Chapter 3: Methodology Approach
In this chapter, the methodological background is explained. First, the philosophical approach is introduced, followed by the research approach. Next, the qualitative data-collection choice is explained. A more in-depth explanation of how data were collected is also included.
A philosophical approach helps to answer the research question (Booth, 1995). The philosophical design contains an overview of the procedures and methods that are used in collecting and analysing data (Kumar,1994; Bryman & Bell, 2015).
For this research, the decision was made to approach the problem from a social-constructivism perspective. Unlike positivism, wherein one believes only what one can measure and observe to be true (Bryman & Bell, 2015), in the social-constructivism perspective, one chooses to gain knowledge through social interactions with other individuals and groups (Kumar,1994). The social-constructivism perspective allows one to understand the information coming from social interactions, reflect on that information, and translate it into knowledge (Bryman, 2012).
It is also necessary to choose between a conclusive research design and an exploratory research design (Bryman & Bell, 2015). A conclusive research design can be described, as the name implies, to create findings that will be used fully in the decision-making process (Bryman, 2012). To use a conclusive research design, there must already be a strong understanding of the phenomena being researched (Walliman, 2011). In contrast to the conclusive research design, there is also an exploratory research design (Bryman, 2012). The purposes of exploratory research are to clarify ambiguous situations and discover ideas that can lead to opportunities (Bryman, 2012). Exploratory research does not provide conclusive evidence of the nature of a problem, but it does help to reveal the symptoms of the problem (Walliman, 2011). Considering the topic of this thesis, it can be said that an exploratory research design is best implemented to answer the research question.
Research Approach: Inductive, Deductive, or Abductive
In scientific research, there are the options of using inductive analysis, deductive analysis, or abductive analysis methods (Kumar, 1994). The main difference between inductive and deductive analysis is that in the deductive approach, a researcher tests a theory, whereas in the inductive approach a researcher creates a new theory based on the data gained during the research (Bryman, 2012). Opting for the abductive approach is a middle-of-the-road choice; information is gathered from sources, such as articles and observations, and then the data are analysed, and the conclusion that makes most sense based on observation is formulated (Bryman & Bell, 2015). However, the abductive approach’s conclusion does not provide 100 percent certainty; abductive conclusions are thus qualified as having remnants of uncertainty or doubt (Booth, 1995). This research opted for the abductive approach because it expands upon previous research. Since this thesis’ research question aims to spark new insight regarding brand avoidance in the airline-service industry in combination with the existing data, an abductive approach is considered the best method of analysis as it possesses greater explanatory power than other approaches.
When conducting research, a researcher can collect data by using either a quantitative or a qualitative method (Bryman, 2012). Qualitative data are data that are explained verbally, without resorting to numerical measurements (Bryman & Bell, 2015). Usually, these are data collected through interviews, where questions must lead to an understanding of the purpose or circumstances surrounding a person’s choices (Booth, 1995). Additionally, interview questions within qualitative research lead to insight into and understanding of the data collected for the research question by non-numerical data (Bryman, 2012).
Since this study adopts an exploratory focus (because it intends to clarify the situations that lead to brand avoidance), it is more suitable to opt for qualitative data analysis as this provides an opportunity to understand the phenomenon of brand avoidance in the airline service industry for Generation Y (Kumar, 1994). Using qualitative data collection provides the opportunity to explore more in-depth during the data-collection process (Walliman, 2011).
Research can be conducted via two methods: longitudinal studies or cross-sectional studies (Bryman, 2012). In this research, a cross-sectional study was selected. This means that the study can be explained as a picture in time (Bryman & Bell, 2015). The research looks at the outcome at that moment (Bryman & Bell, 2015). A longitudinal study could be described as a movie (Bryman & Bell, 2015); it looks at outcomes over an extended period (Walliman, 2011). A cross-sectional study was selected for this research because of the limitation of time that was available for this research. The goal of this study was also not to present the changes that can occur with time and the influence time can have on the result; this research intended to analyse the findings at the current moment that can lead to avoidance in the airline industry.
The target population comprises consumers from Generation Y who are making choices regarding their use of services from an airline brand. There were several criteria for inclusion in the research sample. First, since participants were expected to belong to the age category of Generation Y, the sample age was between 21 and 30 years old. As mentioned by Quintal et al. (2016), when, how much, and what kind of access one has to technology early in life influences how one’s personality develops and how one judges and thinks about topics. The report of Smith and Anderson (2018) reveals a large gap between the technology use of people from 18 to 30 and that of people 31 and older, and a similar gap in the amount of contact they had with technology in their youth (Anderson & Smith, 2018). For that reason, a homogenous group was selected with an age limit of 30; the choice was also made to set the minimum age at 21. This was to increase the chances of finding people who have enough flying experience. The second requirement was that the participant must have flown at least five times within the previous two years, and the flights must have been between three and six hours long. For the focus groups, there were 24 participants.
