Beyond the single organization: Inside insights from gaining access for large multiorganization survey HRD research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • University of Greenwich


Gaining physical access to potential respondents is crucial to human resource development (HRD) survey research. Yet a review of the HRD, human resource management, and best-selling business and management research methods texts in the United States, and United Kingdom reveals that, even where the process of gaining access is discussed and its cruciality stressed, inside accounts and insights regarding the daunting and problematic nature and its impact on data collected are rarely emphasized. More specialist methods literature, although outlining some potential issues, again offers few insights into the actual realities likely to be faced in the real world. Consideration of recent articles in HRD journals highlights also that, despite the widespread use of surveys, often via the Internet, such issues of physical access are rarely mentioned, reporting at best merely summarizing from whom and how data were obtained. We speak to this problem by offering two inside accounts of multiorganization research studies utilizing a survey strategy and Internet questionnaire, where gaining access to people across a large number of organizations threw up many challenges. These accounts offer clear insights into the issues and implications for rigor associated with gaining access when undertaking Internet surveys using both purchased lists (databases) and volunteer panels. In particular, they highlight the importance of recognizing that gaining access is often problematic, and provide a context for our recommendations for research practice, thereby assisting the mitigation of potential problems.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalHuman Resource Development Quarterly
Early online date10 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 May 2017