The Use Of Questionnaires And Interviews

In order to be able to obtain empirical evidence relating to the success or otherwise to organisational change it was decided that the most efficient and accurate way of obtaining the required information was use a questionnaire and interviews in order to obtain the required details.


As part of the evaluation process used within this Thesis and in order to assess the impact that change has had on organisations, a tailor made questionnaire covering all aspects of change management has been developed which has been used to measure the impact on change within both Mouchel and its client base. .

The questionnaires were sent to a cross section of the workforce from senior management to shop floor as well as the surrounding organisations community

Upon the receipt of the questionnaires a detailed assessment and ranking of the answers was undertaken in order to be able to tabulate the information gathered.

Further to this a number of interviews were conducted to assess face to face, personal perceptions of the change management programmes that they have been involved with or affected by.

From the data gathered various measurement methods were used, i.e. goodness of fit and modelling techniques in order to evaluate the success or otherwise of recent or ongoing change management programmes.

This section of the report formulates the results of the questionnaires and compares them against known literature in order to assess the success or failure of the programme in the broader context and examine in detail the key areas that has been highlighted as being successful or otherwise.

Interviewing using the Cognitive Interview methodology

It has been recognised that cognitive interviewing can be used to obtain factual information of events that may be either hidden from view or occur so infrequently as to make direct observation non-viable a problem particularly acute in criminology, but which occurs in other fields too.

It is therefore recognised that interviewing techniques must enable the valid and reliable recall of experience and the CI process achieves this, thus providing descriptions of experience that are more complete and accurate than comparable methods, and less prone to confabulation.

Theoretically, CI is rooted in cognitive psychology (Davies and Thomson 1987; Kohnken et al. 1999; Py et al. 1997; Tulving and Thomson 1973) and rests upon two principal concepts: (i) memory for an event comprises a network of associations and, therefore, there will be several means by which a memory can be cued; and (ii) retrieval from memory will be more effective if at the time of retrieval the context surrounding the original events can be re-instated (Cutler et al. 1987; Memon and Bull 1991).

Remembering some aspects of an experience leads, by association, to others, but the sequence cannot be predicted and may appear convoluted to a third party, cognitive interviewing is designed to facilitate accurate recall.

Empirically, CI has been validated both experimentally and practically. Whereby experimental events have been staged, independently recorded, and then witnesses have been interviewed by various methods, including hypnosis, from which the accuracy of the resulting accounts have been compared to the recording of the incident.

It has been proven that CI provides a more accurate account of staged events than alternative methods of interviewing (Kohnken et al. 1999).

When used by the police force, information obtained by CI from witnesses and victims has identified suspects whose guilt has been independently verified by other evidence (e.g., Fisher et al. 1989; George and Clifford 1995; Py et al. 1997).

Moreover, the veracity of accounts by the witness and the means used to achieve them have withstood the searching scrutiny of criminal trials and even though few studies exist of the effectiveness of CI after long delays, an appropriately modified version of the CI was more effective than the ‘standard epidemiological interview' in assisting people to correctly recall their usual daily activities from 35 years previously (Fisher et al. 2000).

CI has also been found to be effective not only with ‘ordinary' adults, but also with interviewees with learning disabilities and with children (R. Milne and Bull 2006).

What is Cognitive Interviewing

Cognitive Interviewing is an approach, accompanied by a set of discrete techniques, rather than a procedure, it allows for the interviewer to ask certain questions that promote the interviewee to identify with them and recall a certain event.

It has synergies with unstructured qualitative interviewing and it is crucial to appreciate that there is no standardisation, not even standardised prompts or a set of questions that allow open-ended answers.

In order for the interviewee to access and retrieve from their memory effectively it is vital that their sequence of recall is not interrupted, e.g. by requests for clarification.

One of the most important techniques in CI is that the interviewer remains silent while the interviewee recalls experience even though an interviewee can appear to drift into irrelevancies.

The interviewee must be encouraged to recall their experiences unrestricted by the interruptions found in social conversation, however rapport is essential and the interviewer, therefore, needs to be socially skilled in order to put the interviewee at ease, giving them license to tell their story in detail.

This attentiveness and freedom from interruption allows interviewees to provide large amounts of detail, serving as affirmation that they are being taken seriously.

The main techniques employed to enhance recall is ‘context reinstatement', the purpose of which is to return the interviewee in their mind to the context in which the experience occurred.

