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Research Methodology is a mean to solve the research problem in a more scientific and systematic way. It is all about how the research is done and various steps that are adopted by researcher will be studied. In this chapter, a short introduction to the qualitative approach and the methods that have been used in relation to the selection of sample, collection and analysis of data, is provided.
When deciding the research approaches, researcher had 3 different options: a qualitative approach, quantitative approach or the combination of the two. It is entirely up to the researcher as to which approach he would be using, based on what kind of information the researcher is seeking. According to Cresswell (2004), researcher should relate the approach to the purpose of the research, role of researcher and data analysis role.
The difference between a qualitative and quantitative approach can be hazy and hard to define. However, Creswell (2004) states some general guidelines that may help to explain the main differences:
- Gather participant meanings
- Focus on a single concept or phenomenon
- Bring personal value to study
- Study the context or setting of participants
- Make interpretations of the data
- Collaborate with the participants
- Test or Verify theories
- Identify variables to study
- Relates variable in hypothesis
- Observe and measure information numerically
- Use unbiased approaches
- Employ statistical procedures
Nature of research
This dissertation falls under the category of qualitative research. In a research of a networking phenomenon, qualitative approach is especially useful when trying to understand how businessmen make use of both LinkedIn and Golf, how their relationship are formed, managed and developed through the use of both tools. Besides that, qualitative approach gives more flexibility as it is unstructured hence making it possible to understand the data in its context. It also creates a deeper understanding and a thorough description of the whole picture.
The objective of the study is:
- To study the theory of marketing
- To understand the purpose of networking
- To examine importance of above objectives when applying to networking tool golf and LinkedIn
- To compare both tools and draw conclusion
Research design allows researcher to put all pieces of the research together. It is a plan to structure the research, strategy of investigation, selection of data collection method etc. Besides that, it should also cover the procedure of processing the data and analysis. It is one of most important element and it should be done with great care.
Research should be conducted only when it is expected that the value of information to be obtained will be greater than the cost of obtaining it. When decided that research value will be likely to exceed the cost of research, it may then begin. The process usually consists of a series of eight steps:
- Definition of the research problem to be solved and its objectives.
- Selection of data collection methods to be used
- Selection of sampling method to be used
- Development of an analysis plan
- Estimation of the time and resources required
- Data collection
- Data analysis
- Research reporting
Researching face to face network like golf, is essential to establish contacts with those who play golf and have used golf to help their business. It would definitely be easier to gain access to information through interview as golf is recognised as a networking tool that focuses on communication between individual. In-depth interview allows the informants to reflect upon their previous experiences. Apart from that, it gives researcher an opportunity to explore informants' replies more thoroughly. Additionally, interviews are more economical in terms of time and resources and in relation to this dissertation, both have been fairly limited. Interviews are considered as the most frequently used method for qualitative data-collection (Fedrick, 2005).
XXX : mention ques asked in interview/questionnaire
Talking about the term of economical, questionnaires have advantages over other form of surveys as they are cheap and required less effort from researcher compared to verbal or telephone survey. With the present of advance technology, questionnaires were sent electronically to ease researcher in term of printing and distributing the questionnaire.
As the concept indicates, purposive sampling is when a sample is drawn with a purpose, usually based on pre-defined qualities that the researcher is seeking (Remenyi 2005). This was especially useful in this dissertation, as the informants necessarily had to be people who actually used LinkedIn and are business-golfer. When attempting to locate samples of such people it was likely that one of the main indicators would be the number of connections that a person had. Based on this criterion, and the fact that the participants had to fulfil the condition mentioned above, a search for eligible / appropriate informant was initiated.
Snowball sampling was considered to be especially useful since it is difficult to find informants who fulfilled the conditions and the fact that there was no sampling frame to choose from. Through snowball sampling, each LinkedIn participant recommends someone that they believe fulfil the necessary conditions, and the sample grow from there. People who are connected to each other often tend to have similar interests and job role and it is therefore likely that they will recommend people that are similar to themselves. Consequently, the sample will probably not be representative. Still, whether or not the sample should be representative depends on the topic, and based on this dissertation it was not an issue.
After identifying several candidates by the use of purposive sampling, the informants received an e-mail where they were asked whether or not they would be interested in participating in the research. The informants who answered were also asked to recommend people they thought might meet the same criterions. In addition, people who were known users of LinkedIn were contacted and asked whether or not they knew anyone that might be suitable. Thus, the snowball started rolling and the sample grew from 4 to 15.
Collecting the data
As previously sketched, the data collected was based on information from
The interviews were conducted within a period of one month. The informants chosen were all business-golfers aged 45-55. The interviews lasted for 15-20 minutes, depending on each informant and his deliberation. All informants were known prior to the interviews, in fact they were all friends of the researcher, therefore lead to a rather relaxed and a relatively unforced conversation. After each interview, as new topics arose, new questions were added. Interesting perspectives, point of views and friendly advice that were expressed during the interviews were written down for future and personal use.
The questionnaire (LinkedIn) was set with the help of researcher's supervisor and sent to informants within one week of completion.