Matching survey responses with anonymity in environments with privacy concerns

Matching survey responses with anonymity in environments with privacy concerns PurposeIn many cases, public management researchers’ focus lies in phenomena, embedded in a hierarchical context. Conducting surveys and analyzing subsequent data require a way to identify which responses belong to the same entity. This might be, for example, members of the same team or data from different organizational levels. It can be very difficult to collect such data in environments marked by high concerns for anonymity and data privacy. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a procedure for matching survey data without compromising respondents’ anonymity.Design/methodology/approachThe paper explains the need for data collection procedures, which preserve anonymity and lays out a process for conducting survey research that allows for responses to be clustered, while preserving participants’ anonymity.FindingsSurvey research, preserving participants’ anonymity while allowing for responses to be clustered in teams, is possible if researchers cooperate with a custodian, trusted by the participants. The custodian assigns random identifiers to survey entities but does not get access to the data. This way neither the researchers nor custodians are able to identify respondents. This process is described in detail and illustrated with a factious research project.Originality/valueMany public management research questions require responses to be clustered in dyads, teams, departments, or organizations. The described procedure makes such research possible in environments with privacy concerns; this is the case with many public administrations. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Public Sector Management Emerald Publishing

Matching survey responses with anonymity in environments with privacy concerns

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0951-3558
DOI
10.1108/IJPSM-12-2017-0330
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeIn many cases, public management researchers’ focus lies in phenomena, embedded in a hierarchical context. Conducting surveys and analyzing subsequent data require a way to identify which responses belong to the same entity. This might be, for example, members of the same team or data from different organizational levels. It can be very difficult to collect such data in environments marked by high concerns for anonymity and data privacy. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a procedure for matching survey data without compromising respondents’ anonymity.Design/methodology/approachThe paper explains the need for data collection procedures, which preserve anonymity and lays out a process for conducting survey research that allows for responses to be clustered, while preserving participants’ anonymity.FindingsSurvey research, preserving participants’ anonymity while allowing for responses to be clustered in teams, is possible if researchers cooperate with a custodian, trusted by the participants. The custodian assigns random identifiers to survey entities but does not get access to the data. This way neither the researchers nor custodians are able to identify respondents. This process is described in detail and illustrated with a factious research project.Originality/valueMany public management research questions require responses to be clustered in dyads, teams, departments, or organizations. The described procedure makes such research possible in environments with privacy concerns; this is the case with many public administrations.

Journal

International Journal of Public Sector ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Oct 8, 2018

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