They are asked to recall the event and to describe it, what they could see, they might be encouraged to remember what had happened immediately prior to the incident.

However it is achieved, it is important to awaken the interviewee's memory of the context and they should be allowed time to do so.

The interviewee is then invited to recount their experience in whatever way they choose with narrative being the common structure, but some interviewees may begin by recalling the most memorable feature of the event.

Not until the interviewee has fully completed this initial recall does the interviewer intervene. There may be elements of the account that fail to connect, e.g. the interviewee has failed to acknowledge that they moved from one location to another, or left unexplained what prompted some specific course of action. The interviewer now invites the interviewee to return to each significant moment in turn, reinstating the context each time (paying as much attention to doing so as they did initially) and invites the interviewee to elaborate.

Once the interviewee has recalled as much as possible, it may prove expedient to use other techniques to unlock their memory. It is sometimes useful to reverse the narrative and ask them to recall a particular event and the effects.

This prevents the interviewees from skipping over steps in the narrative because they are taken for granted. Secondly, the interviewee may be asked to search their memory from a perspective other than the one they have used so far. In order to reduce the danger of fabrication it is important that, if used, the interviewee should be clearly told that they should only report what they know, and not to invent or fantasise.

Whichever technique is used, the most important prelude to each exploration of detail must be to reinstate the context and definitely not to rush the interviewee into providing an account.

The interview may usefully terminate with the interviewer giving their understanding of what the interviewee experienced and asking the latter to correct and elaborate as appropriate.

Recording and analysing CI

An audio recording is essential because of the large amount of data produced by a number of successive iterations of recall.

A simple transcript of the interview is of very limited analytical value due to the layers of elaboration and repetition involved as well as the idiosyncrasies that can be found during the recall process.

In order for the account to be rendered useful, the elements of recall need to be arranged in a narrative or other analytically relevant order, e.g. descriptions of people that may be scattered throughout the interview may usefully be brought together.

Whilst authenticity is enhanced by using the words of the interviewee as they recollected features of the experience, it is advisable to distinguish this process from that of the interviewee's recall by producing this reconstructed account in the third person.

If, as often happens, the same features are referred to more than once, any disparities or contradictions should be explicitly noted. If possible, this analytical composite should be presented to the interviewee for amendment and endorsement.

From Forensics to Research

This forensically validated approach to interviewing is applicable to research, especially where the latter focuses upon specific events.

Traditional questionnaire surveys do not always provide the true scope of the feelings of the individuals as they do not delve deep enough into the way in which the individual felt. CI allows minutia of incidents identifying specifically those relating to change and their impact on the individual to be identified.

Often these were threats and expressions of anger voiced or displayed in the context of the change programme. .

CI allowed the comparison as to what interviewees recalled had actually taken place with the uncertainty they actually felt during the process of change. As qualitative analysis has often discovered, it was the meaning given to particular incidents that proved crucial.

Differences reflected interviewees' differing interpretation of the ‘moral contract' between themselves and those they dealt with professionally.

Methodological issues using CI

The elicitation of recall relies upon the social as well as technical skills of the interviewer, e.g. in effectively granting the interviewee license to provide copious detail and in reinstating context (Milne and Bull 1999).

All research methods suffer from errors and in addition to errors of recall on the part of the interviewee, in CI errors might arise from the process of reducing the multi-layered interview transcript into a usable composite account.

Validity and reliability of the second process needs to be guaranteed through the sampling of interviews in order to independently reduce the variability. This is demanding and time-consuming.

CI has been used so far for recalling specific events, but in principle it should not be restricted to doing so. For instance, it could be used for recalling events that contribute to oral history, personal biography and other similar uses. As with other interviewing techniques, it would need independent corroboration to establish accuracy, thoroughness and lack of confabulation.

Discussions on the Outcome of the Interviews

As previously stated the need for some form of interviewing was realised during the questionnaire phase of the project as it was felt that the information that was being gleaned with regards to the effects of change on individuals and in particular the client base was too vague and that the real issues were not being brought to the fore.

Example Employee Questionnaires used within Mouchel

The following section shows a typical questionnaire that was been used to gauge the satisfaction rating of the employees within the company. It is split into a number of discrete sections which focuses on what is believed to be the critical success factors for employee satisfaction.

This questionnaire was distributed to the 116 employees who were employed with the rail business at the time that the change programme was introduced in order gauge the effect that the programme was having on the individuals.

The results of the questionnaire can be seen in Figure 17 which tabulates and the graphically represents the results.

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