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Semi-Structured Elite Interviews in a Nested-Analysis Framework: Studying Presidential Activism in Central and Eastern Europe

By: Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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My PhD research deals with the use of presidential powers in Central and Eastern Europe during the first 20 years since the end of Communism. While previous research mostly debated the nature of the new regime types and measured presidents' powers, I wanted to explore and explain how presidents actually use their constitutional prerogatives. My study uses a mixed-methods approach that combines statistical analysis of an original data set on the use of presidential powers in nine Central and Eastern European democracies with qualitative elite interviews in four selected countries. This case focuses on the 65 semi-structured interviews that I conducted with political elites in Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia and the challenges of nesting them into the statistical analysis. In particular, it addresses problems of how to prepare interviews based on quantitative findings and sampling strategies to counter bias through non-response. The case also highlights specific problems related to elite interview-based research in post-socialist Europe and sets these into perspective to the existing literature. Last, it offers more general advice on how to successfully integrate interviews into a mixed-methods framework.

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