Stick or twist? The practice of undertaking life story interviews in-the-moment

Alex Kevill, Kiran Trehan, Mark Easterby-smith, David Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide small business and entrepreneurship researchers
with insights to help them undertake life story interviewing, in order that this can subsequently
advance understanding within the field. Design/methodology/approach – The authors describe, and reflect upon, the use of a life story
interview approach that formed part of the data collection process for a research study into dynamic
capabilities in micro-organisations.
Findings – The life story interview approach the authors utilised can generate benefits for both the
purposes of the research study and the interviewee. Nevertheless, “unexpected lack of time” and
“owner-managerial control”, two common contextual factors within micro-organisations, are factors
that may raise challenges for successfully undertaking life story interviewing in such organisations.
Ultimately the interviewer needs to respond to such challenges by making “stick or twist” decisions
with regard to the interview format being used.
Research limitations/implications – The authors provide an example of an interview approach that researchers can use for future research within the field of small business and entrepreneurship.
The authors also prepare interviewers for challenges they may experience within the field and the potential need for them to make “stick or twist” decisions.
Originality/value – The authors explicate a specific life story interview approach which is new to the field of small business and entrepreneurship. Furthermore, the authors highlight potential complexities in undertaking this interview approach within micro-organisations. Prior work within the field has tended to give little consideration to challenges of undertaking life story interviews.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-471
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2015


  • Narrative research
  • Dynamic capabilities
  • Life story interview
  • Micro business


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