An alternative approach to conceptualizing interviews in HRD research Academic Article uri icon


  • Qualitative researchers in human resource development (HRD) frequently use in-depth interviews as a research method. Yet reports from qualitative studies in HRD commonly pay little or no analytical attention to the co-construction of interview data. That is, reports of qualitative research projects often treat interviews as a transparent method of data collection, with the contents of answers to interview questions as data that mirror people's views and experiences of a "world out there." In this article, we demonstrate how an ethnomethodological approach to the reanalysis of interview data drawn from a qualitative study in HRD treats the research interview as a socially situated setting in which narrative data are co-constructed by speakers. From this perspective, it is possible to see how speakers produce unstable category descriptions and morally laden portrayals in order to support their claims. We argue that this type of analysis is useful for three reasons: (1) it provides a way to investigate instances in which interview accounts may prove analytically problematic; (2) it makes evident how interview data are produced by illuminating the conversational resources used by both researcher and participant to co-construct descriptions; and (3) it provides a new analytical approach for HRD researchers, who have until now relied primarily on thematic representations of findings derived from inductive analyses of interview data. By using this approach to analyze or reanalyze interview data, researchers may gain further insight into the research topic and the interaction that produced the interview data in a particular socially situated setting. This approach reveals the practical reasoning, identities, and moral assumptions demonstrated in talk by speakers. Such analysis, we argue, assists in HRD theory building in that it contributes to complex interpretations of data that respond to new and different questions, including methodological questions. Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

published proceedings

  • Human Resource Development Quarterly

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, J., & Roulston, K. J.

citation count

  • 27

complete list of authors

  • Wang, Jia||Roulston, Kathryn J

publication date

  • January 2007