Is there no “I” in team? Potential bias in key informant interviews when asking individuals to represent a collective perspective Public Deposited

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  • This paper sought to understand the extent to which, and how individuals use personal or collective language when asked to articulate sense of place from a collective perspective. Understanding a collective sense of place could illuminate place-based connections in natural resource industries, where it is as groups or as institutions that organizations interact with the environment rather than as individuals. While there are well known methods for collecting information about sense of place at the individual level, there is a gap in understanding the best method to collect information at a collective level. We examined the use of key-informant interviews as a method to understand collective sense of place. In Bocas del Toro, Panama, ecotourism and environmentally based organizations are becoming more prolific due to abundant natural resources, making it an interesting case study for understanding sense of place from an organizational perspective. The use of personal and collective language is examined though in-depth semi-structured interviews from 15 environmentally-oriented organizations with a total of 17 interviews. This study specifically examined whether and how key informants, when prompted to speak for their organization, spoke collectively, reflecting a collective perspective versus their own. Methods included both quantitative analysis of personal versus collective language use frequency, and qualitative examinations of how individuals used personal versus collective language. Our results indicated no difference in the frequency with which individuals use personal versus collective language. We found that how individuals situated their perspectives into an organization reflects a complex personal and collective point of view reflecting five themes of personal versus collective language use: 1) sole personal perspective, 2) sole collective perspective, 3) distinction between collective and personal perspective; 4) organization perspective with insertion of “I think”; and 5) personal and collective perspective about organization and greater community. Our research identifies a previously undiscussed potential bias of key informant interviews. These findings have implications for how researchers approach collecting information beyond the individual level.
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  • Fleming W, King B, Robinson K, Wade E, Erickson B, Delie J, et al. (2022) Is there no “I” in team? Potential bias in key informant interviews when asking individuals to represent a collective perspective. PLoS ONE 17(1): e0261452.
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  • 17
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  • 1
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