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Today we had a lesson by Dirk Bissport about the methods of qualitative research. He’s promised to provide the slides in slideshare, so probably I’ll link them here sooner or later. Anyway, his lecture gives me a chance to experiment writing a post in English, which I hope will be a lot of fun.

So, we were instructed to provide an experiment – or at least that’s what we thought we were supposed to do. Here’s our model of qualitative research:

Think up a hypothesis:

“People’s ideas about Nokia’s future have an impact on if they are going to buy a Nokia phone or not.”

Build a design:

discourse analysis (at first, we thought that we were trying to do a qualitative content analysis, but later during the lecture we found out that it wasn’t the case).

Make questions, a structured set:

1. What do you think about Nokia phones?
2. How would you describe Nokia phone compared with competitors?
3. Media tells that Nokia has big problems. What do you think lies behind them?
4. Do you think that Elop is a flop?
5. Do you think Nokia is going down during next yr?
6. Would you buy a Nokia phone?

Do a field test:

One interviewee

1. “I need phones for talking and txt, nothing else. I don’t have experience about new models”
2. “I don’t have any idea, because I don’t pay attention”
3. “Maybe they got too proud and the culture… I don’t think that people in Finnish culture… I think that they get satisfied and lose their will to make extra efforts… In America things are different, that’s why Apple goes on…”
4. “… a hard one… a flop is something that first promises then fails… I don’t think that Elop was a promise… just a failure. So he’s not a flop”
5. “no”  Why? “It has already come down, and it will continue to do so… But going down under, I don’t know…”
6. “Not necessarily… It depends on the colour… and what comes to hand!”

Carry out a preliminary analysis:

1. According to the field test there are some consumers that wouldn’t care less about Nokia’s future.
2. The field test tells us that some consumers don’t use smart phones and choose a phone by other criteria, e.g. colour.
3. There are also strong opinions about Finnish entrepreneur culture compared to Americans. The field test tells us that at least one Finnish native thinks that Finns are easily satisfied and lose their will to strive and thus their drive to make innovations and create profit.

If necessary, restructure the set of questions:

Our results in the field test were somewhat surprising.

A surprised researcher

In a context of education and technology one would expect to have a strong relation with smart phones as well as a firm motivation to use latest phone models. Anyway, that’s what qualitative research is all about: going behind the surface and finding out meanings that are hidden to the subjects and researchers. Thus, if we would perform a more thorough analysis on our data, it would  probably tell even more about the conceptions of our guinea pig. Even more, maybe we could draw some conclusions about Nokia’s future as well. The qualitative research process is iterative, as a snapshot from Dirk’s lecture shows us:

A snapshot from Dirk's lecture slides

A snapshot from Dirk's lecture

So, why wouldn’t you try to iterate and analyze a little bit more?