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Journal Article

Researching Sustainable Development of the Rural Poor in India  pp185-194

Nicola Swan

© Sep 2011 Volume 9 Issue 2, ECRM 2011 Special issue, Editor: Ann Brown, pp87 - 197

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This paper examines the methodology undertaken by one PhD researcher in a rural Indian context. The research built an in‑depth understanding of how to deliver an improvement in the sustainable development of local rural Indian villages. The sustainable development projects are developed and implemented by Non‑Governmental Organisations (NGOs) but are part funded through the corporate responsibility programme of a multi national Bank. The research focused on the processes used in the projects, how they were implemented and the outcomes achieved. The research is unusual in management research, in that it takes a stakeholder perspective rather than the more customary corporate perspective. Consequently the focus is on understanding the processes, implementation and outcomes from the perspective of three groups of stakeholders. The three groups are the Bank, the NGOs and the villagers who are the end recipients of the projects. This paper does not explore the outcomes of this research but rather describes the research methodology undertaken to effectively execute the research. The research methodology chosen was that of case study with an interpretivist stance. Whilst case study can be an umbrella term for multiple data collection tools, there was a focus on collecting data via discussion and observation, in line with the interpretivist paradigm. To achieve the required level of discussion and observation was facilitated by undertaking an ethnographically‑styled approach. This ethnographic‑styled approach included the researcher spending time living in the Indian villages with respondents to understand the outcomes of the sustainable development projects which had been undertaken from their perspective. The data gathering processes include structured, semi‑structured and in‑depth interviews across the three primary stakeholder groups of respondents. Other data gathering included observation, documentation, artefacts, video and photographs. In summary this paper provides an insight into a method for undertaking research in a local rural developing country context. It particularly focuses on taking a stakeholder perspective to corporate interventions in a community, rather than the more usual company focused approach. It further contributes to the development of appropriate methodology for contexts where the researcher is from a different cultural and linguistic background to the respondents.


Keywords: interpretivist case study, language barriers in research, video research, research in a developing country, ethnographic-styled approach


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