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3.4 Data collection by focus group interviews
Each data collection methods have their own strengths and weaknesses. When choosing the methods, the researcher should think which methods provide data that best answers to the research questions. In addition to this, other possible limitations such as time frame, costs and abilities to conduct the research needs to be taken into consideration. (Polonsky & Waller, 127)
In qualitative research the most common data collection methods are observation and interviews (Corbin, & Strauss 2008, 27; Kananen 2011, 48). Observation is suited when there is little or no information available of the subject. However, to be able to use this method, the phenomenon has to be observable. (Kananen 2011, 48). As an example, you cannot observe people's thinking, and therefore observation was not possible method for this study.
Interviewing includes many different forms and ways of use. The interview can be in- dividual, performed in a group, face-to-face or by other means, such as by telephone. In addition, it can be structured, semi-structured or unstructured by its nature. (Den- zin & Lincoln 2003, 62). After exploring the possible interview possibilities, the author decided to conduct focus group interviews as a primary data collection method.
Focus group interview is defined by Morse (1994, 226) as “using a semistructured group session, moderated by a group leader, held in an informal setting, with the purpose of collecting information on a designated topic”. A typical focus group con- sists of four to eight participants (Eriksson & Kovalainen 2008, 181), and a facilitator who is typically the researcher herself. The facilitator is responsible for the guiding of the participants’ interaction of the subject. (ibid., 183).
In business research, focus groups are used, for example, in consumer behavior stud- ies, in human resources management, accounting and SME studies. The aim is to col- lect empirical data of viewpoints, beliefs and experiences. Focus group research em- phasizes the spontaneous interaction of the participants, paying attention to the peoples’ interactions to questions and different point of views. It is pursued that the atmosphere is informal and the participants are free to express their opinions with- out restrictions. (Eriksson & Kovalainen 2008, 173-176).
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