In this chapter, the research methodology will be presented. The choice of the authors to use a case study ap-proach together with a qualitative method will be motivated. Subsequently, the approach to answer the re-search question will be introduced to the reader and a method of analyzing the results will be discussed. Ad-ditionally, different types of data are discussed, measures of reliability and validity stated, and finally a data collection plan is depicted.
Research that seeks to explore the nature of a certain phenomenon. Qualitative methods are often combined with open-ended interviews and consider available secondary data (Marschan-Piekkari & Welch, 2004). Brockington and Sullivan (2003) describe qualitative research as working inductively, by building theory from observations and deal with obser-vations that are in need of description, going beyond the use of numbers to present facts.
Qualitative research is characterized by Daymon and Holloway (2002) to have the follow-ing main characteristics. First the qualitative research uses words as the main variable of research, and only occasionally numbers to indicate frequencies. Second, researchers are actively involved by interacting with their people being studied, rather than observing them remotely (through interviews and surveys). Third, qualitative research is interested in ex-ploring the area of interest thoroughly and provides detailed descriptions on that matter. Qualitative studies focus on complex issues rather than describing one or two isolated vari-ables. Research procedures may be unstructured and/or modified, since researchers usually approach rather new topics or aim to gain new insights on existing theories (Daymon & Holloway, 2002).
The authors of this thesis will use a qualitative study on four banks in order to create a clear picture of their strategy and their activities concerning differentiation. The thesis aims to understand ‘how’ a bank can achieve to differentiate itself from other banks. Since this thesis uses a limited amount of data, and tries to derive theory from observations of reality through interviews, a qualitative method is most suitable.
The authors of this thesis are aware of potential criticism of qualitative studies. These in-clude e.g. subjectivity, difficulties for generalization, and lack of transparency (Daymon & Holloway, 2002). The aim of this research is to provide insight of this topic from the view-point of the authors of this thesis, which then is largely subjective per se. However, due to considerations of validity and reliability (discussed in this chapter), subjectivity is aimed to be limited to a certain extent. This thesis does not aim to be generalizable to a large extent. The aim is to provide possible approaches to the differentiation of banks, rather than pre-senting globally applicable measures that work for any bank in any market. In order to en-sure an as high as possible level of transparency, the authors of this thesis try to thoroughly describe the ways data was obtained and analyzed.
Described as a method where existing data is explored and theories are developed from observations, which will be related to existing literature. This approach does not require researchers to begin with any predetermined theories or conceptual frameworks, but requires sound understanding of the topic before using the inductive approach (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2000). Andersen (1998) argues that the inductive approach allows for recognition of patterns in the area of interest. Common examples of the inductive approach are case studies and interview studies.
A qualitative method usually implies the use of an inductive approach, since theories are developed from observing reality. The authors use a case study to relate the reality to existing literature and to observe existing patterns, which corresponds to an inductive approach.
Thietart (2001) describes that induction and abduction start from a discovery. While induction then calls for conferring a law upon this occurrence, abduction introduces an explanatory status on it. This explanatory status must then be tested further in order to apply a law upon the discovery.
Wible (1998) refers to Charles Sanders Peirce stating that abduction is an initial stage of inference. When applying abduction, the researcher uses known facts in order to formulate as many hypotheses as possible. Peirce introduces the term economics of research, which refers to a ranking of the hypotheses according to the cost of testing them. Hypotheses that are least costly to investigate should be considered first.
In conclusion, abduction is an explanatory status which then needs to be tested further if it is to be tightened into a rule or a law, contrariwise the induction, which confers an a priori constancy.
Creswell (2002) presents case studies as another research method, despite being not a “pure” one, but still as valid as the quantitative and the qualitative method.
As suggested by Maylor and Blackmo (2005), a case study approach will be used in this the-sis for two reasons:
- For practical reasons:
The authors do not have the necessary resources to study every possible aspect of market-ing differentiation of all banks. Considering this, the study aims at thorough understanding of the differentiation measures used by four major banks instead.
- For theoretical reasons:
There are some aspects that we can not study directly, and according to Maylor and Blackmo (2005), a case study may be a good approach.
Single versus multiple case studies
When speaking about case studies, one of the first decisions to make is to decide whether to use a single case study, or a multiple case study approach. The single case study focuses, according to Maylor and Blackmo (2005), on a single unit of analysis. Concerning the topic and purpose of this thesis, this approach does not seem fully appropriate; to study just one Swedish bank may result in an incomplete picture of the answer to the research question. The multiple case study approach is, according to Maylor and Blackmo (2005) useful in order to identify which features are common across cases. This being an objective of the thesis, using this approach seems to be more practical to answer the underlying research questions. A case study of four subjects seems to be appropriate in order to serve the re-quirements of a case study approach and to respect its limitations at the same time.
The use of a qualitative method with a case study approach is not opposing, but more complementary. This approach will serve for a clear vision on the issue of how banks dif-ferentiate themselves and what the according tools are.
