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Chapel Hill, N.C. — While surveys routinely offer incentives to motivate respondents and increase the likelihood of their participation, surprisingly little is known about the effectiveness of offering incentives to interviewers.

A new survey methodology study by researchers at RTI International and the UNC Center for Community Capital sheds light on the issue. In “The Effects of Differential Interviewer Incentives on a Field Data Collection Effort,” researchers report that higher payments made to interviewers for each interview completion do not lead to increased effort on the part of interviewer or to higher levels of success in securing respondent cooperation.

“These findings suggest that per-complete-interviewer incentives may not be cost effective in reducing survey non-response,” researchers concluded. The research team comprised Jeffrey Rosen, Joe Murphy and Andy Peytchev from RTI and Sarah Riley and Mark Lindblad from the Center for Community Capital.

Interview responses are critically important to researchers in any field, including community capital. Incentives and other techniques that can address declining survey responses would be of great value to future research. The RTI/Center for Community Capital team experimented with testing the effectiveness of interviewer incentives in the form of cash bonuses for each successfully completed field interview. Their results may be found at http://fmx.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/09/01/1525822X10383390.abstract

RTI International is one of the world’s leading research institutes, dedicated to improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice. RTI’s staff of more than 2,800 provides research and technical expertise to governments and businesses in more than 40 countries in the areas of health and pharmaceuticals, education and training, surveys and statistics, advanced technology, international development, economic and social policy, energy and the environment, and laboratory and chemistry services.

The Center for Community Capital is the leading center for research and policy analysis on the transformative power of capital on households and communities in the United States. Part of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the center offers data and analysis that helps policymakers, advocates and the private sector find sustainable ways to expand economic opportunity to more people more effectively. For more information, visit www.ccc.unc.edu or call (919) 843-2140.


Topics(s): Other, Research Design
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