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Process of conducting interviews

In document Empirical evidence from Sri Lanka (Page 102-109)

Research methodology and methods

3.5. Research methods

3.5.3. Research methods of phase two: Semistructured interview stage Process of conducting interviews

Research methods


Research methods


All the interviews were conducted between 20th April and 20th June 2010. Before conducting interviews, the researcher obtained background knowledge on the companies and the prospective interviewees by using available online sources such as annual reports and company newsletters, and resources of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE).

Although the researcher used a list of guiding questions for the interview (See Appendix 4.), as in the semistructured interview method, the questions had to be changed according to the interviewees’ responses, and organisational and situational context. Sometimes, the researcher asked new questions which were specifically relevant to the organisation and in some situations the preplanned questions had to be dropped when they were irrelevant to the situation. Basically, the researcher fully utilised the advantages of the semistructured interview method.

The researcher found that the corporate managers who expressed their willingness to be interviewed were more intrigued by the interview than by filling out the questionnaire, because the interview topics seemed to be very interesting to them.

Most of the interviewees were enthusiastic to talk about what they were doing for CSR, sometimes irrespective of the questions asked of them. The researcher allowed the interviewees to talk freely while trying to get the required questions answered and themes covered.

All the interviews were digitally recorded with the prior written consent of interviewees. Before signing the consent form, the interviewees were provided with four documents, namely a cover letter (See Appendix 1.), an information sheet (See Appendix 2.), a consent form (See Appendix 3.), and an introduction letter from the researcher’s chief supervisor (See Appendix 9.) which contained all the required information with regard to the interview. These documents were sent in advance either by post or email, or in some cases these documents were given on the interview day. If the documents were given on the interview day, the participants were given adequate time to read the documents.

Research methods


According to Gibbs (2007), “participants in research should know exactly what they are letting themselves in for, what will happen to them during the research, and what will happen to the data they provide after the research is completed”

(p.8). In the information sheet, the participants were presented with all the relevant information, including the degree of confidentiality and anonymity about the organisation, name/s of the participants and the data/information that they were going to provide during the interview. Further, they were informed about their rights during the interviews to: refuse to answer any question; ask any questions before, during, or after the interview; and/or, withdraw from the study within a month after completing the interview.

The interviews lasted from 30 to 150 minutes depending on how interested the interviewees were in the questions. The interviews were digitally recorded with the written consent of interviewees. One participant, a chief financial executive in a large diversified holding, was not comfortable with her interview being recorded although she signed the consent form. Later, halfway through the interview, she directed the researcher to another executive who is directly involved in CSR initiatives. So, the above first interview was totally ignored and the second interview was considered for this analysis. Except for the corporate executive mentioned earlier, all the other participants (26) agreed to their interviews being recorded. After finishing the interviews, they were given the option to listen to their recorded interviews. Table 3.5-2 summarises the 26 interviewed companies by their ownership, size, geographical scale of operation (catering to international market or local market), and company type.

Research methods


Table 3.5-2: Summary of the interviewed companies

Geographical scale of business

International scale business 11

Local scale business 15 26

Size (based on number of employees)

Small 5


Medium 5

Large 16

Ownership Sri Lankan-owned 15

Foreign-owned 11 26

Company type

Listed 23


Private company 2

Public 1

There were 11 international scale companies and 15 local scale companies among the 26 interviewed companies. On the basis of ownership, 15 were Sri Lankan-owned and 11 were foreign-Lankan-owned companies. If the Sri Lankan institutions and individuals held more than 50 per cent of the ordinary share capital then they were considered as Sri Lankan-owned companies, otherwise they were categorised as foreign-owned companies. Most of the foreign-owned companies are large multinationals. The size category grouped the companies into small (up to 249 employees), medium (250 to 999 employees), and large (1000 or more employees) companies, based on the number of employees. There were 16 in the large group and five each in the small and medium groups. However, it should be noted that except for three companies, all the others were filtered from large 200 listed companies.

Finally, based on company type, there were 23 listed and two private companies, and one public bank.

For the research purpose, the interviewed companies were coded C1 to C26, of which C1 to C23 were listed companies and were coded according to descending order of market capitalisation. C24 is the public bank and C25 and C26 are the two private companies. Table 3.5-3 illustrates the interviewed companies’ characteristics and the interviewees’ designations.

