The Association for Qualitative Research
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Best of Both Worlds

Caroline Richardson found the title of AQR’s Field course, ‘The Grass is always Greener’, intriguing. Would it live up to its billing?

Although I have never previously attended one, I gather that previous ‘Field Management’ courses had focused very much on ‘the way we do things’. This one, however, looked more towards the future and to what we can learn from other countries; through ‘Shared international perspectives’ as the course title also indicated.

This was certainly my motivation for attending; focusing on moving forwards, how things should change generally and also finding out about experiences from abroad.

Due to the international ‘billing’, I was slightly disappointed that it focused purely on a UK/US comparison. After all, we’re not the centre of the universe! I think a look at a European/Asian perspective would have added extra depth and diversity.

As the day progressed, however, it did in fact allow us to focus in greater detail on a comparison between two countries with their own specific qualities. I should add, though, that I found the experiences of a Spanish delegate in this area interesting — so maybe a broader scope in the future wouldn’t go amiss. The course started with a focus on the UK, past, present and future, followed by an insight into US recruitment. A moderator and client perspective provided greater depth. The general consensus was that the US had many benefits in that recruitment was much more controlled — the process was very specific and one followed by most ‘facilities’.

This fosters moderator and client confidence when going along to groups. UK recruitment, by comparison, seems a much more remote process. We are better placed in the UK, however, to add that ‘touchy-feely’ element — recruiting respondents who ‘feel’ right into a group to create the right dynamics. This is something our US counterparts are not always best placed to do.

On reflection, we felt that there is perhaps an ideal middle ground which we should aim for. I wouldn’t like to think that US recruitment practices are something we should simply replicate, even though they do seem to be ahead of us in many ways.

Personally, I left the course feeling virtuous that, as an agency, this ‘middle ground’ is something we are very aware of and aiming for at the moment. In fact, many of the things we discussed, we have already implemented.

I think perhaps many delegates felt the same. There was certainly a lot of discussion at the end. It was felt, generally, that these sessions had been productive. Instead of focusing on problem areas, we were able to pick up on best practice on both sides of the Pond — in itself a refreshing experience.

 

Caroline Richardson
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