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Unformatted text preview: nvestment decision-making process; and
fourthly, respondents’ perceptions of the effectiveness of the process. Based on such
core themes, a common interview schedule (Appendix 1) was developed. The initial
questions focused on relatively broad conceptual issues, progressing to specific
practical issues during the course of the interview, with the aim of producing rich and
detailed accounts of the participants’ perceptions of the investment decision-making
BP volunteered to pilot the interview schedule and the researcher visited them several
times in April 1998 to conduct interviews. The researcher was unfamiliar with interviewing. Taping the interviews permitted reflection later on the researcher’s
ability and role as an interviewer. The interviews were transcribed and these transcripts played a valuable role indicating those terms and processes the researcher
was using which were academically understood but which required clarification at
practitioner level. The interview schedule was amended accordingly with some questions being rephrased, others discarded and several new questions being added.
These interviews were used to improve the researcher’s technique as an interviewer
rather than for data collection. After the modification of the interview schedule, the
transcripts from these interviews were discarded.
The researcher then had to decide whom to approach in each of the companies and
how best to approach them. Ideally, the researcher wanted to speak to individuals
who were actively involved in the whole investment appraisal process. With this
rationale, it was decided to approach each operator’s Exploration Manager, or
equivalent, using the membership list of the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great
Britain. Initially the project was outlined in a letter that indicated what would be
required of each participant company, detailing what would be done with the collected
data and giving assurances of confidentiality and anonymity. This was then followed
up with either an e-mail or telephone call.
62 The letters were sent in March 1998 and the researcher began receiving responses in
early April. The number of positive responses was overwhelming. Twenty-seven of
the thirty-one companies approached agreed to participate – a response rate of 87%.
This high response rate is clearly a function of timing and subject. As indicated in
Chapter 3, the increasingly dynamic and complex operating environment of upstream
had increased the pressure on petroleum companies to manage their investment
decision-making processes better and decision analysis techniques were beginning to
receive increasing attention in the industry literature (for example, Ball and Savage,
1999; Galli et al., 1999; Watson, 1998; Schuyler, 1997; Murtha, 1997; Nangea and
Hunt, 1997; Otis and Schneiderman, 1997; Newendorp, 1996). During the interviews,
many of the respondents reported that their organisations were currently in the process
of reviewing their investment decision-m...
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