A clearly defined problem and precisely stated research objectives qualify the shape of research design to answer the research problem effectively and efficiently (Churchchill and Iacobucci, 2005)
The literature review section in this dissertation has introduced the Multiple Stakeholder Orientation Profiles used by different managers. It also introduces the concept of a family business and their types and tries linking the two topics of MSOPs and Family Businesses together. There is no article or a piece of research that includes both the topics together and hence the pursuance of this topic for this dissertation is validated. The research objective here is to study the relationship between MSOPs and Family businesses. It aims to explore whether there is a relation between the MSOPs selected by managers on one level of the management ladder with other managers from other levels, albeit within the same Family Business.
The philosophical perspective of the research on MSOPs will be Realism. Realism has become the premier paradigm used in business research and especially in marketing. The main objective of this study will be to do further research on various MSOPs. There have been general claims in the literature that market-driven firms have superior marketing capabilities compared to companies that are not market-driven (Day, 1994; Morgan et al., 1998). But there is not much empirical evidence to support this. MSOPs not directly observable, but Realism accepts this and we can study it and know about it anyways.
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Research design provides the glue that holds the research project together. A design is used to structure the research, to show how all of the major parts of the research project (the samples or groups, measures, treatments or programs, and methods of assignment) work together to try to address the central research questions.
Numerous empirical, conceptual, and theoretical articles have been written to describe Family Businesses. In addition, there is also an extensive body of literature on Multiple Stakeholder Orientation. However, there has been no literature linking the two topics together.
This dissertation explores the relationship between the family businesses and MSOPs and hence will need to follow an Exploratory Research Design. The exploratory approach attempts to discover general information about a topic that is not well understood by the marketer. For instance, a marketer has heard news reports about a new Internet technology that is helping competitors but the marketer is not familiar with the technology and needs to do research to learn more. When gaining insight (i.e., discovery) on an issue is the primary goal, exploratory research is used. Exploratory research follows a format that is less structured and more flexible than descriptive research. This approach works well when the marketer doesn't have an understanding of the topic or the topic is new and it is hard to pinpoint the research direction. The downside, however, is that results may not be as useful in aiding a marketing decision. In addition to offering the marketer basic information on a topic, exploratory research may also provide direction for a more formal research effort. For instance, exploratory research may indicate who the key decision makers are in a particular market thus enabling a more structured descriptive study targeted to this group.
Using Exploratory Research methods, this dissertation aims to investigate if there is any difference in choice of the managers in the selection of MSOPs at different levels of management. The selection of the managers at different levels of the management ladder will be studied within one Family Business.
Case study research excels at bringing us to an understanding of a complex issue or object and can extend experience or add strength to what is already known through previous research. Case studies emphasize detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships. Researchers have used the case study research method for many years across a variety of disciplines. Social scientists, in particular, have made wide use of this qualitative research method to examine contemporary real-life situations and provide the basis for the application of ideas and extension of methods.
Critics of the case study method believe that the study of a small number of cases can offer no grounds for establishing reliability or generality of findings. Others feel that the intense exposure to study of the case biases the findings. Some dismiss case study research as useful only as an exploratory tool. Yet researchers continue to use the case study research method with success in carefully planned and crafted studies of real-life situations, issues, and problems. Reports on case studies from many disciplines are widely available in the literature.
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Due to the financial, time and other constraints for a dissertation, and also because of the large scope of the study that needs to be conducted, this dissertation will solely focus on one Family Business. This family business is currently a midsized regional business based in Mumbai, India. It is a company trying to transform itself from a midsized regional company doing business in some regions of India to a much bigger organisation with business interests nationwide. The company operates in the business of selling their own brand's retail packages of tea through small retailers, supermarkets and other intermediaries and also through a different division of the company's chain of wholesale tea shops.
Qualitative data is the data which is in a simplified form and can be easily converted to simple words rather than numbers. The data collected by this technique is very vast and the analysis could be helped by focussing on the key ideas or concepts which are related to the research.
Qualitative research is a type of scientific research. In general terms, scientific research consists of an investigation that:
â€¢ Seeks answers to a question
â€¢ Systematically uses a predefined set of procedures to answer the question
â€¢ collects evidence
â€¢ produces findings that were not determined in advance
â€¢ produces findings that are applicable beyond the immediate boundaries of the study
Qualitative research shares these characteristics. Additionally, it seeks to understand a given research problem or topic from the perspectives of the local population it involves. Qualitative research is especially effective in obtaining culturally specific information about the values, opinions, behaviours, and social contexts of particular populations.
The strength of qualitative research is its ability to provide complex textual descriptions of how people experience a given research issue. It provides information about the "human" side of an issue - that is, the often contradictory behaviours, beliefs, opinions, emotions, and relationships of individuals. Qualitative methods are also effective in identifying intangible factors, such as social norms, socioeconomic status, gender roles, ethnicity, and religion, whose role in the research issue may not be readily apparent. When used along with quantitative methods, qualitative research can help us to interpret and better understand the complex reality of a given situation and the implications of quantitative data. Although findings from qualitative data can often be extended to people with characteristics similar to those in the study population, gaining a rich and complex understanding of a specific social context or phenomenon typically takes precedence over eliciting data that can be generalized to other geographical areas or populations. In this sense, qualitative research differs slightly from scientific research in general.
The three most common qualitative methods are participant observation, in-depth interviews, and focus groups. Each method is particularly suited for obtaining a specific type of data.
â€¢ Participant observation is appropriate for collecting data on naturally occurring behaviours in their usual contexts.
â€¢ In-depth interviews are optimal for collecting data on individuals' personal histories, perspectives, and experiences, particularly when sensitive topics are being explored.
