Research methodology

Introduction

To achieve the aim of the research work and to get valid and reliable results choosing a proper methodology is important. The research purpose and research questions decide the choice of methodology (Saunders et al 2003). According to Maxwell (Tharenou et al, 2007) research is important in the academic context as it can provide altogether different results from the ones that are published in various articles and books. The changing business dynamics and difference of time span may be the cause of the difference in results, also in the current business scenario the assumptions made by the previous researchers can be misleading or else outdated. Glass (1996) advocates academic findings tend to fluctuate in their contexts, subjects and various other factors therefore are more fragile. It is primarily for this rationale Maxwell states that ‘the contexts, assumptions, beliefs and theories maintain and direct the research towards meaningful conclusions. Therefore this chapter will enumerate on how data was collected, and then discuss the relevance of these research methods in the light of available literature. Further it will also sketch the chosen methodology for the study; the time taken to collect the data, the different consultant interviewed and the secondary data used.

Research Design

According to Joyner and Glatthorn(2006) developing a sound research design is important regardless the type of research, research design is a specific plan for studying the research plan. The dissertation aims at finding out the possible reasons which can prompt a conflict between consultant and clients, and how consultants use emotional intelligence to effectively resolve the issue. To get first hand information and to avoid ambiguity during the research information was sought from direct sources. The leads from the literature review regarding the reasons for clash between consultants and clients suggested that different personality traits of managers (clients) can be responsible for a conflict in the client and consultant engagement. Although there is literature available on clash between consultants and client it is very limited and does not cover benefits of using emotional intelligence in that particular situation. To cover all the construct of the dissertation that is reasons for clashes between consultants and clients and how consultants use emotional intelligence to form a mutual resolution, in-depth interviews were conducted with consultants in India. Due to the distance factor it was not possible to administer interviews face to face. Therefore telephonic interviews and voice call on the internet were selected as the methods to gather information.

Methodology

The method adopted for the research is qualitative in nature. In Goldman and McDonald's (1987) view, qualitative research can be used in combination with a survey or independently. Qualitative research uses reasoning that is not similar to sources like publications, books, etc. For this dissertation it is done with consultants working in India who have previous experience which covers the construct of the research, it is done through in-depth questioning with an open-ended approach. As the number of consultants interviewed were not very high in number it was important to identify deeper understanding of the research through the available resources. Therefore in-depth interview method was selected as it facilitates the opportunity to explore different domains. The questions asked in the interviews were designed in an impromptu scheme covering different relevant variables of the dissertation (such as personality traits, reasons for clashes, emotional intelligence, components of emotional intelligence, etc). It is done mainly to keep the interviews casual and friendly to the respondents, unlike in a structured interview. In structured interviews the respondents often guess or know the next question, which affects the legitimacy of the response. It was mainly a one-on-one interview with a respondent classified as in-depth interview in the qualitative technique. The reputation of interviewing derives its character from the inquiry method (Patton, 2002). In Fontana and Frey's (2000) findings, often the style of interviewing decides the credibility of the data collected. In this regard, the interviewer needs to be in complete understanding of the topic, since the respondent may not always allow the interviewer to question in a structured format.

Sampling Method and Configuration

Sampling is the process by which inference is made to the whole by examining only a part of the population. Sampling is inevitable if the population selected is infinite and when the results are required in a short time. Sampling also becomes necessary when the area of survey is wide and the resources available are limited in terms of money and person (Web). During the information collection for the research it was mandatory to target consultants who have faced the situation which the dissertation tries to cover. That is why Judgement sampling method was chosen. Judgement sampling involves the choice of subjects who are most advantageously placed or in the best position to provide the information required. According to Housden and Crouch (2003) under judgement sampling the subject may be able to provide genuine information on the research by the virtue of having gone through the experience and processes which the dissertation tries to reason. The use of experts who are conveniently available to us also restricts the findings of the research to be general. In reference to Judgement Sampling, Iacobucci and Churchill (2005) opines that they are usually hand-picked; this was certainly experienced in cases when consultants from different companies were selected with the underlying belief that the chosen respondents were the best fit to contribute towards the research. However it is the only viable sampling method for obtaining the type of information that is required from very specific pockets of people who are very knowledgeable are included in the sample.

The sample size consisted of 5 in depth interviews with consultants. Since there were parameters set for eligibility to be a part of the research project none of the respondents were selected through speculative means. Contacts with consultants were established through friends currently working in different business sectors in India. Contact was made through email to introduce the researcher and give information on the research project. To conduct depth interviews an appointment was sought from the following respondents namely Tejal Damania(Financial consultant), Varsha Lalwani(Financial consultant), Arpit Bhattacharya (Management Consultant) Savio Gomez (Management Consultant) and Farhan Azmi(Recruitment Consultant). The average time for the depth interviews was measured at 25 minutes. With respect to the depth interviews all the individuals selected hold prominent positions in their respective companies. Tejal Damania has been a great help in arranging the interviews and introducing the researcher to the respondents.

