Corporate elites as informants in qualitative international business research
In this article we argue that while most international business researchers interact with elite informants at some stage of their fieldwork, the challenge of conducting in-depth interviews with influential elites has received far too little scholarly attention. Our purpose is to address this gap in the literature by examining the specific methodological challenges associated with elite interviewing before, during and after the interview. Our literature search identifies four main themes of previous research on elite interviewing: access, power, openness and feedback. By means of a reflexive analysis of four different studies conducted in two countries, involving interviews with 90 corporate elites in international companies, we show that these themes also apply in the IB context. Moreover, these challenges are compounded by differences in professional values, seniority, gender and culture and language skills. We discuss a number of procedures that might be used to balance the power of elite interviewees while maintaining the requirements of academic integrity.