Appendix B - Individual Informed Consent Letter

Appendix B: Individual Informed Consent Letter


The following is the text of the letter sent to potential individual participants as part of the informed consent process. For certain organizations, it was tailored somewhat to conform to specific confidentiality terms to which I agreed as a condition of the organization’s participation.


Thank you for considering participating in and contributing to my research project.  As I noted in our first contact, I am currently undertaking research at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto that will contribute to my doctoral thesis.


The purpose of this letter is to provide you with information that you will need to understand what I am doing, and to decide whether or not you choose to participate.  Participation is complete voluntary and, should you decide to participate, you are free to withdraw at any time.  Should you have any concerns about the research, you may at any time contact my supervisor, Dr. Marilyn Laiken at (416) 978-xxxx or me, at 416-978-xxxx (office) or 416-xxx-xxxx (mobile).                                        


The name of this research project is, “A Valence Theory of Organization.”


The purpose of this research is to investigate participants’ lived experiences within their respective organization, and to encourage them to describe that experience in terms of interpersonal and intra-organizational relationships, rather than in functional, operational, hierarchical, or bureaucratic terms.


What, essentially, I am doing is conducting either telephone or face-to-face interviews with two or three individuals from each of four to six different organizations. Each selected individual will participate in at least one initial in-depth interview that is expected to last between one and two hours, and optionally, another in-depth interview or group conversation together with others from the same organization shortly thereafter. In certain circumstances, there may be both a second individual interview and a group conversation, depending on the information that emerges from the initial interviews. During these interviews, which will be much like a dialogue or conversation, we will be discussing your own organizational relationships and interactions with other individuals, workgroups, and organizational units. We will explore decision-making processes, anticipations of outcomes, attachments within and among workgroups, teams, departments and other organizations, and the nature of exchanges of value, knowledge, personal and workgroup identification, organizational culture, and ecological values.


I will be recording each interview, and then either fully or partially transcribing and analyzing the conversation. I will then check back with each participant, and you will have an opportunity to review the transcription. At any time during the interview, you may request that audio taping be suspended to discuss any particularly sensitive matters.


Your part in the research, if you agree, is to take part in the initial, informal interview that will last for approximately one to two hours, at a time that is convenient for both of us. A short time after the interview, I will send you a transcript of our conversation, and I will ask you to send me your feedback and comments. I may ask you to participate in a second interview to ask some follow-up questions, or a group conversation with other participants from your organization, or both, approximately four to six weeks after the initial interview.


I am taking specific steps to protect your anonymity, unless you specifically and explicitly give me permission to reveal your identity. For example, you may wish to be explicitly associated with the nature of the organizational relationships in your company or organization. The original or raw data will be stored under lock and key in my locked office, which is located in a University of Toronto building that has 24-hour security. Only I and my research supervisor, Dr. Marilyn Laiken will ever have access to this raw data.  In the transcripts, names and other identifying information about you or your organization will be systematically disguised.  Identifying codes that could connect you or your organization with the disguised names will also be kept under lock and key. Additionally, any transcripts or other identifying information that are stored on my personal computer will be encrypted, and only I will know the decrypting code. The timing for the destruction of the tapes and/or the raw data is five years after completion of the research or sooner.


Should you choose to remain anonymous, potential limitations in my ability to guarantee anonymity are that my supervisor, Dr. Marilyn Laiken, may need to know the source of certain information; and there is a very small chance that someone reading the research findings may be able to recognize you from some detail, even though I will make every attempt to make any identifying specifics mentioned in the interview anonymous. Your organization will remain anonymous in the research.


As an interviewee, you will receive a copy of the transcript of your interview(s).  Any section which you request to have deleted from the transcript(s) of your interview(s) will be deleted.  You are free to withdraw from the study at any time, and you may request that the entire transcript of your interview be destroyed.  Additionally, you may choose not to answer any question.  I will be sharing major aspects of my preliminary analysis with you by providing you with a two to five page summary of the analysis, either by post or email according to your preference, and asking you to provide your comments and feedback.  I may provide you with several specific questions regarding the overall analysis, although you are under no obligation to answer them; you may provide feedback however you wish, or not at all. If you have given permission for your identity to be revealed, you may withdraw that permission up to thirty days after receiving the preliminary analysis for review.


Potential benefits which you might derive from participating include the possibility of gaining a new insight into your own organizational interactions that may assist you in your career, and the knowledge that you have contributed to research that may improve our future understanding of interpersonal workplace dynamics, thereby helping many employees. Additionally, the organization itself may gain a better overall understanding into its organizational behaviour and thereby become more effective.

Potential harm, if any, is that you may be disappointed in the findings, or that you may realize something unpleasant about your own work situation, of which you were previously unaware. Although this represents a very small risk of anxiety or mental stress – and certainly no more than might be experienced in typical forms of relatively minor organizational change – you may gain an insight to remedy what may have been a long-standing and troublesome problem.


Additionally, I should inform you that I plan to use the information discovered in this research as part of my doctoral thesis, and may include it in a future article or book. Regardless of my use of the information, your identity will be protected through the use of pseudonyms, and changing identifying details, unless you specifically and explicitly give me permission to reveal your identity on the enclosed permission form.


Thank you for your consideration.