Snowball sampling in business oral history

accessing and analyzing professional networks in the Australian Property Industry

Matthew Bailey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article reports on the methodology for recruiting oral history interviewees for a project on the history of shopping center development in Australia. Snowball sampling produced a data set that added value to extant archival and media sources, rendering detailed information about firm operations, strategies, and innovations. The construction of the sample was also revealing of the industry itself, with interviewee referral chains connecting individuals across firms, industry sectors, and generations. These links marked not only social connections but also paths through which knowledge was transferred via mentoring or shared experience, personal friendships that developed in workplaces, and professional contacts that evolved within a complex and constantly changing industry. Snowball sampling, though, also proved to be selective and contingent on the social networks of interviewees, requiring ongoing management of the chain referral process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-88
Number of pages15
JournalEnterprise and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

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