Methodology and Method
This section describes how the research was conducted including the research philosophy, research design, and data collection and analysis. It will also include a verification of the credibility and give arguments for the chosen method.
Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) state there is a difference between methodology and method: the method refers to the practical work and procedures used to obtain and analyse data. This includes for example the planned interviews, digital questionnaires, and interpre-tation and analyse of data. The term methodology refers to the theory behind the research and how it should be conducted.
Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) argue that we make assumptions in all stages of our research. The assumptions shape how researchers understand research questions, the methods that are chosen and how the findings are interpreted. Researchers must be aware of the subjective and socially constructed meaning, which is expressed about the research topic. The adopted research approach will reinforce the research strategy, the method and the outcome of the research (Crotty, 1998; Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012).
In this research the authors have chosen an interpretive approach for its strength in under-standing social features, such as emotions and values.
Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) argue that the researchers make assumptions in all stages of the research. The assumptions shape how the researcher understands the research questions, the method, and how the findings are interpreted and analysed. Researchers must be aware of the subjective and socially constructed meaning expressed regarding the research topic. The adopted research approach will reinforce the research strategy, the method and the outcome of the research (Crotty, 1998; Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012).
In every research it is pertinent that the researcher gathers truthful and valid empirical data (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012). If the researchers ask questions that cannot be ap-plied to the study, the researchers will not be able to use the answers for the analysis and conclusion. Because researchers assume and interpret the data, they have to focus on a phi-losophy, which will prevent them from subjectively interpret the answers (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012).
The authors have previously discussed that there is little research conducted in the field of business models for SMEs operating in the biotech industry and that existing research tends to be descriptive rather then exploratory. The differences between descriptive research and exploratory research are that descriptive research can be an extension of explor-atory research, and that the data often are collected through quantitative methods (Saun-ders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012).
Exploratory studies are mainly carried out when there is little or none earlier research to re-fer to (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012). Because research of business models in the biotech industry is a rare field of study, exploratory approach is suggested.
Exploratory, descriptive and explanatory are three different approaches of how to conduct a research when choosing a research approach. Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) de-scribe the exploratory research method to be a valuable mean to ask open questions in or-der to find patterns and gain in-depth understanding about a topic. It is especially useful if the researcher aims to illuminate the understanding of a problem. One of the benefits with exploratory research is that it is flexible and allows for change in the light of new data (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012).
This research was designed to explore existing business models through several case stud-ies. Therefore this research was conducted in a qualitative manner and the data was collect-ed from questions and discussions via emails, phone calls and interviews as well as through literature search.
The authors chose to conduct a research, which enabled in-depth understanding of the specific cases and also due to its ability to manage time and geographical constraints. This was to fully understand the design of business models in SMEs in the biotech industry. This would argue to use and emphasise a qualitative approach rather than quantitative ap-proach due to the nature of this research.
A quantitative approach would have allowed the authors to collect answers through for ex-ample a digital survey including a large sample. On the other hand, the qualitative method and approach allowed the authors to do an in-depth exploration through interviews, which is also argued by Gummesson (2000) to be a useful tool for business and management re-search.
Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) state that when conducting a research, it is important to choose a research approach that fits the purpose of the research topic and enables the researcher to fully gain from the information gathered. Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) present three approaches from which to decide on the design of the scientific re-search:
According to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012), it is important to realize the differ-ences between these three approaches when deciding on which to adopt for the research. Table 2.1 from Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) shows the differences between these. All approaches help to determine the starting point for the research and the proceeding work.
The choice of research approach is argued to enable a more informed decision regarding the research design. The choice is derived from the configuration, which involves what kind of evidence is gathered, and where and how it is interpreted in order to provide unbi-ased answers to the initial research questions (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012).
Since the purpose of this research was to explore the design of business models, the au-thors chose to use the abductive approach.
The abductive research approach was chosen from the context of enterprises in the biotech industry, since it enabled the authors to move between theory and findings in order to cre-ate reliable conclusions and be able to analyse the findings (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2012). According to Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) abductive approach is helpful when researchers are looking for new insights through describing what is happening, asking questions and comparing empirical data with existing theories. Saunders, Lewis and Thorn-hill (2012) also emphasise the advantage of the exploratory research’s flexibility. However, this require the researchers to be open for change as new insights can appear, which might change the focus of the research itself.
