ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Taking nothing seriously. An investigation of organizational survey nonresponse.

Karsten Boye Rasmussen, Heiko Thimm

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 11 - Law Building, Room 107
Date: 2012-07-12 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Last modified: 2011-12-16


Nonresponse leaves you with nothing. When harvesting for information by survey methods nonresponse is considered an unwelcome and unfortunate result. From the original setting of a mail based research survey we are demonstrating known and new methods of filling the vacuum created by nonresponse with information obtained from additional sources and by alternative data collection methods. The investigation relates to a two-nation study with a questionnaire survey carried out among small and medium sized companies geographically placed in adjoining regions.
Archival information can be used for documentation of the existence of differences in the archival variables shared by the two groups of response and nonresponse. However, not finding any differences between the groups cannot be equaled to the conclusion that no differences exist. Other data collection methods can address the nonrespondent group more directly. The use of telephone follow-up actions cannot circumvent the persistence of nonresponse. However, most often some form of response can be noted from the telephone conversations obtained. We found both active and passive forms of nonresponse present in the conversations and also a group belonging to the qualified passive response of explicit reference to time pressure as the reason or explanation for the original questionnaire nonresponse. As a final source of information about the companies we present a scanning of company websites. This demonstrates a method that in contrast to the archival method is independent of the existence of information previously collected. Furthermore, the used method is also opposed to the dependency of a human informer obligatory in the cases of the questionnaire and telephone collecting methods thus demonstrating an unobtrusive method. The reading of websites is often termed as content analysis and implemented as a qualitative intensive approach, which because of lack of resources will subsequently limit the research to a few websites. Intending an unobtrusive and inexpensive method we developed an extensive at-a-glance reading and categorization of websites for all the companies in the original sample. The categorizations of the websites are focused on a reduced number of variables describing aesthetical or functional issues of the websites. Data obtained through the different data collection methods are match-merged and the investigation relates the information both to the response/nonresponse behavior as well as to the central content variables and indexes in the original organizational survey. Analysis shows no significance regarding response/nonresponse but confirms that companies with self-reported mature IT networking also exhibit more mature websites.