This Chapter will present the methodology has been chosen for the thesis, and it will justify the chosen ap-proach.
There are four components will be included for the methodology part, which are choice of topic, choice of method, data collection, research‟s validity and reliability.
Choice of topic
Choosing the right topic is very important for the whole research, we were focusing on the topic which is interests us. Besides, the topic has been chosen as China, as a country, is one of the biggest populations worldwide and is a fast growing economy with an enormous im-pact on worldwide. There are more and more companies have chosen China as a supply base since China entered into WTO (World Trade Organization), and to a certain extent, it brings many of sufficient opportunities to China. On the other hand, one of the authors has been working in the case company, PCH International, for one and half years as a supply base manager, which will be allowed them for a deeper understanding.
Choice of method
After the topic has been confirmed, it will be the time for choosing the right methods for the research. There are two general methods on data collection, which are quantitative and qualitative methods. The terms „qualitative research‟ and „quantitative research‟ are widely used and understood within the realms of social research as signposts to the kind of as-sumptions being used by the researchers and the nature of the research being undertaken (Loraine Blaxter, Christina Hughes and Malcolm Tight, 2001).
A quantitative research method uses a few variables and a large number of respondents in order to reach generalizability; while a qualitative research method uses few respondents but many variables in order to allow for deeper understanding (Maylor & Blackmon, 2005). In many cases the best research might be the result of triangulation, or a combination of both quantitative and qualitative methods (Patton, 2002).
Since this is a single case study, the research should be more deep and specific instead of wider, so qualitative method would be used for the study.
Yin (1994) refers to a case study is one of the most important methods for handling re-search out of the five main methods, which are experiments, surveys, histories, archival analysis, and case study.
He indicates that case study is “An empirical enquiry that investigates a contemporary phe-nomenon within its real life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident”.
According to Maylor and Blackmon (2004), a case study is not a “pure” research method as data is likely to be collected from multiple sources and using several methods such as sur-veying, interviewing, participant observation and archival research. A case study is particu-larly useful when a limited and exploratory study is conducted as well as when the research problems are formulated in forms of “How” and “Why”. A case study allows for deep un-derstanding.
The single-case design will be used as the research is all about one unique and critical case from PCH International. For getting more clearly data, which means embedded case study design will be used, there will be multiple units of analysis in the following chapter. So, ac-cording to the Figure 3.2.1, Type 2 will be chose for the thesis.
All research involves the collection and analysis of data, whether through reading, observa-tion, measurement, asking questions or a combination of these or other strategies. The data collected during and for research may, however, vary considerably in their characteristics (Loraine Blaxter, Christina Hughes and Malcolm Tight, 2001).
According to Ranjit Kumat (1996), for gathering the information, data are categorized as primary data and secondary data. Norman Blaikie (2003) stated that, “Primary data are gen-erated by a research who is responsible for the design of the study and the collection, anal-ysis and reporting of the data; Secodonary data are the raw data that have already been col-lected by someone else, either for some general information purpose, or for a specific re-search project.”
According to Yin (1994), there are six sources of evidence, which are documentation, arc-hival records, interviews, direct observations, participant-observation and physical artifacts. Base on the purpose of the thesis, documentation and interviews will be chose for collect-ing data.
Using documents can be a relatively unobtrusive form of research, one which does not necessarily require you to approach respondents first hand. Rather, you can trace their steps through the documents that they have left behind (Lee, 2000).
There are several ways to collect documents, which are
- Be library-based, aimed at producing a critical synopsis of an existing area of research writing.
- Be computer-based, consisting largely of the analysis of previously collected data sets.
- Have a policy focus, examining materials relevant to a particular set of policy decisions.
- Have a historical orientation, making use of available archival and other surviving do-cumentary evidence.
Loraine Blaxter, Christina Hughes and Malcolm Tight, 2001).
Above all, two ways will be used, which are library-based and computer-based.
According to Martin (2007), an interview is a conversation with a purpose. A crude catego-rization of the forms interviews can take is listed below (Robert B. Burns 2000).
Since the qualitative research method has been chosen, the “open-ended interviewing” will be the way for the thesis since the qualitative method has been chosen for the thesis, the “open-ended interviewing” would be easier for us to get more details and deeper informa-tion.
The interview method involves questioning or discussing issues with people, it is a very useful technique for collecting data. The open-ended interview will be done via telephone and e-mail.
Choice of respondents
The purpose of this research is to study and analyze the criteria PCH International is using and going to be used on selecting Chinese suppliers, the respondents will be chose from two different client teams, there are four interviews in total, which are two supply base managers and two supply quality managers. The responsibilities for selected managers are showed as below:
Questionnaires are one of the most widely used social research techniques (Loraine Blaxter, Christina Hughes and Malcolm Tight, 2001).
The questionnaires will be designed base on the categories and criteria have been men-tioned in the theoretical framework part. The questionnaire for supply base managers will be designed base on four perspectives, which are supplier perspective, product perspective, service performance perspective and cost perspective.
Besides, the questionnaire for supply base manager will be more specific than the one for supply quality manager as the responsibilities for supply base manager are more important and useful for the purpose of the thesis. The questionnaires can be found in Appendix A & B.
Research’s validity and reliability
The research should be presented at sufficient levels of validity and reliability. Validity is defined as the ability of the instrument of measurement to actually measure what is meant to be measured and reliability is to what degree of precision this is measured (Carlsson,1992).
Basically, validity is boiling down to whether the research is really measuring what it claims to be measured, which is what kind of process or criteria PCH International is using now on Chinese supplier selection and what they are going to do in the future.
The aspects of validity contain both internal and external aspects. Internal validity concern the chosen theories‟ relatedness to the purpose stated or whether they are adequate or not, while external validity includes the appropriateness of the studied phenomena or whether the results apply beyond the specific situation (Thomas, 2004).
The research would apply beyond the specific case that has been studied. Based on our case, the data will be collected from four people from the management level of two different client teams of the company and all respondents‟ participating were given the chance to contribute to the validity of the thesis as all of them received an interpretation of the inter-view or questionnaires on which they could comment.
Reliability is described as the ability of receiving the same findings if the study was repeated either by the same or another researcher, which could also be referred to as repeatability (Maylor & Blackmon, 2005).
Reliability relates to whether research results can be applied to a wider group than those who took part in the research study. In other words, would similar results be obtained if another group containing different respondents or a different set of data points were used?
Reliability is chiefly concerned with making sure the method of data gathering leads to con-sistent results. Since one of the authors has been working in the case company for one and half years, which will increase the reliability of the thesis as well.
Besides, embedded case study design has been chosen for the research will also increase the validity and reliability for the thesis.
1.2 Problem discussion
1.3 Purpose of the thesis
1.5 Disposition of the thesis
2 Theoretical Framework
2.1 Criteria for supplier selection
2.2 Supplier selection process
2.3 Summary of the theoretical framework
3.1 Choice of topic
3.2 Choice of method
3.3 Data collection
3.4 Research’s validity and reliability
4 Empirical finding
4.1 PCH International
4.2 Evaluation Criteria
4.3 Findings from supply base manager
4.4 Findings from supply quality manager
5 Data analysis
5.1 Evaluation criteria
5.2 Supplier selection process
5.3 Summary of the analysis
7 Further Research
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A case study of selecting su p – pliers in China PCH International