Sample Research Paper on Research Design and Methodology

Chapter Three

Research Design and Methodology

Methodology refers to the techniques used by a researcher to gather information that is reliable and sufficient to make sound conclusions. A research can be qualitative, quantitative or both depending on the source and sensitivity of the information. As a research methodology, researchers have often used questionnaires in applied social studies to answer questions, to solve problems, assess needs, set goals, and to establish baselines that form a basis for future comparisons. Further, this methodology is applicable in analyzing trends over an epoch, in addition to describing what is in existence at the time of the research, its amount, and its context (Scruggs & Mastropieri 2006). SMEs constitute a large portion of the many categories of organizations that drive the economy of any given country in the world (Richard 2012). Because of this, amount of data that one will end up with in a research on SMEs will definitely have a quantitative aspect to it necessitating the use of a tool capable of establishing relationships among variables. The second reason for adopting questionnaires lies in the need to collect data from people, which is a subjective process that requires a carefully structured approach to the problem. Finally, previous studies on research methodologies show that questionnaires permit sampling, a technique that use a selected percentage of a population (Benz & Newman 1998).

Methodology

The method employed in this research has a multitude of advantages including quality and adequacy of data. The technique is capable of obtaining information derived from a large population and well suited to collecting demographic data of a sample. This is because qualitative approach allow for the inclusion of a number of variables garnered during data collection process. Further, the adoption of questionnaire based study required minimal investment in terms of developing and administering the data collection tools. This method made it easy for the researcher to generalize the results due to its statistical nature. Despite these advantages, there is a probability of the target population failing to respond. It is as well likely to receive responses that contradict the objectives of the study. In such situations, the researcher must revise the questionnaires to suit his or her goals. However, during the research, the greater percentage of the responses received coincided with the objectives of the study as stated in chapter one of this documentation.

Using Questionnaires

The research relied on both open-ended and closed-ended questionnaires in order to obtain more reliable data on the topic, Small and medium-sized enterprise. The researcher sent the questionnaires inform of softcopy and hardcopy through email along with physical addresses to the respondents. This is a measure to ensure that there is a minimal chance of no response (AlSagheer 2010). Nevertheless, the researcher also employed interviews to increase the subjective feature of the research. It was pertinent to adopt these two tools in the research due to a number of advantages associated with them. The use of questionnaires was motivated by there being fewer errors in data collection, in addition to assured confidentiality. Questionnaires also allowed a respondent the maximum amount of time he or she needed to respond to a question, which ensured vital information is not left out. The researcher expected to encounter busy respondents, and it was crucial to allocate them adequate time to answer the questionnaires.

Verbal studies

The use of face-to-face interviews allowed the researcher to collect a wide range of data especially due to its flexible nature. This is because the technique allows one to capture verbal inflexion, body language, and gestures, which are an insight of the direction the interview takes, and hint on the stand a respondent has on the issue under discussion. In this case, verbal appraisals complemented the questionnaires in situations where a respondent was less likely to respond to the latter.

Research Design

The competence of data collection technique employed relied on various aspects like sampling and the mode of quality check applied. The first task was to develop a sampling design that is central to selecting a target population. The sampling plan described the approach that the research adopted in selecting its sample, provided justification for the sample size, in addition to describing how to determine it, and discussed the choice of media used in the administration of the questions. The study media in this research included face-to-face interviews, questionnaires (sent via emails and addresses), and telephone calls when necessary. As previously noted, the target population for this research is a society of busy individuals and the media chosen must abide by their schedules. The second step involved developing a measure of estimating the target population and checking the reliability of the data collected, in addition to the data collection exercise. This was a critical process in the research, which included identification of the response rate that the researcher desired along with the ideal level of precision and accuracy. These two steps were necessary when specifying the inputs that the respondents were to give. Unlike in other forms of surveys where a researcher can clarify certain questions spontaneously, it was imperative to have all the questions being self-explanatory. This increases the accuracy of responses and reduces the time taken to clarify ambiguous questions. The next subsection is a discussion of some of the key elements that the researcher considered while developing the design.

To collect the data, the researcher had to conduct interviews with the representatives of each company or issue them with the questionnaires that they answered over the allocated duration. The interviewers staged on a one-to-one type of interview, and it occurred in offices, hotel rooms, and sometimes over the telephone. Telephone interviews had a limit of 45 minutes while others could last longer depending on the type of responses given by the interviewees. In several instances, the respondents were the managers and senior administrators in the organization. This made it possible to explore their past in an academic and career aspect in an in-depth manner. Despite some respondents being representatives of certain organizations, they were able to answer most of questions to the satisfaction of the researcher. Semi-structured questions were difficult for a number of respondents due to specificity of information sought (Carl 2006). In this respect, the contribution of top executives was necessary to gather sufficient data. During the study, the interviewer would issue a question thereby engage the answerer in a conversation. It was important to record the conversation for future reviews. The researcher had the role of directing the discussion by refocusing each conversation towards the desired answers. This way, it was possible to uncover contextual data relevant to the epitome of the research.

Self-reporting questionnaires had a highly structured format that made it possible for the respondents to answer them without the interference of the interviewer. On that note, the researcher did not have to request direct contact with the respondents. As well, the questionnaires had both open-ended and close-ended questions hence leaving room for self evaluation. In order to evaluate the feedback, the researcher used the Likert scale where the respondents choose their degree of conformity to an answer. Below is an extensive discussion by the researcher on how he or she implemented the self-reporting questionnaires.

