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Abstract

Élite studies have been relatively neglected in the qualitative methods literature (Coleman, 1996, p. 336; Hertz & Imber, 1995) . As a consequence, the interview methods literature in the social sciences does not adequately address the issue of access to élite interviews. Nor does it address the élite interview process itself (Breakwell, Hammond, & Fife-Schaw, 1995; Brenner, Brown, & Canter, 1985; Crabtree & Miller, 1992; Fog, 1994; Fowler & Mangione, 1990; McCracken , 1988; Stewart & Cash, 1997; Sudman & Bradburn, 1982; Weiss, 1994) . Despite its élite sample (scientists, engineers, policy- makers) the science and technology studies (STS) community (Undheim, 2002) suffers from the same lack of attention to access, with Traweek (1995) as a notable exception. The author discusses the small literature on qualitative élite studies ( Hertz & Imber, 1995; Walford, 1994) as well as contributions on élite interviewing (Burgess, 1988; Cassell, 1988; Dexter, 1970; Moyser, 1988; Spector, 1980; Thomas, 1995) . Practical consultation for interview practice is also given. Seeing access as an ongoing, precarious process, the author recommends improvisation by ways of a threefold journalistic, therapeutic, and investigative modus operandi. The author draws on a study of the situated nature of high tech practices and is based on interview experience with knowledge workers, experts, and high tech CEOs in the United States, Italy, and Norway. As well, he brings experiences from a previous study of regional innovation in Norway and Great Britain (Thorvik & Undheim, 1998) .

Keywords

Interviewing, Elites, Access, Modus Operandi, Interview Literature, Knowledge

Acknowledgements

The author thanks Professor Knut H. Sørensen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Professor Raymond Lee at Royal Holloway University of London, Professor Claude Fischer, University of Berkeley, California, as well as an anonymous reviewer for substantial comments on this article. Also, thanks to the Norwegian Research Council, who m a de this project possible through their research grant under the S K IKT-program .

Publication Date

6-1-2003

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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