LEGAL STRUCTURE AND PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS

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CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

research approaches

According to Cresswell (2014:3) research approaches are the plans and the procedures for research that span the steps from broad norms to detailed methods of data gathering, analysis and elucidation. The conventional approaches are qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods. The following table 3.1 from Cresswell describes the conventional research methods.
This study adopted firstly the qualitative approach and then the quantitative approaches, as Cresswell (2014:4) indicates that it involves exploring and appreciating the meaning individuals or groups attribute to a social or human problem. The research intended to measure the intangible, i.e. views and opinions of the cases which are regarded as abstract in nature. Tashakkori and Teddlie (2003:22) argue that various methods are useful if they provide improved opportunities for you to answer your research questions and where they allow you to better evaluate the extent to which your research findings can be viewed as reliable and inferences made from them. The research approach intended to tap into the minds of individuals of professional bodies and practitioners and the approach was considered as most effective for this study.
The research was an empirical study, which included conceptual analysis, literature review and factor analysis. Saunders et al. (2012:34) explain that the inductive research approach is associated with gaining an understanding of the meaning humans ascribe to events and involves the collection of qualitative data. This study adopted the inductive approach, as there was theory building emanating from the comprehensive literature review and the analysis of the data from the questionnaires. This approach helped the researcher to understand the nature of the problem.
According to Saunders et al. (2012:107), research philosophy relates to the development of knowledge and the nature of that knowledge.
According to table 3.2, Cresswell (2014:8) states that constructivism is typically seen as an approach to qualitative research. He goes on to say that the goal of research is to rely as much as possible on the participants’ views of the situation being studied. Participants normally construct the meaning of the situation.
The constructivism worldview was adopted for this study. The research was dependent on the views and opinions of the individuals selected. Ultimately the researcher had to interpret the meaning others have about the problem being studied.

Ontology

Ontology is concerned with the philosophies about what there is to know about the world (Richie & Lewis, 2003:53). This study has ontologically examined the challenges confronting aspiring professional bodies and the practice methods they employ. The practice methods employed by professional bodies informed the new framework that was developed. This was achieved by understanding the views and opinions of the management of professional bodies and practitioners themselves through the analysis of the results of the interviews, the focus group discussion, and the data from the research questionnaires.
The subjectivist view was endorsed for this study. According to Saunders et al. (2012:110), the subjectivist view is that social occurrences are created from the opinions and consequent actions of social actions. Social constructionism construes truth as being socially constructed. The study was dependent on the views and opinions of the leadership of professional bodies and practitioners. The type of leadership and management styles that are adopted are therefore viewed as a constructed style to complement the environment of the professional body setting. This does not mean that it is positively adopted, but means that it is sometimes not relevant to the situation and needs to be altered in order to be adaptive.

Epistemology

According to Ritchie and Lewis (2003:115), epistemology deals with the researcher’s ways of knowing and learning about the social realm, focusing on questions such as how reality can be known and what the foundation for knowledge is. The study has, for example, through the understanding of leadership in professional bodies, suggested what the most effective management styles are. Initially the interviews and the focus group study provided some understanding of the phenomena that guided the subsequent study.
Punch (2000:52) indicates that the perceived role of research design is to form a link between the research questions and the data. Design resides amid the two, showing how the research questions will be connected to the data, the tools and procedures to use in responding to them. Research design must follow from the questions and fit them to the data. The design is the basic plan for empirical research, and includes main ideas such as strategy, sample, tools and procedures to be utilised in collecting and evaluating empirical data (Punch, 2000:53).
The design of this research is closely linked to the exploratory category. Robson (2002:59) explains that exploratory research is a valuable means of finding out “what is happening: to seek new understandings; to ask questions and to consider phenomena in a new light.” The exploratory design was therefore pivotal to developing the envisaged theory. Quantitative methods are often used in exploratory research and that was unerringly the case with this research. Saunders et al. (2012:140) indicate that there are three principle ways of conducting exploratory research:
The search of literature – the study used journals and books.
Interviewing subject matter experts – interviews were conducted with three professional bodies individually.
Focus group interviews – one focus group session was conducted with seven members affiliated to different professional bodies.
There was an extensive search for pertinent literature using journals, books and other literary works. The results of the literature review, interviews and the focus group discussion enabled the preparation of two comprehensive questionnaires, ensuring that all the significant themes were covered. These questionnaires were the instruments used that were posted online for the respondents to participate in the study in the most objective manner.
The descriptive path was then endorsed espousing the survey methodology. Salkind (2009:193) describes descriptive research as painting a picture, which is what this research aimed to achieve. Salkind (2009:15) goes on to describe survey research as an analysis of the frequency and relationships between psychological and sociological variables and taps into constructs such as attitudes, beliefs, prejudices, preferences and feelings. Hofstee (2006:122) eludes to the notion that the survey methodology elicits information from a limited sample who possess the required information, who are willing to communicate and who are representative of a larger group.
According to Denzin and Lincoln (2000:63), the qualitative researcher studies things in their natural setting, attempting to make sense of or understand phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them. It consists of a set of interpretive, material practices that make the world perceptible. Using this strategy has enabled the researcher to dig deep into the phenomena in order to attain a complete understanding of the problems and challenges.
Saunders et al. (2012:107) state that the choice of the research approach must be guided by the research question and objectives, the scope of existing knowledge, the amount of time and resources available, as well as the philosophical underpinnings. This research was indeed guided by the research question and objectives. Ultimately the questionnaires were aligned accordingly.
Primary and secondary data collection methods are the two methods used in business management research. Secondary sources are all available sources of data in books, journals, reports, and other literary works. Primary sources refer to questionnaires and interviews. Silverman (2001:20) emphasises the meticulous understanding of data collection in both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The collection method chosen therefore informs the research instrument.
This study utilised questionnaires as the primary data collection method with the use of books, journals and reports as the secondary methods.

