When The Boundaries Between Phenomenon And Context Are Not Clearly Evident Psychology Essay


The basic aim and objective of this chapter is to describe in perspective the research methodology that would be used to check the correlation between multinational oil corporation’s participation in economic activities in Nigeria through the means of international trade policy and its effect on economic growth and the influence such corporations exert on international foreign trade policies of the host country Nigeria. In order to achieve these set objectives, the research was carried out through rigorous collection and analysis of data using qualitative case study methodology with a bit of quantitative data since the researcher wont be generating own data but careful analysis of already generated data.

3.2 Justification for the approach used

Alternatively, the selection of tools may be at the discretion of the researcher to know the most valid approach to be used, Yates (2004 p14) goes on to argue that positivist thinking has influenced quantitative or numerical research. Ticehurst and Veal (2000 p18) argued that there is a considerable debate among scholars,about the relative merit and value of qualitative vs. quantitative business research and that the debate is often aligned with differing philosophical positions. They went as far as illustrating with a diagram on approaches and methodology.

Approaches and methodology




Lab simulation








Social action

Critical interpretation


Experienced qualitative researchers like Altheide & Johnson (1994), Creswell, (2009) Eisner (1998), Gall, Gall & Borg (2007), Glaser (1992), Howe & Eisenhardt (1990) have offered a variety of standards that may be used to evaluate a qualitative research study and they suggested a general criteria;


Explicitness of assumption & biases- identifies bias that may affect data collection or interpretation


Open mindedness



Persuasiveness- logical arguments



3.2.1 Case study method

Robert K. Yin (1984) defines the case study research method as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident; and in which multiple sources of evidence are used. Though critics of the case study method claim that the study of a small number of isolated cases can not establish a reliable or general acceptability of the research, but over time well known researchers like Robert E Stake, Helen Simons and of course Robert Yin have proven the success of the case study technique . Some critics’ feels that the intense exposure to study of the case biases the outcome of the research while others dismissed case study research as a useful exploratory tool. Researchers continue to use the case study research method with success in carefully planned and crafted studies of real-life situations, issues, and problems and I wouldn’t be different. Morris and wood 1991 in their attempt defined the case study strategy as a considerable ability by a researcher to generate answers to questions like ‘why’? ‘When’? ‘What’? and ‘How’? (Saunders, 2009).

Stake, Simons, and Yin have written about case study research issues and suggested techniques for organizing and conducting the research appropriately and successfully. They proposed six steps that should be used when using the case study method:

Determine and define the research questions

Select the cases and determine data gathering and analysis techniques

Prepare to collect the data

Collect data in the field

Evaluate and analyze the data and finally

Prepare the report

3.2.2 Method Used

The method to be used in this research is mainly qualitative research with a bit touch of the quantitative aspect due to the simple fact that I have no intention of generating numerical data but analyses sourced data. And also qualitative research is more interpretive since I would be considering words rather than numbers and as the focal aim of this research is best served by a well conducted qualitative inductive interpretive research reasoning (Silverman 2008).

Qualitative research believe that the researcher ability to interpret and make sense of what he or she sees is critical for understanding any social phenomenon. In this sense, the researcher is an as much the same way as an oscilloscope, sociogram or rating scale is an instrument (Leady and Ormrod 2010). Furthermore, some qualitative researchers believe that there isn’t necessarily is a single, ultimate truth to be discovered, instead there may be multiple perspectives held by different individuals, with each of these perspectives having equal validity or truth (Creswell 2009: and Guba and Lincoln 1998) one goal of a quality study might be to reveal the nature of these multiple perspectives. All enquires of some starts are in a qualitative form (Lauer and Asher 1998) when little information exists on a topic when variables are unknown when relevant theory base is inadequate or missing, a qualitative study can help define what is important that is what needs to be studied.

According to Peshkins (1993), Qualitative research studies typically serve one or more of the following purposes

Description – They can reveal the nature of certain situations, settings processes, relationships, systems or people.

