Interviewing Ghanaian Educational Elites: Strategies for Access, Commitment, and Engagement
A review of the research methodology literature suggests that owing to the difficulty of gaining access to and obtaining commitments from elites, social scientists less frequently use them as research respondents, opting instead to investigate those over whom power is exercised. This article provides insights into some intricacies of elite interviewing. It recounts the experience of a novice researcher in his quest to gain access to and interview elite individuals within the Ghanaian educational system for his PhD thesis. In the process, the article sheds light on strategies and techniques (related to interviewee identification, scheduling, and researcher preparation for the interview, as well as rapport establishment with potential interviewees) that are helpful as toolkits in ensuring that elite interview processes are not unduly derailed. The article argues that the strategies discussed are useful for circumventing formalised and “public relations” responses, which elites tend to communicate with the press and public.