What An Overall Research Methodology Is Psychology Essay


This section discussed what an overall research methodology is and why and what research tools and methods has been adopted to gain and analyze results. The chapter begins with the research purpose which is followed through the research philosophy, research approach then research strategy and data collection method. There is a fixed aim and objectives in this research which have to be response hence it is really important to categorize approaches and procedures which is used by a researcher for the research accomplishment.

3.2 – Research purpose

According to Burns, R. (2000) researches are methodical and organize investigation to solve problem. Saunders, M. et al., (2003) stated that studies can be classified by purpose or an employed strategy and Yin, R. (2003), Neuman, W. & Kreugar, L. (2003) distinguished research purpose as exploratory (explore a new topic), descriptive (describe a social phenomena) and explanatory (explain why something happen). Saunders, M. et al., (2003) add that it is likely to have more than one purpose and approach for research intentions and that purpose possibly change in the course of an investigation.

In the view of Cooper, D. & Schindler, P. (2003) researches are dissimilar to theories because research techniques could not be correct or wrong but they may be more or lesser valuable in research procedure. The Literature has been establish in relation to knowledge management such as knowledge hierarchy, what is knowledge, types of knowledge, SECI model, elements of knowledge management and its barriers, thus the study have attempted to explain this social phenomenon primarily in a descriptive manner also this study is partly exploratory and explanatory because it explored new review and defined the problems within the research area, by revealing how knowledge is transfer and managed and why components of knowledge management becomes barriers to particular organization. Furthermore compared to developed countries, the term knowledge management is relatively fresh to the third world countries like Pakistan therefore it is sited as exploratory.

Saunders, M. et al., (2003) described the focal point in gathering data, rests in the heart of research onion which is encircled by diverse layers (see below figure 3.1)

Figure 3.1 – Saunders, M. et al., (2003, 2007)

3.3 – Research Philosophy

Saunders, M. et al., (2007), explained key research philosophy; first positivist approach n which researchers prefer to use current theories to build up hypothesis. Research is undertaken as value free way that means researcher cannot do alter the substance of data collection. It is also distressed with facts not impressions. Second realism, it is part of epistemology, alike to positivism and believes a scientific approach to the development of knowledge. The core of realism is that what the senses prove us as reality in truth. Saunders, M. et al., (2007) believed that realism is relevant for business and management research. And third interpretive approach, conducts research amongst people rather than objects.

As the research topic itself greatly complex in nature and cover social aspects therefore it is not possible to answer research question by only yes or no responses. Therefore this research adopted interpretive approach where researcher interpreted the social roles of individual and concerned with middle and senior manager’s initiatives of knowledge management which boost performance of individual and group. The underpins of interpretive approach is gathering of data and then understanding of these data which is influenced by societal forces, individual’s behavior and attitude.

3.4 – Research Approach

Different approaches can be use for research for instance; deductive or inductive. Deductive research begins with existing theories, concepts and formulates hypothesis that are later tested and confirmed (Gummesson, E. 2000, Saunders, M. et al., 2003). An inductive research begins with the real world data, it deals with anthology of data and then theory is erected from it (Gummesson, E. 2000, Saunders, M. et al., 2003). According to Blumberg, B. et al., (2005) we can never be confident in an inductive approach because it cannot be considered as faultless. This research adopt a deductive approach as the research will progress from the general theories to a more precise observation of the research topic and question. That means overall end result of this research cannot be generalized because observation is totally stand on specific organization and in specific period of time also deductive approach offering opportunity to confirming validity and reliability of facts.

Deductive approach = Theory ————————— > Observations/findings

Inductive approach = Observations/findings ——— > Theory

3.5 – Research Strategies

Saunders, M. et al., (2007) described various research strategies which are useful to apply when gathering and analyzing empirical facts such as; experimentation, survey, case study, grounded theory, ethnography and action research. Which research strategy should apply depends on the nature, central point, scope, admittance, restrictions and existing sources for research, however Yin, R. (2003) provides three conditions to be relevant in order to choose which strategy to employ for research purpose:

The kinds of research question asked.

To what extent researcher has control over actual behavioral affairs or events.

The degree of focus on contemporary, as apposed to historical, events.

