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Chapter 1: Dissertation Introduction
Background to research
In order to increase business opportunities, many large companies invested in information systems (IS). Because the high return from investment have seen in many cases. Also, Porter (2001) claims that the e-business which one kind of information systems can term as the way to management business by applying the Internet to support business activities. However, in small and medium sized enterprises have only small amount of evidences to prove those benefits (Levy, Powell & Yetton, 2002). However, presently the internet was changed the way of running business, the small and medium enterprise (SME) have higher opportunities to survive in various markets (Levy & Powell, 2005). Consequently, these researches are inspired this research to explore how to improve SME in Thailand which is one of the most significant business sectors in the country. Therefore, the idea of improving Thai business by integrating an e-business into SMEs has been studied. Furthermore, there are some amount of research for developing e-commerce in Thailand but rarely seen for e-business. In my opinion, e-business could change and improve the way of running business better than ever due to it supports the coordination between suppliers and partners, operation performance, and also included e-commerce (Beynon-Davies, 2004).
Aims and objectives
To discover which kind of small and medium companies should integrate e-business and what are the critical success factors in adopting it. This research also aims to develop the road map of e-business integration for the case study company.
- How to adopt e-business to Thai SMEs?
- Why only some companies should integrate e-business?
- What are the characteristics that specify the appropriation?
- How e-business can improve the company performance?
- What are the critical success factors?
- What are the main barriers for these kinds of small size business?
- Do suppliers or customers of the company agree with integrating e-business?
- Do they have significant influent to change?
- What are the case study tell us about the literature?
- How the business can apply in the future?
Area of Focus
Chapter 2: Literature Analysis and Dissertation Questions
- Value chain
- Dynamics of SMEs to information systems
- Important of e-business
- E-business integration
- Thailand SMEs
- Critical susses factors
Chapter 3: Context and Methodology
After the previous chapter critical analysed various relevant academic literatures. This chapter illustrates the qualitative research methodology applied in this dissertation in order to analyse and design the roadmap for adopting e-business system in SuperBag Company. In this context and methodology part is combined with three main sections: paradigm and research methodology, research design, and research ethic. The chapter explains the process of research planning in the same logical with the research ‘onion’ in figure 3.1 (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2008 cited in Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2009, p.108). By the reason that this model possible to show the approach of management research clearly.
Figure 3.1: The research ‘onion’ (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2009, p.108)
As can be seen in figure 3.1 the research ‘onion’ divided to two colours in order to distinguished the layer of thinking method. In the first two layers are philosophies and approaches which can be thought of as paradigm and research methodology. The next three levels are strategies, choices, and time horizontals. These three layers are concerning on research design process (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2009). In the innermost layer, data collection and data analysis are discussed in the next chapter.
Paradigm and Research Methodology
This research has the purpose to investigate the critical success factors in applying e-business in Thailand SMEs. Consequently, to get the richness of information and enhance the validity of the outcome, the research will utilise interpretive philosophy (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2009). In addition, the philosophy results in inductive approach.
To begin with first layer, this qualitative research applied an interpretivist philosophy. Referred to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009) explain that interpretivism suitable for the research topic that has some particular interests and difficult to understand such as human being. For this reason, to comprehend the case study is aligning with interpretivism that supports to view the situation in-depth. Additionally, Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009) suggest three views to clarify the research philosophies including with ontology, epistemology and axiology.
In interpretivism, ontology represents the nature of reality as subjective that varies to change. Next, epistemology explains that the details of subject contexts are important to the research implication. Lastly in interpretivism paradigm, axiology shows a value-laden and research is part of the research that might lead to biased outcome (Blackmon and Maylor, 2005). In conclusion, interpretivism is appropriate with this research as this philosophy demonstrates the richness of data and subjective as well as high validity (Harwood, 2010). Moreover, as Greener (2008, p.17) stated, â€œan interpretivist researcher aims to see the world throught the eyes of the people being studied, allowing them multiple perspectives of reality, rather than the â€œone realityâ€? of positivismâ€?. This statement supports the idea that interpretivism is ultimate for business research which supports to generate the framework from the many participants’ views.
In the second layer is inductive approach was used in this research as parallel way of interpretivism. This approach is more appropriate to deal with a small sample size. As it spotlights attention to the contexts of subject. In addition, a number of researches support inductive approach is closer understanding of social word than deductive approach (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2009).
This sub section explains three layers of research ‘onion’; strategies, choices, and time horizontals. Firstly, as the dissertation topic analysed SuperBag Company, the research design was fixed as a case study. As well as the Research Philosophy and approach those were devised to find the most appropriate paradigm to produce the reliable outcome. The strategy used in the research is a single case study. According to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009) state that this strategy can be explained descriptive, explanatory and exploratory research types. However, this research is concerned as exploratory more than others because it discovered new knowledge for the case. More details about the case study company are described in the chapter 4.
Secondly, reference to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009) reveal that while using case study strategy, both qualitative and quantitative should be collected. This technique called as triangulation and it is possible to reduce the bias decision from the point of researcher’s view. Therefore, this research used mixed-method design in order to increase the research reliability. The qualitative data were collected by using semi-structured interviews and the quantitative data were gathered from internal and external company data resources.
Thirdly, the time horizon that was used in this paper is cross-sectional study. Main reason of selecting the cross-sectional study instead of longitudinal study is the research question (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2009). The research question is about to develop the implementation plan in the particular time, so that cross-sectional study would be more suitable than longitudinal time horizontal. Moreover, as Greener (2008) point out, when the research faced with time limited same as this dissertation case, cross-sectional study would be more preferable too.