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Review of the Literature

The literature review together with the interviews with professional bodies and the focus group discussion with practitioners resulted in the identification of the factors related to professional bodies.
Some of the main areas of investigation in the literature review revolve around the following:
Leadership Management Governance
Professional Development Quality Assurance
Human resource development Operations management
Certification and accreditation Benefits
Retention
Standardisation

Identification of Factors

The factors were identified from the extensive literature review. The two preliminary questionnaires were designed based on the different themes that emanated from the literature review. These questionnaires were then enhanced using the results of the interviews and the focus group discussion.

Interviews

A total of three interviews were undertaken with professional bodies individually to test the questions in the professional body questionnaire. These interviews have proven exhaustive and confirmed the validity of the questions. The participants were chosen at random so as to try and ascertain a non-subjective view from professional bodies. They were chosen at random from the database of professional bodies in South Africa. The researcher undertook the interviews and all interviews were audio recorded with the permission of the participants. An analysis of the interviews is presented below.
The interviews proved to be extremely beneficial to the study, but more specifically to instilling confidence in the research instrument (questionnaire for professional bodies). The interviews yielded the following common aspects:
Leadership – All participants claim to use a combination of leadership styles which are not limited to participative, delegating, supportive and directive. It is deduced that professional bodies want to empower their management so that they can be more effective in their leadership styles. This will lead to efficacy in their operations.
Governance Structure – All have a board, CEO and councils. A code of conduct was really emphasised as an important requirement for both employees and members to adhere to.
Financial Strategy – Two of them depended on government grants, whilst all of them depended on membership fees as well. The impression is that these organisations undertake many activities that ensure high financial gains. As was explained, this is needed in order to be able to sustain and to meet monthly overheads like rent, and salaries.
Relevance in the Economy – All of them are relevant as they target specific industries or occupations. Without them their members will not be developed.
Registration Process – Two of them require their members to register yearly, whilst one of them indicated that the registration process is a once-off event for a member. A member must pay fees on joining and annually.
Legally Defined – They are all Section 21 companies, although one of them indicated that they are statutory, as they were formed by an act of parliament.
Relationship with SAQA – One of them has a strong relationship with the SAQA, as they are involved with the accreditation of courses. This is mainly because they are a statutory body. The other two have limited relationships with higher education institutions or the SAQA.
The interviews eventually became monotonous, exhaustive and reached saturation point at the third interview. The researcher chose to end the interviews after the third one. The information gathered confirmed the validity of the preliminary questionnaire. The questionnaire was enhanced with minor changes.

