of Chaguite Grande, the contact arranged a meeting which the author took advantage of
to conduct a focus group discussion/interview.
The format for the semi-structured interviews varied, depending on the position
and work experience of the informant, as well as the amount of information the author
already had obtained on the cooperative in question. The author attempted to direct the
interviews in order to fill in information from the interview guide for each group. The
interviews were kept as informal as possible, and responses from the informant often
determined the direction of the interview. Note taking by the interviewer was minimal,
relying instead on tape recording so that each interview could be reviewed later. Before
each interview, the interviewer first introduced himself and explained the reason for the
interview. It was made clear that the informant did not have to answer all questions. The
interviewer also explained the use of the tape recorder and made it clear that the recorder
could be turned off at any time. For the groups where semi-structured interviews were
utilized, eight to twelve interviews were conducted for each cooperative. In addition,
data was obtained from direct observation and unstructured interviews.
The use of key informants (Bernard, 2002) by the author was very important
when informants gave inconsistent or confusing information. Talking to the key
informants usually clarified the situation. Another technique used for clarification was
asking other informants about the unclear information to see if they could verify or refute
the information in question. The process of clarifying suspect information was especially
important for the cooperatives in Quebrada Honda and Chaguite Grande because these
were the groups the author was least familiar with.