Interpretation – They enable a researcher to a) gain new insights about a particular phenomenon, b) develop new concepts or theoretical perspective about the phenomenon or, c) discover the phenomenon that exists within the phenomenon.

Verification – They allow a researcher to test the validity of certain assumptions, claims, theories or generalization within real world context.

Evaluation – They provide a means through which a researcher can judge the effectiveness of particular policies, practice or innovations.

Qualitative research methods are the least prescriptive (Eisner 1998).

3.3 Research design and methodology

The research is design and methodology is the focal point for the researcher, it conducted so as to ensure accuracy in organization and consistency. Research design ordinary should be systemic and comprehensive to safe guard the gathering of the data, recording of the data and data analysis to protect against obvious data disorganization. There are five basic components of a good research as posited by Yin (1984). These are

. The research questions

. The research propositions

.The unit of analysis

. The logic linking of the data to proposition and

. The criteria for interpreting the findings

Miles & Huberman (1984) laid more emphasis on the need to focus and bound the data within a conceptual framework. They suggested beginning the research with general research questions would help to make the research straight forward and less vague without limiting the vision of the research (Miles & Huberman 1984) there by agreeing with the process suggested by Yin. The appropriateness of a qualitative, case study method in this particular project has already been explained in dept.

The relationship between philosophy, theory and research methods is an important one; Easterby-smith et al (2002) said it allows one to.

Take a more informed decision about the research approach.

Decide which methods are appropriate for the piece of research and

To think about constraints which may impinge on the research?

3.3.1 Interviews

The Interviews to be conducted in this research is via telephone and four different individuals of different background would be used to get probable balanced opinions on the subject matter.

Interview questions are being streamlined along the ideas of experts on qualitative research like Creswell (2009), Eisner (1998) Shank (2002) and Silverman (1993) along the following premise,

Identify some questions in advance, avoid leading questions, questions such as “what is going on now? What is it like to work here and what is a typical day like? Can stimulate informative conversation without suggesting that one kind of response is somehow more desirable than another (shank, 2002).

Consider how participant’s cultural background might influence this response (Howard Shuman 1967). As Shuman discovered cultural background can influence interview responses in ways you haven’t necessarily anticipated. If you are interviewing people from Asian cultures you should be aware that they are less likely to brag about their individual accomplishment than Westerners are (Heine, 2007) culture plays a significant role in how participants interpret questions.

Make sure your interviewee represents a group. Find extremist and mentor them in your notes.

Find a suitable location

Get written permission

Establish and maintain rapport, during the interview you must show compassion and interest in other ways e.g. body language , smiling , maintaining eye contact leaning forward and such neutral encouragements “go on”

Focus on the actual rather then on the abstract or hypothetical

Don’t put words in people’s mouth. People may reveal inconsistent lies in there recollection, attitudes and logic; their perceptions will not necessary all fit together in a neat little package ( kvale, 1996)

Record responses verbatim

10) Keep your reactions to yourself

11) Remember that you are not necessarily getting the facts

Interviews can yield a great deal of the useful information. The researcher can ask questions related to any of the following Fact e.g. biographical information

People’s belief and perspective about the facts



Present and past behaviours

Standards for behaviour (what people think should be done in certain situations)

6. Conscious reasons for actions or feelings (e.g. why people think that engaging in a particular behaviour is desirable and undesirable) (Silverman, 1993)

3.4 Selection of Participating Persons

3.4.1 Selection of Persons

The suitability of the persons approached for the research was established through the criteria adopted by the researcher. The criteria adopted emerged from the aims of the research as outlined in Chapter 1.

3.5 Data management

3.5.1 Gathering data

The means of data collection for this research is by both primary and secondary research data collection for both the qualitative and quantitative analysis .

Primary Research – This is basically telephone interviews of four persons to shed light on the issue being researched.

Secondary Research- This is going to be data sourced from Academic Journals, Periodicals, Textbooks, Studies and Reports of institutions, Newsletters, and other relevant published academic materials both electronic and print.

