Using Semi Structured Interviews

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Before initiating the interviews, approximately eighteen semi-structured questions were formulated, some of which were changed or re-worded during the course of the interview. Interview subjects were selected based on their position. The name of the delegation leader for each African member state was obtained from the UNFCCC secretariat. For certain member states, where the leading delegate was unable to be interviewed due to security reasons or timing, an alternative senior member of the delegation was sought.

A total of 23 African leaders were interviewed. Appendix E lists the African Group leaders who were interviewed as part of the study. The African leaders who were interviewed consisted of Presidents, Ministers, Ambassadors, Director Generals, Directors and other senior personnel of the countries delegation such as the UNFCCC Focal Point Representative.The choice of a semi-structured rather than a structured interview was employed as it offered sufficient flexibility to approach the individual respondents in different ways, while collecting the same data.

All interviews were held in the various meeting rooms of Bella Centre and halfof the interviews took place during the high level segment of COP15, i.e. between the 16th - 18th December 2009. The interviews were pre-scheduled; however, due to the overrunning of a number of the COP15 Plenary sessions, a certain degree of flexibility was required by the researcher. In some of the interviews, an interpreter had to be used. In all cases, this interpreter would be a member of the same African delegation as the interviewee.

The duration of each interview varied from 45 minutes to 1 hours and 15 minutes.Before each interview commenced, the researcher gave an introduction highlighting the purpose and background to the research, the interview questions, the length of the interview in terms of time and the confidentiality of the results. Most senior interviewees were accompanied by security officers, directors or special assistants. A number of interviewees had invited one or two members of their delegation to give comments or information in addition to their own response and these were also recorded.The interviews were recorded using a combination or methods. Some were recorded using a tape recorder, whilst others were transcribed or a combination of both methods was used during the interview. The intention was to use a tape recorder for all interviews conducted, as this would ensure the most accurate account of the conversations held.

However, due to certain reasons, some security aides and ministerial assistants did not allow the use of a tape recorder. In these instances, the interview was transcribed and a synopsis of the interview was read back to ensure the accuracy of the data captured. However, this slowed down the progress of the interview.4.7.5

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