information about themselves and their business at the start of the interview. This formed an ice-breaker and provided valuable demographic information, and also confirming information provided by the key informants. The interview schedule for the participants comprised some closed and some open ended questions. The closed questions were used to build rapport with the participants, and they were “warm up” questions before opinions were sought from the open ended questions (Gaskell, 2000). There are two main advantages for adopting open-ended questions. First, they allow the researcher to enter the field without being constrained by predetermined categories of analysis (Patton, 2002) and second, they allow the researcher to explore the participants’ reactions, beliefs and perceptions (Warren & Karner, 2005). The interview enables the researcher to get a clearer understanding of events and clarify the meanings with the participants without presuming underlying reasons (McKinnon, 1988; Richey & Klein, 2007). This is particularly relevant when specific cultural factors are asked of ethnic operators as set out in question 4 in Appendix 6. Specific questions for the ethnic SME operators explored a range of issues relating to the ethnic operators’ tax compliance experiences, decisions, practices, their interactions with the tax authority and their perceptions of tax regulations, as set out in Appendix 6. As tax compliance is a socio-technical activity, most of the interview questions relate to the process in which they gather tax information and pay their taxes on time. Specific questions for the business experts referred to their working experience with SME operators from different ethnicities, as set out in Appendix 7. The questions for the tax practitioners explored compliance practices of SME operators and their interactions and perceptions of the IRD, as set out in Appendix 8. Instead of asking cultural value questions outright to ethnic SME operators and risk making them too “self aware” that culture is the theme of interest for this research, the
81 main focus was on their tax compliance processes and decisions made. Given the relatively limited number of questions on cultural values, as set out in question 4 in Appendix 6, the researcher intended to infer cultural differences from the participants’ tax compliance behaviours and practices rather than directly asking them how cultural values might affect them. This is because cultural values are often taken for granted by the individuals as discussed in Chapter 2, section 2.5. Their tax compliance behaviours and practices were corroborated with the accounts given by business experts by asking question 1(c), question 2(a)(b) and question 4 (see Appendix 7 for business experts), and question 2(b)(ii) (see Appendix 8 for tax practitioners) to provide an “etic” view of ethnicity and tax compliance.
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