PHILOSOPHIES

3.2 - RESEARCH PHILOSOPHIES

The research philosophy refers to the way of thinking, and the approach a researcher adopts in the development of knowledge, as well as the chosen path in the realisation of a study project (Saunders et al. 2003). There exist various types of research philosophy, however, Collis & Hussey (2009) pointed out at the two main paradigms existing in research, and defined them as follows; ‘it is a philosophical framework that guides how research should be conducted'. A concise enlightenment and description of both may be explained as follows:

3.2.1 - Positivism

This refers to a paradigm based on the hypothesis that social reality is objective, and therefore, the objective is the discovery of theories, by means of experiments and observations. The research implies a deductive approach to providing explanatory theories to understand social phenomena. Since it is assumed that social phenomena can be measured, positivism is associated with quantitative methods of analysis

3.2.2 - Interpretivism

Contrarily, interpretivism is underpinned by the belief that social reality is shaped by our perception, and is therefore highly subjective. The concept uses an inductive approach in providing explanations of social phenomena. Hence, it uses a variety of qualitative methods and techniques.

3.2.3 - Approaches within the two main paradigms:

It is clear that both paradigms are supported by different philosophical hypothesis. But it may be helpful to think of them as the extremities of a constant line of ideas that can exist simultaneously, and as a move along this line is made, the characteristics and beliefs of one paradigm are progressively reduced and substituted by those of the next. (Collis & Hussey, 2009). Hence, the inevitable conclusion is that, each paradigm plays a vital role in field of research, and the use of both of them in the present research can only be enriching.

3.3 - RESEARCH DESIGN

The choice of a methodology should be in line with its suitability in supplying answers and give solution to the research problem. Thus, the author decided on three approaches which he judged of a great help to meet the research objectives.

3.3.1 - Exploratory:

The exploratory study as referred to by Robson (2002: 59; cited by Saunders et al. 2009) is a significant method of observing ‘what is happening; to seek new insights; to ask questions and to assess phenomena in a new light'. In addition, it is a method that proved to be useful as well as successful in the clarification of an issue, offering therefore a better picture for a better understanding of the nature of the problem. In the meantime, it may reveal that the pursuit of the research is not worth it (Saunders et al, 2009).

However, Saunders et al. (2003) pointed out at three basic approaches for conducting an exploratory research; through a search of the existing literature; by also interviewing experts in the subject; or conducting focus group interviews. They also argued that, its flexibility and adaptability to change, offers a great advantage to the researcher since when conducting this particular research type the aspirant might be willing to change the course as a result of new-found data. Similarly, Adam and Schvaneveldt, 1991 as cited by Saunders et al, 2009 reinforced this line of reasoning by arguing that the very nature of flexibility in an exploratory study means that, the focus is initially broad and becomes progressively narrower as the research progresses.

3.3.2 - Descriptive:

As per Saunders et al. (2009) the intent of descriptive study is to precisely provide profile of persons, events or situations, or often an issue. In addition, it could be a predecessor to an exploratory study or simply an extension of it, or more habitually, a piece of explanatory research. In other words, projects or studies that are too descriptive often call the attention of academics and project tutors, since their intention is to encourage the aspirants to go further in their analysis and evaluation, and draw conclusions from the described data as well as synthesise ideas. Hence, it seems to be considered as a channel to a conclusion rather than a conclusion itself. So, if a research employ mostly a descriptive method it is likely to be a forerunner to an explanatory study. Such researches are usually called ‘descripto- explanatory studies'.

3.3.3 - Explanatory (Analytical):

Researches that establish casual relationships between variables according to Saunders et al. (2009) may be called explanatory studies. Collis & Hussey (2009) refer to it as a continuation of the descriptive research, but more importantly it goes beyond just describing features. Instead, it intends to analyse and bring logical clarifications so that an understanding of why and how a phenomenon is occurring can be obtained.

In addition, and because the object behind analytical research is to understand phenomena through the discovering and measurement of casual relations among variables, the following example should reinforce the above statements: data collection may be based on the size of a firm and the level of labour turnover. Statistical outcomes may reveal that the larger the organisation the higher the turnover level, however, it is not that simple to assume this, and draw final conclusions. In fact, what is fundamental in this type of method is the ability to spot and, perhaps controlling the variables in the research activities, so that the essential variables or the casual links between the characteristics can be better explained (Collis & Hussey, 2009).

