Economic Geography Research Group

Fostering research in Economic Geography

Download Working Paper 01.09 (PDF, 280KB).

2009 Working Papers

Working Paper 01.09

Methodological approaches for junior researchers interviewing elites: a multidisciplinary perspective

William S. Harvey


This paper explores some of the methodological strategies for interviewing elites with a particular emphasis on the challenges for junior researchers.  The paper focuses on researching elite members and preparing for interviews, gaining access as well as conducting interviews.  Examples are drawn from across the social sciences and from the author’s doctoral and post-doctoral work with over one hundred members of business elites.  It is argued that researchers should be particularly attentive towards the following five areas.  First, being organized when contacting respondents and attending interviews.  Second, providing flexibility when designing the research and conducting interviews.  Third, ensuring transparency when communicating with elite members and during the analysis.  Fourth, maintaining good etiquette with all participants to ensure the highest professional standards.  Fifth, persevering with difficult stages of the research such as interview rejections and uncomfortable meetings.  The overall aim of the paper is to provide an introduction for those who are new to the field of interviewing elite subjects.
Key words: Elites, interviewing, methods; junior researchers.