Stick or twist? The practice of undertaking life story interviews in-the-moment

Alex Kevill, Kiran Trehan, Mark Easterby-Smith, David Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide small business and entrepreneurship researcherswith insights to help them undertake life story interviewing, in order that this can subsequentlyadvance understanding within the field.Design/methodology/approach – The authors describe, and reflect upon, the use of a life storyinterview approach that formed part of the data collection process for a research study into dynamiccapabilities in micro-organisations.Findings – The life story interview approach the authors utilised can generate benefits for both thepurposes of the research study and the interviewee. Nevertheless, “unexpected lack of time” and“owner-managerial control”, two common contextual factors within micro-organisations, are factorsthat may raise challenges for successfully undertaking life story interviewing in such organisations.Ultimately the interviewer needs to respond to such challenges by making “stick or twist” decisionswith regard to the interview format being used.Research limitations/implications – The authors provide an example of an interview approachthat researchers can use for future research within the field of small business and entrepreneurship.The authors also prepare interviewers for challenges they may experience within the field and thepotential need for them to make “stick or twist” decisions.Originality/value – The authors explicate a specific life story interview approach which is new to thefield of small business and entrepreneurship. Furthermore, the authors highlight potential complexitiesin undertaking this interview approach within micro-organisations. Prior work within the field hastended to give little consideration to challenges of undertaking life story interviews.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-471
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


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