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Third Blog Judith Flores Professional Development

Date:17 June 2017
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Thrid stop: standards in-depth

The third part of this journey helped me to understand better the application of international standards regarding large infrastructure projects in Latin America. Based on their experience with the standards, I selected four practitioners in this field to interview, and gained and insight about their practical experience through semi-sructured interviews. Thus, I had the opportuniy to talk with a program officer from the World Bank and three consultants from well-known international firms who are developing projects in Latin America.

Interviews adressed three topics: (i) history and conceptualization of international standards, (ii) gaps and challenges in their implementation, and (iii) how to overcome barriers for their implementation. The four interviews were recorded and later transcribed. During this process, I realised that conducting interbiews requires empathy, attention and reflection about the interviewee's arguments throughout the conversation. These skills are needed to better understand the interpretations and intended meaning of the interviewees. As such, I could hone those skills in order to pursue arguments and perceptions useful for comprehension of the topic. 

The transcription process allowed me to reflect on the topics adressed by interviewees. Furthermore, it helped me to identify areas of my interviewing techniques that I need to improve. For example, I need to be able to bring back interviewees to the central topic of choose better moments to cut the conversation with explanatory extra questions. 

After transcription, I read the interviews and started the coding process. I found common perceptions in the topics addressed by the different stakeholders. Those ideas and concepts were codified and labelled in order to present condensed information in the final report. The coding process was not easy, since ideas are highly interconnected in the answers. However, I think coding is a good exercise to find ways to analyse the information. Finally, significant quotes to support the findings were selected and translated from Spanish to English. After processing and analysis, qualitative data was added to the final report drawn up in separate document.

The qualitative data collected and processed in this study validate the information found in the literature regarding the limitations and barriers in international social standards compliance. However, interesting measures to overcome those barriers were also discussed. The report writing was the last stop in this journey. 

In this process, I gained knowledge about international social standards, large infrastructure project's compliance with them, the challenges and limitations in their application in practice, and some measures to overcome barriers in their practice. A long satisfactory journey, ending in an interesting final report.