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Research methodology aims to describe the method chosen by researcher for the completion of study in order to achieve the research objectives. The selection of an appropriate methodology is one of the key parts of the research process (Saunders et al, 2007). This chapter looks at the research philosophy, research approach, and research design and research instrumentation. In addition, it includes information about the sources of data. It fully explores the research techniques and data collection methods and states why these were more suited for this research. The objective is to lay out the best methodological approach and to research taking into account the limited resources and time constraints.
3.2 Data requirement:
3.2.1 Research Philosophy:
According to Saunders et al (2006), the research can be carried out using the three philosophies.
In this approach the researcher will act as objective analyst and will study the facts in value free manner. They interpret the data without considering the subject of study same as that of scientist would do. It assumes that researcher is independent is neither effects nor affected by the subject of the research (Remenyi et al., 1998).They normally use questionnaires for data collection and favour statistical data analysis.
Interpretivism argues that the reality of business and management is far too complex.
Hence, they can be explained with the help of simple set of laws that are common to everyone. This approach is appropriate for the research which will deal with human behaviour. This approach believes that the world is changing and data collected today may not be applicable three months later as it loses its value. Researcher's aim in this approach is not to measure how often things happen but to realise the different constructions and meanings people place on them.
This approach is based on the notion that there exists a reality outside human interpretation, and in that approach shares some common values with positivism, but at the same time people are not to be treated the same way as natural science. Reality affect the way they view things and thus subjective thinking is also related to reality.
As the topic of this dissertation is highly human, based on the attitude and purchasing behaviour, subjective interpretation of reality, a positivistic approach would not be the best way to address the topic. An interpretive perspective is highly appropriate in the case of business and management research, particularly in such fields as organisational behaviour, marketing and human resource management. The research philosophy used throughout this dissertation would therefore better fit in interpretivism approach.
Research approach will help the researcher to make more informed decisions about the research design instead of simply using the methods available for data collection and analysis (Easterby-simth et al., 2002). There are two types of research approaches namely they are inductive and deductive approach (Saunders et al, 2003). In the present research, researcher employed inductive as suitable approach.
Inductive Approach (Building theory)
In an inductive approach, researcher collects the data and tries to build a theory from it. Inductive approach is also referred as "Bottom-Up Approach" as it starts from the bottom and moves to the top (Bryman and Bell, 2007). Research adopting inductive approach are concerned about the situation in which event is taking place (Saunders et.al, 2007). Because of this taking small samples might be more appropriate than taking a large number of samples as is the case with a deductive approach.
The researcher in this particular study used an inductive approach, in another similar study conducted by Jie Shen in 2006 the 'factors affecting international staffing in Chinese multinationals' also used the same approach for his research. The main features of this approach include: an understanding of the connotations humans attach to events, a clear understanding of the research context, collection of qualitative data rather than quantitative, a flexible structure of research process to allow the researcher to make any changes as the research progress, doing the research by entering inside the social world and trying to understand the world in their meaning, less concern with the need to generalise (Saunders et.al, 2007). Another reason for using this approach was that the researcher was particularly interested in why something was happening, rather than what is happening. This concurs with (Easterby-Smith et.al, 2002) where they emphasised undertaking a research inductively if a researcher is interested in finding why something is happening.
On a deeper level of analysis, research design is also governed by 2two major concepts. It can be either an inductive approach, or a deductive approach The inductive approach is that in which the researcher would collect data and then try to build a theory from it The deductive approach is more a scientific study, where the researchers elaborate theories that they subsequently try to test using replicable materials such as the questionnaires or the interviews.
In this case, at first the author followed the inductive approach by collecting the data from the employees and the other information sources available. However, as time passed and more and more information was gathered and the better understanding of theories was acquired, the author developed his own conception of the subject, and therefore tried to put it to practice.
Overall, this dissertation, in its initial stage was based on inductive approach, which then, as ideas get clearer and clearer, turned into a deductive one: as some of the theories at hand were put aside as being too restrictive, and as a larger, more comprehensive one seemed to be found, the idea was then put it into practice in a sticking-point situation. The research that is to be adopted is one that might be seen as a mix of grounded theory and survey.
