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The whole research process is planned at the early stage of the research, as disclosed in the chapter 1 the structure of the dissertation will be followed since beginning. At the start of the research the researcher have observed that there is a increasing trend in effective supply chain management and many companies use it as the competitive advantage, so the researcher has decided to do a research on SCM and then to see how companies are effectively using it, so the topic of the research is selected by the researchers own interest, as Ryun (2009) conclude that the only thing that boost your enthusiasm is self motivation towards the same.
The research process is explained In the figure (14) below shows a general research design that have the steps like; problem definition, research design and development, data collection and analysis and finally the report writing. For this dissertation the first stage the researcher has demonstrate that why few of the food retailers in UK have good market share then the rest of the other fast food chain holder, the one most common thing come up is their competencies in SCM, then in the second stage the researcher wrote the literature review as its is good to have the understanding on the literature written earlier on the same subjects and what other authors have said about the same (Saunders, 2003) so the researcher, researched about SCM and their major participants and components, about the UK fast food retailers and their SCM, as Saunders (2003) argue that before doing any research it is important for the researcher to have a proper theoretical working on the same domain or topic.
So by doing the literature review the researcher is not only gaining the knowledge on same topic but also refining the research purposes and objectives to construct the more productive conclusions. Then the research methodology and designs are constructed that help to define the research approach and data collections tools and help in identifying the appropriate tool for this dissertation, so this step is actually answering the ways through which the researcher answered the research questions. Then in stage (4) the data analysis will be done, so to interpret the results of the data collected.
Then research is come to the point where the researcher should write a report and then discuss the conclusions and findings of the research and how useful it is for the other researcher, by giving the guidelines for the future researches and then the cycle of the researches will again done by some other researcher with some new objectives. At the end ethical issues will also addressed.
Figure 14 : the research process
Source: mybusinessdrive.com (Dec 2011)
3.2 RESEARCH PHILOSOPHY
The research methodology literature suggests that before defining the research approach it is important to go through the research philosophy (Trochim, 2009). From the management and social sciences literature it have been concluded that there are three basic types of research philosophy exist: positivism, interpretivism and realism (Saunders, 2003)
Positivism: This philosophy suggest that the methods for gaining knowledge is either by having natural or physical or material approach towards it. Positivism argues that there is only positive approach towards ideologies and theories, as the theories are developed from the positive affirmations after passing through strict scientific methods. (Gill and Johnson, 1997¼‰
Interpretivism: it is also called as post-positivism approach or Phenomenology. It deals the nature, scope and belief of the theories and ideologies. So in interpretivism not only the analysis of knowledge done but also to see that how this knowledge is produced, belief and justified.
Realism: This philosophy focused on the reality exists which is independent of the human's beliefs and thoughts. It have been seen that large scale of social forces and processes are affecting people and their behaviors, and they are not aware of these changes within themselves. (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2003)
There is no comment and justifications to show that one philosophy is anyway better than other, each of them is important and critical but it all depend on the research questions that how they can be answered, usually it is seen that management and business researches are the mixture of positivism and interpretivism styles.
For this dissertation the researcher will use Post-positivism approach to answer the research questions, as quantitative data analysis tool will be used and phenomenology gave the researcher freedom of using the tool of his choice, this approach belief that reality is what one construct in his own self, so it is important to gain confidence on the sample which cannot opposed the truth (Crossan, 2004).
The research literature suggest that here are various research approaches possible (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2003) Few of them that are very common for the management sciences researches are : Inductive approach, Deductive approach, Qualitative approach and Quantitative approach
Inductive approach: The term itself indicates that this process starts with a point and ends up adding information and few more points on the way through to making general interpretations about the research topic. (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2003)
Deductive approach: This refers to an approach that starts with few concepts and theories and tries to confine the subject in the context of the research focus. This is one of the widely used approaches to reach to a conclusion in general researches to add more specific information to existing concepts (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2003)
Qualitative approach: This approach relies on the existing theories and practices. In other words this approach is based on the tested and proven methods. The available literature is the major source in this approach. This is called qualitative as the research results can be more reliable then compared to other methods / approaches of research. (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2003)
Quantitative approach: This is one of the widely used research approaches. This approach relies on a wider study and does not majorly rely on the literature, instead will take a concept or theory from the existing literature and will research about it in the environment (surroundings). This is one of the approach used to make general interpretations about a concept or theory. The major methods of this research approach are surveys, questionnaire, interviews etc. (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2003)
The research approach for this research will not be restricted to any of the research approaches. We use all the approaches possible to keep this study effective. As there are various factors influencing the supply chain and the fast food industry is specific, hence we will try to emanate the drawbacks of various approaches and will use all possible methods to gather pertinent and result oriented data.
Robson (2002) illustrate that the research questions can be divided in terms of the aim and objective identified as well as the research strategy used to carry out the research. The research design can be divided in to three main categories: exploratory, descriptive and causal, each has its own merits and demerits, it all depends on the type of situation where to use it and which design can give the optimum result. As in all three the levels of flexibility and formality are keep on changing (Webb, 1992).
Exploratory: The main objective of such kind of research is to discover the ideas and insights, the main characteristic of this kind of research is it versatile flexible nature and can use both type of data collection tools.
Descriptive: In the descriptive research design the market characteristics and functions are defined, the basic characteristics of this kind of research is the formulation of hypothesis so a pre-planned and structured design is its main features.
