Research Methods for Organisations: Qualitative Interview Assignment
Commitment in the workplace
In Meyer and Allen´s three-component model (2007, p.7), there are three dimensions of commitment in the workplace. Affective refers to the desire of the employees to work for the company; continuance indicates the anticipated cost of leaving the organisation; and normative refers to the degree of obligation workers feel towards the firm. In this regards, what is the relationship between the three dimensions for the target occupation of this study – business analyst – towards its commitment in the workplace? As a human resource professional, I want to develop practices to keep employees committed. If the workforce is not committed at work, productivity levels may decrease, and negative behaviours such as lateness and absenteeism among employees may increase (Irefin and Mechanic, 2014). Therefore, commitment in the workplace was the most interesting topic for me, and I wanted to get in-depth knowledge about it.
The goal of the study is an exploration of the relationship between the three dimensions of commitment, taking the perspective of a bank business analyst as a reference. Due to the possibility of obtaining rich data and having flexibility, a qualitative research method was considered the best fit. Finally, I interviewed a bank business analyst called for this study Harry because of his long-term relationship with the company where he works.
Conducting the interview
This section presents not only the interview´s strengths and weaknesses but also further improvements.
The main strengths were the rapport with the interviewee, the setting and the quality of the data. Harry was delighted to collaborate in this study. Besides, the interview was conducted in a study room without surrounding noise, which made not only the record clear and perfectly audible but also, a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The environment, the interviewee ‘attitude, the eye contact, and my verbal and non- verbal affirmations built a genuine rapport between us.
Harry understood everything, which let me intervene only to add details to develop the information received. The data obtained was rich concerning understanding his role in the company, his professional expectations, and his values. The most valuable questions were, “After the project, did you say something to improve that situation in the future?” “How do you make you feel that you cannot participate in the decision-making?” They provided me with the information need to establish what is critical for Harry to commit to a company.
The main weaknesses were the previous assumption about the topic, lack of listening in some part of the interview, the absence of probing and interpreting questions and an unsuccessful interview´ end.
My assumption was: the level of loyalty from a young-adult would be low, and his commitment towards the firm would be related to the salary. Thus, through my questions, I was suggesting his answers. Fortunately, Harry showed a strong view, and he did not enable me to change his perspective. Also, it was difficult to be flexible, and I reflected my concern on the topic instead of being focused on my interviewee ‘answers. Consequently, I stopped listening to him, and I did not formulate probing and interpreting questions, which caused the loss of valuable information. In the end, I did not provide him with the opportunity to add or ask.
Briefly, it was a good qualitative interview concerning the rapport with Harry and the data ‘quality. However, further improvements should be implemented. I should maintain focus in asking questions not to lose sight of the research topic, I should reduce my own biases and expectation to eliminate possible suggested answers, and I should provide space to the interviewee, letting him clarify, add or ask.
Template analysis is the best technique to analyse this interview because of the prior codes identified in the theoretical position of the research: affective, continuance and normative commitment.
The main advantage of this technique, according to Brooks, McCluskey, Turley, and King (2015, p. 206) “is the flexibility and a focus on developing a hierarchical coding structure”. Choosing this technique allows elaborating a semi-structured interview focus on the prior themes. However, it does not mean that the initial code keeps intact. Thus, the disadvantages of this technique are the possibility of miss information and the possibility of not recognise when a prior theme is not representing the data. In this research, the previous themes were considered tentative to avoid the disadvantages. Therefore, the initial developing template (Appendix 4, Table 2) shows the top level themes modifies because the prior code did not represent the meaning of the transcript.
In the initial template (Appendix 4, Table 1) affective commitment represents the desire concerning job satisfaction and development. However, after analysing the interview, affective commitment was considered a broad term which did not fully cover the meaning of the transcript. Hence, I decided to remove affective commitment and establish job satisfaction and job development as top themes.
Job satisfaction is related to the following sub-themes: a good relationship with colleagues, company values, and interesting job content whereas job development is regarded to growth opportunities, sense of ownership, and constant learning. The subtheme “constant learning” changed its position on the final template (Appendix 4, Table 3) due to its belonging of growth opportunities. If you have access to new roles within the company, you will increase your knowledge and have more learning opportunities.
Continuance commitment, defined as the anticipated cost of leaving the organisation, was part of the prior themes but it was removed; it was not represented on the data. Consequently, a different top theme came up: organisational support, which represents the contributions from the company to support and keep employees committed. Their subthemes are accountability, openness and recognised contributions. In the final template, openness became part of accountability because it provides the micro-perspective of accountability concerning the relationship with top management and practices to perform.
Normative commitment, referred to the degree of obligation workers feel towards the firm, was removed not to be represented on the data.
In the initial developing template and the final template, three top themes are explored: job satisfaction, job development, and organisational support. Job satisfaction is founded in the following quotations: “I like it everybody helps (…) we have a great relationship”; “working together is a core embedded value with I find in myself and my company (…)”; “something new that I am working on is the implementation of the new regulation (…)”. Those quotations show how important the relationship between colleagues, shared values with his company, and interesting job content are to be committed. Regarding job development, quotations such as: “Well I would definitely work toward getting in to the managerial side (…)”; “It has many opportunities, a lot to learn, (…) so many different things”; “So the goal itself of the company and my goal is (…) serve the costumer right”. They show that constant learning and growth opportunities as an entity and sense of ownership are the main characteristics to be delighted within the company. Finally, organisational support is founded in quotations such as: “I was able to discuss with my head of the department (…) I do not know if they did consider or take the feedback”; “I feel bad. If I have a choice, I will give my feedback and ideas (…)”. They show that for Harry, it is essential to have the full picture of the company ‘strategy to provide ideas and to have an open relationship and communication with top management.