â€¢ Focus groups are effective in eliciting data on the cultural norms of a group and in generating broad overviews of issues of concern to the cultural groups or subgroups represented.
The method that will be used in this dissertation will be 'In-depth interviews'. The managers and employees at various levels will be interviewed. This will include managers from all departments and of all levels of the management levels. Their choice of the MSOP to be implemented will be asked and the reasons or justifications for the choice will be questioned.
One advantage of qualitative methods in exploratory research is that use of open-ended questions and probing gives participants the opportunity to respond in their own words, rather than forcing them to choose from fixed responses, as quantitative methods do. Open-ended questions have the ability to evoke responses that are:
â€¢ Meaningful and culturally salient to the participant
â€¢ Unanticipated by the researcher
â€¢ Rich and explanatory in nature
Another advantage of qualitative methods is that they allow the researcher the flexibility to probe initial participant responses - that is, to ask why or how. The researcher must listen carefully to what participants say, engage with them according to their individual personalities and styles, and use "probes" to encourage them to elaborate on their answers.
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Hence, interviews will help in getting useful and more in depth information from the different managers regarding the knowledge of MSOPs and their choice of the most favoured stakeholders and MSOPs.
The qualitative research interview seeks to describe and the meanings of central themes in the life world of the subjects. The main task in interviewing is to understand the meaning of what the interviewees say (Kvale, 1996). A qualitative research interview seeks to cover both a factual and a meaning level, though it is usually more difficult to interview on a meaning level (Kvale, 1996). Interviews are particularly useful for getting the story behind a participant's experiences. The interviewer can pursue in-depth information around the topic. Interviews may be useful as follow-up to certain respondents to questionnaires, e.g., to further investigate their responses.
With qualitative research interviews one tries to understand something from the subject's point of view and to uncover the meaning of their experiences. Interviews allow people to convey to others a situation from their own perspective and in their own words. Research interviews are based on the conversations of everyday life. They are conversations with structure and purpose that are defined and controlled by the researcher. Although the research interview may not lead to objective information, it captures many of the subject's views on something. That's why the basic subject matter is not, as in qualitative research, object data, but consists of meaningful relations to be interpreted. (Kvale, 1996)
Because of the lack of standard techniques or rules for qualitative research interviews Kvale stresses the importance of advance preparation and interviewer competence. There are however standard choices of methods to be made at the different stages of an interview investigation. These are presented through the seven stages of an interview investigation (Kvale, p. 88). The same 7 stages will be used for designing the investigation through interviews:
1. Conceptualising ('Thematising'): Formulating the purpose of the investigation and describe the concept of the topic to be investigated before the interviews start. The purpose of the investigation in this dissertation is the difference (if any) in the choices of the favoured MSOP among the managers at different management levels in an organisation.
2. Designing: Planning the design of the study, taking into consideration all seven stages, before the interview starts. This includes deciding the guidelines on what the questions to be asked will be, who will be interviewed, how and where the interview will take place etc.
3. Interviewing: Conducting the interviews based on an interview guide and with a reflective approach to the knowledge sought. The interviews will be conducted based on the guidelines set during the design phase and the information given by the interviewee will be strictly confidential. That information will not be shared by anyone without the consent of the interviewee.
4. Transcribing: Preparing the interview material for analysis, which commonly includes a transcription from oral speech to written text. The mode of recording of the interview will be decided case by case. It will either be recording the interview on a sound recorder or writing in shorthand what the interviewee says during the interview.
5. Analyzing: Deciding on the basis of the purpose and topic of the investigation, and on the nature of the interview material, also which methods of analysis are appropriate.
6. Verifying: Ascertaining the interview's ability to generalise and also ascertaining the reliability and validity of the interview findings. Reliability refers to how consistent the results are and validity means whether an interview study investigates what is intended to be investigated.
7. Reporting: Communicating the findings of the study and the methods applied in a form that lives up to scientific criteria, takes the ethical aspects of the investigation into consideration, and that results in a readable product (which will be the Data Analysis section of the Dissertation).
Types of questions in an interview:
The kinds of questions asked in qualitative interviews are highly variable. Kvale (1996) has suggested nine different kinds of question. Most interviews will contain virtually all of them, although interviews that rely on lists of topics are likely to follow a somewhat looser format. Kvale's nine types of question are as follows.
â€¢ Introducing questions: 'Please tell me when you started working in this company?'; 'Have you ever worked in any other department except the current one?'; 'Were you promoted to this job or appointed in this position?'
â€¢ Follow-up questions: getting the interviewee to elaborate his/her answer, such as 'Could you say some more about the company and the department you work in?'
â€¢ Probing questions: following up what has been said through direct questioning.
â€¢ Specifying questions: 'What did you do then?'; 'How did X react to what you said?'
â€¢ Direct questions: 'Are you aware of the concept of MSOPs?' 'Do you have a favoured stakeholder you like to extra pay attention to?' 'What MSOP would you like your company/department to follow? Why?'
â€¢ Indirect questions: 'What do most people round here think of the ways that management treats its staff?' perhaps followed up by 'Is that the way you feel too?' in order to get at the individual's own view.
â€¢ Structuring questions: 'I would now like to move on to a different topic'.
â€¢ Silence: allow pauses to signal that you want to give the interviewee the opportunity to reflect and amplify an answer.
â€¢ Interpreting questions: 'Do you mean that your choice of MSOP is different to what other managers at other levels of management have within this department or company'
Above are the examples of the kinds of questions that will be asked in the qualitative interviews. The data will then be analysed. This analysis is covered in the next section of the dissertation.