Saunders et al (2000), in their write ups posited that research designed is the logic that links data to be collected to the initial question of the research. They used what they called the research process onion for proper illustration thus:

C04NF001 Source: Saunders, Lewis, Thornhill (2003).

The layers represent

. Research philosophy

.Research approach

.Research methodology

.Time horizons

.Data collection techniques and methods

. Research Philosophy is the choice between two primary alternatives, a positivist and a phenomenological philosophy. (Easterby-Smith et al., 1991; Saunders et al., 2000) highlighted the basic elements of these choices by outlining the key features of these paradigms

Key features of positivist and phenomenological paradigms

Positivist paradigm

Phenomenological Paradigm

Basic Beliefs

The world is external and objective

The world is socially constructed and subjective

Observer is independent

Observer is part of what observed

Science is Value- free

Science is driven by human interests

Researcher Should

Focus on the facts

Focus on meanings

Look for causality and fundamental laws

Try to understand what is happening

Reduce phenomenon to simplest elements

Look at the totality of each situation

Formulate hypothesis and then test them

Develop ideas through induction from data

Preferred methods include

Operational concepts that can be measured

Using multiple methods to establish different views of phenomena

Taking large samples

Small samples investigated in depth or over time

Source: Easterby- Smith, Thorp R and Lowe A (1991)

The research philosophy for this dissertation would be phenomenological paradigm since it is related to theories and filled with valid and reliable data.

Research Approach is the application of either the deductive or inductive approach, and research can be based on empirical or non empirical approaches since there are four types of research namely, Exploratory, descriptive, analytical or predictive, and are based on empirical evidence (Hussey and Hussey 1997).

Research Strategy and methodology: The third layer of the onion according to Saunders encompasses the use of any of the following research strategies;

Experimental strategy

Survey strategy

Case study Strategy

Action research Strategy

Grounded theory strategy

Ethnography Strategy and

Archival research Strategy

For the data collection method of this proposal which will be leading to dissertation, both qualitative and quantitative data will be collected though a secondary source. Data will be collected for books, reports, internet and any written facts concerning the information i will be relevant to my research.

3.5.3 Analyzing and interpreting data

Huberman and Miles (1994) define data analysis as three linked sub processes i.e. data reduction in terms of data selection and condensation which are reduced in anticipation or conceptualized framework which are chosen and as instruments, cases and questions are refined,, Data are summarized, coded and broken down into themes, clusters and categories., Data display which is the second sub process described the way in which reduced data are displayed in diagrammatic, pictorial or visual forms in order to show what those data imply, it should be viewed as organized ,compressed assembly of information that permits conclusion drawing and action taking and another sub process is Data conclusion drawing and verification which is where the displayed data are interpreted and meaning is drawn. This part is the most significant of the study, and need to be handled delicately, since it deals with the research methodology where the sources of data collection, method of data analysis, model specification research hypothesis and sample period would be examined and determined. For instance, the growth rate of the Gross domestic product (GDP) would be measured to ascertain the changes during the course of this research According to Schram (2003) ” experience do not speak for themselves nor features within a research setting, directly or spontaneously announced themselves as worthy of your attention. As a qualitative field worker you cannot view your task simply as a matter of gathering or generating facts about what happened”. Rather you engage with an active process of interpretation noting things as significant, noting but ignoring other as not significant or missing other potentially significant things all together if you are not careful.

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Creswell (1998) described a data analysis as a spiral of activities geared towards a final result that is as equally applicable to a wide variety of qualitative studies. After the collation of data, it is organized into different bases, which is then perused, later classified into categories that then synthesized into hypothesis or propositions and finally the end report is arrived at, a diagrammatic illustration is given below.



*Offering Hypothesis or propositions

*Constructing, Tables, Diagrams.