In this research a judgemental sampling technique was used to find participants. “Judgemental sampling” is defined by the accessibility and availability of participants (Higginbottom, 2004). Judgemental sampling is a non-probability sampling technique, which means that not everyone has an equal chance of being selected for research (Walliman, 2011). Members are selected mainly due to availability, accessibility, and fit with the sampling profile, meaning that they have the knowledge and experience required for the research. This technique has been criticised as leading to selection bias since the researcher selects members who are easily accessible and, therefore, cannot represent a rich understanding of the population. However, because this is an exploratory research project, this technique is an appropriate method of answering the research question (Malhotra & Birks, 2007).
Judgemental sampling was also used for the follow-up interviews to choose the appropriate participants from whom to gather further in-depth information. The participants were selected based on their experiences with brand avoidance and the answers they gave during the focus group. Due to the importance of identifying the appropriate candidates for follow-up interviews, this method was chosen. According to Creswell (2014), it is critical to select those participants who are open to discussing their experiences in detail.
This study relied on two types of data collection: primary data and secondary data. The next section provides insight into how the data collection proceeded for both methods.
Secondary data are data that are collected by someone who may have a different goal than the current research. The advantage of secondary data is that they are data that are already available, and a researcher has quick access to them. They can also provide information that is otherwise not available. Secondary data were used in this research because they helped in understanding the research problem in more detail, and supported a more efficient and effective method of primary-data collection. The secondary data were necessary for this research mainly because of time limitations. However, when using secondary data, it is important to recognise that they can be inaccurate or unreliable if the data-collection method used by the researcher was incorrect, or if the data were outdated or collected at an inappropriate time. Keeping this in mind when using secondary data, the data are evaluated during the entire process. It is important to consider who the author is, how many articles author has published, when the data were published, where the secondary data were found, and how many times the article has been cited. For this research, when an article had at least 25 citations, the article was published in a scientific journal, and the author had several publications, the secondary data were seen as reliable. When an article did not fulfil the three requirements above, the researcher also searched for confirmation of the secondary data in other sources. When other authors shared the findings, the data could be considered reliable. Data not found online could include course books suggested by a university institution or books that could be found in a university library. Table 1 provides a further understanding and overview of where and how the secondary data were collected.
In this research, primary data were collected, which means that data were collected for the purpose of answering the research question (Hox & Boeije, 2005). Primary data are often collected directly by the researcher who will analyse them (Bryman & Bell, Business Research Method, 2015). The use of primary data provides the advantage that the data collection can be completed in a way that is tailored to answer the research question (Walliman, 2011). The primary data were collected in this research by conducting several focus groups and interviews. This process is explained in more detail in sections 3.1.1 and 3.1.2. Data collection during the focus groups had a more exploratory nature. The one-on-one interviews, however, were used to create more in-depth findings (Bryman, 2012).
Pre-testing is a technique widely recommended for its efficiency in ensuring validity in qualitative data collection and its interpretation (Briks & Malthotra, 2007). Pre-testing involves undertaking a pilot test to identify potential issues regarding the tools and methodology used to gather the data (Bryman & Bell, 2015). Pre-testing allows researchers to identify errors in the language used to develop the interview questionnaire or ambiguity in the questionnaire (Rubin Rubin, 2011). Researchers opt to conduct pre-testing due to the many benefits provided, such as error detection and ensuring that questions are relevant to the topic and are appropriately presented without ambiguous information, which could lead to confusion during the interview (Walliman, 2011). The researcher’s goals can be summarised as such: ensuring that the language used in the interview questionnaire is clear, that reliable and precise answers can be expected, and that focus groups will last an appropriate length of time (Walliman, 2011). Participant fatigue is a well-known issue that can take place during interviews (Booth, 1995). Members can become easily tired, mentally or physically, if the duration of an interview is poorly calculated and exceeds the time established, which can affect the reliability and quality of the information provided (Rubin & Rubin, 2011).
This research used several focus groups. A focus group is a qualitative research method for data collection: a type of interview between researchers and several participants (Bryman, 2012). In this research, the aim was for every focus group to have four to six participants, as suggested by Rabiee (2004). Dohonoe (1994) points out that the use of four to six participants encourages social interaction and idea creation. When collecting this type of data through a focus group, it is important to create a focus group consisting of people of a similar age, gender, and behaviour. This contributes to a more homogenous atmosphere for the participants, leading them to be more open about the relevant subjects (Dohonoe, 1994).
