## The research strategy

### Chapters 2, 7, 17, 24, & 25

Exploratory/descriptive

Analytical/critical

Predictive/confirmatory

Action/applied

Deductive? – theory -> observations/findings

Inductive? – observations/findings -> theory

Positivist

Interpretivist

Objectivist

Constructionist

### Exercise: The Nature of Quantitative Research

A tannery wished to find the price variation between sheep and goat skins between September 2000 and 2004. The research design utilized a positivist, deductive and quantitative approach using a convenience sample of 21 tanneries.

The data was collected from company records.

Data was aggregated and produced in the following format:

#### Tannery average raw material price

Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Hide

127.8

118.7

89.3

77.5

72.6

SS

24.5

22

18.7

20.2

12.7

GS

12

12

10.6

14.7

10.8

Hide

101.9

83.6

58.7

53.8

56.3

SS

18.9

19.7

16.5

24.2

12.7

GS

9.9

11.2

10.4

12.4

7.7

NB. 'Hides' means price per 17 kg.

SS = sheepskins

GS = goat skins

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, (2002)

1

##### Question

Using an appropriate data analysis technique, answer the following:

What is the true price variation between sheep and goat skins from 2000 to 2004?

This study is quantitative and deductive. The answer could be obtained by using a trend analysis either an aggregate of the actual price, or simple average relative price.

#### Tannery average raw material price

Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Hide

127.8

118.7

89.3

77.5

72.6

SS

24.5

22

18.7

20.2

12.7

GS

12

12

10.6

14.7

10.8

Method 1

Total

36.5

34.0

29.3

34.9

23.5

Index No.

100

93.2

80.1

95.1

65.2

Hide

101.9

83.6

58.7

53.8

56.3

SS

18.9

19.7

16.5

24.2

12.7

GS

9.9

11.2

10.4

12.4

7.7

Method 2

Hide

127.8

118.7

89.3

77.5

72.6

SS

100

88.7

76.3

82.4

51.8

GS

100

100.0

88.3

122.5

90.0

Total

200

188.7

164.6

204.9

141.8

Index No.

94.4

82.3

102.5

70.9

Use a simple index, either an aggregate of the actual price, or simple average relative price.

Two trend methods can be used:

1. Simple aggregate

However, for the second set of data this will not reflect the position in 2004 when there was an increase in prices sandwiched between two lower values.

So use:

1. Simple average relative price

#### Conclusion

Prices in 2004 are only 65% or 71 % of what they were in 2000, depending on which method is used.

### Exercise: The Nature of Qualitative Research

Paulle's Lodge was a five five-year year-old venture facing stiff competition and a decline in occupancy rates. The lodge's clients included mainly short short-term consultants, International international aid agency personnel and non-government organizations. Average rates for single occupancy was about £435, some 50% cheaper than the large hotel chains and about on par with similar lodges and guesthouses. The company's owners believed the decline was due to poor management of the hotel, poor guest relations, and lack of facilities which that clients expected to see, for example, satellite television. The owners decided to do some research in order to find out the most pressing problems and effect a turnaround strategy. Before starting the research they got hold of an article on HOLSERV (Mei et al 1999, 2003; Ramanathan and Ramanathan, 2011) and looked at the attributes and facilities identified by it as essential to good hotel customer service. These included a safe, secure, and good location, willingness of staff to help, comfort of room, cleanliness, and satellite television in the room.

Being located in a developing country, where training in hotel management was not widespread, the hotel was always facing a staff turnover at the lower levels, for example, cleaners and waiters. The more senior staff, for example front office manager, were more stable and willing to help make improvements to arrest the hotel's decline in fortunes, especially in training new recruits and looking for incremental improvements in the lodge's operations. However, their input was constant due to turnover of staff at lower levels.

Additional sources of information included customer satisfaction feedback forms which tended to confirm the problem of poor service, lack of recreational facilities, and staff willingness to help.

2

##### Question

2) What attitudes, opinions and motives might the owners want to find out?

3) How could the management attempt to ensure continued success of the lodge after the initial research?

1. There are several research approaches to this study. One could use a 'positivist' approach, but this is unlikely to reveal all the necessary results because 'attitudes' towards and 'motives' for using, the Lodge are sought and this is best done by qualitative research. Of course, a 'mixed methodology' could be employed, using both qualitative and quantitative approaches.