Analysis of the case study
The authors of the thesis will use two complementary approaches to analyze the case study. First, a single analysis will analyze the data separately for each bank. The writers of the the-sis will utilize one of the three global strategies introduced by Yin (2003): ‘Relying on theo-retical propositions’. The single analysis will be based on a model developed and explained in the frame of reference.
The authors of the thesis will then use a cross analysis, to draw a general picture. According to Yin (2003), a cross analysis is possible only if there are more than two cases, which is the case in this paper (four subjects will be interviewed). A cross case analysis will allow to “strengthen the findings even further” (Yin, 2003, p.133). The researchers of the thesis will use a method presented by Yin (2003) for the cross analysis. A “word table” for each bank will be created. And the analysis of the entire collection of word tables will enable the au-thors to conclude the cross analysis. The authors will put the word tables for each bank in the appendices.
Data that is collected for the purpose of the study and that has not been existent before (Saunders et al., 2000). Methods of obtaining primary data, according to Daymon and Hol-loway (2002), are case studies, interview studies or active participation of researchers in the process being studied.
The authors of this thesis will use interviews as method of obtaining primary data, but sec-ondary data may be used if applicable to the research purpose. The interview questions may be adapted or enhanced in their scope due to new insight gained during the data gathering process.
Sekaran (2000) identifies two types of interviews: the unstructured one and the structured one. According to Kumar (1999), the classification is done in function of the degree of flexibility. In unstructured interviews, the interviewers conduct the interview based on an interview guide. They consequently have a high level of flexibility and formulate the ques-tions spontaneously. In a structured interview the interviewers use an interview schedule, composed of a written list of questions, of which the interviewers respect the order.
Another type of interview, called semi-structured interviews, is introduced by researchers such as Daymon and Holloway (2002). Semi-structured interviews are conducted according to a guide, which consists of questions that provide a direction throughout the interview, by focusing on issues that are necessary to be addressed (Daymon & Holloway, 2002). The sequence of such interviews may change during the interview, depending on the responses of the interviewees. The guide ensures that a certain amount of data is collected from every respondent and allows for some control for the interviewers. Semi structured interviews allow for the modification of questions, if new ideas arise (Daymon & Holloway, 2002).
The authors of the thesis use semi-structured interviews: they prepare an interview guide (see Appendix II) which will serve as a guideline throughout the interview and ensures that all fields of interest are being covered. Additional questions may be asked during the inter-views and will allow the authors to have some flexibility in order to focus on one important aspect that could appear during the interview. Interviewees are questioned in the respective branch offices in Jönköping. The questions are provided about two days prior to the scheduled interviews. The interviewees are asked for permission to record the conversa-tions with Dictaphones and to be quoted with full name and position. (Permission was al-ways granted.) However, for the pre-interview, S. Nyrinder does not have access to the questions beforehand, and the authors will use an unstructured interview, which requires a low degree of structure. The aim is to acquire general findings using broad questions.
Moreover, the authors are aware of some problems that can arise due to language differences. The interviews are conducted in English, which is not the native language of the interviewees. The interviewers will therefore explain questions in more detail, if needed, and will ask for additional explanations, if the answers are not clear. Another factor, the authors consider to have an influence on the thesis, is that the interviewees cannot be expected to criticize the company they represent. Furthermore, the respondents might even present information in a more positive way than it is the case in reality.
Data that has already been collected for a different purpose, which can be used by re-searchers to re-analyze and draw, own conclusions. Both, raw data as well as published summaries can be regarded as secondary data (Saunders et al., 2000). Secondary data allows researchers to access large amounts of data they might otherwise not be able to obtain, due to limitations in time, budget or reach Saunders et al., 2000).
The secondary data, also referred to as frame of reference, in this research project is litera-ture about marketing, especially in financial service management and customer relationship management.
Secondary data used in this study was obtained through the library of the University of Jönköping, journals and publications available through electronic libraries, accessed through the University of Jönköping. Additionally, the websites of banks, providing e.g. annual reports with information concerning image and focus are used. Scientific journals, such as ‘ABA Bank Marketing’ provide up-to-date information on key areas of research.
The secondary data provides the basis for our research and it is therefore important to have fundamental knowledge of marketing techniques and the special characteristics of banks in order to successfully retrieve our primary data and achieve our purpose.
1.2 Problem discussion
1.4 Research Questions
2.1 Qualitative Method
2.4 Case Study
2.5 Primary Data
2.6 Secondary Data
2.7 Verification of conclusions
2.8 Data collection plan
3 Theoretical Framework.
3.1 Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
3.2 Three additional P’s:
3.3 Extended CRM model for service differentiation
3.4 Conclusion of Theoretical Framework
4 Empirical data
4.1 Presentation of the banks and the managers interviewed.
4.2 The data
5.1 Single Case Analysis
5.2 Cross Case Analysis
6 Conclusions and discussions
6.2 Final discussion
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