Ethics theories and CI code of ethics

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CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

This chapter discusses the research methodology followed in this study. It outlines, describes and discusses the research aim and questions, research design, research method, research instrument, population sample, data collection, reliability and validity of the study. The chapter also outlines and discusses the ethical considerations.

Research aim

The aim of this study is to develop a Competitive Intelligence Ethics Adoption Model (CIEAM) for the South African ICT industry.

Research questions

To achieve the aim of the study, the following research questions were constructed and answered by the respondents:

  • To what extent have firms in the South African Information and Communication Technology industry adopted Competitive Intelligence ethics?
  • What are the generic/existing methods used by firms in the South African Information and Communication Technology industry in an attempt to enforce the Competitive Intelligence ethics?
  • What are the factors that positively and negatively influence the adoption of Competitive Intelligence ethics by firms in the South African Information and Communication Technology industry?

Research design

Research is defined as a scientific and systematic process of defining and redefining problems; formulating hypotheses or suggested assumptions; collecting, organising and evaluating data; making deductions and reaching conclusions; and carefully testing the conclusions to determine whether they fit the formulated hypotheses (Kline, 2005; Rugg & Petre, 2007; Dhawan, 2010; Dhawan, 2011; Creswell, 2014). All researches follow a research paradigm, which is a framework of beliefs, values and method that guide how research is conducted (Hussey & Hussey, 1997; Remenyi, Williams, Money & Swartz, 1998; Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2012). Research paradigms include ontology, epistemology, axiology and doxology (Mkansi & Acheampong, 2012). Research paradigms are guided by research philosophies, namely positivism, constructivist/interpretive, pragmatism, subjectivism, and critical. This study used reliable and valid tools to measure the reality of CI ethics adoption in the South African ICT industry hence it followed epistemology paradigm (Saunders et al., 2012). Epistemology paradigm focuses on perceived relationship with nature of knowledge. It is a way of understanding and explaining how what is known, is known (Saunders et al., 2012). The study used a large sample, was concerned with hypothesis testing, collected specific data, had high reliability and low validity, and its generalisation is from sample to population, hence it was guided by positivism philosophy (Hussey & Hussey, 1997; Remenyi et al., 1998; Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2015). Positivism philosophy focuses on establishing general laws and cause-effect relationships by rational means (Saunders et al., 2015).

Research approach

Research approach is the master plan that is followed to realise the research objectives or hypotheses (Tustin et al., 2005; Rugg & Petre, 2007). There are three research approaches, namely qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods (Mkansi & Acheampong, 2012). Qualitative research seeks to explore phenomena by using instruments that are more flexible, with an iterative style of eliciting and categorising responses to questions (Saunders et al., 2015). It uses semi-structured methods such as in-depth interviews, focus groups and participant observation etc. Quantitative seeks to confirm hypotheses about phenomena by using instruments that are more rigid in style for eliciting and categorising responses to questions. It uses highly structured methods such as questionnaires, surveys and structured observation (Tustin et al., 2005; Creswell, 2014; Saunders et al., 2015). A mixed method approach uses both the qualitative and quantitative approaches (Creswell, 2014; Saunders et al., 2015). This study followed a quantitative approach as it used quantity of responses to test hypotheses between key CI adoption variables and the adoption of CI ethics.
The study also assessed the factors that positively and negatively influence the adoption of CI ethics hence the quantitative approach.

 Research strategy

Research strategy provides the overall direction of the research and it is the process through which research is conducted (Dhawan, 2010). Research strategy includes case studies, observation, surveys, experiments, and analysis of literature. This study uses survey strategy under descriptive study, specifically using the questionnaire instrument to collect data from South African ICT firms. A survey is a very old research strategy under descriptive study used to find out how widespread things are (Rugg & Petre, 2007; Dhawan, 2010; Rubin & Babbie, 2011).