The logic of the research/ Research approach (Deductive and Inductive research)

The deductive research refers to a study that proceeds from a conceptual and theoretical structure which is developed and later tested by experiments and observations, so that from a broad presumption, specific details can be extracted. That is why this method is referred to as moving from the general to the particular. Whereas, Inductive research is a study in which a concept or a theory arises as a result of experiments and observations, hence, from particular details, general assumptions are induced. (Collis & Hussey, 2003).

However, the approach that the author opted for rests on the theories and concepts that attracted his attention, and which an attempt to adapting them to the case of the entity in question (Airbus) may reveal inaccuracies, and therefore, would help in identifying gaps in knowledge as the ‘deductive' research suggests.

3.4 - RESEARCH STRATEGY

This section stresses on the various research strategies the author selected as a theoretical reinforcement to this project. Each strategy according to Yin (2003) can be applied to exploratory, descriptive and explanatory study. I addition, some of them can be classified under the deductive approach, while others under the inductive approach. However, Saunders et al. (2009) suggest that emphasis should not be put on what research strategy is superior or inferior to the other, but whether it will equip the researcher with what is needed to answer, the questions and hypothesis that form the theme of the study, and in a way that it converges with the initial objectives.

Therefore, the core strategy selected for this investigation is influenced by the nature of the philosophy behind the researcher's mind, the questions and objectives, the available resources and the amount of time, as well as the extent of existing knowledge. In his discussion of research strategies, the author considers first the case study, followed by the survey strategy.

3.4.1 - Case study

In keeping with Yin (2003) the collection of Data for case studies can emerge from several sources of evidences. He pointed out at six major ones: documentation, archival records, interviews, direct observation, participant observation, and physical artefacts. However, and regardless of the sources used Yin suggests three fundamental principles for data collection to ensure the reliability of the information obtained.

3.4.2 - Survey (using questionnaires)

The survey approach is the most frequently used technique of data collection. As per Lancaster and Reynolds (2004) it implies the use of mail, telephone or personal interview. In addition, researchers can utilise questionnaires when conducting an interview, however this vary according to the circumstances and factors such as, type and amount of data needed, the accuracy required, cost, timing, and ease of questioning.

Similarly, in the present research, the author gives a particular attention to the survey technique, by interviewing a sample of executives and managers of EADS, and Airbus SAS, principal suppliers, as well as an ex manager at Airbus … however prior to the interview stage, a special attention was paid to the design of the questionnaire, using a pilot survey, and following guidelines as suggested by Lancaster & Reynolds (2004); to check the viability of any questionnaire, first, the sample should signal a definite purpose or aim as well as a clarity in the questions asked. Additionally, avoid errors such as the length and order in which questions are arranged, as this can bias the study's result (Davies, D. 2000). Secondly, several versions might be tested before the final one can be agreed. Thus, it is of a great importance to have the right questionnaire, since the success of a survey relies on it (Lancaster, G & Reynolds, P, 2004).

3.5 - DATA COLLECTION METHOD

In order to be able to answer the research questions and reach the aim & objectives, data need to be collected. Also, to be able to organise the work and the collection of the data, the researcher's approach is based on different types of sources which are believed to be of a great importance.

 

3.5.1 - Secondary data

It is suggested that, in case the data does apply to particular decision problem, it becomes then secondary information. Furthermore, if used cleverly, the data can be of a great significance in terms of time saving, and cost effectiveness (Davies. D, 2000, p. 57)…The amount of the existing secondary data in relation to today's decision making issues is remarkable. However, it takes on average less time for secondary data to be collected comparing to the time the researcher needs to spend on the collection of primary data. Moreover, it is usually a less costly method, and would be the preferred method for researchers, if its sole use could solve the research problem. Thus, and in regard to these arguments, it could be said that if there exists secondary data that resolves the research problems, then not much primary research has to be carried out. However, it makes sense to exhaust secondary data resources prior to the collection of primary data since resource constraints always confront the researcher (Davies. D, 2000, p. 57).