*Grouping data into Themes & categories

*Finding meanings to the Data


*Getting over all sense of the data

*Jotting down preliminary interpretation



*Creating a corporate database

*Breaking large units into smaller bits


3.7 Research quality

Silverman (1993) posited that, only an handful of researchers would not accept ‘that the cultural world has different properties from the natural world’. It is generally acceptable that a research work would be regarded as scientific if the methods of study used are acceptable to the subject matter involved in the study. Research in the social sciences is considered to be scientific if the methods used are appropriate and the methods used in the collection and data analysis are rigorous, critical and objective. Kvale (1995) suggests that emphasis on the validity (truth) of findings may if consistently repeated could actually create suspicion in the observer with the preoccupation of maintaining the truth, ‘beware when they swear they are telling the truth’ (Kvale 1995:34).

Silverman (1993) in reinforcing the argument notes, ‘the two central concepts to be considered in any discussion of rigour in research are ‘reliability’ and ‘validity’. Reliability and validity are central to all measurements; they are concerned with how indicators are developed. Perfect reliability and validity are almost impossible to achieve, but they do need to be worked towards. It is important in business and social research to maximize the reliability and validity of indicators and measures used.

3.7.1 Research Reliability

Reliability is about the research’s indicator’s dependability and consistency. If the indicator being used is reliable it will give the same result each time repeatedly. It is about the replication of results. Hamersley (1992) refers to reliability as the degree of consistency with which instances are assigned to the same category by different observers or by the same observer on different occasions”.

Reliability ensures that any information given does not vary as a result of the characteristics of the indicator, measurement device or instrument used.

Nueman (2002) identified three kinds of reliability, namely;

Stability reliability, Representative reliability and Equivalence reliability, he also gave four principles that he suggests should be followed in order to increase reliability,

. Clearly conceptualized constructs;

. Using precise levels of measurement;

. Using multiple indicators; and

. Using pilot tests

3.7.2 Validity

An important way that the researcher has tried to ensure validity in the findings in this project was to generate rather than to test theories. There are three types of validity; construct, internal and external. According to Yin (1994) definition,

Construct validity establishes correct operational measures for the concepts being studied, Internal validity establishes a casual relationship linkages as against uncoordinated relationships and finally External validity establishes the domain to which the research findings are generalized.

Case study research tends to the more subjective, so it is important to enhance the subject of construct validity. Yin (1993) suggests the following measures: multiple sources of evidence, chain of evidence and review of procedures by informants.

3.8 Researcher’s role and position

3.8.1 Ethical issues

There are three ethical elements that was identified by Neuman (1997) as being of immense importance and absolutely relevant to all researcher’s especially this particular research, these are; Privacy, Anonymity and Confidentiality these are the three factors that corresponds to the second, third and fourth of Walkers five areas for consideration. All three of these factors are important to this research.

Walker (1980) has five areas for which a researchers must concentrate on for ethical consideration, these five areas are;

Researcher involvement in the issues or situations or event under study.

Confidentiality of data.

Issues related to access and control over any data collected

Preserving anonymity of persons granted the interviews or gave the necessary information.

Problems arising from interpretation of the data.

3.8.2 Researcher integrity

The researcher who adopts the qualitative, the interpretive path are questioned by their more positivist colleagues as to their ability to remain objective and unbiased. When conducting the type of research that involves watching, interviewing and recording, there arise a number of opportunities for the personal influence of the researcher to affect the findings of the research. Researcher integrity becomes a real issue. Walker (1984) argues that an important reason for the increased reliance on quantitative methods, replication and statistics in social research is about a lack of trust,

“We set stringent statistical criteria not because logically they are crucial for establishing a theory but because our intellectual community is socially distrustful of the honesty of investigators.” Walker (1984)

All research, whether it is quantitative or qualitative, places some degree of trust in the researcher. The reader of qualitative research usually places more trust in the integrity and interpretation of the researcher than they would in the quantitative researcher. It is incumbent on the qualitative researcher to ensure that their research accurately reflects the evidence and that they have all possible checks on the evidence. In order to strengthen any claims made from the evidence collected, the researcher considers what others might say, they look for confirming evidence and they check, as far as possible, for internal consistency.

3.9Research Report

A reliance for studying the case

A detailed descriptive of the facts related to the case

A description of the data you collected

A description of the patterns you formatted

A connection to the larger scheme of things

4.0 Chapter Summary



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