3.6 – Case study

The appropriate strategy for this research is case study because the kind of research questions being asked how (they were implemented), why (they were taken) with what (results) forms, although what and how questions tend to be more the distress of the survey strategy. The case study strategy is mainly a lot used in explanatory and exploratory, and this research has already claimed it in the research purpose (see section 3.2) (Saunders, M. et al., 2007). The case study strategy, as acknowledged by Robson, C. (2002) preferable because researcher do not have control over events and it permits researcher to achieve strong viewpoint surrounding the research area and its development, it also occupies an empirical analysis of a particular phenomenon within its actual life context by several sources of evidence. Sauder, M. et al., (2007) suggested that if you are employing case study strategy you are probably need to use and triangulate several sources of data. Triangulation refers to the use of diverse data collection methods within one study such as interviews, observations, documentary analysis, questionnaires etc. in sequence to make certain that the data are telling you what you think they are telling you.

In this research the qualitative data collected by using semi-structure interviews which is precious way of triangulating quantitative data collected by other means such as a questionnaire (details of data collection techniques discussed in section 3.8). According to Neuman, W. & Kreugar, L. (2003) the majority of case studies entail qualitative data and nearly all qualitative research seeks to build illustrations based on it depth, detailed knowledge of cases, the qualitative and quantitative research approach discussed in the section 3.8.1 and 3.8.2

3.7 – Time horizons

Time scopes to research design are independent of which research strategy and method follow. Saunders, M. et al., (2007) proposed that while planning your research it is vital to know that whether the research is to be a cross-sectional (complete at a specific time) or longitudinal (complete in a prolong time period). Due to the time constrain this study has helped researcher to assemble questionnaire results and conduct interviews at once and these cannot be repeated, so the information collected by this manner will correspond to declaration of research over that time period which means that this research is Cross-sectional or completed on specific time.

3.8 – Research method

Research method or research design refers to organized, determined and rationally accumulation of data not only for analyzing purpose but for attaining information to resolve research questions. The preference of methods depends upon research problem and purpose and those methods cannot be worded as more suitable or appropriate. There are two fashionable methods: qualitative and quantitative. In the view of Ghauri, P. & Gronhaug, K. (2005) the differentiation between qualitative and quantitative research has nothing to do with ‘quality’ but it is related to procedure.

3.8.1 – Qualitative method

Qualitative research is one in which researcher frequently formulates knowledge claims based on constructivist perspective i.e. various meaning of individual experiences and measuring socially. Densombe, M. (2003) emphasized that qualitative research mostly focus on description, it employs words or experience as unit of analysis and when the study connected with small scale studies. Often the analysis phrase does not begin, although not always begins as soon as data collection starts. Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990) defined key elements of qualitative research are:

Data gather by interviews.

logical practices to conceptualize and assess data toward conclude findings

Report written by researcher.

According to Cooper, D. & Schindler, P. (2003) qualitative data perceive as rich, complete, earthly, holistic and genuine, their face validity looks perfect and it also offers far more accurate method to assess. The drawbacks of qualitative data include; they are irrelevant to wider population and not statistically checked.

3.8.2 – Quantitative method

The nature of the quantitative approach is objective and focus on determining phenomenon (Hussey, J. & Hussey, R. 1997). Questionnaires and surveys constitute quantitative research in which all questions are laid down in arrangement of Yes or No or likert scale and then assessed by statistical methods. Naude, P. et al., (1991) stated that quantitative methods are mathematical and statistical form, relates to numerous variable and their relationship. In quantitative research it is possible to analyze data when the data collection has been finished. The key advantage of quantitative approach; it is produces quantifiable and reliable data which is by and large relevant for vast population. It is more applicable for carrying out needs evaluation or for estimations contrasting conclusions with baseline records. The main cons of quantitative method; it is expensive and time consuming procedure but according to Robson, (C. 2002) software’s developed in modern world have made analysis of complex calculations easy to perform.

3.8.3 – Mix Method

In this research, researcher adopted both qualitative and quantitative methods because the research accumulated both types of data, that is minimized the limitations of each other. Data were collected from the questionnaires and interviews. It is crucial to have questionnaire in this research to explore individual working pattern in organization and their approaches to knowledge management. An additional positive characteristic of questionnaire; it is supported researcher in studying how individual employs theory into practice. Denscombe, M. (2003) declared that the combination of methods permit superior understanding of research problem as it helps retrieval of quantitative results from questionnaires which followed qualitative stuff like semi-structured interviews of senior managements which further revealed organizational and individual behavior and social functions.

