Expert Interviews and Triangulation: Foreign Policy towards Latin America in Europe


This case study is based on a PhD project carried out between 2008 and 2012. The study sought to uncover the origins of EU Member States' divergent Latin America policies. Such policies continue to hamper European Union attempts to create a more unified European approach towards Latin America. Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany were chosen as influential Member States endowed with distinct national policies towards Latin America in order to analyse the origins of such differences. The project began by carefully mapping the different levels of policy activity towards the region and then selected two cases for in-depth study: development cooperation and the interaction of national policy with the European Union's strategy. In a study of contemporary foreign policy, it was vital to speak with policy-makers. I interviewed national diplomats from all three countries under study, as well as EU officials and Latin American diplomats based in Brussels. There are several considerations that must be taken into account when embarking upon expert interviewing. This case study outlines how I set up the empirical section of my study to mitigate some of the pitfalls associated with elite interviewing, including accessibility of interviewees, strategic rhetoric, unreliability and unwillingness.

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