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5. Methodological considerations for describing and explaining IS

5.4 Data gathering

announced. The anticipated integration need was minor to the needs in the previous cases, which increased the probability for the chances of being able to follow the process to its end. In addition, the CRP-case was selected by theoretically driven conditions. It covered a number of attributes of the framework that were not covered by the other cases, such as technology used, IS importance to business, and desired integration level, which could reveal additional aspects of the relationship between IS integration and M&A.

manager as well as representatives of top management, user support, and users of different levels.

In total, 31 interviews were held, as presented in Table 5.2. (See Appendix C for a complete list of interviews.) Interviews were primarily made face to face, ranging from 45 to 120 minutes at the specific unit in case, but also complemented by shorter telephone interviews on certain aspects and more informal discussions (not included in the count below). Interviews were generally tape recorded (parts of a few interviews were not captured due to technical failures) and key sections of the interviews were transcribed. Several of the interviews were intentionally very broad in their scope, touching also upon issues not directly related to the specific M&A, such as the relation between units and the Trelleborg group or the general view of IS importance for business at the business unit. Instead of enforcing conversation to only address the specific M&As, this information was regarded as potentially equally important as it gave insight to understand the context in which IS integration was taking place. However, these broad discussions were not transcribed (unless later used to extend the framework or discuss the findings), but instead summarized in the interview protocol as additional topics addressed during the interview.

Table 5.2 Distribution of interviews

Topic Number of interviews

General 5

Case Kléber 8

Case Dynaflex 6

Case CRP 6

Case Chase-Walton 6

Total 31

Observations were mainly conducted to preserve the contextual linkage between data and reality (Miles & Huberman, 1994). The observations included visits to the production facilities and tutorials of the systems used. Understanding the context in which the integration process was taking place was seen as vital to understanding the progression. Since it was not always possible to follow the integration process in real time, observations and interviews were complemented by studies of existing documentation. M&As are to a high degree formalized processes that produce extensive documentation. Internal communication, announcements, project plans, minutes from meetings, etc., contain

valuable information, especially in retrospective case studies; these give a less biased view of the progression than interviews. As this type of documentation is both extensive and highly confidential, documents were generally investigated on the spot in the archives of Trelleborg.

Interviews were seen as the primary source of information, while documents and observations were used to confirm information given in interviews.

In addition to the mostly one-way information extraction processes that observations, document studies and interviews represent, four more extensive seminars were also held. During these seminars initial findings were reported and discussed with Trelleborg representatives.

5.4.1 Case A: CMP/Kléber

The empirical evidence was mainly collected by interviewing key informants in the consolidated unit. In total, 8 interviews were made with the Group’s CIO, the business area IT managers, the units manager, IS manager, plant managers, logistics manager, technical staff and users of the integrated IS. In addition, full access was given to the existing documentation which comprised: 1) internal announcements posted to the companies’ intranet, and 2) project documentation in the form of project plans, the investigation reports, cost calculations and decision support reports. Interviews and documentation were also supported by on the spot observations to adequately be able to address the six dimensions of the framework.

5.4.2 Case B: Dynaflex

Apart from additional interviews on the group level, two interviews were held with representatives from the part of Trelleborg effecting the acquisition of Dynaflex. Then, three additional interviews were carried out in cooperation with two master’s level students (Santosh Nair and André Mazouch) as part of their master’s thesis project (Nair &

Mazouch, 2007). The interviews were based on the same interview guide as interviews held in the CMP/Kléber case, but were transcribed and initially analyzed by the students.

It is not expected that master’s students carrying out the interviews should affect the information obtained regarding the previously

identified aspects already covered by the framework and the interview guide. Eventual problems would lie in the aspects not covered by the interview guide. The interview by a physical meeting is a rich communication in which the spoken words only are one part of the information exchange. As interviewers, the master’s students were the interpreters of this additional information which could be argued to be based on personal experiences and previous knowledge, and thus seen to be subjective from interviewer to interviewer. However, although probably slightly different, there were no reasons to believe that the interpretation of the two well informed students would be less reasonable than the interpretation of the author of this thesis. On the contrary, due to the subjectivity of qualitative research, it was considered an enrichment of the study to have additional researchers involved in data collection and later also in analysis of the data to limit the effect of the individual researcher’s biases. To involve several persons in data collection, interpretation and analysis is a recommendation for increasing the reliability of qualitative research (Miles & Huberman, 1994).

The sound capture of the interviews and the subsequent transcription protocols were handed over to the author of this thesis to investigate the validity and for use in further analysis.

5.4.3 Case CRP

Interviews were made with the group CIO, business area manager, and business area IT manager. Interviews were this time supported by some documentation from the integration process.

5.4.4 Case Chase-Walton

This case study also involved two master’s level students (Mikael Dudas and Peter Tobisson) and their master’s thesis project (Dudas &

Tobisson, 2007). The interviews were based on the same interview guide with extensions to also map to the students’ theses. Interviews were recorded on the spot in Sophia Antipolis, France, and along with the transcription protocols handed over to the author of this thesis. In total, six interviews were made, of which fivewere transcribed and one only documented as notes.