This section presents the strengths and weaknesses in this study regarding answering the research question and my experience of conducting this interview.
I have not answered my research question due to the lack of information obtained in one interview. My prior themes, in which my research question was based on, were changed. If I had had the possibility of conducting at least ten more interviews, I would have obtained more information from different interviewees, who probably would have provided me with enough data to make my prior themes come up. Thus, the main weakness of this study is the lack of information. Besides, I find difficult to create themes and subthemes, and I have struggled to be objective and let my viewpoint out of the analysis. Hence, qualitative research method allows obtaining much information about the topic of the study, conducting several interviews, which is a strength. However, the subjective of the analysis is one of its main weaknesses.
According to Bryman and Bell (2015, p.397) “in qualitative research, there is a preference for treating theory as something that emerges out of the collection and analysis of data”. From my perspective, even if having flexibility allows you to explore a variety of topics without limitations, qualitative research is not a method for an amateur researcher. I have felt lost without an in-depth literature foundation supporting my research question.
Finally, qualitative research has weaknesses, which can be managed, and strengths. However, as I have not enjoyed the flexibility and I have felt subjective while interpreting the data, quantitative research methods adjust more to my personality and work style.
Appendix 1: Consent form
Appendix 2: Scheduled- interview
- How are you?
- I would like that you tell me about yourself, how old are you? In which company and position are you working, and for how long?
- Why did you decide to work for this company?
- Which organisational values match with yours? Why?
- Can you provide me an example when you implement those values in your daily basic?
- What is the main goal of your company?
- Do you think that you contribute to that goal? Why? How? Can you give me an example?
- Imagine that I am a master student of business analytic, would you recommend me apply for your company?
- Do you think that you have better professional opportunities out there?
- How would you feel if you lose your job?
- Are you considering leaving your company?
- What would happen if you get an offer from a different company?
- What do you think about people who move from one company to another quite often?
Appendix 3: Case summary
Harry appears as a delighted employee of his company because of the learning and development opportunities, which are currently provided. I can see that for him, the work environment regarding the variety of the cultures and background is essential. He likes to analyse everything in a macro-perspective, counting different viewpoints. Besides, “working together” not only represents one of the primary values of the company itself but also represents one of his central values. That shared make him feel committed and comfortable working there.
Even though, he is committed with his company. He has a high professional expectation such as, become a VP in two years, because of that he will be willing to move to other companies if those provide him with the opportunity mentioned above. At the same time, there is a lack of communication between top management and employees, the strategy is not fully understood, and that diminishes his commitment as well. Sometimes, he feels powerless because his voice has not listened.
Appendix 4: Conducting Interview: Template analysis
Table 1: Developing top level themes
|Top Level Theme||Initial a priori themes|
|Job Satisfaction (what are the desires and expectations about the employment?)||Derived from the original Affective and Normative commitment theme.|
|Job Development (what are the training needs and opportunities to keep employment?)||Derived from the original Continuance and Affective commitment theme.|
|Organisational Support (What are the contributions from the company to keep employment?)||Derived from the original Continuance commitment theme.|
Table 2: Initial developing template – defining thematic categories
|Main Theme||Defining Scope of the Theme|
|Job Satisfaction: this theme refers to wider desires and expectations, which are identified to have an important impact in commitment in the workplace. Sub-themes should cover:||Good relationship with colleagues
Includes: sharing values (colleagues working through values such as: deliver quality, making a difference, and being positive); diversity (working in an international environment with an open mind and everyone open to change and different backgrounds and cultures); sharing a common goal.
Includes: matching company and personal values (the main value “working together” is the one which have more value, because working as a team develop rich project and increase knowledge from different backgrounds); link between values and behaviours.
|Interesting job content
Includes: professional development, new topic to work (in this case: Bank Business analyst, working analysing all the trades and comply with the regulations established by the FCA and ESMA. In addition, managing the implementation of Mifid); openness to learn about different department to increase the knowledge of the company itself.
|Job Development: this theme refers to training needs and opportunities to fulfil employee commitment. Sub-themes should cover:||Growth Opportunities
Includes: technical progression; managerial development.
|Sense of Ownership
Includes: support new ways of thinking from management; share vision and strategy.
Includes: lack of routinely tasks; new and different approach to investment activities.
|Organisational Support: this theme refers to the contributions from the company to support and keep employees committed. Sub-themes should cover:||Accountability
Includes: opportunity to speak up to top management; possibility of implement new ideas.
Includes: top management open to listen new ideas; good communication from top management to every single level of the company; spread strategy of the company.
Includes: award good work; offer flexible scheduling.
Table 3: Final template
- Job satisfaction:
- Good relationship with colleagues.
- Company values.
- Interesting Job content.
- Job development:
- Growth opportunities.
- Constant learning
- Sense of ownership.
- Growth opportunities.
- Organisational support:
- Recognised contribution.
- Bell, E., Bryman, A. and Harley, B., 2015. Business research methods. Oxford university press.
- Brooks, J., McCluskey, S., Turley, E. and King, N., 2015. The utility of template analysis in qualitative psychology research. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 12(2), pp.202-222.
- Irefin, P. and Mechanic, M.A., 2014. Effect of employee commitment on organizational performance in Coca Cola Nigeria Limited Maiduguri, Borno state. Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 19(3), pp.33-41.
- Meyer, J.P. and Herscovitch, L., 2001. Commitment in the workplace: Toward a general model. Human resource management review, 11(3), pp.299-326.