3.9 – Data collection methods

In this research, the overall data collection process began from collecting secondary data in the form of literature review to the primary data which was gathered by researcher via survey questionnaires and taken interviews. Secondary data searched in the University of Glamorgan, Learning Resources Centre by typing the keyword; knowledge economy, knowledge management, barriers to knowledge management and components of knowledge management etc. These secondary data mostly reflects from textbooks, journal articles, magazines and websites to facilitate research objectives. As compare to primary data the most important benefit of exploiting secondary data is the gigantic saving in time and money resources (Ghauri, P. & Gronhaug, K. 2005).

3.9.1 – Questionnaire

Questionnaire is one of the data collection methods where all respondents are required to respond similar questions in a specific order provided to them furthermore Saunders, M. et al., (2007) declared that questionnaire supports to analyze of individual responses more comprehensively. The key purpose of designing questionnaire in this research was to get substance of knowledge management approaches and current circumstances of knowledge management in the organization. The questionnaire was based on particular subject matters such as knowledge management with its basic components (People, Process, Technology and Culture) and barriers to knowledge management. According to Dillman, D.A. (2000) three kinds of data variable collected via questionnaire.




First the way the research questionnaire was design in this research, is to get opinion what respondents feel about something or what they think or believe is true or false, second to record respondents behavior and experiences by what they did, do and will do through their attribute. Attribute include data about the respondent’s characteristics.

Saunders, M. et al., (2007), classified two way of administer research questionnaire:

(i) – Interviewer-administered (the responses are recorded by researcher for e.g. market research).

(ii) – Self-administered (usually completed by respondents).

This research employed self-administered questionnaire because the researcher has less amount of contact with the respondents and questionnaires simply filled by respondents. These questionnaires were administered via electronic web application (www.surveymethods.com). Various advantages have been experienced by using electronic web survey tools such as; ease of automatic data entry, set occasional reminders for respondents, easy to analyze data through pie chart, line or bar chart etc. moreover respondents can complete questionnaires by multiple sitting or save their unfinished response. Yin, R. (2003) suggested that questionnaires diminish bias due to uniform question, even researchers own opinions does not influence respondent to answer questions in a certain manner which turn into actual facts. Although there are number of disadvantages associate to questionnaire as well for e.g. it take immense time to prepare questions, questionnaire possibly opt out or partially submit, it might redirect to subordinates or fellow employees to fill out. Particularly in this research there is no opportunity for researcher to reword the phrases or further explain once the survey launched.

The entire respondents were given guaranteed of anonymity (Easterby-Smith, M. et al., 2008). Respondents were given 20 days time to complete questionnaire and on an average it took 10-15 minutes to fill one questionnaire. Each questionnaire contains 25 questions including three different forms of questions; (i) agree – disagree statement, (ii) multiple ticks and (iii) open end questions.

3.9.2 – Interviews

An interview is an intentional dialogue between two or more people. In the view of Saunders et al., (2007) interviews may be highly structured (based on predetermined and identical set of questions which is often called interviewer-administered questionnaire) or unstructured (informal and in depth-interview to explore a general idea) or semi-structured. Another types of interviews described by Healey, M. & Rawlinson, M. (1993) standardized interview which is subject to quantitative analysis and non-standardized interviews that is subject to qualitative analysis.

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For this research, semi-structure interviews used as a device for exploring and collecting qualitative data in which interviewer ask questions to interviewee to draw self-reports of their opinions, attitudes, or behaviors in relation to knowledge management. Three interviews were taken from different departments with managerial position. All interviews were recorded with the consent of respondents. Key themes were note down by the researcher as interviews were being conducted and the same questions asked to all interviewees in slightly different packaging, although the overall essence of questions did not change. The researcher conducted all the interviews by himself and further amplification provided during an interview when respondents misunderstand the questions. This clarification was necessary to bring respondents on right track for exploring research topic and research question. The duration of the interview was set up-to maximum 30 minuets.

The telephone interviews were employed which is appropriate specifically in this research because of the geological distance and limited time. Also there are no sensitive matters involved which need to discuss via only face-to-face. Various other advantages such as good physical appearance of the interviewer is not require, however Babbie, E. (1995) suggested that interview can be successful if the interviewer is pleasant and kind during an interview. Simultaneously there are several disadvantages associated to telephone interview for example interviewees may lie and hide information. Visual cues and body languages become more difficult to observe.