3.5.2 - Primary data

This refers to the data that need to be collected by the researcher himself, from original sources for a particular rationale, by the means of the several techniques available such as, questionnaires, interviews, observations, experiments, and so on. So, once an investigation and examination of secondary data sources is completed, inadequacy or insufficiency for the information needs and requirements may emerge. Subsequently, Davies (2000) suggests that, researchers must consider and turn their attention to the collection of primary data. He added that Active data collection methods habitually use surveys that are particularly intended to obtain a maximum amount of information from human respondents. Hence, most of the data indispensable for decisions making has to come from people themselves.

3.5.2.1 - Quantitative data

Quantitative research as argued by Davies (2000) characteristically implies large samples and uses techniques such as structured surveys questioning that can be numerically and statistically analysed. (Davies. D, 2000, p. 265). Due to some constraints, the sample questioned in this study was not as large as just suggested, and as the author wished, however, it was large enough to enable to proceed for such a method.

3.5.2.2 - Qualitative data

There is no an exact or a single meaning attached to qualitative method in any of the social sciences. According to Van Maanen (1979) it is ‘ an array of interpretive techniques which seek to describe, decode, translate and otherwise come to terms with the meaning, not the frequency, of certain more or less naturally occurring phenomena in the social world' (Van Maanen 1979: 520; Cassell & Symon 1999). Additionally, qualitative researches are characteristically subjective since they can not be meaningfully quantified. Therefore, they are based on the researcher's own thinking and interpretation of the information. Also, this type of studies is in general an in-depth analysis of one or a small amount of comments, and require therefore less structured questioning or observation of the respondents. (Davies. D, 2000, p. 265).

RESEARCH LIMITATION AND ETHICAL CONSIDERATION

Conducting a research without running in to ethical issues is far from being easy and seems to be inevitable. Hence, the problem of confidentiality was relatively straightforward and first to be considered so was the anonymity of the interviewees. So, participants were briefed on why information was needed and how it would be handled. Other constraints that challenged the author mainly were, the short time frame to complete the study, gaining access to the organisation, and finally the personal finance.

CHAPTER SUMMARY

Research methodology is one of the most important chapters a research project rests on. It supplies the researcher with a valuable framework and guidelines for the entire research process. Therefore, in this chapter the author reviewed a number of theories with an attempt to show the relationship that exist between them. Although, it is difficult to deal with abstract ideas, establishing a logical order of these concepts and philosophies enabled the author to give the present study the appropriate structure. So, the study is first shaped by two main paradigms ‘positivism & interpretivism' which obey to the qualitative and quantitative method. While, the chosen design necessitates three approaches. Additionally, the logic behind the research process is ‘deductive' and is supported by strategies that should enable the aspirant to satisfy the research questions and objectives.

References

Cassell, C & Symon, G. (1999), Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research, London, UK. Sage Publications Ltd. (p. 3).

Collis. J & Hussey. R. (2003), Business Research - a practical guide for undergraduate & postgraduate students, (2nd edn), UK. Palgrave Macmillan Publisher Ltd. (p. 15).

Collis. J & Hussey. R. (2009), Business Research - a practical guide for undergraduate & postgraduate students, (3rd edn), UK. Palgrave Macmillan Publisher Ltd. (p.p. 55, 56, 57, 58).

Davies. D, (2000), Business Research for Decision Making, (5th edn), Duxbury. Thomson Learning. (p.p. 57, 264, 265, 269, 300, 301).

Lancaster. G & Reynolds. P. (2004), Marketing, New York. U.S.A. Palgrave MacMaillan. (P.P 126-127).

Saunders. M et al. (2003), Research methods for business students, (3rd edn), England. Pearson Education Ltd. (p.p. 83, 91, 92, 93, 96, 97).

Saunders. M et al. (2009), Research methods for business students, (5th edn), England. Pearson Education Ltd. (p.p. 69, 139, 140, 141).

Yin. R. K, (2003), Case study Research: Design & Methods, (3rd edn), U.S.A. Sage Publications, Inc. (p.p.83, 85)

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