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Getting in through the front door : The first hurdle of researching in companies

By Erica Smith


This paper examines what is arguably the most important issue in qualitative research - access to willing participants - specifically in the context of companies. This is of considerable importance in vocational education and training (VET) as workplaces are the site of much VET activity. While research textbooks discuss many issues in research, few address this topic explicitly or in depth. From those textbooks aimed at undergraduate students (e.g., Polonksy and Waller, 2005) to the more scholarly books such as the 'Sage Handbook of Organisational Research Methods' (Buchanan & Bryman, eds., 2009) there is scarcely a mention of the problem of gaining access to organisations. Yet access is the major hurdle for most researchers, particularly when researching in companies. Attempting to gain access is a lengthy and sometimes dispiriting activity with outcomes that are often satisficing rather than optimal. The paper, based on Australian researchers' experiences, reports on the difficulties of gaining access to suitable sites, and the ways in which access were gained, and reflects on the outcomes of the access process. This is undertaken partly through the author's self-reflection on her own experiences in carrying out three VET research projects during 2010, requiring access in total to 13 case study sites and 20 phone interview participants, and partly through email interviews with other VET researchers who have researched within companies during three recent years. © eContent Management Pty Ltd

Topics: 13 Education, 14 Economics, 16 Studies In Human Society, Access for research, Case studies, Qualitative research, Research in companies
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.5172/ijtr.2012.10.3.153
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