3.10 – Pilot work

The reason behind piloting is to spot imperfections in research questions and then rectify it. Before launching questionnaire to real respondent, these questionnaires were initially piloted by sending web link to three classmates. Two problems were identified apart from questionnaire structure and the language used in questionnaire. First respondents got e-mail in their junk or trash folder instead of standard inbox folder which might lead less response rate and second the option to go on next page (next button) does not appear on actual screen which may result in partial response, however at last researcher has been successful to solve these issues by making some setting configurations on web application.

3.11 – Sampling

In the view of Bell, J. (1987) we do not need to engage each person in relation to study about population. Whereas Gill, J. (1991), described sampling as the population of interest that have been choose for study. Research usually required of those individual who are willing to provide information and these set of individuals known as sample. In this research the research question(s), its objectives, chosen research methodology (quantitative and qualitative) and research strategy (case study) dictate itself to select non-probability samples. Neuman, W. & Kreugar, L. (2003) suggested that the majority of qualitative researches likely to employ non probability samples which means that researchers rarely decide the sample size in advance and they have partial awareness about population from which the sample is taken. Saunders et al., (2003) supported that non-probability sample widely used in case study research with small size samples. This sample would provide rich information of case study in which research question is explored.

This research has been conducted on Pakistani company; the Company employs almost 150 staffs on several places. It was determined to use Company head office as sample size in this research where nearly 70 employees working on various position including management. Easterby-Smith, M. et al., (2008) stated that the sample selected may possibly bias which might be imitated on end results. To curtail bias and produce true result from this research, altogether fifty questionnaires were launch for employees working on head office irrespective of their age, genders, experiences and departments. Furthermore researcher conducted three interviews with different departmental managers, two of them are male and one is a female.

3.12 – Validity & Reliability

According to McNeill, P. & Chapman, S. (2005) validity refers to the dilemma of whether the information gathered is accurate of what is being studied. Denscombe, M. (2003) clarified that validity in a research signify that the mandatory information is studied and not anything more. Validity is when a theory, model and concept explain reality as it shows and it refers to the accuracy in the case study. This research employed both quantitative and qualitative methods which bring a practical, honest and unbiased account of social life from the point of view of someone who lives it each day (Neuman, W. & Kreugar, L. (2003).

Yin, R. (2003) and Denscombe, M. (2003) point out that reliability in a research reflects on the reality that the study is accomplished consistently and correctly. They suggested that identical conclusions could be attained, if carried out by other observers or under the same conditions. In this research questionnaire and follow up interviews were used to record and analyze data consistently. As the researcher employed telephone interviews which Saunders et al., (2007) believes that take longer time to construct trust between the interviewer and interviewees, visual prompts and non-verbal behavior may also influence the progress of the interview. In the view of Yin, R. (2003) case study strategy enhances the reliability of the research because it enables other researchers to follow the facts or data directly and not be constrained to the printed reports. Furthermore the sample section and methodological in this study may possibly be copied by other investigators to get same results. All the interviewee’s were consent to record interviews which further interprets our result and conclusion as trustworthy.

At last, overall, the following steps were obtained to certify the reliability and validity of this research:

The researcher used continuous guidelines from the supervisor for making survey and interview questions in an order to get most acceptable outcomes.

All respondents were informed in advance as regards to take part for accomplishing this research. Questionnaires were completed within 20 days and the interviews were taken within 7 days, during these periods of time no key incident happen or changed with the related subject.

Data were collected through web based application (www.surveymethods.com). The researcher has no control over the modification of any answers provided by respondents.

After finishing interviews, a brief summary of conversations sent to each interviewee by e-mail to make sure that what exactly they want to say and what the researcher understood. Also interviewees were asked if they find any thing which is differing from the point of view of researcher then they can correct it and reply back via e-mail.

3.13 – Research ethics

Blumberg, et al., (2005) viewed ethics as moral rules and principles, norms, standards or sets of behavior, that lead our relationships with others. Research ethics then narrates to questions about how research topic is plan and elucidate, how data is collected, process and store, how data is analyze and research findings are write up in a moral and responsible way.

In this research, number of ethical considerations has been taken into account specially when gathering data through questionnaires and interviews. First the purpose of the study plus respondents participation was clearly explained. Second none of the respondents was intimidated to take part in research process and those who agreed to take part their verbal consent was attained. According to Bell, J. (1987), human rights protections for instance; autonomy from physical and mental hurt, privacy and confidentiality should maintain throughout research. To retain confidentiality no names were connected to data, however the researcher can recognizes which data belongs to whom and the person’s name, who interviewed in this research were not displayed.



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