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Researching a segmented market: reflections on telephone interviewing

Rhiannon Lord (Division of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Abertay University, Dundee, UK)
Nicola Bolton (Cardiff School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, UK)
Scott Fleming (Research and Enterprise Services, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, UK)
Melissa Anderson (Cardiff School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, UK)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 18 July 2016




The purpose of this paper was to review the effectiveness of telephone interviewing for capturing data and to consider in particular the challenges faced by telephone interviewers when capturing information about market segments.


The platform for this methodological critique was a market segment analysis commissioned by Sport Wales which involved a series of 85 telephone interviews completed during 2010. Two focus groups involving the six interviewers involved in the study were convened to reflect on the researchers’ experiences and the implications for business and management research.


There are three principal sets of findings. First, although telephone interviewing is generally a cost-effective data collection method, it is important to consider both the actual costs (i.e. time spent planning and conducting interviews) as well as the opportunity costs (i.e. missed appointments, “chasing participants”). Second, researchers need to be sensitised to and sensitive to the demographic characteristics of telephone interviewees (insofar as these are knowable) because responses are influenced by them. Third, the anonymity of telephone interviews may be more conducive for discussing sensitive issues than face-to-face interactions.


The present study adds to this modest body of literature on the implementation of telephone interviewing as a research technique of business and management. It provides valuable methodological background detail about the intricate, personal experiences of researchers undertaking this method “at a distance” and without visual cues, and makes explicit the challenges of telephone interviewing for the purposes of data capture.



The authors are grateful to Sport Wales for commissioning the research upon which this paper is based, to the telephone interview respondents for their participation in the study, and to the Editor and anonymous reviewers of an earlier draft of the manuscript for their helpful and constructive remarks.


Lord, R., Bolton, N., Fleming, S. and Anderson, M. (2016), "Researching a segmented market: reflections on telephone interviewing", Management Research Review, Vol. 39 No. 7, pp. 786-802.



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