Comparison between small and large companies

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Method

In this chapter the research process is described by illustrating the study and the method chosen. The chosen interview method is described and how the data collected will be analyzed is stated. The chapter also discusses the trustworthiness of the study, the ethical issues and the challenges that were faced during the data collection.

Research approach

In this thesis we have focused on a new food concept offered to conference guests at Radisson Blu and how the concept could affect the customers’ purchase decision. We have taken part of information regarding the Brain Food concept and connected this to existing theories regarding the decision making process, organizational buying behavior and differentiation. Further, the data collection, namely the semi-structured interviews, was divided into two phases; the first interview phase was conducted by interviewing small sized companies with less than, or equal to, 50 employees. We also interviewed large sized companies with more than, or equal to, 100 employees about the companies’ general preferences about which factors that are favored to be included in a conference as well as how their decision making process is performed.
The second interview phase was conducted by interviewing companies that were holding a conference at Radisson Blu in Gothenburg. The aim of this phase was to see how the customers perceived the Brain Food concept in reality and what kind of expectations the customers had regarding the Brain Food concept before attending the conference.

Choice of qualitative data

According to Malhotra and Birks (2007, p 152) qualitative data is: “An unstructured, primarily exploratory design based on small samples, intended to provide insight and understanding.”
The definition stated by Malhotra and Birks (2007) can also be complemented by a definition by Eriksson and Wiedersheim-Paul (2011) which states that a qualitative method is verbal and therefore suitable when the aim of the research is to get a more detailed and focused picture of the subject.
The use of qualitative interviews is favored in order to register reactions and emotions with the respondents. Based on these arguments we found it to be of value to conduct interviews with selected companies face to face. The use of semi -structured interviews were the most suitable way of collecting data within this thesis in order to get the in-depth knowledge of the subject through and gain qualitative insight into the subject (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). The reason for why we chose to conduct a qualitative study was since we wanted to achieve underlying explanations connected to the purpose of the thesis and to get a proper insight of how companies are purchasing conferences

Semi-structured interviews

During the data collection, non-standardized semi-structured interviews were collected. This type of interviews are used in order for the interviewers to be able ask follow-up questions and hence adjust the interview depending on the flow of the conversation with the respondents. Since the interviews aimed at understanding if healthy food is something that the companies prioritize when choosing a conference facility, the interviewers want to be able to understand how the respondents answers around the subject and get the respondent to explain why he or she reasons in a particular way. (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2009).
We based the interviews on a pre-determined list of topics and questions. The questions were also complemented with follow up questions in order to get the most out of every interview. The interviews were recorded in order for us to further analyze the data collected after the interviews were conducted. (Saunders et al, 2009).

Sample

During the data collection a judgemental sampling technique was used when the first interview phase was executed where personal interviews were conducted with companies regarding general preferences and decision making criteria during a conference purchase. The target for the interviews was the south west regions of Sweden since these geographical areas represent the customer target area for Radisson Blu situated in Gothenburg (T. Andersson, personal communication, 2012-01 -26). The chosen geographical areas were also suitable for the authors for convenient reasons; hence, the ease of getting in contact with companies in these areas was something that we believed to be of great value since it would contribute to a more adequate selection of representative companies. Interviews were held with both five small sized and five large sized companies to be able to detect differences in organizational buying behavior between different companies.
The second interview phase included eight interviews with companies attending a conference at Radisson Blu in Gothenburg. The interviews were executed during two different days when the Brain Food concept was offered to the customers and therefore we were able to observe how the concept worked and how it was perceived by the conference guests. The interviews reflected a real behavior which favored us when analyzing the results from the data collected. (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). The reason for why we chose to execute the interviews at Radisson Blu in connection to a conference was that it reflected the “real” behavior of the conference guests. This was done in order to see how the Brain Food concept was actually perceived and if the conference guests would choose Radisson Blu and Brain Food again.
The company representatives that were interviewed in both interview phases were all decision makers in their respective companies regarding conference purchases. This gave us the insight needed for the analysis. The companies represented different industries which however is not taken into consideration in the analysis since it was not the aim of the study.

Challenges during the interviews

The first challenge that we faced during the first interview phase was to find companies to participate in the interviews. As previously mentioned we decided to contact companies in attractive customer regions for Radisson Blu and where we most conveniently could get in contact with the companies. The interviews were booked with the companies through the use of personal communication where the purpose of the interviews was clearly stated and the objectivity was remained by not mentioning Radisson Blu. The reason not to mention Radisson Blu throughout the interviews was to have an as objective discussion as possible in order to get a high level of trustworthiness in the answers. Another challenge that we found during the interviews was that smaller companies tended to have less experience from conference facilities and therefore the answers were not as deep compared to larger companies. One explanation for this is according to us, because larger companies could have more experience from conferences which makes them more knowledgeable and versed compared to smaller companies. We overcame the challenge with the small companies by follow up questions and discussions around the topics where the majority of the companies had experience from.
During the second interview phase, that was conducted at Radisson Blu with conferring companies, we had more of a challenge regarding the amount of time that we could get from the representatives from the companies. Since the companies were present at Radisson Blu solely for conference purposes they were on a tight schedule which gave us limited time to conduct our interviews. We overcame this obstacle by interviewing the majority of the companies after their conference day had ended and that gave us the proper amount of time needed to ask the prepared questions. Since the major part of this thesis is focusing on how companies are buying conferences it was important for us to interview the representatives from each company that was in charge of the actual decision making process. Some of the companies that were present at Radisson Blu during these two interview days did not have the responsible persons present at the conference and was therefore eliminated from our sample.

1 Introduction 
1.1 Background
1.2 Problem discussion
2 Frame of reference 
2.1 Purchasing
2.2 Differentiation
2.3 Organizational buying behavior
2.4 Summarizing model
3 Method 
3.1 Research approach
3.2 Choice of qualitative data
3.3 Semi-structured interviews
3.4 Data analysis
3.5 Data quality issues
3.6 Motivation behind interview questions
4 Results and Analysis
4.1 Small size companies ≤ 50 employees
4.2 Large size companies ≥ 100 employees
4.3 Comparison between small and large companies
4.4 Current customers at Radisson Blu
4.5 Discussion Results and Analysis
5 Conclusion
5.1 Recommendations
5.2 Suggestions for further research
6 List of references
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Is Brain Food attractive? How a new conference concept affects customers’ decision making processes.

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