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This chapter focuses on the, research design, respondents and sampling procedures and the research method which consists of questionnaire, data collection procedure, conceptual framework and the statically analysis of the data.
As Saunders et al (2009), stated research can take many philosophical positions, this research also takes many positions. Ontologically it takes the form of both objectivism and subjectivism. Objectively in the secondary research we study the objects of the organisation like organisation culture, roles, procedure, processes etc. to design the questionnaire. On the other hand the primary research of this study takes the form of the Subjectivism where customers feeling and behaviours are studied.
Epistemologically also this research takes two positions, one has Positivism and other as Interpretive. The research collects the data from interviewing the customers, analyse the result by hypothesis testing etc, thus research takes the Positivism position. On the other hand the research interprets the data collected, which are feeling of the customers about the organisation etc, so we can also say that the research is Interpretive.
3.1 Conceptual framework
This study has focused on overseas consultancy industry, which is a growing business in service sector. For this purpose Impel Overseas was chosen as the case study. And the study was mainly on the service quality and student satisfaction. The conceptual frame work used in this research to measure the student's perceptions in service quality is adapted on the basis of SERVQUAL model designed by Parasuraman et al 1988. Moreover this research also considered some other important factors like students priority of each dimension used in the questionnaire to study perceived service quality.
The conceptual framework in this research is composed of the following variables:
Students Priority as an independent variable to student's expectations and students perceptions.
Students expectations and Students perceptions in five dimensions tangibility, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy as two other set of independent variables to measure service quality of Impel with respect to the perceived service quality.
Dependent Variables, student satisfaction and perceived service quality (Gap5), which is the difference between students internal perception and expectations with the influence of student's priority on each of the dimensions.
Independent Variable Student Priority
Independent Variable Student Perceptions
Independent Variable Student Expectations
The research is designed to understand the service quality of Impel. It uses both deductive and inductive techniques to analyse the service quality. The following research strategy was useful for the study to generate the data which is reliable and valid. The research strategy consists of 4 phases
Phase 1(deductive approach): This stage is to collect the qualitative data which determine the dimensions which have an influence on the service quality of an organisation. The secondary research was helpful in identifying the dimensions from already published journals, books etc. All the information collected in this phase was used as the input for the next phase, which is the questionnaire designing phase.
Phase 2: All the information gathered in the phase 1 is analysed to design a research questionnaire to gather the quantitative data. The questionnaire will be then piloted with associates to test the reliability of the data.
Phase 3(Inductive approach): After collecting the answers from the pilot test, the reliability of the data is tested. If the reliability is poor, then certain theories will be developed to redesign the questionnaire to meet the requirements of the organisations and to generate more valid data.
Phase 4: The questionnaire thus designed in phase 3 will be distributed to actual customers and the data will be collected and analysed.
Firstly personal interviews were rejected as the case study organisation selected was located at very farer distance from the place of research and taking personal interviews would cost time and money. Secondly using mathematical calculations to analyse the quantitative data was rejected to avoid ambiguity and also as the researcher was using software which for the survey which automatically generates the results required making the task easy. Finally many other theories or methods to measure the service quality ware rejected due to their incompleteness of the results they generate.
3.2 Research Design
This research was designed as a difference between student's expectation and student's perception to the perceived service quality and lead to student's satisfaction. The research aims to identify the level of service quality of Impel overseas consultancy, which is assessed by the perceived service quality gap of the students who visited there, and leads to determine the extent of student's satisfaction as rated by the students themselves after they used the Impel services.
3.3 Research Instrument and Questionnaire
3.3.1 Research Instrument
The research adopted and modified all dimensions of SERVQUAL proposed by Parasuraman et al (1988, 1991), such as reliability, responsiveness, Assurance, tangibility and empathy to fit the setting of a consultancy industry. The reason for selecting SERVQUAL instrument is that, according to Robinson (1999), many researchers used this instrument to access service quality and they adopted SERVQUAL to different situations. According to Robinson (1999), numerous studies use "gap" between customer expectations and customer perceptions to measure service quality. Service quality derived by subtracting the expectation score from the perception score allows the consultancy to focus its attention on where it had more impact or where the consultancy should concentrate to improve its service quality.
All the scores in the questionnaires are summed and averaged to get a score for each question. Then the scores of questions within each dimension are again averaged to obtain the score for each dimension. Which is used to find out how well an organization is performing with respect to customer expectations. SERVQUAL was adapted in this part to study the perceive service quality in Gap 5.
Service Quality = The Perceived Service Quality Gap (Gap 5)
The Negative Means Gap (P<E) = The Students are Satisfied in Service Quality
The Positive Means Gap (P>E) = The Students are Unsatisfied in Service Quality
The questionnaire used for this question is mainly divided into three sections
Section 1: The Students expectations, this section of the questionnaire contain 18 questions regarding the service expectations of the students in all five service quality dimensions before using the Impel services.
Section 2: The Students' perceptions, this section of the questionnaire contain 18 questions regarding the service perceptions of the students in all five service quality dimensions after using the Impel services.
Section 3: Students Priorities, this section of the questionnaire is designed to obtain the students priority for each of the dimension used in section 1 and section 2 of the questionnaire, so that some of the important customer expectations can be drawn.
Table 3.1: Categories of Research Questions
Service Quality Dimensions
A 7 point Likert scale was used to measure the service quality and student satisfaction of Impel, this scale is used in both section 1 and section 2 of the questionnaire.
