This chapter of the thesis contributes to describe different research approaches, research strategies, data sources and techniques which will lead us to answer the research questions.
Research strategy can be described as a specific design which should be used by the author to answer a research question. According to Thomas (2004) there are a number of research strategies, such as surveys, case study, experiments, action research and ethnography. Strategy describes the working style which the researcher chooses to accomplish the project. There is not one specific definition available for the case study approach. Different authors have defined it from different perspectives. But most of them are agreeing on that when the phenomena under investigation are relatively new or the current literature is not comprehensive enough to answer the research question, case study approaches are more relevant (Yin, 1994).
Research studies can be easily done in three different ways; exploratory, descriptive and explanatory or as causal research (Yin, 2003). It completely depends on the clarity of the research questions and researcher understanding about it. According to Ghauri and Gronhaug (2010) descriptive approach can be defined as when the problem is well structured and well understood. Saunders et al. (2009) further explain descriptive research as to provide a detail picture of an individual, event or a specific situation. In explanatory research the authors have to identify and find out cause effect relationship, while exploratory study is used to define the questions or it mostly concerned with new topic where a lot of research did not carried out. It is used to helps the researcher to understand the problem well (Yin, 2003). Exploratory study helps the researcher to what question should be included in questionnaire which should be used in survey.
According to the purpose and nature of the problem in the study; our designed approach will be exploratory. According to Saunders et al. (2009) the major advantage of exploratory design is his high flexibility and adaptability to change. We will look to explore different areas related to e-waste and will ensure what makes Kenyan case fruitful. In response to this we randomly selected one organization, Computer for school in Kenya (CFSK) which is the only organization working on e-waste in Kenya. To accomplish our project successfully, we were in contact with a major responsible of the firm from the day first to collect desire information from the reliable sources while selecting the respondent who have enough experience in the field of e-waste. We go ahead and use frameworks and metrics to analyze the data that we have collected
Case study approach is used when the researcher wants to get an in-depth response and more accurate data to analyze and answer the research questions (Suanders et al., 2007). The case study method is more useful in social sciences and management issues but the research may also involve other issues such as; education, child development, international affairs, technology development and their consequences related to the society (Yin, 1994). In this particular research, we selected case study approach as our research strategy for the purpose of answering our research questions.
Case study are of best use when the research been conducted is a current occurrence in a real life situation. In Kenya the e-waste project is not old and is implemented as a result of an assessment report by UN. E-waste and Green IT are contemporary issues, thus providing a good base for a case study to be conducted. Yin (1994) states that if the research question is to answer why, what and how then the preferred approach is a case study. In a case study approach there is a possibility to explore the concept more and bring some new things insight through surveys and interviews. According to Ghauri and Gronhaug (2010) the major advantage of the case study approach is to collect a variety of data from different sources than examine it to answer the particular research question
Types of case study
According to Yin (1994) there are four major types of case study design and presented in a form of two times two matrix as shown in fig 1;
- Single case, holistic
- Single case, embedded
- Multiple case, holistic
- Multiple case, embedded
Single case study is useful when the situation is critical and the author wants to use it for testing or establishing theory. Mostly single case designs are more unique and critical, while multiple case studies are almost opposite to single case study
Single case, embedded
Yin (2003) describes five characteristics for choosing a single case study which are as follows; selected case must be a unique, critical, representative, revelatory and longitudinal case. Our case is unique because the numbers of these projects on e-waste are very few in Africa and also representative because it represent the e-waste situation in African region. In this particular study our chosen design is embedded because one single country and one unit where sub units of the organization will come under scrutiny. The results of the data collection from the sub units are then combined to give the overall result of the case. One important factor about embedded design is that these sub units which comes under observation may be on different levels within the organization (Yin, 1994).
A major advantage of using embedded design is that there is a high reliability of the data collected at sub unit levels. Patton (2002) emphasis the importance of reliability as this provides credibility of the data collected for analysis. Yin (2009) however warns researchers not falling into the trap of making a sub unit the subject of study. In this research, single case embedded design is put into use. The embedded design comes about as the investigation of the organization, employees and even customers is carried out. It will also enhance the reliability of the data collected
Case selection (Kenya)
A literature review has been done in the defined field electronic waste problems emerging in the developing countries. It was quite surprising for us that in one part of the world (developed countries) a lot of research has been carried out in the field of green information technology, while countries under developing stages is still struggling to tackle with this new emerging technology. Though the phenomenon is still in its developing stage, developed countries have achieved a lot. Some major work has been carried out in African countries but the level is too low. The country which is taken under observation is Kenya. This country is in its developing stage and planning to better use the new options regarding green IT, especially in the field of electronic waste problems.
Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, (2007) proposes two methods for data collection. One is quantitative while the second one is qualitative. The main difference between quantitative and qualitative is that quantitative approach depends on numbers while qualitative does not. According to Mayers (2009) quantitative method is mostly required in a case where variables have to measure while qualitative study is most effective when the researcher want to more in-depth study. According to Ghauri and Gronhaug (2010) qualitative method is the most suitable way when the objectives of the research demand a deep study insight the phenomenon as in the case of our research.
Normally the research approaches make it clear which standard procedures should follow to collect the data for a particular research problem. According to Kumar (2005), selection of method depends on the purpose of the research, data collection process and analysis of the data collected. In quantitative methods findings arrive through statistical measurement and some other procedure of quantification where the whole process of assigning numbers depends on the pre define rules, while qualitative method is totally opposite to the quantitative procedure (Layder, 1993; Bryaman and Bell, 2003).
