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In this chapter the research methodology used for this study is described. The following aspects are discussed: research design and method, sampling techniques, instruments for data collection, procedures for data analysis and ethical considerations.


As indicated earlier, various scholars, for instance Babbie and Mouton (2001:72-74) and Rugg and Petre (2007:62-63), concur that the research design spells out the strategies the researcher plans to adopt for research. Hence, in this study the expression research design is used to refer to the overall plan the researcher devised for this study: it encompasses the research approach, sampling techniques and the instruments used for data collection and data analysis.


Since it was the aim of the researcher to explore and describe management aspects related to the establishment of the SANU and its future operations, the qualitative approach was deemed appropriate for the present study. The characteristics of such research relevant to the study which motivated the researcher to follow this approach are indicated next.

In-depth examination of the phenomenon

Describing the aims of qualitative research, Denzin and Lincoln (2005a: ix-xv), Denzin and Lincoln (2005b:5-12) and Flick (2002:2-3) conclude that these are to conduct an in-depth examination and consequently obtain a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon under investigation. Therefore, the researcher of this study undertook an in-depth investigation of the legal framework as regards his topic.

Natural settings and understanding the phenomenon from the participants’ frame of reference

Denzin and Lincoln (2005b:3) state that “qualitativ e researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.” Therefore, qualitative resea rch is context specific and evaluated on the basis of its contribution to the people concerned (Vidich & Lyman 2000:39). Since the researcher attempted to understand higher education management in the context of the existing Swaziland legal framework for the establishment of private higher educational institutions, qualitative research is considered appropriate for this study.

The researcher as the key instrument

Kemmis and McTaggart (2005:569-570) indicate that a qualitative researcher differs from other researchers in that he is at the centre of the research. As the key instrument, the researcher develops critical systems that will enable him to collect and interpret data as well as build quality relationships with the participants. The researcher in this study developed the research methodology, collected and interpreted data; he also created a relationship of reciprocal trust and rapport with the participants as the quality of the data depended on their truthfulness.

The researcher acts as insider researcher

One distinctive characteristic of qualitative research is that the researcher acts as an “insider researcher” (Le Gallais 2003:4-5; Robson 2002:382; Rooney 2005:6-9; Workman 2007:147- 148). Rooney (2005:6) defines such a researcher as a person who is directly involved in the study and connected “with the research setting”. Th e researcher’s involvement in the study may occur in various forms, inter alia, that of an employee conducting a professional study and/or an employee conducting research as part of academic studies (Rooney 2005:6; Workman 2007:146-147). Defining the researcher’s connection with the setting, Edwards (1999:1) argues that the researcher is connected to the setting if the researcher has been a member of the particular organisation for five years.
There are various benefits when the researcher acts as an insider researcher, such as: long standing relationships between participants and the researcher, which result in the establishment of trust and rapport and are characterised by a spirit of openness, trust, and honesty possession of a rich knowledge about the history and the culture of the organisation so there is a better understanding of what happens, including the truthfulness of the information provided production of scientific knowledge that would improve practice the research addresses the needs of the organisation and assists with the development of organisational structure, support systems and methods provision of scientific knowledge appropriate for the improvement of peoples’ skills, roles and capabilities (Edwards 1999:1-13; Le Gallais 2003:4-5, 7-9, 12; Rooney 2005:6-7; 11, 15-16; Workman 2007:14-151, 154-155, 157)
These benefits are all applicable to this study and also serve as reasons why the researcher chose to act in this role. Rooney (2005:8) describes work-related studies as a “close-up reality based on thick description of participants’ lived experiences.” Such a study is best conducted if the researcher is an insider. Since he was an insider researcher and a member of the group engaged with the establishment of the SANU, the participants were more open and trusted the researcher with confidential information, something that would have been less likely with an outsider researcher. Also, the rapport that the researcher established with the participants  enabled  him  to  engage  them  without  any  conditions  attached  (Le  Gallais 2003:7).
The researcher worked in various educational institutions of the Church of the Nazarene in Mozambique, Swaziland and Kenya inter alia as lecturer, academic dean and registrar. He also served on various committees in these institutions. As an employee of these institutions, his objective was to improve the quality of the management and the programmes of study offered by the institutions. It was this desire that prompted the researcher to conduct the present study. Besides this, he hoped to produce scientific knowledge that would improve the objectives and purpose of the organisation, support system and practice (cf. chapter 1, sections 1.4, 1.5, 3.4.1, 3.4.2).


As indicated in section 1.7.1, the researcher selected action research as his research method. This selection was motivated by two factors that characterise such research, namely, improvement of practice and involvement of personnel (Maree 2007:125, 129; McMillan & Schumacher 2006:148; McNiff & Whitehead 2002:15-16). These factors are complementary in that if one is utilised the other is also engaged (or developed), as observed in this study. They are briefly discussed below.

