In this chapter the authors will present and discuss the methods used to achieve the purpose of the thesis. Each research question will have a different approach and data gathering method to analyze them a methodological framework was drawn to present the structure of the chapter.
According to Yin (2003a), five main research strategies can be indentified: experiments, surveys, archival analysis, histories and case studies. If the research must answer the questions as: who, what, where, how much and how many – then the research strategy must be based on survey and archival analysis, but if the research is answering questions as: how and why – then the research strategy must be conducted via experiments, history and case study.
In our study the authors will analyze how Kinnarps is implementing green policies in its supply chain. Why Kinnarps is paying so much attention on greening. How Kinnarps is evaluating and selecting suppliers in respect to environmental issues, which criteria are used. Consequently a case study approach is preferred to conduct this research paper. In order to narrow the research and to answer the last two research questions, researchers will use the survey strategy to see what is the supplier‟s compliance with Kinnarps requirements on different environmental attributes and how to group suppliers based on their environmental attitude.
A meticulous description of a case study can have an greater impact than almost any other form of research report (Gillham, 2000). Same author underlines that a case study is a method not to be wasted on issues that are unimportant. A case study approach will enable authors to have an in depth understanding about Kinnarps in order to perform the research on green supplier selection and evaluation. A case study approach will be used in this research since there is no clear answer on how to control the environmental compliance of the upstream supply chain.
Six different types of case studies have been identified by Yin (2003.b), based on 2×3 matrix. A case study can be based on a single case (focuses on single case study) or on multiple cases studies (including two or more cases within the same study). Also, the case study can be exploratory, descriptive or explanatory. In the table 3.2 is presented the techniques used in this research: exploratory and descriptive.
An exploratory case study is expected to define the questions of a case study or to determine the feasibility of the preferred research procedures. Exploratory case study is used to gather as much information as possible about the topic. A descriptive case study presents a complete picture of a phenomenon within its context of the researched topic. Describing the problem is more important for a descriptive case study rather than finding the its cause. An explanatory case study shows the data position on cause-effect relationship – elucidating how events happen.
In this research the authors will describe a single case study focused on Kinnarps green procurement aspects. A descriptive approach will be conducted in order to present the actual actions that Kinnarps is taking regarding to green procurement issues. An overall picture of Kinnarps green procurement will be presented and how suppliers comply with Kinnarps green requirements will be analyzed. This study will be also exploratory. The authors will gather as much information as possible from the company and their suppliers regarding environmental attitude in order to understand what the actual situation is and what can be improved.
In theory exist two main approaches to research a topic: quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research is based on empirical investigations and is structured and formalized. An example of quantitative research is the survey. On the other hand a qualitative research cannot be quantifiable, is based on achieving profound understanding of the problem and the main data is gathered through interviews.
Our thesis research will be conducted using both quantitative and qualitative approach in order to answer the research questions. Qualitative methods focus on the facts that will enable to understand the meaning of what is going on. Their great strength is that they can illuminate issues and turn up possible explanations. The qualitative research will help us to explore the complexity that is beyond the scope (Gillham, B., 2000). The authors seek to gain more knowledge about the environmental aspects of the company and its environmental criterion used in evaluating a supplier. On the other hand a quantitative method will be used to go into upstream supply chain to see the supplier‟s attitude regarding environmental issues and to compare it with Kinnarps expectations on the same topic.
Data Acquisition Method
Data can be collected via two methods: Primary and Secondary data. This paper will be analyzed using both primary and secondary data.
Primary data are collected by the authors by carrying fieldwork themselves. Primary data can be gathered via interviews and surveys.
Interviews will be one of our methods in collecting primary data. Interviews with the company will be hold in order to find the environmental policy that applies to the company in general and procurement process in particular. Interviews are known as the main data collection tools in a qualitative research. Robson (2007) describes three formats of an interview: face-to-face, group and telephone interview. In our research we used group interview in order to have a different opinions and at the same time complimentary answers to the same question.
According to Bailey (2007), there are three main types of interviews used by researchers: unstructured; semi-structured and structured (table 3.2):
- Unstructured or informal interview are similar to conversation, involve little standardization. During unstructured interview, the interviewee is giving free choice to talk on any aspects.
- Semi-structured interview incorporates some predetermined questions while still allowing for considerable flexibility. The interviewer might engage in a dialog with the interviewee, rather than simple asked questions. We performed one semi-structured interview with the company in the begging of our research. The main idea was to find out more about Kinnarps environmental policies and to narrow down the topic of research by giving the freedom of the interviewee to express his feelings and preferences. A group format interview was selected to save time and to have complementary answers on the same questions. The main questions cover the environmental changes over years at Kinnarps in all departments: purchasing, R&D, production, transportation, customer service and reverse logistics.
- Structured interview have predetermined questions and an interview guide that is closely followed. During the structured interview, the interviewer determines the questions, controls their order and place, and tries to keep the respondent on track. Structured interviews have been used by the authors to perform the interviews with the company purchasing and R&D management. An interview questionnaire was developed to answer the research questions (see appendix 2).
The questionnaire was designed to answer last two research question: what are Kinnarps’ expectations regarding suppliers’ green compliance and what is the actual suppliers’ environmental attitude? and how suppliers can be grouped based on their environmental attitude?
In order to answer those questions a survey was elaborated based on the conceptual framework “Environmental Pyramid” presented in the previous chapter.
Two different surveys were elaborated for both Kinnarps and Kinnarps suppliers. Two main types of question chapters were elaborated to conduct the survey. First group of questions (i.e. “chapter A” questions) was formed out of 7 general questions that describe the general aspects of the Kinnarps main suppliers, consequentially the suppliers will be those to answer the questions from the chapter A (see a sample in appendix 3).
The second chapter of the questionnaire “chapter B” – was elaborated based on the conceptual “Environmental Pyramid” framework of this research. The questions from the chapter B presents the attitude towards particular attributes in achieving green products. Chapter B is formed out of 21 questions grouped in four main blocks describing: environmentally oriented management and company, green product design, green competences and EMS and regulatory compliance. Each block has different questions that characterize the block name. The questions in chapter B were designed to be answered into a five point scale: not important, somewhat important, important, very important and most important. The chapter B questions will be answered both by the Kinnarps and Kinnarps supplier‟s top managers. The questions for Kinnarps will have the same environmental attributes as the questions for its suppliers. The chapter B questionnaire was designed to answer the importance of the specific attributes that a supplier must meet. Consequentially Kinnarps managers were asked to give their own opinion on how they expect a supplier attitude towards a specific environmental attributes to be. On the other side, Kinnarps main suppliers were asked to fill in the questionnaire on how important they find specific environmental attributes from their own perspective.
The sample of the “chapter B” questionnaire is presented in appendix.5 for Kinnarps and appendix 4 for Kinnarps suppliers. Table 3.3 presents which type of question is answered by which part.
1.2 Problem formulation
1.3 Study Purpose
1.4 Research Questions:
1.7 Time schedule
2 Theoretical framework
2.1 Green Supply Chain Management
2.2 Supplier selection and evaluation – the essential component of green procurement.
2.3 Conceptual framework “Environmental pyramid”
3.1 Research Strategy
3.2 Case Study
3.3 Research Approach
3.4 Data Acquisition Method
3.5 Data Analysis
3.6 Trustworthiness and Credibility
3.7 Methodological framework
4 Empirical findings
4.1 Company Description
4.2 Kinnarps environmental Supply Chain
4.3 Kinnarps suppliers evaluation
5.1 Kinnarps supply chain analysis
5.2 Kinnarps supplier evaluation analysis
6.1 Further research
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