Intercultural Research and the Interviewee-Interviewer Relationship: The Benefit of Being “Different”

By Daniel W. Lund.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper examines the relationship between interviewees and interviewers in qualitative intercultural management research. The study spans three separate interview studies that include ethnically and linguistically diverse staff members in a large Australian university, young overseas Chinese entrepreneurs in Australia, and Chinese entrepreneurs in China. The interviewees were more likely to share deeper intimate details of their perceptions and experiences with an interviewer that was outside their own ethnic, linguistic, or social groups. Two thirds of the interviewees in each study expressed their appreciation and relief for being able to share their perceptions and experiences in a safe and anonymous context, citing the rarity of such opportunities in their own ethnic, linguistic, and social groups. Chinese males expressed a need to save face amongst peers and an aversion to showing signs of emotional or economic weakness. Asian immigrants and Australian-born males in Australia expressed concern that they might appear weak or un-masculine amongst their peers if their perceptions and experiences were to become publically known. Asian immigrant females in Australia expressed concern for being considered unfeminine by family and peer groups if their perceptions and experiences were revealed. Older Chinese female entrepreneurs in China expressed concern for saving face and wanting to be perceived by their peers as emotionally strong, while the younger Chinese female entrepreneurs were found to be the least culturally constrained of all the groups. The findings suggest that richer data may be generated during interviews where the interviewee and interviewer come from different ethnic, linguistic, or social peer groups. Furthermore, confidence-based workplace interview activities, such as feedback sessions, may elicit richer participant responses when the interviewee and interviewer are of different ethnic, linguistic, and social backgrounds.

Keywords: Intercultural Management, Diversity, Interviews, Qualitative Research Methodology

The International Journal of Diversity in Education, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 394.421KB).

Dr. Daniel W. Lund

Assistant Professor, College of Business, Alfaisal University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Research Areas include: organizational socialization, international HRM, strategic HRM, expatriate adjustment, intercultural management and training, Chinese and Western management, Young Chinese entrepreneurs, Organizational commitment, and managerial effectiveness.