Although the initial point of this dissertation was a review of already existing theories, the main major task is to disentangle these confronting views, and therefore build a mental construct to explain why they were not comprehensive enough to grasp the complexity of job analysis which led to contradicting results. It therefore requires a 'grounded theory' approach.
The second part of the job is to test in the form of a survey the right theory, either built from scratch or chosen from a set of existing theories. This theory should be able to work in the conditions were the others failed and it could be the based on the 'survey' approach.
Research strategy may be defined as tool or tools used by the researcher to answer the research questions. According to Saunders et al. (2007), there are different types of strategies namely experiment, survey, case study, action research, grounded theory, ethnography, and archival research. Yin (2003) distinguished the different strategies on the basis of three conditions. They are
The type of research question posed.
The extent of control an investigator has over actual behavioural event.
The degree of focus on contemporary as opposed to historical events.
The choice of research strategy depends upon the fact whether it will facilitate the researcher to answer the research questions and to meet the research objectives.
The researcher employed survey strategy in this dissertation to achieve the research objectives and to answer the research questions. Survey strategy is widely used in business and management research and is mostly used to answer who, what, where, how much and how many questions (Saunders et al., 2007). The sample size in this research is very high as the research is carried out in two countries. The survey strategy would be best for collection of data from sizeable population and is cost effective (Saunders et al., 2007). The researcher employed questionnaires for the collection of data. Questionnaires are explained in detail in the 'data collection' section.
3.4 Time horizon:
Time horizon is an important characteristic of the research process. It deals with how the researcher plans the research whether in 'snapshot' in particular time or in 'dairy' in a given period of time (Saunders et al., 2007). There are two types of time horizons namely longitudinal and cross -sectional. Cross-sectional research will study the phenomenon at particular moment of time, whereas longitudinal research will examine the event over a period of time.
The researcher employed Cross-sectional time horizon for the particular research due time constraints. Cross-section time horizon is most applicable in case of research projects undertaken for Business and management courses, which are time constrained (Saunders et.al, 2007). Due to limited time of research longitudinal time horizon may not be the best one. According to Adams and Schvaneveldt (1991) in Saunders et al. (2007 p.148) states that longitudinal time horizon is appropriate researcher who needs to observe the people or event over time
3.5 data collection method:
The particular research process can be described as an exploratory one. It aims to reveal new insight and evaluate the researched phenomena in a new light. Exploratory study aimed to study the major concepts of phenomenon that has been studied earlier (sekaram, 2003). Exploratory research can provide the insight of the field of study that has not been explored to its fullest by previous researcher. Furthermore, the research has a flexible approach to establishing its theoretical propositions, which does not mean that the research lacks clear direction and framework (Adams and Schvaneveldt, 1991).
As exploratory research processes share the common research strategy of exploring the phenomenological literature and extracting expertise from specialists in the field and focus group interviews, similarly the present dissertation incorporates the research strategy of grounded theory and in-depth interviews. In this respect, it can be concluded that the present study is built on a combination of secondary and primary data.
3.5.1 Secondary data:
The secondary data employed in this research multiple source secondary data and survey secondary data. Survey secondary data may be classified into three types Multiple source secondary data can be divided into two categories - area based, which comprises of academic sources and time series based, which focuses of commercial issues (Saunders et al., 2003). The use of multiple source data provides the researcher with the opportunity to develop a balanced and analytical dissertation. The academic literature is used for outlining the academic context of consumers' buying behaviour, whereas the commercial sources are used for identification of the current conditions, which are likely to challenge the academic constructs.
3.5.2 Primary Data
The present dissertation incorporates a multi-method research process, where the researcher combines secondary and primary data in the same study. This strategy is chosen as the researcher believes that both methods are significantly dependable on each other in the present research context, and that secondary data provides solid theoretical foundation, whereas primary data contributes to the researcher's ability to address the most important issues in the present context (Robson, 2002). The primary data is extracted through the conduction of in-depth interviews.