Casual: in this kind of research design the cause and effect relationship is determined, by controlling other meditating variables. Thus the method to carry out this research is quantitative data analysis.
It is hard to say that which one is better and which is not, as it is dependent on the type of research and the problem statement or objective of the research, shown in figure (15).
Figure 15 : Relation of research design with problem structure
Source: Ghauri et al (1995)
As exploratory design of research is most valuable in finding out that "what is happening; to seek new insights; to ask questions and to assess phenomena in a new light" (Robson, 2002). For this dissertation the exploratory kind of research design is suitable, as there is no such problem there but we are evaluating that how successful supply chain management can be to give competitive edge for the retail fast food industry. And it is argued by Webb (1992) that the basic aim for the exploratory research is to see the boundaries, problems, opportunities and other situations that contribute as the silent variable for the problem or situation.
3.4.1 Research Strategy
Research strategy for every research is significant. As we know that this influences the outcome of the research, hence we have decided to formulate two questionnaires for gathering data. One will focus on the management and the other will focus on the experiences of the customers. This will also help in covering all the aspects in this research.
Both these two questionnaires will be filled by the customers and management of both the companies' brand. i.e. McDonald and Burger King. So to get the clear picture that of the both two brands that are gaining competitive edge through effective management of supply chain.
The sample size is of 120-100 questionnaires, 20 questionnaires will be responded by the management of each brand and 30 questionnaires will be responded by the customer of each brand. So each of the two brands (McDonald and Burger King), have the sample size of 50 questionnaires 200 from the management and 30 from the customers. The researcher will keep on focused that the questionnaires are not so large or contain many open end questions that the customers or employee feel laborious to respond it.
3.5 DATA COLLECTION METHOD
There are various sources through which data can be gathered. The data for any research can be divided into two categories: Primary Data and Secondary Data
Figure 16. Data collection methods
Research specified data (Primary Data)
Supporting data (Secondary Data)
DATA COLLECTION METHOD
Source: Made by Researcher
3.5.1 Research Specific data
This is also known as primary data. The term itself indicates that this data is specific to the research. The data that is gathered to answer the set research questions is known as primary data. The major sources for gathering data in this category are interviews, focus groups, surveys, observations, questionnaires, telephonic interviews, etc (Bryman, Bell, 2003)
The primary data collection for this dissertation is will be gathered through formulating two questionnaires and using two methods. First we will try to contact the management of McDonalds and Burger King through email and take their responses on the questionnaire; the second will be to carry-out a general survey in public to know about the customer service (and associate it with the effectiveness of the supply chain).
3.5.2 Supporting data
This refers to the data that fills the gaps left by the primary data. As the major function of this data is to support the research, hence this is known as supporting data. This data is not research specific, instead is gathered from the available literature or some other pertinent research. The major sources through which this data can be gathered are academic books, magazines, newspapers, internet, etc (Bryman, Bell, 2003)
The secondary data collection is done in the previous chapter, where a substantial body of literature is presented on SCM and different angels to see supply chain management, then about the UK fast food industry and most importantly the two bug UK fast food brands; McDonald and Burger King.
3.6 DATA ANALYSIS
The data analysis will be done in the later chapter; the analysis will be of quantitative in nature as the research is carried out through self administrated questionnaires.
There are various aspects that a research needs to focus before, during and after gathering data for the research. These aspects help the researcher keep the data effective in the context of the study.
This refers to the relevance of variables in the study. As we know that there are various variables in a research. This aspect ensures that the data gathered should be relative to the research. In other words these aspects state that there has to be inter-connectivity between the focus of the research and the data gathered. (Ghauri, Gronhaug, 2005)
We will try to gather relevant data and will avoid vagueness in data. The data gathered will be confined to the research focus but will also try to remain neutral to answer various other research associated questions.
This aspect refers to neutral (correct or accurate) and bias free results. In other words this aspect states that if the same data is used again for a similar research the results of the research should be similar. This also states that there should be any biased interpretation or should be a favor for any person or organization through this research. (Ghauri, Gronhaug, 2005)
We will not only stay neutral while interpreting the findings and framing the results of this research, but will also send the results to few industry experts to seek their view. This will eliminate the bias aspect from the research and will keep the research effective.
This refers to the spectrum covered by the research answers in resolving the general issues. In other words the results of the research should be able to answer a wide range of real time issues. (Ghauri, Gronhaug, 2005)
We will try to keep the results as general as possible and will also try to cover as many issues as possible.
3.6.4 Authenticity of data sources:
This is one of the significant aspects of any research. The data gathered should be from reliable sources. The authenticity of data sources defines the effectiveness of the research. (Collis, Hussey, 2009)
We will try to gather data from authentic sources. As we have formulated questionnaires and are gathering data through sources which are reliable, I believe we can surely guarantee the authenticity of data sources.
This chapter has presented the research methodology by demonstrating the research design, it has concluded that appropriate research philosophy is post-positivism or Interpretivism by using a mix research approach of inductive and quantitative data collection tools.
It have been seen through the methodology demonstration that the research design will be exploratory in nature and the research strategy would include the questionnaires around 120-100 that will be responded by the customers and management of both the brands of the UK fast food (McDonald and Burger King). The next chapter will explain the Data analysis of the questionnaires.