The ethic is one of the main concerns in producing this research. As Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009) have indicates that ethically research should be performed since the authority to access the participants, gathering process, analysis, and the way to present research data. For example, the voice record are started after the interviewees were consent to do. Moreover, researcher used the natural tone while interviewing in order to reduce the interviewees’ stress. In addition, interview time was selected by the interviewees to provide the most convenience time for them. Furthermore, both interviewees and company’s name are anonymous due to the privacy concern. Hence, instead of its read name, this case study company referred as SuperBag.
Chapter 4: Data Collection and Data Analysis
As mentioned in previous section, this chapter explains in the innermost of the research ‘onion’ that is techniques and procedures of the research. Those discussed in this chapter are highlighted as (1) case description, (2) sampling method, (3) Data collection; secondary data and primary data, and (4) data analysing technique.
This dissertation focuses on SuperBag Company as a case study. This company was selected for examination since it is a Small and Medium Enterprises in Thailand. Thai SMEs is â€¦.
SuperBag Company is a filter bags manufacture. The company was established since 1983 and it is a first expert manufacture of filter bags in Thailand. As the first company and its size and profit are increasing continuously that made SuperBag is the leader of this market. Recently, the firm has a client base of over 100 companies including Thailand and some neighbour countries. Additional, the numbers of customers are constant growing.
However, SuperBag has not converted to big company yet. The company was owner and formed by an enthusiastic entrepreneur. In addition, SuperBag operated as family business which has 40 â€“ 50 employees. Also, the main communication ways are using the traditional ways such as fax and telephone
The company provides a full range of associated filter products and accessories. The main product is filter bags which are using for dust control in various industries such as food processing, pharmaceuticals, and mining & quarrying cement.
SuperBag offers an assortment of services included; designing suitable bags, onsite fitting, producing made to order products, maintenance, and advice for problem solving.
Majority of the products SuperBag manufactured are mainly sold in Thailand. On the other hands, SuperBag imports raw material from many countries included; Germany, Taiwan, Korea, and China. The materials from different country of origin are significantly affected to the product quality and profit margin.
The aims and visions of SuperBag are promised to high standard filter bags, fast service, made to order by specialist, concern the customer relationship, in order to achieve the highest customers’ satisfaction. (SuperBag, 2010)
â€œmost management and organisational researchers suggest that you are more likely to gain access where you are able to use existing contactsâ€? (Buchanan et al. 1988; Easterby-Smith et al. 2008; Johnson 1975 cited in Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2009, p.176)
After the sample case was explained, this section describes the sampling technique that was applied to this research. According to the research question that what to know how to adopt e-business to Thai SMEs which are a numerous number of this kind of enterprise in Thailand. Therefore, the entire population cannot be collected and analysed, the sample case is necessary. Additionally, an alternative of probability, this dissertation decided to use non-probability sampling technique. As Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009) indicate that non-probability sampling techniques are allowed to choose the sample purposively. With this reasons the research question could be answered from rich information that usually gains from small sample size. Finally, when combined various supported reasons and the opportunity to access the SuperBag Company data, made this research applied a non-probability with purposively selected SuperBag Company as a case study to simplify the general idea of how to adopt e-business in Thai SMEs.
Data were collected from two major types included secondary data and primary data. Firstly, secondary data which are the existing data could be collect from either external or internal company database. Referred to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009) internal data are data that can be obtained from the firm. External data could be conducted from many sources such as internet, library, and some publishing media (Harwood, 2010). Another data source is primary data which is data that first collect in the research. As mentioned in sampling method that the research will use a single case study, which will be the good source of primary data.
As McQuarrie (1996) suggested that before planning to spend time and money to collect data, the researchers should look for secondary data first. Even though the secondary data were gathered for different purposes, they were ready to be used. Moreover, secondary data can be the firm internal data such as investment plan, company annual report. Also, wide ranges of existing knowledge are provided, in this dissertation was focused in four areas consisted; information systems (IS) and information technology (IT), e-business adoption, Thai SMEs, and business strategy. There are a choice of sources to review such as public and university library, and opened online sectors. These secondary data were valuable to the research if they are related, reliability and validity (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009).
This type of case study suits when the case provides authorities to access their data (Yin, 2003).
The information was gathered from two interviewers that are the owner and the successor of the company. Furthermore, the interview will use face to face and virtual face techniques. In detailed, these qualitative interviews will be prepared as semi-structured interviews. According to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009), the semi-structured interviews useful when new aspect from the interviewers are very significant to the research outcome. Because new questions can be added or omitted depends on the conversation. Moreover, the conversions would be recorded by audio-recorders and paper notes.
Data Analysis Technique
All records will be transcribed into word files and then get through the data cleaning process. Next, these data will be answered the research questions. Nevertheless, the process of data collection and analysis will be repeated until all questions were answered.
Although, various secondary data can be found in opened online sector such as Webcat and TDnet, some of useful information has to pay for. Moreover, this research was prepared by individually, so the researcher has to pay for all cost which happens during this project. The free online articles and journals which involve in the topic will be used in this research that can find from intranet at Library of University such as TDnet, Webcat.
Time management and location
Location could have significant impact to the data that was collected, so this research will conduct the information as virtual face and face to face. For virtual face means the interviewee and interviewer can see each other and have real time communication (Skype, 2010). In this research will use the software called Skype. Also, international call will be used in emergency situation.
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