Improvement of practice

According to McDowel, Smailes, Sambell, Sambell and Walkelin (2008:144) the improvement component is aimed at three areas: “imp rovement of practice, improvement of the understanding of the practice by the practitioner and the improvement of the situation in which the practice takes place.” In chapter one sec tion 1.2 it was indicated that the personnel involved in the establishment of SANU are educational managers, people who can be considered practitioners. The engagement of the managers in this exercise is assisting them to improve their managing skills, which in turn leads towards the improvement of the manner in which the colleges are managed (practice). For example, two of the colleges operated without written constitutions, but as a result of the combined discussions, those colleges were able to draft their own constitutions. Added to this was the establishment of organisational committees that provide forums in which personnel can participate in the management of the institutions. The colleges have now merged into SANU but at the time of the gathering the information they were separate identities and the action research significantly improved management skills of the then managers of the colleges.
The second attribute of the improvement of practice is the understanding of the practice (higher education management) employed by the practitioner (education managers). One of the aims of the researcher in selecting action research was that it would aid managers to gain a better understanding of the nature of private higher education management. It is imperative that the managers of the colleges understand this, to ensure a smooth transition from individual colleges to a unified private university.
The third area in which improvement takes place is the betterment of the situation in which the practice takes place. The situation in this study was twofold: the Swazi context (the situation in which higher educational management occurs in Swaziland) and the institutional context (the situation in which higher educational management occurs in a particular institution). In relation to the Swazi context, the researcher observed that the government was engaged in the development of legislation that would govern and manage all higher education in Swaziland, such as the Higher Education Bill of 2010. Besides this, the government has established consultative meetings with education stakeholders which included private and church organisations. For example on 5 October 2009 the Commissioner of Education in the Church of the Nazarene and the Board of Governors of NAHEC held consultative meetings with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education. Addressing the attendees, the Prime Minister pointed out that the government was engaged in the development of legislation and policies that would govern higher education in Swaziland and invited the Church of the Nazarene to establish a university which would provide programmes that would meet the needs of the nation (Swazi TV News, 6 October 2009, 20:00h; Nhlengethwa 2009, Conversation). Responding to a question posed by Kent Brower, the Representative of the International Board of Education in the Church of the Nazarene regarding the instrument that would be used to establish SANU, Pat Muir, the Permanent Secretary of the Minister of Education said, “the Higher Education Bill is being developed and it will cater for the establishments of other universities in Swaziland [SANU included]. [And] it is hoped that this bill will be out very soon” (Nazarene Higher Education Consortium 2009:2).
In regard to the institutional context, the researcher would like to reiterate what has been mentioned. He observed considerable improvement in the management of the institutions involved in this study. Prior to the beginning of the establishment of SANU, college officers, for example the principals and the deputy principals, were the only people engaged in the management of some of the institutions. As these officers participated in the later meetings they exchanged experiences and deliberated on various managerial aspects; consequently, there was a change in the manner in which the institutions were managed. In this way the study contributed toward the improvement of the current institutional situation as well. This is evident from the quality management principles and skills used by the NAHEC management team toward the establishment and management of the proposed university.

Involvement of personnel

Addressing the value of the personnel’s involvement in a study, numerous scholars such as Kemmis and McTaggart (2005:568), Maree (2007:125, 129), McDowel et al. (2008:144), McNiff and Whitehead (2002:15-16) as well as Reason and Bradbury (2001:2) point out that such involvement is significant because it contributes toward the provision of combined efforts in addressing work related challenges or problems production of knowledge that is practical, appropriate, balanced and useful improvement of practices through the use of critical and reflective exercises provision of opportunities through which personnel can systematically examine their actions and concerns about a particular phenomenon establishment of a collaborative spirit between the researcher and study participants as well as among education stakeholders.
All of the above mentioned aspects are pertinent to the study. The managers of the colleges involved in the study faced a number of challenges. One was the merging of the colleges. This was considered a challenge because, as indicated, it entailed the bringing together of three independent institutions. Besides, the need for an Act of Parliament that would govern and manage the proposed new university was identified.
Participation by personnel enables them to produce knowledge that is practical, appropriate and useful to a particular context (Reason & Bradbury 2001:2). It may take the form of books, reports or articles. For this study, the manner in which this was realised was the communication of the legal aspects to the church leaders and future managers of the institutions as well as the need for a prototype Act of Parliament of the proposed university. Speaking about the provision of opportunities through which personnel can systematically examine their actions and concerns about a particular phenomenon, Kemmis and McTaggart (2005:568) assert that their involvement … involves ‘reaching out’ from the specifics of par ticular situations, as understood by the people within them, to explore the potential of different perspectives, theories, and discourses that might help to illuminate particular practices and practical settings as a basis for developing critical insights and ideas about how things might be transformed. [And] involves ‘reaching in’ from the standpoints provided by different perspectives, theories, and discourses to explore the extent to which they provide practitioners themselves with a critical grasp of the problems and issues they actually confront in specific local situations.
From this statement it is evident that personnel involvement is essential because it would enable participants to explore and enlighten their understanding of higher education management and furthermore facilitate the establishment of SANU.

List of abbreviations and acronyms
List of abbreviations and acronyms used in the addenda
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Background and motivation of the study
1.3 Statement of the problem
1.4 The aim and objectives of the study
1.5 Significance of the study
1.6 Delimitation of the field of study
1.7 Research design
1.8 Ethical considerations
1.9 Summary
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Method of investigation
2.3 Constitutional and legislative framework
2.4 Management framework of higher education in Swaziland
2.5 Summary
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research design
3.3 Research approach: qualitative research
3.4 Research method: action research
3.5 Sampling instruments
3.6 Data collection instruments
3.7 Data analysis
3.8 Ethical considerations
3.9 Limitations of the study
3.10 Summary
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Legal framework for the establishment of private universities
4.3 The Southern Africa Nazarene University Bill of 2010
4.4 The implications of the paucity of the legal framework
4. 5 Partnership between SANU and the government of Swaziland
4. 6 Funding of SANU
4.7 Labour-related issues
4.8 Summary
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Refocusing the study
5.3 Recommendations
5.4 Summary

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