Elite interviewing and the role of sector context: An organizational case from the football industry
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractPurpose – Elite individuals and groups constitute a distinctive, upper echelon and social grouping. In various shapes and forms, elites have been an enduring feature of many societies and in the contemporary era, the concept of elites and the related notion of celebrity have seen fresh interconnected developments. The purpose of the paper is to consider the literature on elite interviewing both generally and more specifically against a backdrop of an organization and management disciplinary setting. Importantly the paper examines and surfaces the role of context in relation to elite interviewing. In order to consider and illustrate this phenomenon the argument engages with the organizational environment and behaviours of the English professional football industry with the intention of offering fresh perspectives into the form and function of context in elite interviewing. Design/methodology/approach – The paper's examination of the literature feeds into the fieldwork stage which employs an inductive and interpretivistic methodology. The key method employed within the methodology is semi‐structured interviews tailored for elites and conjoined with participant observation. The approach is applied within an elite interviewing process in the specific organizational context of the professional football industry. Findings – The paper concludes that in relation to elite interviewing, there is scope to consider a contextualisation and recontextualisation of elite interviewing processes through the development of a potential range of novel conceptual and theoretical models. By engaging with interview frameworks, the paper draws heightened attention to the possibility of generating typologies for, and categorising elites operating within, those given contexts. The paper underlines the established notion of inter‐differences between elites in different sectors, and, more importantly, surfaces intra‐differences in elites within sectors. This issue of diversity of elites is currently not a factor that is clearly acknowledged or addressed in the extant literature. In the case of the present study this novel analysis and illustration are undertaken within the English professional football industry. Therein, the argument exemplifies how elites and elite interviewing may be understood in this specific context through the concepts of process, power and “positionality” and “knownness” identifying, for example, issues of arrogance, amateurism and the phenomenon of insider‐outsider. Social implications – Elites and celebrities constitute longstanding phenomena that have endured into the twenty‐first century and, as a consequence, merit on‐going close analysis. Equally replete in contemporary life are the multifarious organizational and managerial domains and contexts in which given elites reside and operate. Given the potential impact of elites and their actions on people, it would seem worthwhile and important to seek heightened understanding of them. The professional football industry is one particular instance for study given that it is high profile, represents a substantial business sector in its own right, and, plays a central role in the lives of many members of the public. Originality/value – The work is an original study of the contextual issues surrounding interviewing elites in the organizational and management setting of the English professional football industry. In a more specific sense, the paper contributes insights into the issue of typologies within elite interviewing, the role of elites in English professional football and makes progress in redressing a general paucity of commentary on elite in the overall business and management research methodology literature.
CitationQualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 2012, 15(4), pp. 438-464
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