How the Investigation was Executed
This chapter introduces and discusses the method used to collect data. The different sec-tions begin with a theoretical description followed by a motivation of the chosen alterna-tive.
Deductive or Inductive
A deductive approach stands for the most common view of the nature of the connection between theory and existing knowledge (Bryman & Bell, 2011). The first objective is to de-velop the theoretical framework from existing observations and theories and second to col-lect and compare empirical data to the framework. There is a historic account to this ap-proach. A scientific tradition going back to Aristotle was dominating science for long time. This tradition stated that logic conclusions of established truths should create knowledge. But in the 16th century new technology such as telescopes gave scientists new possibilities to study the universe which lead to suggestions that there might be other explanations that challenged the established truths (Jacobsen, 2002; Eriksson & Wiedersheim-Paul, 2006). A well known example of these contradictions is Galilei who came to the conclusion that the earth orbits the sun and not the other way around.
Jacobsen (2002); Eriksson and Wiedersheim-Paul (2006) say that an inductive approach requires the researcher to collect empirical data without previous theoretical thinking influ-encing and constraining the process. Thus the data should describe the reality correctly. Galilei’s approach can be described as inductive in a sense that his observations resulted in new theory which has over the years been found robust to put it gently. Bryman and Bell (2011) describe this as follows; induction is observation leading to theory and deduction the other way around.
Selection of Approach
This study consists of a deductive as well as an inductive part. The first and more extensive part of the purpose is fulfilled by developing a framework out of existing knowledge and analyzing it relative collected data, a deductive part. There is also a less extensive inductive part, meaning that the outcome of the analysis will be to develop a framework to guide companies when developing different relationships. The combination of deductive and in-ductive approach could also be described as abductive (Davidson & Patel, 2003).
The existing knowledge within a research area to some extent determines the choice of study. Existing knowledge is practical when it comes to formulating the problem as well as the research interest. Various forms of research interest can be the foundation of an inves-tigation (Jacobsen, 2002; Rosengren & Arvidson, 2002) as described below.
When there is limited existing knowledge available within a specific research area an ex-ploratory study is appropriate. Jacobsen (2002), states that it is crucial to have an open mind and be prepared for unexpected results and unexpected connections. An example could be how a company spends resources on say marketing research, development, pro-duction and service and how this affects the total cost of operations.
A descriptive study is the choice when there exists a basic understanding of the area inves-tigated. According to Rosengren and Arvidson, (2002) this is the case when finding out how different factors are related to and interact with each other, such as the results of mar-keting research affects the development resources spent and the quality outcome of pro-duction operations affects costs for service.
Explanatory studies are appropriate when research has provided considerable knowledge and understanding of a specific area. The point is to acquire a deeper and more profound understanding (Rosengren & Arvidson, 2002). To continue the reasoning above this could mean that high service costs depend on low production quality, but on a deeper level the problem might originate from problems with the production equipment itself; meaning a more profound and deeper understanding.
Selection of Research Interest
Since there already exists an understanding within the targeted research area, networks sur-rounding organizations, competition and procurement, a descriptive approach will be used. It is also to be considered explanatory since a part of the outcome will be a framework de-signed to help companies to choose suppliers, by the means of understanding how differ-ent issues affect each other on a deeper level.
Quantitative or Qualitative Method
A quantitative method requires the collection of data from numerous sources (Jacobsen, 2002) in order to find issues that can be applied in larger groups. A common way is to use surveys, since these are easy to duplicate and distribute to numerous respondents. Further, the data collected is possible to quantify and process statistically (Eriksson & Wiedersheim-Paul, 2006; Bryman & Bell, 2011). Nevertheless a major drawback is that there is no possi-bility to ask complementary questions.
The quantitative approach is the opposite of qualitative with regards to the number of re-spondents, meaning that the former focuses on a larger number of respondents while the latter focuses on a smaller number with more depth regarding questions asked (Jacobsen, 2002) as well as a deeper understanding of the individuals perspective of reality (Backman, 1998). While the quantitative method often uses surveys the qualitative more often uses observation and interview. Qualitative method like interview also has the advantage of ask-ing complimentary question as the conversation proceeds, thus there is an opportunity to obtain a more profound understanding (Stukát, 2005). Complementary questions can also contribute to get a more diverse understanding of different respondent’s perceptions (Eriksson & Wiedersheim-Paul, 2006). Qualitative method is also suitable when investigat-ing complex causes in order to understand different people’s behaviour.
Selection of Method
Quantitative studies focus on a high number of respondents and numerical results while qualitative provide verbal information. The underlying investigation has however a qualita-tive approach since the understanding of a company’s supply chain and its network and related issues are indeed complex and require a deep understanding rather than superficial statistics. Also, these issues are perceived different depending on different organizations, departments and people. Thus in-depth verbal information is of importance.
To focus on a particular unit like a specific organization or process is known as a case study (Jacobsen, 2002; Bryman & Bell, 2011). A characteristic of a case study is its focus on a lar-ger number of variables in one or a few study objects. Opposed to this is when a smaller number of variables among a larger number of units are studied (Eriksson and Wieder-sheim-Paul, 2006). However this should not be mixed up with the definition of quantitative and qualitative method since a case study of for instance a process can be performed by a quantitative survey among actors within this process.
1.1 Supply Chains Yesterday and Today
1.4 Expected Contribution
2 Connecting Purchases, Market Forces and Networks
2.1 Classification of Purchases
2.2 What Factors Affect Competition?
2.4 Connections between the Frameworks, Introducing the K5N Framework
2.5 Research Questions
3 How the Investigation was Executed
3.1 Deductive or Inductive
3.2 Research Interest
3.3 Quantitative or Qualitative Method
3.4 Case Study
3.5 Organization Selection
3.6 Data Collection
3.7 Data Analysis
3.8 Validity and Reliability
4.1 The Company
4.3 Customer Side
4.4 Purchasing Side
5 How Reality is Reflected in the K5N Framework
5.1 Customer Side
5.2 Purchasing Side
5.3 K5N Analysis
6 Relationships a Structured Approach
6.2 Hypothetical Case within the Manufacturing Industry
6.3 Hypothetical Case within the Service Industry
7 Conclusions and Critics
8 What is Left to Do?
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
Complexity of Supply Chains A Case Study of Purchasing Activities and Relationships