188.8.131.52 In-depth Interviewing
In-depth interviews, also known as unstructured interviews, are recognised as an appropriate data collection method as the information they reveal corresponds to the researcher's aim of analysing, interpreting and responding to new contextual insight rather than reaching any law-like generalisations. This is why in-depth interviews are a common data collection method in exploratory research projects.
Furthermore, in-depth interviews provide greater flexibility as they can be conducted both face-to-face and over a telephone, which is recognised not to affect the interview outcomes differently (Ghauri and Gronhaung, 2002). This can be considered as a significant facilitation especially with respect to the time constraints, which the researcher experiences.
In the present context, each subject was interviewed 30 minutes after they had made a purchase in a grocery retailer. The interviewer allowed a 30-minute gap before conducting the interviews as the interviewer believed this would be appropriate time for the consumer to fully absorb his/her emotions and shopping experience and thus reveal his/her impressions in greater detail.
The interviewer used a blue pen and a sheet of white paper to record the responses. Every interview had a length of 30 - 40 minutes, as the time accuracy was not considered as important because the interviewer was focused on extracting valuable consumers' impressions rather than pursuing methodological generalisibility.
The interview had the format of a casual conversation where the interviewee was the one who guided the interviewer's questions, although the interviewer has a clear idea of the interview objectives.
Sampling is the technique applied in primary research for facilitating the researcher in choosing the most appropriate and relevant amount of data for the particular exploration (Saunders et al., 2003).
Sampling can be divided into probability and non-probability sampling. The primary research method of the present dissertation is non-probability sampling, also known as judgmental sampling. Non-probability sampling is an appropriate choice in the exploratory context of the present dissertation. Moreover, the non-probability sampling technique, which the researcher employs, is the purposive sampling.
Purposive sampling is a technique that fails in being statistically representative but is useful in providing significantly rich information on the explored context. This technique contributes to the researcher's aim of identifying and exploring in-depth the key themes in a homogeneous environment, which in the present case is represented by the sample of retail consumers. The interviewer chose 20 grocery retail consumers, who were in full-time employment and had families.
3.6 Relevance and Validity
The credibility of every research project depends on the validity and reliability of its findings and conclusions. In other words, research can be characterised as reliable only if it yields the same results in a different occasion (Easterby-Smith et al., 2002). This suggests that the reliable research is transparent and replicable.
On the other hand, the validity of a research project is achieved only if the research findings achieve their initial objectives and addresses the research question appropriately (Sapsford and Jupp, 1996).
The present dissertation achieves research reliability and results validity through the application of several approaches. Firstly, the researcher clearly outlines the examined research variables by employing a funnelling strategy, which contributes to high extent of research transparency and internal validity. Secondly, the researcher outlines a contextual framework, which can be suggested to contribute to the external validity of the research findings. In other words, the researcher provides a transparent framework to guide other research attempts in achieving the same results on different occasions. Finally the researcher achieves reliability and credibility by conducting a number of discussions with academic and commercial specialists in the researched context. This provided the researcher with useful guidance and avoided the researcher's failure in addressing key research themes.Â Â
3.7 Research Limitations
The researcher used a wide range of well-established, credible and contemporary academic and commercial literature sources. However, the list of references is not an exclusive one and there are many other sources, in terms of scientific domain and area, which could be used. In this respect, the present dissertation is structured through a particular literature focus, which could vary depending on the literature sources employed.
Another limitation is that due to the fact that the literature is developed on specific contextual particularities it could be suggested that there is a certain degree of subjectivity embedded in the literature. This is why it would be fair if the present dissertation is also recognised to be influenced by a certain amount of contextual subjectivity (Bell, 2005).
Finally, the present research project is entirely dependent on university requirements, which creates certain research limitations. Although the researcher received continuous academic guidance and support, and was provided with a great richness of academic information, the dissertation was conducted under a number of university research criteria, which resulted in a number of research constraints such as: time horizons, research approaches and resources.