The foundation of our research concerned the questions why and how Fanerdun’s conven-tion centre was realised in Kalmar. These types of questions often lead researchers into do-ing an explanatory case study since no historical records are available (Yin, 2003). Our case study concerns the process between Kalmar and Fanerdun that led to the establishment, from the initial contact until Chinese construction workers arrived. We decided to focus on this time frame of the process since we aim to draw valuable conclusions instead of specu-lating about future events. As we aimed to get a holistic picture of the actors’ diverse views and goals in this specific project, a case study type of research was appropriate.
Quantitative vs. Qualitative
Darmer and Freytag (1995) discuss that the terms quantitative and qualitative research dif-fer when it comes to the characteristics of the data collected. A quantitative study is based on many respondents and is explicable in numbers or quantity measurements, thus is not relevant for our study. On the other hand, a qualitative method provides depth to an analy-sis and can not be shown as the former; instead few respondents provide data of many variables shown in descriptive words. Since our study is an interview based study of one project, the natural choice was using a qualitative technique to create a deeper understand-ing of this rather unique process.
Induction vs. Deduction
Developing a research like this is based on the interplay between a theoretical background and a specific empirical problem formulation (Darmer & Freytag, 1995). There are com-monly two ways of approaching research, deduction or induction. Using deduction means having theories as a foundation of the research, and testing if they agree with reality. With an inductive approach, researchers observe reality to draw conclusions that may or may not agree with existing theories (Chalmers, 1999).
The relation between theory and empirical findings can often be interlinked and may pro-ceed in parallel along the research process. Our thesis had a clear direction and a broad spectrum of theories was scanned before any empirical data was collected. However, as no defined theories constituted the base of our research, we gathered theories gradually to suit our purpose. Patel and Davidsson (2003) define this combination of approaches as abduc-tion, where the case to be studied is a starting point for a theoretical framework. We aimed to describe this project through theories rather than to test the accuracy of a theory. How-ever, since data and theory collection was done at the same time, we can still refer to our research method as abduction.
To locate the main actors behind the Fanerdun investment, and thus finding who to exam-ine empirically, we started to scan secondary sources. Barometern – Oskarshamn Tidning, a local newspaper, reports regularly about the Fanerdun project, which was helpful to get an idea about potential interviewees. Through these articles our data reduction began since we could distinguish the main actors involved; ISA, the Regional Council in Kalmar County, the Municipality of Kalmar and Fanerdun. To get more background information about those actors we consulted their homepages, which supported our preparation for the inter-views conducted.
Primary data was collected through face-to-face, telephone and e-mail interviews with rep-resentatives from the chosen actors. Table 3-1 gives an overview about name, position in the representing organisation, date and place of interview of all main interviewees. In addi-tion, it should be noted that each person’s role in the project was the main criteria and rea-son for this selection.
Since these respondents represent important roles in the process of the establishment, al-most all of them were interviewed in person. That was important for us since attitudes and feelings are impossible to grasp without personal meetings. Yin (2003) confirms that indi-vidual behaviour is difficult to record without personal contact. This aspect was also im-portant when we participated in a Fanerdun project information meeting for local firms, organised by the Municipality of Kalmar. Here, perceptions from the partakers were ob-served by their active participation. Firstly, we got a rough idea about the opinion of locals, which was so far missing, and secondly, got in contact with some local firms present. Table 3-2 shows the firms that were later called and asked for personal inputs, which the meeting itself had no time for. It should also be noted that our sample size of local firms is rather small, but in our opinion sufficient to answer our purpose. Since none of the asked firms was involved in the initiation of the establishment, the aim of these interviews was mainly to get a general picture of their view about the convention centre.
The two main reasons for collecting data partly through phone and e-mail were; physical distance to interviewees and the scope of contribution in relation to the cost associated with collecting the data. This refers mainly to interviewing people that were not directly in-volved in the establishment, which is why data collection by telephone or mail was seen as more appropriate than trips to Stockholm or more visits to Kalmar. Also, follow-up inter-views by telephone and e-mail were helpful for specific complimentary questions.
An agenda was prepared for each interview and sent to the respondent a few days ahead. The respondent was therefore able to prepare answers and material, and we could benefit from comprehensive and relevant answers. During the interviews, we had the focus of our thesis in mind but as we wanted to maximise our understanding of the process and the roles of the actors, we kept the interviews semi-structured. A semi-structured interview is according to Arksey and Knight (1999) structured around key questions that work as a guide but the actual interview is performed more as a discussion. It should be noted that this could also have had a negative influence on our data collection, since we as well as the respondent had a distinct imagination about the content of the interview. Hence, all inter-views were limited to the issues addressed in the agenda, leaving little room for other con-siderations. Therefore, follow-up interviews were sometimes necessary to complement these vacancies. In addition, all main interviews were recorded as well as transcribed to be able to justify what was said and to extract quotations.
From the first interviews, an insight into the project could be gained, which was further helpful when choosing appropriate theory fields that could explain the process of the es-tablishment. To find suitable theories, search engines and data bases such as GoogleScholar, JULIA and ABI Inform were consulted. Here, combinations of the follow-ing words were used; “network”, “regional network”, “regional development”, “interna-tionalisation”, “Chinese firm”, “guanxi”, “foreign market entry”, “establishment” and “ini-tiation”.
Data Analysis through Triangulation
Miles and Huberman (1994) explain that the components of the data analysis, after collect-ing the data, are the following; data reduction, data display and drawing of conclusions. These stages are all progressing simultaneously. This is visualised in figure 3-2.
Data reduction is performed throughout the analysis and starts before even collecting the data, by preparing questions and setting up a framework. Along the process, selection and clarification of the findings will lead up to the display phase (Miles & Huberman, 1994). These aspects were applied in our thesis since throughout the collection of empirical data it became clear what findings were relevant. When researchers come to the display phase, the information needs to be organised and displayed in a clear way so that a better analysis can be performed. Conclusions are drawn based on the analysis of the gathered data, but it is important that researchers stay open and include scepticism (Miles & Huberman, 1994). In our thesis, the empirical findings are placed before the frame of reference. Prior to the in-terviews we had too little knowledge about the establishment and could not decide on what theories to use. In our opinion, it is easier for the reader to understand our choice of theo-ries if the empirical findings are read first.
1.2 Problem Discussion
2 Preface to the Establishment
2.1 Kalmar’s Economic Situation
3.1 Case Study
3.2 Quantitative vs. Qualitative
3.3 Induction vs. Deduction
3.4 Data collection
3.5 Data Analysis through Triangulation
3.6 Reliability, Validity and Limitations
4 Empirical Findings
4.1 Preconditions of Kalmar
4.2 ISA focus on Chinese Investors
4.3 Kalmar and Changxing Region Collaboration
4.4 When Gustafson met Luo
4.5 Investment Decision Criteria
4.6 Current State of the Project
4.7 Benefits for Kalmar and Fanerdun
4.9 Local Firms in Kalmar
5 Frame of Reference
5.1 Regional Network
5.2.3 The Network Approach
5.3 Guanxi – Importance of Relations in China
5.4 Common Aspect of Theories
6.1 Regional Network Development
8 Final Discussion
8.2 Future Research
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
“Made in Kalmar”