However, the development of 'rich pictures' by the use of qualitative research, which could inform the problem and its solution, would be a useful approach. So, the research approach/stance in this scenario could be 'qualitative' (inductive), utilising a research strategy, which uses qualitative interviewing like 'in depth', or 'group' interviewing (focus groups) and a qualitative analysis technique.

So, in this case, as attitudes, motives, and opinions for staying at the lodge are being sought from customers, pre- and post- stay, qualitative research would be appropriate. The use of focus group discussions, both on staff and customers, would be an appropriate research method .The work by Mei et al (HOLSERV) could be used as the basis of the unstructured questioning and analysis.

1. Examples of attitudes, opinions, and motives to be researched could include:

#### From Customers:

• Location
• Reputation
• Value for money
• Privacy
• Check in facilities
• Choice of rooms
• Recreational facilities
• Fixtures and fittings
• Newspaper availability
• Comfort of room
• Room amenities, television, coffee/tea maker, internet connection,
• Ironing board , air conditioning, etc.
• Cleanliness
• Safety and security
• Keeping promises
• Friendly staff
• Promptness of services

#### From employees

• Willingness to help
• Knowledge of job and customer orientation
• Caring
• Reliability
• Politeness
• Confidence
• Neatness and professional manner
• Sincerity and understanding
1. However, the lodge suffers from high staff turnover at the lower levels of employment and the more senior staff are always having to train or mentor new staff as well as look for and suggest continuing improvements. So, to ensure the success of the lodge after the initial research, 'action research' may be a more appropriate solution, utilizing the senior staff or a catalyst (researcher) in the process. In this case, the researcher may carry out one iteration using the focus group process described above, implement the findings via the senior staff, observe the results and, on the basis of this iteration, suggest a further round of changes, to be implemented again via the senior staff. At least two iterations are needed to be implemented in 'action research', but the process, once started, could lead to several rounds until the researcher is no longer needed and the hotel can carry out the process themselves. Only when the objectives of the management and stakeholders are fully realized would the process stop. However, in the quest for continuous service improvement, the process should continue. The process is as follows:

### Exercise: combining quantitative and qualitative research

A multi-national manufacturer of dental care products, despite the highly competitive nature of the toothpaste market, has decided to try and launch a new product into it. At this stage it has a completely open mind as to what the type and form the product might take. The current market has many products, including some specialist products like toothpaste powders for dentures, deep cleaning products for smokers and so on. With a market worth £2 billion sterling per annum and stagnant, a new product would shake it up and give, potentially, large returns. The market was also capable of 'deep segmentation', for example, toothpastes for children, for those who were very decay conscious, for the 'calcium conscious' and so on. The question was what would be an appropriate research strategy?

3

##### Question

Design an appropriate research strategy and methodology for the company, combining qualitative and quantitative research Give outline detail of the research design, the sort of questions it may ask, and appropriate analysis.

An appropriate research strategy might be a 'positioning study', combining a 'mixed methodology' (qualitative and quantitative research). Such a methodology would not only help in 'triangulation' of the research but would also help the company identify similarities and differences in the competitive product offerings, thus offering a potential 'gap' in the market which the company could fill with a new product. As this is a major decision for the company, it is essential that the research is carried out in as accurate and unbiased way as possible.

The steps involved in the methodology would be as follows:

1. Development of SMART objectives.
1. Secondary data search, This would include a search for data on product/market trends over the last five years, number of competitors, prices, form of promotion, type of distributors, wholesalers and retailers, distribution patterns, logistics, packaging and potential international competition.
1. Qualitative research. The company may conduct a number of focus group discussions, using unstructured or semi-structured questionnaires, on relevant and representative customer groups in different parts of the company to account for any regional differences. The company would be looking for attitudes to current offerings, motivations for purchase and use, purchase patterns, and any possible indications of new products. The type of data obtained would be used to inform its new product development process but also inform its quantitative research.

The type of data it may obtain would include the following:

• Type of toothpaste bought
• Reasons for purchasing different types of toothpaste - including 'objective' and subjective' attributes e.g. price, product attributes and image, etc.
• Attitudes to current products and their attributes