Posthumus, H., Hubacek, K., Morris, J., Prell, C., Quinn, C.H. and Stringer, L.C. (2009) Who’s in and why? A typology of stakeholder analysis methods for natural resource management, Journal of Environmental Management 90, 1933-1949