Open ended questions

Open ended questions are used for qualitative research such as interviews (Patton 2002) in congruence to this statement open ended questions were used in the interviews with the management personnel and also in the questionnaire. According to Bunting (2005) the number of possible responses an interviewer can expect from an open ended question is more compared to any other technique. This gives an opportunity to the interviewer to choose an appropriate response based on the responses. Chisnall(2005) suggests that they are interesting, considering the spontaneity and variety of the response (This has been particularly evident during the in-depth interviews conducted by the researcher). However in an antithesis Chisnall (2005) argues that the interpretation of open-ended questions often poses a detriment to the research quality. This is for the following reasons, interviewer's bias in quoting the response, selective scanning, compressing response to adequate or appropriate coding etc.

Qualitative Research

Evidently qualitative research has been regarded as an exploratory research; that is more appropriate in finding of the unknown. It is an ongoing process of information collection that is commonly undertaken by various disciplines and forms a crucial part of the curriculum (Flick, 2006). Qualitative data has been the primary source to gather information for the research project. It is characterised by the supply of exhaustive material response by the respondents which is unlike in a quantitative research (Swift et al, 2007). The open-ended technique delivers more variables to the interviewer, which at times exceeds the known variables. It allows the respondent to express with high spirits and also gives the interviewer an opportunity to make note of the body language which is crucial in analysing the data. Maxwell (2004) support that the information collected through qualitative data provides valuable leads to the overall analyses.

Advantages of Qualitative Research with respect to data collection experience

The difference that qualitative data collection provides is that it gives a microscopic detail to the area of research unlike in quantitative. It is important to have a natural purview of the subject to get unbiased and realistic material for the research, Qualitative methods emphasises on this concept and suggests the use of different techniques such as focus groups, case studies, observations, narratives and in-depth interviews to collect data. From this dissertation's view-point the qualitative research chosen is in-depth interviews of consultants. Qualitative method is characterised by capturing the core perception through respondent's deep attentiveness and understanding which can reveal some of the complex, latent and unpredictable information (Miles and Huberman's 1994). Given the nature of response generated by the open-ended questions used in qualitative research the researcher is benefitted in deeper and refined understanding of the process. It also allows the researcher to enhance the data, by giving a chance and scope to probe more for clarification. However Miles and Huberman (1994) warn that often in qualitative methods, the researcher tends to arrive at early conclusions, rather than giving the respondent the chance to elaborate. The notion of early conclusion is also supported by Glaser & Strauss (1967).

Interviews

For the purpose of the research semi structured interviews were conducted with consultants with relevant experience. Their views on the reasons for clashes between consultants and clients and how they use emotional intelligence to resolve such clashes was analysed. According to Kvale(1996) “Interviews are conversations where the outcome is the co production of the interviewer and the subject”. To unfold the meaning of peoples experience the qualitative research interview attempts to understand the world from the subject's point of view. In an interview conversation, the researcher listens to subjects about their experiences and aspirations and expresses their views and opinions in their own word. Hussey(1998) points there are several problems associated when conducting an interviews the whole

Advantages and Disadvantages of the In-depth Interview Method

This method offers the scope for rapport building unlike in the questionnaire or most quantitative method. The relationship building is often linked to the genuineness of the data supplied. This method also allows the researcher to capture the respondent on observational grounds; with respect to body language, tone of voice etc. These observations help in realistic interpretations of the data. In addition it allows tackling some of the complex inquiries and a scope to extract the maximum from the respondent.

This method has been the critic's favourite child. Some of the common findings state that, respondents offer a different picture of what they actually do and say (Deutscher, 1973); the respondents have the tendency to lie in an interview (Dean and Whyte, 1958); and in comparison to the observation method, the data is not as strong and realistic (Becker and Geer, 1957). In addition this method often requires experienced interviewers and is time-consuming. One drawback actually experienced during the data collection for this dissertation recalls that, the flexibility this method offers, lead to inconsistent and distorted questioning and also at times failure on the part of the interviewer to logically link the variables. This process can be expensive and time consuming and recommends in some cases a questionnaire may be more appropriate. Questionnaires are based on close ended question and do not give much scope where as the interviews give room for more open answers. Out of all the methods of data collection Interviews is selected for the purpose as it allows the respondent to give a more detailed answer rather than just a yes or no. Semi structured interviews was prepared after considering all the details to get reliable and first hand information related to the research.

Ethical considerations

Creswell(2002) states there are ethical issues which arise at different stages of the research ranging from the statement of the research to the interpretation and writing of the data collected Creswell(2002) adds in order to maintain ethical grounds

• Subject should have the right to participate voluntarily, the right to withdraw anytime and the right to ask questions.
• Purpose of the study should be clearly explained so that the participant understands the nature of the research and its impact.
• Procedure of the research needs to be explained so that subjects anticipate what is expected from them.

The major part of the study covers the observation and views of consultants on their interaction with different managers and their traits which was covered by conducting personal interviews. The information obtained is of primary importance and confidential in nature few of the respondents did not want to disclose the names of the managers or the companies they were talking about hence their names have not been disclosed. Neuman(2000 cited by creswell 2002 ) adds the language or word used in the research should not be bias against any gender, age, group of people, race or sexual orientation. During the research appropriate measures were taken not to engage in any of the foul practices mentioned above.

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