This part consists of methodological insight and reflection of the chosen approach. The method is the tool used for fulfilling the purpose to gain meaningful knowledge about the problem. It is a straightforward description of how the empirical work has been carried out, discussing pros and cons of the chosen methods. Both methods of data collection and data analysis are described and rationalised.
Malhotra and Birks (2007) explain that the research design lays the foundation for any project. Its purpose is to specify the procedures that are required for obtaining the information needed to answer the research questions (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). The research design gives the objectives that are derived from the research questions, it specifies the sources for data collection, considers possible constraints, and it includes ethical issues (Saunders, Thornhill & Lewis, 2009). The steps in the design of a research includes specifying the information needed, deciding if the research should be exploratory or conclusive, deciding the measurement technique, construct and test the chosen form of data collection, specifying the sample and, lastly, developing a plan for the data analysis (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). The information needed for this study is specified and explained in the problem discussion and the purpose section in chapter one.
Malhotra and Birks (2007) state that an exploratory research design is suitable when the phenomenon is hard to measure, and one need to be flexible and unstructured (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). A conclusive design measures a clearly defined phenomena and it tests specific hypotheses and relationships (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). Since the research problem and questions are clearly defined for this study, the conclusive research design is the most appropriate method. Malhotra and Birks (2007) state that a conclusive design can be used to measure perceptions, and it is further characterized by a structured process, a large sample that aims to be representative and a data analysis that is quantitative (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). These are all characteristics of this study, since it aims to investigate the perceptions and expectations of employees.
Furthermore, a conclusive research design can be either descriptive (i.e., describe something) or casual (i.e., finding cause-and-effect relationships) (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). We argue that this research is descriptive, since according to Malhotra and Birks (2007), a descriptive research has the information needed clearly defined, is pre-planned and structured and is generally based on large representative samples (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). A descriptive research aims to portray a truthful profile of persons, events or situations (Saunders et al., 2009). This research aims to show the profile of employees in relation to CSR since the purpose is to find different types of employees and their differences when it comes to preferences.
The approach for this research is mainly inductive. Saunders et al. (2009) explains that an inductive research builds theory as data is collected and the theory is developed as a result of the analysis. This approach is often used when the research has a variety of methods for data collection, to gain different views of the studied phenomena (Saunders et al., 2009). However, the study is not inductive in the purest sense. Instead it can be argued to be abductive, which is explained as a combination of an inductive and deductive approach (Blumberg, Cooper & Schindler, 2011). The data will be collected through a survey, interviews with managers and observations at the company to understand the nature of the problem, and then theory will be developed. According to Voss et al. (2002), the purpose of theory building includes identifying key variables, linkages between the variables and identifying why these relationships exist (Voss et al., 2002), which can be highly related to the purpose of this thesis. That is, identifying employee characteristics, preferred aspects of CSR, and to find out how to engage the employees.
In order to fully understand the issue of CSR and its impact on employees, the data was collected in three ways; through a survey, through interviews and by observations. Therefore, the method for this thesis is a mixed method. According to Saunders et al. (2009), a mixed method means that both a qualitative and a quantitative method is used and analysed, either at the same time or sequential, but in their own different ways (i.e., quantitatively and qualitatively). This method might give a better opportunity for answering the research questions, and the credibility of the research findings and its inferences might increase (Saunders et al., 2009). The survey and the quantitative method is the main technique for data collection, which is why it received the most effort and time. Consequently, the interviews with managers and the observations of the CSR team are complementary methods, used to supplement the survey, to gain additional insights from different perspectives.
