Volume 14 Issue 2 / Nov 2016 pp71‑167
This issue comprises research originally submitted to the 14th European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies. The eight papers introduce an extra‑ordinary range of issues on four key aspects of research methods – Research process (3 papers) Action Research (1 paper) Mixed Methods (2 papers) Qualitative Research (2 papers)
Militating against data fabrication and falsification: A protocol of trias politica for business research pp72‑82
Abstract: Data fabrication and falsification are clear breaches of research ethics, but have been shown to be insidious factors in various research disciplines. It would be naïve to believe that data fabrication and falsification do not affect the validity and reliability of business research. It behoves all users of such research to militate against these unethical practices and ensure that they do not go undetected. This paper briefly reviews the motivations for researchers, interviewers or surveyors to falsify or fabricate research data. This is followed by a discussion of techniques in the literature for detecting such unethical and fraudulent practices. Typically, these rely on the premise that falsification or fabrication of data results in anomalies in the dataset that cannot be attributed to sampling or methodology. A number of business case studies are discussed involving subtle data anomalies that could be attributable to fabrication or falsification or data. It is demonstrated that tried and tested parametric or non‑parametric statistical tests are often more than sufficient to identify these anomalies that characterise bogus data. However, data fabrication and falsification are not necessarily self‑evident and it may therefore require an unconventional and innovative approach to determine the appropriate variables of analysis. Analysis of the phenomenon leads to the conclusion that data fabrication and falsification are most easily detected by carrying out analyses on apparently extraneous variables, as these would tend to be neglected by the errant interviewer or surveyor. This leads to proposing a generic approach to detecting bogus data and a corresponding protocol to militate against it. A protocol is proposed that separates the essential research functions by adopting the trias politica principle, or separation of powers, analogous to the three branches of government: the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The protocol requires the three functions of research design plus substantive analysis, data collection, and data verification to be separated. Suggestions for presenting data analyses and research findings that will ensure greater transparency, militate against data fabrication and falsification, improve reliability, and promote research integrity are included. The paper concludes with a specific recommendation to academics, consultants, reviewers, examiners, and other users of business research to hold researchers more accountable for their validity and reliability of their research outputs.
Keywords: Keywords: Data falsification, Data fabrication, Bogus research data, Research protocol, Separation of responsibilities, Trias politica.
Towards a Systematic Approach to Reviewing Literature for Interpreting Business and Management Research Results pp83‑97
Abstract: Overall, examiner’s reports show that a rich research report is one that discusses or rather interprets its empirical findings effectively. This implies that a research should go beyond presenting new data and information but rather this data and information should be interpreted. However, the ‘discussion of research results or findings’ component is a function of the ‘literature review’ component as well as ‘the presentation of research results or findings’ component. Technically, the main outcome or objective of the ‘literature review’ component is a conceptual framework—that is, a well thought‑out outline of how a research should proceed after understanding the research problem, identifying the knowledge gap, and developing a framework for interpreting the research findings. Unfortunately, the interrogation of the literature review component is the most unstructured process in a research undertaking and, therefore, leaves students to wonder in the wildness. Those that finally get it, do so after a long time. To allow for efficient research throughput, university should explore the cognitive trajectory of this undertaking. In simple terms, this means providing some initial structure to interrogating the literature review component in general and, specifically, the development of the theoretical and interpretative framework for discussing research results. Therefore, the main objective of this research is engaging the cognitivism and constructivism theories of instruction summarised in Driscoll (2000) and Gredler (2001) to provide for cognitive processes in the construction of knowledge. We emphasis initial because this will provide a structured approach to kick‑start the process of identifying and discussing theoretical and other interpretive frameworks after which the process should then be content‑driven after the student is enlightened or catches on.
Keywords: Keywords: Literature review, conceptual framework, academic field of study, interpretive frameworks, theoretical frameworks, interpreting research findings
Using World Café to Enhance Relationship‑building for the Purpose of Developing Trust in Emotional Intelligence Training Environments pp98‑110
Abstract: Every conversation or action between people involves an element of trust, particularly in workplace training environments. Personal development relies on the quality of trust relationships between trainer and learners, and between learners who experience feelings of vulnerability when dealing with issues that impact self‑esteem and individual identity. Responsibility is placed on the trainer to create an environment characterised by trust so that learners feel safe, and unrestricted to embrace personal change, address challenging situations, and reflect on behaviours. Developing such an environment requires attentiveness to effective qualitative methodology. The research aim was to explore the need for relationship‑building methodology such as World Café for encouraging the development of trusting relationships. The World Café followed an earlier study of 21 Emotional Intelligence (EI) trainers in New Zealand which sought to identify what variables contribute to the design of successful EI training. World Café was utilised as a relationship‑building methodology for further exploring the nature of trust and for evaluating the method. This paper begins with a summary of literature on the nature of trust, then presents themes based on participants’ perspectives. Trust was firstly viewed through the lens of ‘inputs’. While offering a useful perspective, viewing trust as an output offered a practical way for training across different learning environments, organisational contexts, and differences between learners. These findings informed a new practice‑based definition of trust. We also present our findings that support the need for relationship‑building methods, such as World Café, for building trust during the process of EI training.
Keywords: Keywords: World Café, relationship-building methodology, trust, emotional intelligence, training and development.