2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Where in section 1 marking '1' indicates strongly disagree, marking '7' indicates strongly agree and marking in between scores indicates the level of agreement and disagreement. And in section 2 marking '1' indicated strongly dissatisfied, marking '7' indicates strongly satisfied and marking in between scores indicates the level of satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
Section 3 will be marked by customer giving points to each question, and all the points add up to 100.
For the convenience of the students and the researcher to reduce time and ambiguity section 1 and section 2 are clubbed together; however the scores will be taken separately.
3.4 Collection of data and gathering procedure
For the purpose of collecting the data, a structured survey questionnaire was designed with section 1 and section 2 containing the closed form of questions and section 3 containing the open ended text type questions as the collection method. All these questions ware updated online for the easy of interpreting the data by using online software tool provided by www.surveyconsole.com. The data was collected by e-mailing the online questionnaire to about 1000 students who have used Impel overseas services during the last 6 months all over India.
Both quantitative and qualitative methods are applied to measure the student's satisfactions who visited Impel. Essentially the quantitative analysis was conducted using the statistical information provided by the online software. The form of data obtained from these procedures was accessible in an easily interpretable format. And all the statistical procedures are performed by the software to ensure accuracy, minimize time and minimize cost.
The qualitative method is applied in section 3 of the questionnaire in which student's priorities for the SERVQUAL dimension used in section 1 and section 2 are asked. This qualitative analysis was used basically to obtain the in-depth understanding, and analyze the data obtained by the quantitative approach in section 1 and section 2 of the questionnaire. The results obtained through the secondary data aided to the analysis of the primary data.
Variables of Research
The variables for identifying students' expectations and students' perceptions of service quality at Impel are summarized in table 3.2. The table consists of variable, component and the type of variable.
Type of variable
show ample interest in clearing student's doubts related to the universities
promise to get back on certain issues and do within promised time
able to solve all the problems at the first instance
provide the correct answers to all the questions asked by students
Regularly inform its student about their application status and new rules
Able to service the requests of (prospective) students as early as possible
Easily accessible for assistance and should be always willing to help students
never too late or busy to solve student's requests
staff give confidence to students
staff be courteous to the student needs
have enough knowledge to answer appropriate questions
timings are conductive according to student's requirements
give personal attention to the concerned students
understand the specific needs of the students
show their best interest while interacting with students
Consultancy physical facilities be professional and well maintained
Counsellors be professionally dressed
use state of the art equipment to communicate with students
Gap between students expectations and perceptions
Tools for qualitative and quantitative analysis
This research used both descriptive and inferential tools to analyse the quantitative and qualitative data to fully answer the research question as follows
Descriptive statistics: descriptive statistics was used in the section 3 of the
questionnaire to provide simple data like students importance level and to
explain the characteristics of the situation.
Inferential Statistics: Inferential statistics was used in section 1 and section 2
of the questionnaire , we used inferential statistics to infer some data from the statistics to test the research hypotheses.
Through section 1 and section 2 of the questionnaire, students' satisfaction score was computed using the arithmetic and gap obtained for perceived, expected and the level of importance for each attribute. If the gap score is positive, it means that students are satisfied in that particular attribute. Hence it can be interpreted that the service quality of Impel is good. On the other hand if the gap score is negative, means that students are not fully satisfied with the service in that attribute and hence it can be interpreted that service quality of Impel in that attribute is poor and needs to improve that service to enhance students' satisfaction. However if the result is neutral i.e. if the gap score is zero, it can be interpreted that as students are fairly satisfied with that service, meaning that students satisfaction in that particular service is lesser than those service attributes which received positive score.
Further through section 3 of the questionnaire, students priorities for each dimension of SERVQUAL used in section 1 and section 2 of the questionnaire are determined. The priority of each dimension for the improvement of weaknesses will be as follows: firstly all those weaknesses in the dimension with high priority will be improved, followed by the weaknesses in next high priority will be improved. However weaknesses in the least priority dimension can be ignored, because improvement of such attributes may not likely improve students' satisfaction.
3.7. Research Hypotheses.
The research has been set with hypotheses to study the difference between student's expectations and students perceptions considering the students priorities/ importance level of the five dimensions of service quality.
H1 A: There is a positive difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Tangibility in Impel Overseas.
H1 B: There is a zero difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Tangibility in Impel Overseas.
H1 C: There is a Negative difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Tangibility in Impel Overseas.
H2 A: There is a positive difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Reliability in Impel Overseas.
H2 B: There is a zero difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Reliability in Impel Overseas.
H2 C: There is a negative difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Reliability in Impel Overseas.
H3 A: There is a positive difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Responsiveness in Impel Overseas.
H3 B: There is a zero difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Responsiveness in Impel Overseas.
H3 C: There is a negative difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Responsiveness in Impel Overseas.
H4 A: There is a positive difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Empathy in Impel Overseas.
H4 B: There is a zero difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Empathy in Impel Overseas.
H4 C: There is a negative difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Empathy in Impel Overseas.
H5 A: There is a positive difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Assurance in Impel Overseas.
H5 B: There is a zero difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Assurance in Impel Overseas.
H5 C: There is a negative difference between students' perceptions and expectations in service quality regarding Assurance in Impel Overseas.
Validity & Reliability of the data
The researcher used online software, which automatically records every answer answered by the customer with their IP address and email Id. This ensures reliability of the data.
The researcher gave every detail of the research to the participant to ensure that every participant participate in the survey with free mind. Enough confidence was given to all the survey participants about the confidentiality of the data. And also all the participants were informed early to their participation that they can leave the survey any time in between. Thus researcher considered all possible ethical issues throughout the study.