After selecting 16 to 24 participants who were contacted by phone and online communication out of the knowledge circle of the research, the researcher checked whether they fit the requirements of the sampling action. Again, the researcher has written down their ages and genders and determined whether the participants on hand were introverts or extroverts. Next, the participants were divided into groups of similar size based on their ages, genders, and behaviours; the focus group was approached with an interview guide. According to Bryman (2012), this means that the researcher provides a topic list containing the content which he or she wishes to discuss with participants. The researcher has the additional freedom and flexibility during the focus group to ask prepared questions (Bryman & Bell, 2015). In this case, the researcher assumes the role of moderator by allowing the group to interact regarding the topic presented and to answer previously formulated questions. The researcher may also ask spontaneous follow-up questions (Booth, 1995). The benefit in conducting a focus group relies mostly on the interaction between group members, which provides new insights and relevant data which would not be possible to collect through other methods of collection (Booth, 1995). The interaction and debate are mostly what a researcher is looking for, providing more unexpected results and ideas through snowballing and stimulation in comparison with other qualitative data-collection methods (Rabiee, 2004).
Focus groups can be difficult for a researcher to moderate and can, therefore, result in unclear data which is somewhat prone to misjudgement (Kumar, 1994). To prevent this from happening in focus groups, it is important for participants to engage in discussion with each other so that the interviewer can observe and analyse what is discussed and ask appropriate follow-up questions (Kumar, 1994). This leads to correct data interpretation and lowers the risk of misinterpreting the answer to a question (Rabiee, 2004).
In a study, there are many advantages to using focus groups, but the disadvantages must also be considered. Several disadvantages of a focus group are as follows: it is easy to go off topic, participants do not always feel free to express themselves completely, focus groups can lead to misjudgements, and one person can dominate the focus group and force his or her opinion to receive the most attention (Bryman, 2012).
After considering the positive and negative aspects of focus groups, focus groups were deemed appropriate for this research because these groups were used in the initial stages to raise and explore relevant issues that could be further explored in follow-up one-on-one interviews. A focus group is an effective instrument to gain a broad understanding of what will lead to the phenomenon of brand avoidance in the airline industry (Bryman & Bell, 2015). Additionally, because focus groups consist several people, the participants also have the opportunity to hear others’ examples of what leads to brand avoidance (Kumar, 1994). Because focus groups help to obtain broad examples of brand avoidance in the airline industry, this was deemed a suitable method with which to begin collecting data in this research.
Conducted Focus Group
The author conducted four focus groups to collect the data needed for analysis. All focus groups contained six participants willing to engage with the topic. Participants were selected based on their age to represent Generation Y within the sampling criteria. During the four focus groups, an ideal atmosphere was created through provision of refreshments and snacks and by locating the focus group in a safe room where participants could share their opinions without being heard by anyone outside the group. Participant’s anonymity was guaranteed, and the focus group began with several simple questions which the participants were likely to know how to answer. This ensured that the participants began the focus group with confidence (Kumar, 1994; Booth, 1995).
Table of contents
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.2 Motivation and Problem Discussion
1.3 Purpose and Research Questions
1.4 Key Terms
Chapter 2: Theoretical Framework
2.1. Service and Service Brand
2.3 Brand Avoidance
2.4 Generation Y Consumers
Chapter 3: Methodology Approach
3.1 Philosophical Approach
3. 2 Research Approach: Inductive, Deductive, or Abductive
3.3 Qualitative Research
3.4 Time Horizon
3.5 Sampling Population
3.6 Data-Collection Process
3.7 Approaches to Data Analysis
Chapter 4: Empirical Findings.
4.2 Experience Avoidance.
4.3 Identity Avoidance.
4.4 Moral Avoidance
4.5 Deficit-Value Avoidance
4.6 Communication Avoidance.
4.7 Airline-Specific Findings.
Chapter 5: Analysis and Interpretation
5.1 Experiential Avoidance.
5.2 Identity Avoidance.
5.3 Moral Avoidance
5.4 Deficit-Value Avoidance
5.5. Communication Avoidance
5.6 Airline-Specific-Industry Findings.
5.7 Results of analysing findings .
Chapter 6: Conclusion
6.1 Purpose and research question
6.4 Further research.
6.4 Reference list
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
Brand avoidance in the airline industry