Action Research: Intertwining three exploratory processes to meet the competing demands of rigour and relevance pp111‑124
Abstract: For decades, scholars have questioned whether it is possible to conduct research that is both relevant to practitioners and empirically sound. This is the very challenge faced by researchers at Dutch universities of applied sciences. In this paper we build on the findings of an action research project into the research practices of a Research Centre at a Dutch university of applied sciences. We found that action research (AR) works best when conceptualised as three intertwined processes: (1) a joint inquiry with practitioners aimed at improving their actions and reflections on their own practice; (2) a collaborative review with (representative) practitioners and management researchers aimed at conceptualising the issue and process of the joint inquiry; and (3) making a contribution to academic theory through a published paper building on theory related to the specific content and process of the inquiry. This paper will argue that this triple process structure can encompass the Lego AR project—one of the few published in a leading academic journal—as well as new conceptualisations of practice research (Goldkuhl, 2011, 2012) and meta‑action research (Fletcher et al., 2010). As such it can be of value for all researchers looking to balance the competing demands of rigour and relevance.
Keywords: Keywords: practice-based research, practice research, action research, meta-action research, Triple Process Structure, process levels
Abstract: Requirements engineering (RE) combines technical and human aspects in software development. It covers the process of eliciting, analysing, specifying, validating and managing the requirements of software systems. RE needs to understand the people and the context within which specific actions and decisions take place. Hence, RE research opts for qualitative research. Quantitative approach is equally important in RE research nevertheless, as some studies may need to measure certain variables and confirming existing theories. Therefore, the adoption of mixed methods is viewed as an appealing alternative to fulfil the diverse needs of RE studies. The method offers the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative approaches to understand and overcome complex RE issues. This paper highlights some insights of adopting mixed methods in RE research. The discussion is based on experience of having two qualitative and one quantitative studies and integrating two mixed methods research designs. The insights generate several tentative facts about employing mixed methods in RE research, which covering the aspects of writing and publishing, research intention and motivation as well as understanding of accompanying methods.
Keywords: Keywords: Requirements engineering, mixed methods research, qualitative and quantitative methods
Abstract: This paper justifies a mixed methods design in a Bourdieusian analysis of SME family manufacturing firms in the UK. Despite the extensive use of Bourdieu in sociological research, there have been few attempts to apply his powerful “thinking tools” of doxa, habitus and fields (Bourdieu, 1979) to business studies. The research methodology outlined in this study adopts a fresh approach to a Bourdieusian analysis of the distinctive nature of family firms, known as “familiness” (T. M. Zellweger, Eddleston, & Kellermanns, 2010). Bourdieu used diverse research methods, including in‑depth interviews, photographs and large‑scale questionnaires to develop his concepts of doxa, fields and habitus. Therefore the philosophical underpinning has suggested a particular methodological design. Adopting a QUAN + QUAL approach (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011, p. 110), this paper will describe the rationale for the choice of mixed methodology, the relationship of the design to the research aim and objectives, the challenges of each research stage and the case for a mixed methods research design. The quantitative stage identifies trends and correlations between innovation and family firms in the manufacturing sector using a government‑commissioned dataset. The qualitative stage is an in‑depth analysis of 27 interviews with family firms. The final stage will compare and contrast the analysis from both stages to arrive at a fuller understanding of the phenomenon of “familiness”. This paper will not outline the results from the study, which will be the subject of further papers. It is intended that the contribution of this study will assist family firm researchers to design effective research approaches when exploring the complex nature of family firms. Furthermore, the research design will demonstrate the case for selecting a mixed methods approach for these types of research questions.
Abstract: This paper describes the application of storytelling as a methodology in a consumer relationship context. A theoretical overview of Story as a unique narrative form is presented. The inquiry was conducted in the consumer banking sector using a blended narrative approach of storytelling and life history narratives. Research design was exploratory in nature and pursuant of an interpretivist perspective. The methodology applied Gabriel’s (2000) story classification taxonomy which categories stories based on epic, comic, tragic and romantic dimensions and follows the Beginning, Middle and End configuration (BME). Procedures used in this study are presented to serve as a guide for researchers interested in undertaking storytelling in the field of consumer and business research. We conclude that storytelling is a valuable methodology for exploring consumer relationships as it allows researchers to trace the evolution and development of the interaction by analysing the story typologies associated with each relationship phase. Finally, the paper reflects on the usefulness of this methodology in understanding and articulating consumer experiences.
Keywords: Keywords: Story, Storytelling, Narrative, BME Framework, Narrative Interviewing, Relationships
Innovative Methodologies in Qualitative Research: Social Media Window for Accessing Organisational Elites for interviews pp157‑167
Abstract: Reflexivity is the nature of qualitative research (Lincoln and Guba, 1985; Morgan an Smircich, 1980); implying that through reflectivity exercises researchers are able to demonstrate their research's rigour and also create a treasure trove of ideas and strategies, share the pleasures and agonies of doing qualitative research. The ever‑growing body of knowledge on the strategies for accessing research participants that researchers share, evidences the gains of reflexivity (see the newly injected literature Cunliffe and Alcadipani, 2016; Blix and Wettergren, 2015; Mikecz, 2012). Well, this article does the same; it reflects on the access methodology employed for a PhD research (Maramwidze, 2015) carried out to explore the challenges faced by Foreign Direct Investors (FDI) in the South African banking sector, which involved sampling elite respondents. Similar to other researchers' views on accessing potential research participants, in this case organisational elites, the researcher faced challenges associated with gaining access; as well as the usually high cost of conducting face‑to‑face qualitative interviews.
Keywords: Keywords: Reflexivity in qualitative research, organisational elites, innovative and diplomatic access strategies, social media, LinkedIn, research students, teaching research methods