Use of the Abductive Approach
Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) describe the abductive approach to move back and forth between theory and empirical findings, combining the deductive and inductive ap-proach. The research begins from a surprising observation and then working towards a plausible theory of how this could have occurred (Ketokivi and Mantere, 2010).
In this study, the collected data was combined and integrated in an overall conceptual framework that was compared with existing theory.
After the initial data was obtained, the authors decided to proceed and start researching about business models of other SMEs and find existing theoretical data to validate the find-ings. This would give a brief overview of the research topic to fully gather valid data, which would be useful for the research.
The qualitative data was obtained from participating companies through interviews with a member of the management team. Every interviewee had relevant qualifications and expert knowledge of the subject to answer the research questions in this study. Before conducting the interviews, the authors made sure that the contact was positioned in the management team and possessed knowledge regarding the business strategy and business model.
The qualitative method was preferred since these interviews and dialogs mattered in under-standing the design of their business models. This also enabled discussions and clarification of critical points and grey areas as paramount in contrast to the already gathered qualitative data. Due to the nature of this study, the qualitative research approach helped fulfilling the purpose of this thesis since it focuses on behaviours, feelings and human emotions, and not on presenting any numerical data (Körner, Ek and Berg, 1984).
The method is the description of how the researchers work to gather and analyse the data for the thesis. The method assists in establishing a solid foundation for how the researchers explore the design of business models for SMEs operating in the biotech industry.
The authors focus on SMEs in the biotech industry because of the argued financial and op-erational obstacles that these companies face. This was stated in an interview (see Table 4.1) conducted with SWE-A2. After the interview, the authors conducted a pre-study on the topic, were further support was found.
In the interview with SWE-A2, “33 Listan” (33 Listan, 2013) was introduced to the au-thors. The “33 Listan” presents Sweden’s 33 most promising technology companies. The “33 Listan” of 2012 and 2013 included SMEs operating in the biotech industry. The au-thors then chose to approach the companies that were operating in the biotech industry. All the companies that the authors contacted responded and showed interest to participate in this study.
SWE-B, which was included in this research, was not found through the “33 Listan”. That company was introduced to the authors during the interview with SWE-A1. That SME was, contacted because they fitted well in the research profile as a SME operating in the biotech industry. By including SWE-B, the authors believed that the company could bring some in-sights to the design of business models in the biotech industry.
Data can be either primary or secondary. The researchers themselves collect primary data for instance trough questionnaires or interviews. Secondary data on the other hand, is collected from previous researchers (Eriksson, 2011). Using existing data, i.e. secondary data, saves both money and time. However, the disadvantages are that it is not designed for the specific re-search area (Zikmund, 2000). Therefore, it is important to verify the collected secondary data and carefully examine it before using it (Eriksson, 2011).
In this study, data was collected from primary and secondary sources. According to Zik-mund (2000), secondary data enables the researchers to build the work on past research.
Primary data was collected through interviews and a digital questionnaire with the partici-pating companies, which will be presented later in this section. These were considered the main primary source since it was used to obtain the specific data with the purpose of an-swering the research questions. Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) state that interviews and questionnaires help gathering reliable data, relevant to the research questions.
Secondary data regarding business models and their components, cover existing research, and was collected through Jönköping University library, through literature, handbooks and scientific journals. All secondary data was reviewed by looking at well-known and influen-tial scholars as well as highly citied researchers so the authors could establish a good under-standing of business models and its components. For the online literature research, the au-thors primarily used Google Scholar and Scopus.
1.2 Problem statement
1.4 Research Questions
2 Methodology and Method
2.1 Research philosophy
3 Frame of Reference
3.1 Business Models
3.2 Components of Business Models
3.3 Design of Business Models
4 Empirical Findings
4.1 Research Guide
4.2 Empirical Background
4.3 Business Models
4.4 Components of Business Models
4.5 Design of Business Models
5.1 Business Models
5.2 Components of Business Models
5.3 Design of Business Models
7.2 Suggestions for Further Studies
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