Managing Customer Expectations
Guideline Description of Our Interview Design
1. Situating the researcher The respondents did not know the authors in person, that is, we used cold calls to randomly selected companies.
The respondents’ openness toward the interviewer may thus depend on the respondents’ trust toward the authors’
institution and the confidentiality of disclosure (cf. guideline 7 below). We explained that the study is part of a PhD
project at our university and that the interviewer has an IS background (MSc information systems).
2. Minimizing social dissonance To minimize social dissonance, we aimed to ensure that the respondents felt comfortable at any given time.
Although the first contact was a cold call to the companies, we subsequently sent an email outlining the research
project and the role of interviews in it. The interviewer himself contacted the potential respondents to ensure that
any questions on behalf of the respondents could be directly answered. By emphasizing that the respondents are
the experts and that no right or wrong answers existed in this context, we carefully sensitized the participants
for our study. Moreover, we assured the participants of confidentiality (cf. guideline 7 below) and gave them full
control over the audio-recording (i.e., the participants could decide to turn off the recording at any time).
3. Representing variety of voices All respondents are or have been working in the position of an IS project manager. Because we did not aim to
assess the management of expectations within an intra-organizational context, we interviewed managers from a
variety of organizations to enable subject triangulation. By randomly contacting companies and respondents, we
are confident to have avoided biases related to the selection of respondents.
4. Everyone is an interpreter In order to reduce subjectivity, two authors independently analyzed the interviews and conjointly aggregated the
results in a subsequent step. Diverging assessments were discussed until agreement was reached. For readers
of this article, we provide several direct quotes from the interviews to enable a better understanding of the
5. Using mirroring Beginning with general questions, we stepwise asked more specific questions about the respondents’ experiences.
By assuring participants that no right or wrong answers existed in the context of the study, we encouraged the
respondents to be as open as possible. We mostly used open-ended questions in our interviews (see Appendix A)
to avoid imposing our wording on the respondents. By asking for concrete project situations, we aimed to focus on
vivid stories that were revisited in follow-up questions.
6. Flexibility While following the interview guide in general, the interviewer paid special attention to the responses given by
the respondents. In any occurrence of potentially relevant answers, the interviewer followed the emerging line of
inquiry and adapted the structure of the interview accordingly.
7. Confidentiality of disclosures We guaranteed participants confidentiality and access to the aggregated results. In the beginning of the
interviews, we explained the procedures taken to ensure confidentiality and adequate handling of the interviews.
The interview transcripts were anonymized, that is, names related to individuals or companies were replaced by
pseudonyms. Subsequently, the links between the transcripts and the respondents were removed and the audio
Table 6: Consideration of the guidelines for qualitative interviews by Myers and Newman (2007).