A quantitative approach is argued to be an approach where researchers primarily use post-positivist argumentations for developing knowledge, i.e., effect and cause thinking, reduction to variables and hypotheses, the use of observation and measurement, theory testing, etc. In quantitative studies researchers can use, e.g., experiments and/or surveys to collect data (Creswell, 2002). Since the purpose of this study is to investigate employee’s perceptions and expectations of CSR, this study aims to infer from a chosen sample to the larger population. Hence, we recognized the need to focus on a quantitative study. By analysing numbers one can get a clearer, more precise and objective measure of a phenomenon (Waters, 2011). Since the data is usually collected from a larger amount of respondents the results from a quantitative approach, with a known degree of uncertainty, could be easier to implement and generalize (Saunders et al., 2009). When investigating an area that has not truly been explored before, being able to infer through a quantitative research method and by that creating an overall picture of employee’s perceptions and expectations, not focusing too much on details, will be an approach highly valuable for our thesis.
Kothari (2004) presents three sub-approaches to quantitative studies; inferential, experimental and simulation approaches. The aim of an inferential approach is to create a database that could be used to infer relationships or characteristics of a population. This is usually conducted through surveys, where only a sample of the population is studied to determine certain characteristics. It could then be inferred that the whole population has the same or similar characteristics (Kothari, 2004).
To investigate employee perceptions and expectations, a survey was created to collect data from a large sample. Babbie (1990) argues that surveys include both longitudinal and cross-sectional studies that are using structured interviews or questionnaires for collecting data. This, with the intent of generalizing characteristics from a sample to a whole population (Babbie, 1990). Therefore, in our attempt to find out thoughts and perceptions of a population we decided that the best and most authentic would be to choose a sample frame, and to conduct a survey. Surveys are common research tools when it comes to quantitative studies and are often used for collecting quantitative data, since they are suitable for assembling a large amount of information drawn from a large population. The survey strategy can be used to suggest possible relationships between variables, and to display models of these relationships (Saunders et al., 2009). A survey can answer questions, such as who, what, when, where, how much and how many (Saunders et al., 2009; Williamson, 2002). Survey techniques are based upon the use of structured questionnaires where the respondents answers a variety of questions, e.g., regarding their attitudes, awareness, motivations, etc. (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). A descriptive survey measures a phenomenon at a given point in time, i.e., it is cross-sectional (Williamson, 2002).
Benefits of the survey strategy includes that it collects information in a highly economic way (Saunders et al., 2009), the survey is simple to administer and the data collected are consistent due to the responses being limited to the alternatives provided (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). However, the negative aspects of a survey include the possibility of a low response rate. Respondents might be unable or unwilling to answer since they might be unconscious of, e.g., their motivations, or the information sought might be too personal or sensitive (Malhotra & Birks, 2007; Williamson, 2002). A survey can also reduce the validity for data, such as beliefs and feelings (Malhotra & Birks, 2007).
The survey can be conducted electronically via Internet, using a hypertext markup language (HTML). Due to the growth of Internet and email usage, the electronic survey is rapidly becoming the most popular and practical method (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). The Internet survey provides a higher quality experience and elicitation process, since it might contain construct buttons, checkboxes, and data entry fields that prevents respondents from selecting more than one response and typing mistakes (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). The survey for this research was conducted on the survey software Qualtrics and was later distributed via a link that was mailed to the respondents.
1.2 Problem Discussion
1.4 Research Questions
1.8 Chapter Overview
2 Frame of Reference
2.1 The Development of CSR
2.2 Internal Marketing
2.3 Employees as Stakeholders
2.4 CSR and Employee Engagement
3.1 Research Design
3.2 Mixed Method
3.3 Quantitative Study
3.4 Scaling and Questionnaire Design
3.5 Choice of Sample
3.6 Qualitative Interviews
3.9 Quantitative Analysis Methods
4 Empirical Findings
5.1 RQ 1. Which employee is most willing to engage in CSR, depending of different demographic characteristics?
5.2 RQ 2. Which aspects of CSR are perceived as most important from an employee’s perspective?
5.3 RQ 3. Which are the most efficient ways to increase an employee’s level of engagement in a company’s CSR initiatives?
6.1 Concluding Remarks
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Managing Employee CSR Engagement