2.3 Data gathering

For collecting evidence, the primary source of data is represented by a semi-structured interview, the best alternative in a situation where there is likelihood to have only one chance to interview the sample (Bernard 1988)[1]. It gave a very high level of flexibility, allowing new questions to be brought up during the interview according to what the interviewees’ state.  Moreover, a semi-structured interview allows interviewees a degree of freedom to explain their views in their own terms, preserving reliability of information. Semi-structured interview is guided by an interview guide (appendix 1), prepared beforehand, which provides a framework for the interview. In fact, it was prepared respecting a guideline “grouping of topics and questions that the interviewer can ask in different ways for different participants” (Lindlof and Taylor 2002). Moreover, it helps to focus on the topics at hand without constraining them to a particular format and to give the freedom to tailor questions to the context (Lindlof and Taylor 2002). Furthermore, in order to facilitate the interviews, a map of possible answers was created, thus it helped to identify easily informants ideas. 

Another important reason for employing this methodology approach is that not all questions are designed and phrased in advance. The majority of questions are created during the interview, allowing both the interviewer and the person being interviewed for the flexibility to probe for details or discuss the hot issues presented.

Since semi-structured interviews often contain open-ended questions the discussions may diverge from the interview guide. The interviews were tape-recorded and later transcribed. Interviews partner were informed and gave authorization for the recording[2]. Complete transcripts with data collected by interview were transcribed thanks the audio recorded up, for verification of accuracy and correction necessary.

An initial exploratory semi-structured interview was conducted with two anonymous educated users with deep knowledge of user and open innovation, as well as experience in OSH environment. Moreover, essential feedbacks from two academics well-read in the topic of the research were incorporated before the analysis and during the preparation of the interview guideline.

The interviewees were approached directly by email, and they were informed well in advance about the topic of the project and the framework of questions that were to be asked. Therefore they had the possibility a priori to decline the invitation if they did not fit suitable for the analysis or simply if they did not wish to participate in the research.

The interviewees were conducted individually with sixteen informants with duration from 30 to 90 minutes, from 13 December 2010 to 17 February 2011. All the interviews were done via telephone/Skype or mail, depending on access as well as on the preference of informants[3]. While three interviews were run by video calls, eight interviews were based on email interactions. However, due the direct contact which took place, it is possible le to exclude any selection biased problem. In fact, as it will be explained in the last section of this chapter, the collections of data, although with different means, did not affect the overall quality and trustworthiness of the results.

Interviews were conducted in the informants’ native language[4] (which was English in all the cases apart from an exception in Italian), in order to extract the maximum data and to get as nuanced perspective as possible on their experiences.

On the other hand, the interaction with Massimo Banzi was possible thanks to his participation in three seminars hosted at Università Bocconi[5], plus an additional interview made through Skype instant messaging on 14 February 2010.

Moreover, the actively participation in online communities was fundamental to get more information directly for users especially for the selection of the cases discussed in the next paragraph.

[1] Although some user entrepreneurs were willing to participate in the study, their tough schedule would not guarantee a second meeting.

[2] In one case a technical problem occurred during the interview, thus the complete transcript is not available. However, it is possible to exclude any biased problem given that all the information were carefully taken during the interview thanks also to the patience of the partner.

[3] One of the issues raised by the informant was to manage the different time zone from Europe to USA, where the large majority of interview partners are based.

[4] One interview partner is Norwegian; however English is its second language that speaks fluently.

[5] The seminars were hosted at Università Bocconi on 25 November 2008 and 2 December 2010 as part of the course “Technology and Innovation Strategy”, and on 4 October 2010  at SDA Bocconi-Master in Marketing.

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