On the road – by Martine Prins

Read the previous blogpost written by Martine here.

Interviews as input for my thesis

I have noticed that I have difficulty working with the chosen research method. I am doing open interviews instead of a questionnaire prepared in advance and that takes some time getting used to. Considering that I have only one day to do all the interviews on Bonaire, it means that I have to be at the airport at 5 am in order to catch the early flight. At half past eight I land precisely on time and since my interview is at 9 am, I have plenty of time to start my day with a delicious fresh mango smoothie!

 

Bonaire

The interviews are going along really well. With my supervisor at the University we discussed how I can ask the right questions in order to allocate the right information and examples. What’s interesting to see is the level of different interviews even though people are from the same organization. Everyone is looking at the subject from his or her own perspective. Because there is no prepared questionnaire, the outcome is always different. One focuses more on the technical side of the proceedings, while another talks more about the process and the people. The same happens on Aruba, which is my next stop.

At this stage, I can already begin to see the differences between the organizations and the professionalism of the processes involved in starting projects and selecting a vendor or consultant. On Aruba I have two interviews planned. It turns out that both my interviewees have ample knowledge of the process and can talk extensively from their own perspective. They both show an open attitude to my research. I’m impressed by the way the organizations have the processes in place. What’s surprising is that a small organization (such as the one I’m visiting today) has a project team working on the processes and that they’re working according to the project management methodology PRINCE2.

My interviewee offers me to bring me to the next appointment and we have lunch on the way. Aruba is a vacation paradise, mostly visited by Americans and it therefore feels very American. This huge hospitality gesture from my interviewee is unexpected and yet a pleasant surprise. After lunch, I begin my second interview and before I know it, my time is up. Another gesture of hospitality is shown when my interviewee offers to drive me to the airport. I didn’t have any time to really see the island, but I certainly got a good taste of the atmosphere.

Sint Maarten

 

Once I reach home, I have to start packing again. Another exciting trip is awaiting: I’m off to St. Maarten!

The hotel where I’m staying is located in Philipsburg and is gorgeous. I’ve turned the terrace into my personal workplace with stunning views of the sea. I took a stroll downtown where you see almost nothing but jewelers selling the most extravagant diamonds. I could not resist taking a closer look, but I immediately concluded that I still have some more saving to do. Sint Maarten is very different from the other islands I’ve been to thus far; very mountainous and green. Especially if you drive over to the French part; it’s like you’re entering the South of France. It feels very European and different from Philipsburg. Where Philipsburg is buzzing with tourists during the day, the French part is quieter but comes alive at night.

As far as my research is concerned: after speaking to several interviewees on Sint Maarten, I begin to see that a professional approach to the processes is not all that is required. Getting people involved in the right way plays a huge role as well. A project that is driven by an organizational approach has a far better chance of succeeding than one with technical objectives.

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