Sample Selection

Sample selection is the product of the population size, available sample media, homogeneity of data, cost associated with the research, and the level of accuracy desired (Koul 2009). Qualitative researches require information that is less prone to researcher bias as it would lead to faulty results and discussion (La Pira 2010). It was important to minimize potential bias arising from variation in firm size and location by confining the research sample frame to a certain economic sector within a limited geographic location (Fadhil & Fadhil 2011). Research shows that certain business thrive in certain regions depending on their factors of production. To reduce the probability of these factors affecting the outcome of the research, the researcher chose the respondents randomly from a list of some of the successful SMEs in Canada. Many of the SMEs that fail lack an element of organization and sound decision-making (Cavico & Mujtaba 2009). In order to explain this, it was important to examine 20 SME businesses that are successful in Canada and have been under the leadership of certified managers or seniors executives. This framework made it possible to look into the various factors that differentiate organizations led by skilled personnel in comparison to others that use impartial judgment in place of proper management.

Sample Size Selection

Sample sizes depended on the level of accuracy expected, amount of data available and the statistical power that the researcher was targeting to achieve. Additionally, the magnitude of samples was determined by the ease of access to respondents. Most respondents had busy schedules hence hampering the interviewing of a large sample size. The process of sample size determination relied on the previously highlighted factor that was further complicated by the geographical decentralization of the respondents. However, 32 respondents participated in the survey surpassing the set target of 20 respondents. One possible source of bias was how to identify various organizations uniquely under leadership achieved through apprenticeship, an undergraduate, or a postgraduate course (Scruggs & Mastropieri 2006). Many organizations did not prefer to present such personal information to strangers unless under strict privacy clauses. To achieve this, each of the candidate organizations received a physical letter assuring them that the data collected was for research purposes only. Further, the research targeted SMEs that have been in operation for not more than five years. This took care of the firm-size criterion besides the number of employees currently working in the organizations.

Data Analysis

This research implemented the data analysis tools suggested by La Pira (2010, p. 12); to be exact, Cognitive Style Index (CSI). As a tool, the researcher used CSI to analyze data gathered during the research to determine all the managers’ levels of intuition versus analysis in the context of their work. To obtain the desired results, all the questions in the research worded such that they either reflected an intuitive approach or an analytic approach. The examiner then used the answers provided by the respondents to determine the number of approaches used by the target organizations. A manager’s or senior executive’s background in business education was noted not to be an indication that decisions in their organizations were wholly analytical. However, the researcher realized that most of the managers and senior executives practiced a single-minded approach to most problems in their organizations. Using The Five-Style Approach of CSI, that is intuitive, quasi-intuitive, adaptive, quasi-analytic, and analytic, with score ranges of 0-28, 29-38, 39-45, 46-52, and 53-76 respectively, the researcher was able to analyze the results of the research as the next chapter will reveal.

Summary

Scruggs and Mastropieri (2006, p, 45) propose an ideal research design that offer practical solutions to descriptive explores by presenting the best means of addressing arising study questions. The number of SMEs in Canada is significantly large, and it was important to have a viable number of study subjects, in this case not less than 20 companies. It was the aim of this research to capture the role of business education in the SME sector, and geographic limits deprecated the results. However, this research adopted the mail analysis method that Koul (2009, p. 69) suggested after considering the fact that it not only served the purpose of collecting data but also reduced the amount of time needed to complete the task successfully. Many of the viable study subjects have significant spatial variation, and it would have been expensive to move around collecting data from each of them hence the need to adopt the mail-survey method to complement the interviews. After collecting the desired amount of data, the researcher used Cognitive Style Index meant for managerial and professional groups’ analysis to evaluate the outcome of the research (La Pira 2010). The next chapter delves into this aspect of research and gives elaborate explanations and justification for the results and attempts to deduce their meaning in the context of the research.

References List

AlSagheer, A 2010, ‘The Role Of Business Education At The K-12 Level: Faculty Perceptions On Establishing A Business Education Department In The College Of Basic Education At The Public Authority For Applied Education And Training’, International Business & Economics Research Journal, vol.9, no.11, pp. 5-16.

Benz, C & Newman, I 1998, Qualitative-quantitative research methodology: Exploring the interactive continuum, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.

Carl, J 2006, ‘Entrepreneurship in American Higher Education’, Kauffman the Foundation of Entrepreneurship, vol.1, no.1, pp.7-28.

Cavico, F & Mujtaba, B 2009, ‘The state of business schools, business education, and business ethics’, Journal of Academic and Business Ethics,vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 1-7.

Fadhil, N & Fadhil, N 2011, ‘Managing Company’s Financial Among Small And Medium Non-Manufacturing Companies’, Far East Journal of Psychology and Business, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 17-36.

Koul, L 2009, Methodology Of Educational Research, 4Enew E, Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi.

La Pira, F 2010, ‘Entrepreneurial intuition, an empirical approach’, Journal of Management and Marketing Research, vol.1, no.1, p.1-22.

Richard, L 2012, ‘On the importance of education’, Business Economics, vol.5, no.47, pp.90-96.

Scruggs, T & Mastropieri, M 2006, Applications of research methodology, Elsevier JAI, Amsterdam.