'Insider accounts': a qualitative research method for small firms

Ekanem, Ignatius U. (2007) 'Insider accounts': a qualitative research method for small firms. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 14 (1). pp. 105-117. ISSN 1462 6004

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Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this research is to present a detailed description of the qualitative research method adopted by the author in his doctoral research into the investment decision-making process in small manufacturing enterprises; and to inform small firm researchers generally, particularly those who may be considering the use of a qualitative research methodology for the first time in the study of processes of decision-making. Design/methodology/approach – “Insider accounts” is an innovative qualitative methodology, which involves in-depth, semi-structured interviews and direct observation, conducted longitudinally in a case study approach. It is a research method, which includes detailed accounts from the actors themselves, incorporating the actual motives and behaviour of owner-managers. It is based on a philosophy that the “objects” studied are in fact “subjects”, producing accounts of their world. Findings – The finding in the study for which this methodology was used is that owner-managers predominantly use “bootstrapping” techniques for their investment appraisal rather than the more formal methods suggested in the financial management literature. So-called “objective” studies of decision-making process using questionnaires and positivist-type approaches, do little to help to answer the basic questions relating to how and why decisions are taken. Without answering these questions it is impossible to recommend how practices can become more effective. Research limitations/implications – The study is limited to the extent to which it can be generalised to a wider population of small firms. Originality/value – The paper presents a detailed description of a qualitative research method, “insider accounts”.

Item Type:Article
Research Areas:Business School > Economics and International Development
Business School > International Management and Innovation
ID Code:608
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Deposited On:02 Dec 2008 13:14
Last Modified:02 Jul 2014 11:39

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