Research methods


Table 3.5-3: Company characteristics and designations of interviewees

Com-pany Code

Industry Interviewee’s designation

Scale of business operations

Ownership Company

size based on number of workers C1

Telecommunica-tion Sector

Head- Group Public Policy & Corporate Responsibility

Local Foreign-Owned Large

C2 Diversified Holding

Manager – Sustainabili-ty Integration

International Foreign-Owned Large

C3 Telecommunica-tion Sector

General Manager Local Sri Lankan-Owned Large

C4 Bank, Finance &


Assistant Manager Marketing

Local Sri Lankan-Owned Large

C5 Power & Energy Company Secretary Local Foreign-Owned Small C6 Beverage Food

& Tobacco

Communication Manager

International Foreign-Owned Medium

C7 Beverage Food

& Tobacco

1. CSR Manager 2. Corporate and regu-latory affairs Manager

Local Foreign-Owned Medium

C8 Diversified Holding

Manager Corporate Relations/ CSR

International Sri Lankan-Owned Large

C9 Diversified Holding

Manager – Resource Developments

Local Sri Lankan-Owned Large

C10 Diversified Holding

Manager Business Developments

International Sri Lankan-Owned Large

C11 Bank Finance &


CSR Manager Local Sri Lankan-Owned Large

C12 Land & Property Chief Executive Officer International Foreign-Owned Medium C13 Bank, Finance &


Deputy General Man-ager

International Sri Lankan-Owned Large

C14 Manufacturing Director / General Manager Finance

International Foreign-Owned Small

C15 Diversified Holding

General Manager International Foreign-Owned Small

Research methods


Com-pany Code

Industry Interviewee’s designation

Scale of business operations

Ownership Company

size based on number of workers C16 Construction &


General Manager - Finance

International Foreign-Owned Large

C17 Motors Executive Director - Finance

Local Sri Lankan-Owned Medium

C18 Beverage Food

& Tobacco

Finance Manager Local Sri Lankan-Owned Large

C19 Bank, Finance &


Senior Manager - Accounts

Local Sri Lankan-Owned Large

C20 Manufacturing 1. Finance Manager 2. Accountant

Local Foreign-Owned Medium

C21 Bank, Finance &


Director Finance and Treasury Management

Local Sri Lankan-Owned Small

C22 Plantations General Manager International Sri Lankan-Owned Large C23 Manufacturing Factory Controller Local Foreign-Owned Small C24 Bank Finance &


Deputy General Manager

Local Sri Lankan-Owned Large

C25 Manufacturing Manager – Corporate Social Responsibility

International Sri Lankan-Owned Large

C26 Telecommunica-tion Sector

1. Chief Executive Officer

2. General Manager – Finance

3. Product Manager – Value Added Services

Local Sri Lankan-Owned Large

The researcher requested a one-to-one basis interview, but when the request came from the respondents for a group interview it was not rejected. Although group interviews are considered difficult to handle, they contribute to a wider range of views and information (Saunders et al., 2009). Rejecting a group interview for reasons of difficulty is not considered sensible when its advantages are considered.

Except for the three group interviews, all the other interviews were on a one-to-one basis. Two group interviews were with a group of two corporate managers and the other one was with a group of three corporate managers. Therefore, 30

Table 3.5-3 (continued)

Research methods


corporate managers were actually involved in these 26 interviews. Almost half of the managers held either a finance-related designation or a specifically CSR-related designation. However, irrespective of their designations, all of them were directly involved in CSR initiatives and/or its disclosure, which was the core criterion for selecting an interviewee. Table 3.5-4 illustrates the classification by company sector and designation of interviewees.

Table 3.5-4: Classification of company sector and designation of interviewees

Company sector and company code

Total Interviewees’ Designation Total

Bank, Finance & Insurance C4 C11 C13 C19 C21 C24

6 Finance Manager / Accountant or Finance related C14 C16 C18 C19 C20 C20 C21 C26


Diversified Holding C2 C8 C9 C10 C15

5 Manager CSR / Corporate Responsibility or similar C1 C2 C7 C8 C11 C25


Manufacturing C14 C20 C23 C25

4 General Manager / Assistant General Manager C3 C13 C15 C22 C24


Telecommunication Sector C1 C3 C26

3 CEO / Executive Director C12 C17 C26


Beverage Food & Tobacco C6 C7 C18

3 Manager – Marketing / Business Develop-ments

C4 C10 C26


Power & Energy C5

1 Manager – Human Resources / Resource Developments C9


Land & Property C12

1 Company Secretary C5


Construction & Engineering C16

1 Communication Manager C6


Motors C17

1 Corporate and regulatory affairs Manager C7


Plantations C22

1 Factory Controller C23


Total 26 Total (Including the group participants) 30

Research methods


Banking, finance and insurance, diversified holdings, and manufacturing are the major sectors to which the interviewed companies belong, and more than half of the interviewed companies are from these three sectors. Table 3.5-4 demonstrates that different designations are given to those who handle CSR in their companies.

Only six companies used the term CSR in these designations. Notwithstanding, finance and accounting related positions and general management positions are the most common positions to handle CSR activities.

In document Empirical evidence from Sri Lanka (Page 102-109)