Data collection instrument

Survey uses many instruments to collect data, namely observation, interviews, questionnaires, schedules, warranty cards, distributor audits, pantry audits, consumer panels, mechanical devices, projective techniques, in-depth interviews and content analysis (Dhawan, 2010). From these instruments, the questionnaire is the most popular, cost effective and recommended (Rubin & Babbie, 2011) hence, it is used in this study. A structured, self-designed, web-based questionnaire hosted by SurveyMonkey – an online survey-development cloud-based software (SurveyMonkey, 2015) and administered through e-mails – is used to collect the primary data for this study. Web-based questionnaires are becoming very popular, preferred by respondents over mail questionnaires, yielding high response rate, and saving both money and time (Fraze, Hardin, Brshears, Haygood & Smith, 2003; Kiernan, Kiernan, Oyler & Gilles, 2005; Greenlaw & Brown-Welty, 2009; Dillman, Phelps, Tortora, Swift, Kohrell & Berck, 2009).
The questionnaire was compiled using Microsoft Word and exported to a web-based questionnaire. The questionnaire was designed with the inputs gathered from the literature review. The web-based questionnaire was designed and divided into six pages with ten questions as follows:
Page 1: This page introduced the survey to the respondents. The respondents were welcomed to the survey. The introductory page outlined the purpose of the survey and defined competitive intelligence (CI), based on the existing literature. Moreover, it indicates to the respondents that the survey is completely anonymous and that the information collected will be kept confidential. In addition, the consent letter indicating that participation was voluntary was attached to the invitation e-mail. The page also reveals to the respondents that it takes at most 15 minutes to complete the survey. It indicates that majority of the questions in the survey require agreement or disagreement on a Likert scale of 1 to 5, where 1 indicates “strongly disagree” and 5 indicates “strongly agree”. Moreover, the page indicates that the survey also collects demographic information. Page 1 ends with a sentence appreciating the respondents in advance in anticipation of their responses.
Page 2: This page includes questions 1 and 2. Question 1 establishes the extent to which ICT firms observe and comply with the code of ethics when practising CI. A Likert scale of 1 to 4 was used, where 1 indicates “not at all” and 4 indicates “to a greater extent”. To a small extent and some extent is considered the same hence a Likert scale of 1 to 4 is used in this question (Saunders  et  al.,  2015).  Question  2  establishes  the  level  of  agreement regarding the application of the different elements of the CI code of ethics. A Likert scale of 1 to 5 was used where 1 indicates “strongly disagree” and 5 indicates “strongly agree”.
Page 3: This page includes question 3, which establishes the methods used to implement or enforce the CI code of ethic with ICT firms. A Likert scale of 1 to 5 was used where 1 indicates “strongly disagree” and 5 indicates “strongly agree”. The question gave the respondents an option to specify other methods of implementing or enforcing the code of ethics.
Page 4: This contains question 4, which establishes the factors that positively influence the adoption of the CI code of ethics in the ICT industry. A Likert scale of 1 to 5 was used where 1 indicates “strongly disagree” and 5 indicates “strongly agree”. The question gave the respondents an option to specify other factors that positively influence the adoption of the CI code of ethics in the ICT industry.
Page 5: This contains question 5, which establishes the factors that negatively influence the adoption of the CI code of ethics in the ICT industry. A Likert scale of 1 to 5 was used where 1 indicates “strongly disagree” and 5 indicates “strongly agree”. The question gave the respondents an option to specify other factors that negatively influence the adoption of the CI code of ethics in the ICT industry.
Page 6: This page includes questions 6 to 10. Questions in this page collect demographic information of the ICT firms. Question 6 establishes the province in which the ICT firms operates. The options to choose from include all nine provinces in South Africa. Question 7 establishes the ICT sub-industry in which the ICT firms operate. The question allows respondents to specify other sub-industries. Question 8 establishes the number of employees the ICT firms have. It provides the respondents with different ranges of the number of employees to choose from. Question 9 establishes the number of years the ICT firm has been in operation or existence. It provides the respondents with different ranges of years to choose from. Question 10 establishes the position held by the respondents in the ICT firms. It provides respondents with different options of positions to choose from. Moreover, the question allows the respondents to specify other positions, which they occupy.
The survey is written in English. A progress bar was included at the top of each of the pages of the web-based questionnaire. The aim of the progress bar is to encourage the respondents to finish the survey by indicating how close they are towards finishing the survey. A “Next” button is included at the bottom of pages 1 to 5. By clicking on the “Next” button, the respondent is taken to the next page. A “Previous” button is included at the bottom of pages 2 to 6. By clicking on the “Previous” button, the respondent is taken to the previous page. A “Done” button is included at the bottom of page 6. By clicking on the “Done” button, the survey is completed, submitted and captured. By closing the browser before clicking on the button “Done”, the respondents withdrew from participating in the survey.
The web-based questionnaire consisted of both open-ended questions and closed-ended questions. Clear and necessary instructions for each question were provided above the question. Likert scale and multiple-choice questions were used for the closed-ended and open-ended questions. According to Cooper and Schindler (2008), a Likert scale is the most frequently-used variation of summated rating scales. Table 3.1 shows the different types of questions covered in the web-based questionnaire.

DECLARATION 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 
ABSTRACT 
GLOSSARY OF ACRONYMS 
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY 
1.1 Brief overview of South African ICT industry and CI practices
1.2 Research problem
1.3 Research aim
1.4 Research objectives
1.5 Research questions
1.6 Definitions of key terms
1.7 Preview of research methodology
1.8 Hypotheses
1.9 Research methodology
1.10 Delimitation
1.11 Limitations
1.12 Value added by this research study
1.13 Chapter layout
1.14 Chapter summary
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 The importance of ICT and CI
2.2 Ethics theories and CI code of ethics
2.3 CI code of ethics in the ICT industry
2.4 Interpretive structural modelling: key CI ethics adoption variables
2.5 Conceptual CI ethics adoption model
2.6 Chapter summary
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 
3.1 Research aim
3.2 Research questions
3.3 Research design
3.4 Research approach
3.5 Research strategy
3.6 Population and sample
3.7 Validity of the data
3.8 Reliability of the data
3.9 Data analytical plan
3.10 Data collection
3.11 Response rate
3.12 Ethical considerations
3.13 Time dimension
3.14 Chapter summary
CHAPTER 4: DATA ANALYSIS 
4.1 Frequency distribution on demographics
4.2 Data validity: exploratory factor analysis
4.3 Reliability analysis
4.4 Descriptive statistics
4.5 Hypotheses test results using correlation analysis
4.6 Structural equation modelling
4.7 Chapter summary
CHAPTER 5: RESEARCH FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS
5.1 Demographics and status of CI ethics adoption in South African ICT industry
5.2 Extent of CI ethics adoption in the South African ICT industry
5.3 Methods used by South African ICT firms to enforce CI ethics
5.4 Factors that positively and negatively influence CI ethics in the South African ICT industry
5.5 CI ethics adoption model
5.6 Statistical techniques used to achieve objectives
5.7 Hypotheses tests
5.8 Chapter summary
CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 
6.1 CI ethics adoption in the South African ICT industry
6.2 CI ethics enforcement methods used by South African ICT industry
6.3 Factors that positively and negatively influence the adoption of CI ethics
6.4 CI ethics adoption model
6.5 Recommendations
6.6 Contributions of the study
6.7 Limitations of the study
6.8 Further research
REFERENCE LIST
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ADOPTION OF COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE ETHICS IN THE ICT INDUSTRY OF SOUTH AFRICA

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