In most cases, researcher moves from quantitative method to qualitative when the phenomena is difficult to understand and cannot lead the researcher to the entire result so the best option is to adopt qualitative method (Strauss and Corbin, 1990). In this particular research, our approach will be qualitative because we are working on a case study where the country under observation is Kenya and the research object e-waste problems. In the defined field of research, the authors will investigate an organization working on electronic waste problems, public awareness and different technological issues which would come under scrutiny hence, the better option is to use the qualitative approach..
Research Approach (Deductive Versus Inductive)
According to Sekaran (2003) there are two broad method of reasoning; inductive and deductive. The author further explains inductive as bottom up approach while deductive is a top down approach. According to Ghauri and Gronhaug (2010) deductive method of reasoning is based on the available information and the final results are based on the available literature. Mostly it can be linked with quantitative approach. Beside this there is another method of reasoning which is a combination of both inductive and deductive methods and named as abductive approach (Ghauri and Gronhaug, 2010).
According to Levin-Rozalis (2004) inductive and abductive approaches can be linked to qualitative research, whereas deductive is mainly concerned with quantitative research. Our main objective of the study is to examine which technological as well as environmental factors have resolved the success rate of those projects in Kenya. Beside this, our main research problem is to find out whether the implementation of the projects was successful on different levels. These levels include financial levels as well as environmental and technological levels.
The define study can easily be illustrated through qualitative research. In the study our selected approach is inductive as it has direct concern with qualitative approach and will describe our study the best.
The major purpose of triangulation is to facilitate the validation of data collected. The major advantage of the triangulation is that the researcher can get more than two answers for a particular question through multiple channels (Rowley, 2002). Through triangulation the researcher is able to corroborate what has been collected; this enhances the reliability of data collection. Denzin (1984) describes triangulation in four ways;
Theory triangulation: occurs when different researchers come up with different opinions but have the same results.
Methodological triangulation: deals with the strengthening of an interpretation by proving that one data collection approach is preceded by another.
Data source triangulation: occurs when a research wants to have similar data in different environments
Investigator triangulation: comes about when several researchers study a similar phenomenon.
Data collection technique
The main purpose of research methodology is to work in a systematic way to increase our knowledge. According to Ghauri and Gronhaug (2010) methods are ways of reasoning about something to arrive at the solution, to communicate and explain how findings have been achieved, which steps are taken and if they can be defended by the researcher.
There are two main data sources; primary data and secondary data. Both primary and secondary data will be used depending on the state of the research. In our case we will rely on both primary and secondary data to have a broader view on the real and complex problems that developing countries are facing regarding newly emerging technologies and their effects on environment (Ghauri & Gronhaug, 2010)
The researcher can easily collect that data from books, journal articles, online data sources such as firms pages, government and nongovernmental year wise published reports. But the major step to locate the source and use only those contents which meets the researcher requirements. The data which is available on different sources are collected for different purposes. According to Cooper and Schindler (2001) whenever a researcher use secondary data in his reports then it becomes his own responsibility to check the reliability of the information which he used. Secondary data is easily accessible data and time saving procedure and more helpful to find out the answers of the stated research questions (Ghauri and Gronhaug, 2010).
In most cases it has seen that secondary data is not enough to answer the research question so for the purpose to get the desire results we need primary data. There are two major types of secondary data. One is internal source the data which is collected within organization and the second one is external source data. The data can help the researcher to answer some of the research questions, it can help the researcher to modify the research questions and provide enough knowledge that which method should follow for a define problem to achieve the entire results (Ghauri and Gronhaug, 2010).
In the research, secondary data was used to support the empirical findings. It was hard for us to find the available literature on e-waste in African region because most of the work done on the related field was mostly done developed countries. The literature found in regards to Africa mostly addresses the opportunities, challenges weakness, threats and damages e-waste has caused. Notably e-waste assessment reports were done in 2007/2008 by United Nations to assess the situation in these countries.
In any research study the literature review provide a foundation on which further research can be developed. The review will help the researcher to understand the topic more deeply, define previous work done in the research area and the emerging trends in the defined field (Saunders et al, 2007). A major motive of the review is to frame out the research question more properly, identify related theories and to position the study (Ghauri & Gronhaug, 2010).
According to Strauss and Corbin (1990) the main purpose of the literature review is to provide appropriate and significant research related to the topic. In study, the authors used relevant data in the defined field of green information technology, especially in the area of electronic waste. Most of the data collected from the articles, books, journals and assessment reports were carried out by United Nation related to the defined problem and purpose of the research
1.3 E-Waste a Problem?
1.4 Preliminary research questions
1.5 Purpose of the Research
1.6 Knowledge Gap
1.10 Disposition OF Thesis
2.1 Research strategy
2.2 Research Method
2.3 Data collection technique
2.4 Research Credibility
2.5 Research Ethics
3 Theoretical framework
3.1 Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) Theory
3.2 Extended Producer Responsibility
3.3 grEEEn Method
3.4 Value-Based Recyclability Metrics
3.6 Theory Application
3.7 Proposed Framework
4 Empirical findings
4.3 Value Added Product
4.4 Energy Consumption
4.5 Primary Versus Secondary product
4.6 Assessment Reports
4.7 Managers’ perspective
4.8 Additional Findings
5.1 Analyzing: Extended Producer Responsibility
5.2 Analyzing data by means of GrEEEn Method
5.3 Analyzing: Proposed framework
6 Conclusion and Discussion
6.2 Theoretical Contribution
6.3 Practical Contribution
7 Further Research
8 List of references
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