Desert Island data: Using BBC radio 4's desert Island discs in organization and management research

Laurie Cohen*, Joanne Duberley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Laurie Cohen and Joanne Duberley describe their use of an unconventional data source-a radio programme-to study celebrity careers. This source also includes music, which evokes memories, and elicits emotions not readily captured in conventional interviews. They used the archives of the BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs to study the careers of well-known research scientists. The programme's format has been consistent over its 70-year history; 'castaways' from all walks of life are interviewed about their careers and are asked to select eight pieces of music, which reveal many other aspects of their lives. This research focused on the relationships between work and life course, the notion of career as performance, and the role of emotion in the narration of career. Desert Island Discs is part of an extensive archive. As time and funding for research are tight, rapid no-cost access to such data is valuable.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnconventional Methodology in Organization and Management Research
PublisherSIPRI/Oxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780198796978
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2018


  • Desert Island Discs
  • Radio archives as research evidence
  • Unconventional data sources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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