In the course of my research, I am leading the Roundtables on agility and evaluate them very extensively. In the following I would like to give some tips on how successfully a group discussion can be carried out and how an evaluation can also be carried out.

The group discussion method

In a group discussion in particular, results can be obtained more quickly than in individual interviews and, in particular, the exchange of views between the participants can produce a broader understanding of the arguments. The goal of this method is also in collective decision-making. To better reach a consensus, I wrote in a paper by Prifiti et al. (2017) found a subspecies, i.e. the focus group discussion, as a method. For the evaluation, a so-called focus group consisting of equally valued and strictly selected experts is used. For this reason, the participants were specifically chosen from SMEs or corporations or, as in the 4th Roundtable, only managers from the project management area.
Alireza et al. (2017) see the interactions of the participants as an important source of information acquisition in addition to the evaluation of the language. Long periods of silence, conspicuous gestures (nodding, frowning, etc.), anger, sarcasm and conspicuous consent can also provide insights in terms of the group discussion. Thus, in addition to the audio recording, a log was also kept, but only via gestures.
Reading tip: Method book

Invitation of the participants

Since I chose a focus group, I specifically selected the participants from SMEs or corporations. I have also invited a representative from the union to represent the employee side. The participants were specifically invited on the basis of existing contacts or recommendations from my contacts and a Xing premium search. In addition to a managerial position, the test persons had to have been with the current company for at least 3 years in order to be able to make well-founded statements about the company.
Reading tip: Dealing with Xing

Moderation of the group discussion

The questions in the focus group discussion were asked very openly in order to be able to derive assumptions for the research question from the dialogues. The following questions are exemplary for moderating the discussion: What does good leadership mean to you , What do you associate with digital leadership and What challenges do you currently see for yourself as a manager?
Often I have always prepared theses such as: “Maintaining controllability and control is one of the main tasks of managers in agile teams.” I have provided each thesis with a timebox. For example, we talked about leadership for 60 minutes. We had 15 minutes per thesis. So only the most important points were mentioned and the dialogue could not drift away.
There are two types of moderation in total. The decision is based on the fact whether you have a special focus topic such as soft kills in the management of virtual teams (structured) or a broader topic such as leadership in the age of digitization (self-evident).

  • Structured form: narrow topic limitation, elaborated questions and leading moderator,
  • Self-running form: hardly any topic limitation, hardly any guidelines, cautious moderation.

Reading tip: Moderation tips

Content of the group discussion

The exact content of the questions depends of course on your research question. However, you should precisely conceptualize the nature of the question. As a rule, you have put forward hypotheses that you want to check. In a quantitative survey, you try to substantiate these theses with concrete figures. In the qualitative group discussion, however, you want to understand the theses better. Examples of theses are:

  • From a team size of 12 people, the Kanban method is better suited than Scrum.
  • In SMEs, Kanban is more efficient than Scrum because of the small process landscape.

You derive one question for each hypothesis. You want to know: Do you agree with this thesis and why? You can also support the theses with open questions and thus provide background information on the theses, e.g. “What is your opinion on Kanban?” In a thesis, 5-10 questions are usually sufficient. It is important that you always reach a consensus, i.e. a statement to which the group agrees by being silent, nodding or verbally (“exactly”, “true”, …).
Reading tip: Prepare theses

Evaluation of the group discussion

The roundtable was scheduled for two hours and was completely transcribed using the “f4” software. Basically you listen to each other minute by minute and with the help of a pedal you can pause and continue recording. So you write in sync with the recording. For a 4h roundtable I need an average of 18-20h to type it out. I am following the rules of Kuckartz et al. Proceeded in 2008, which allows a slight smoothing of the language. Thus, for example, filler words like “uh” o3 are smoothed out strong slip of the tongue.
On the one hand, drivers and on the other hand assumptions of the participants were derived from the dialogues and it was checked whether these confirm the theoretical literature. The group discussion was clustered for this purpose. Individual arguments were ignored, only arguments which were confirmed or rejected by at least four people by consensus. In particular, the statements with a focus on the core topics were taken into account for the clustering. Topics with very little discussion time were neglected.
Reading tip: Book for evaluation

Conclusion: Tips for group discussions

The method was very well suited for my research and focuses on consensus opinions. I applied the method more concretely through the focus group and thus got consensus opinions more easily. The preparation and evaluation takes a long time, which is why every group discussion must be properly prepared and planned. My tips should give an initial orientation to the methodology. Definitely look too in my other book tips!
Tip: don’t forget yours Cleanly limit methodology.

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Verwendete Quellen anzeigen

Alireza, N., Tate, M., Johnstone, D., & Gable, G. (2014). A Framework for Qualitative Analysis of Focus Group Data in Information Systems. 25th Australasian Conference on Information Systems , 40 (Belanger 2012). Retrieved from

Kuckhartz, U., Dresing, T., Rädiker, S., & Stefer, C. (2008). Qualitative evaluation. Getting started in practice. Wiesbaden: VS publishing house for social sciences.

Prifti, L., Knigge, M., Kienegger, H., & Krcmar, H. (2017). A Competency Model for “ Industry 4 .0 “Employees. In 13th International Conference on Business Informatics (pp. 46-60).
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Dr. Dominic Lindner

I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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