RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Introduction

The research methodology section describes the research methodology employed to solve the research problem. After the framework for research is established in the literature review, certain gaps pertaining to the research problem are identified and these gaps are addressed by conducting a suitable research enquiry. The relevant research strategies, approaches, philosophies that are applied in the process of conducting the research are dealt with in this part. Moreover, a brief mention about the data collection methods and sampling techniques is presented in this section.

Research Philosophy

The philosophy of research serves as an underlying framework for the appropriate research methodology to be chosen. The research philosophy enables the researcher to follow a certain direction upon which the research strategies, approaches, techniques are followed. Factors like the nature of the research problem, the philosophical stand of the researcher, the context of study determines the kind of research philosophy to be chosen. There are two general research philosophies, namely positivism and interpretivism.

Positivists believe in pure scientifical methods for the conduct of research. Their approach to studying phenomena concludes with a set of laws and generalisations and the validity of these laws and generalisations are tested by employing suitable scientific methods. The view of positivists is objective and they concentrate on the external phenomena.  Positivists work with quantitative techniques. They claim that the participants in the research usually do not consider any values attached to their opinion in responding to a survey or a questionnaire. In a sense, they don’t attempt an in-depth understanding of human nature or behaviour like the interpretivists.

A positivist generally looks for facts and not the meanings in the gathering of data from the opinions of the respondents. The phenomena constructed with the positivist philosophy takes the form of simple elements in the course of its construction. Positivism attempts at choosing a large sample for the conduct of research and  devise methods of operationalisation that are generally used for testing the formulated hypothesis.

Interpretivism assumes that reality originates in the mental construct of human beings and they believe that reality is not an absolute truth based on fundamental laws. They believe that reality has multiple dimensions according to the context, attitudes, behaviours and cultural differences of the human beings. Interpretivism attempts to follow an inductive approach in understanding the reality. Interpretivism attempts to make the sense of the expressed opinions through the meanings attached to an opinion rather than facts.

Interpretivism proceeds by consolidating the information from the meanings observed and from the situations analyzed in order to gain deep understanding of the phenomena researched. The limitations of interpretivism are that the researcher should be in proximity with the participants to further probe questions in order to gain deeper understanding of the situation. In terms of reliability, as different people attach different meanings to the observed phenomena, generalisation of the research findings is difficult.

However, in the ongoing dissertation, the research favours an interpretivist appraoch as the researcher attempts to find the solutions from the opinions of the respondents in an inductive manner. As the research revolves around the case of  Sainsbury to take note of the opinions gathered from the respondents through semi-structured interviews, the use of interpretivism as a research philosophy is justified.