In the course of my research, I carry out the roundtables on agility and evaluate them extensively. I would like to give some tips on how successfully a group discussion can be conducted and how an evaluation can be carried out.

The Group Discussion Method

Especially in a group discussion, results can be obtained faster than in individual interviews and, in particular, the exchange of views between participants can lead to a broader understanding of the arguments. The aim of this method is also collective decision-making. For better consensus, I wrote a paper by Prifiti et al. (2017) a subspecies, i.e. the focus group discussion found as a method. For evaluation, a so-called focus group of equal and strictly selected experts is used. For this reason, the participants were specifically selected from SMEs or corporations or, as in the 4th Roundtable, only managers from the project management area.

Alireza et al. (2017) In addition to the evaluation of the language, participants also see the interactions as an important source for information gathering. Thus, prolonged silence, conspicuous gestures (nodding, frowning of the forehead, etc.), anger, sarcasm as well as conspicuous approval can also allow insights in the sense of the group discussion. Thus, in addition to the audio recording, a protocol was also kept, but only via gestures.

Reading tip: Book on the method

Invitation of the participants

Since I have focused on a focus group, I have chosen the participants specifically from SMEs or corporations. I have also invited a representative of the trade union to represent the workers’ side. The participants were specifically invited on the basis of existing contacts or recommendations of my contacts and a Xing premium search. In addition to a managerial position, the subjects also had to be in 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 very open in order to be able to derive assumptions for the research question from the dialogues. The following questions are an example for the moderation of 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 leader?

I have often prepared theses such as: “Maintaining controland and control is a major task of the executive in agile teams.” I have provided each thesis with a timebox. For example, we talked about leadership for 60 minutes. We had 15 min time per thesis. Thus, only the most important points were mentioned and the dialogue could not drift away.

Overall, there are two types of moderation. The decision depends on whether you have a special focus topic such as softksills in the management of virtual teams (structured) or a rather broad topic e.g. leadership in the age of digitalization (self-serving).

  • Structured form: narrow subject limitation, elaborated questions and lead moderator,
  • Self-style: hardly any subject limitation, hardly any guidance, restrained moderation.

Reading tip: Moderation tips

Contents of the group discussion

The exact content of the questions depends, of course, on your research question. However, you should design the type of question exactly. As a rule, you have made 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 better understand the theses. 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 per hypothesis. You want to know: Do you agree with this thesis and why? You can also substantiate theses with an open question and provide background information on the theses, e.g. “What is your opinion on Kanban?” In a thesis, 5-10 questions are usually enough. It is important that you always reach a consensus, i.e. a statement that the group agrees to by being silent, nodding or linguistic (“exactly”, “agrees”,…).

Reading tip: Putting up theses

Evaluation of the group discussion

The roundtable was scheduled for two hours and was completely transcribed using the “f4” software. Basically, you listen minute by minute and with the help of a pedal you can stop and continue recording. So you write synchronously to the recording. For 4h Roundtable I need on average 18 – 20h to type them. I am the rules of Kuckartz et al. 2008, which allows a slight smoothing of the language. For example, fill words such as “äh” o3 strong promises are smoothed.

From the dialogues, drivers and assumptions of the participants were then derived and checked whether they confirm the theoretical literature. The group discussion was clustered. Individual arguments were ignored, but only arguments that 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 clustering. Topics with very little talk time were neglected.

Reading tip: Book for evaluation

Conclusion: Tips for group discussion

The method was very suitable for my research and focuses on consensus opinions. I applied the method even more concretely through the focus group and thus got more simple consensus opinions. The preparation and evaluation takes a long time, which is why every group discussion has to be properly prepared and planned. My tips should give an initial orientation to the methodology. In any case, take a look at my other book tips!

Tip: Don’t forget to limit your methodology cleanly.

Gibt es noch Fragen?

Falls es noch Fragen gibt, habe ich zwei Tipps. Ich habe meine Erfahrung aus 5 Jahren in der Betreuung von Abschlussarbeiten im Buch: "Empfehlungen für die Bachelor- und Masterarbeit" zusammengefasst. Dieses gibt es bei Springer und Amazon seit August 2020. Das Buch ist ein offzielles Fachbuch in kann damit zitiert werden. Weiterhin können Sie mich gerne mal anrufen. Hierzu einfach im Buchungssystem nach einen freien Termin schauen. Ich nehme mir jeden Monat einige Stunden Zeit um Studenten zu helfen.

Mein Tipp vor der Abgabe Ihrer Abschlussarbeit

Es lohnt sich immer eine Abschlussarbeit professionell Korrekturlesen oder auf Plagiat prüfen zu lassen. Der Vorteil ist, dass Sie dabei auch Feedback erhalten und den akademischen Sprachstil verbessern. Anbieter wie bspw. Scribbr helfen mit guten Preisen bei der Abschlussarbeit.

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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. The entry into practice. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

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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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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