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Focus Group Discussion

A focus group discussion was undertaken with seven practitioners affiliated to professional bodies. The participants were chosen at random. The results of the discussion justified the contents of the research questionnaire that was designed for members. Some of the important aspects that were discussed in the focus group session are summarised as follows:
Members wanted more interaction with their professional bodies that will enable them to develop more effectively.
They wanted a more efficient process to make payments to their professional bodies for services rendered.
Members wanted CPD points for all activities they involve themselves in that are related to their career development.
They sought recognition through the issuing of certificates that will provide assurances for their development.
They wanted to be involved in the compilation of magazines and periodicals that will provide exposure for their occupations and professional bodies in the market place.
The themes mentioned above were adequately covered in the questionnaire and the focus group discussion was deemed beneficial to this research.

Research Instrument

The instrument used to gather the data was self-administered, closed-ended, structured questionnaires that were posted online for the participants. The questionnaires adopted the Likert Scale to measure the feedback of respondents.
Neuman (2000:271) provides the following advantages for using self-administered mail questionnaires:
They are relatively cost-effective compared to face-to-face or telephonic interviews. Questionnaires can be sent to a varied geographical area.
The respondent is able to complete the questionnaire at his/her convenience and consult personal records, if necessary.
It offers anonymity and avoids interview predisposition. It is a very effective and efficient means of research.
Neuman (2000:272) also describes some perceived disadvantages:
Low response rates could jeopardise the validity of the research.
Some respondents might respond after a protracted period of time.
A person other than the intended participant can open and complete the questionnaire without the knowledge of the researcher.
Incomplete questionnaires.
The above disadvantages were closely monitored by the researcher. Fortunately the response rate of this research was exceptionally high.

Questionnaires

The objective of the questionnaires was to gather the required information from the participants. The preliminary questionnaires were developed using the information from the literature review. The interviews with professional body management and the focus group discussion with members allowed for the questionnaires to be enhanced. All ambiguous questions were excluded. The questionnaires were quality assured when they went through the ethical clearance process of UNISA. The data was captured on an online database linked to the tool used.

Table of Contents

Declaration
Acknowledgements
Abstract
CHAPTER 1: CONTEXTUALISING THE STUDY
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.3 BACKGROUNG TO THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
1.5 AIM OF THE RESEARCH
1.6 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
1.7 DELIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
1.8 RATIONALE OF THE STUDY
1.9 METHODOLOGY
1.10 VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY
1.11 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.12 SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY
1.13 RESEARCH PLAN (CHAPTER-BY-CHAPTER SUMMARY)
1.14 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 DEFINITION OF A PROFESSIONAL BODY
2.3 THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PROFESSIONAL BODIES IN SOUTH AFRICA
2.4 HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS FRAMEWORK (NQF)
2.5 IMPLEMENTATION OF A PROFESSIONAL BODY
2.6 ORGANISATIONAL LIFECYCLE
2.7 VIRTUAL ORGANISATIONS
2.8 LEGALLY DEFINED TYPES OF ORGANISATIONS
2.9 THE EVOLUTION OF FORMAL ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURES
2.10 MINTZBERG’S ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURES
2.11 PROFESSIONAL BODY COMMITTEES
2.12 LEGAL STRUCTURE AND PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS
2.13 GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE
2.14 THEORETICAL GOVERNANCE MODELS
2.15 LEADERSHIP THEORIES
2.16 FUNCTIONS OF MANAGEMENT
2.17 GRADING OF PROFESSIONAL BODY AFFILIATES
2.18 FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS OF THE PROFESSIONAL BODY
2.19 A PROFESSIONAL BODY AGM
2.20 ACCREDITATION OF A PRACTITIONER
2.21 ISO CERTIFICATION
2.22 MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS
2.23 MEANS OF ADMITTANCE TO A PROFESSIONAL BODY
2.24 MEMBER AND LEADER SATISFACTION WITH A PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION 83
2.25 PERCEIVED RISKS AND DISADVANTAGES OF A PROFESSIONAL BODY
2.26 MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS AND OBJECTIVES
2.27 CONTINUAL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
2.28 ETHICS IN PROFESSIONAL BODIES
2.29 STANDARDISATION
2.30 QUALITY ASSURANCE
2.31 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN PROFESSIONAL BODIES
2.32 THEORETICAL MODEL TO INCREASE PROFESSIONAL BODY EFFECTIVENESS 101
2.34 CHARACTERISTICS OF A PROFESSIONAL BODY
2.35 BARRIERS TO MAINTAINING PROFESSIONALISM OF QUALITY
2.36 MANDATE OF A PROFESSIONAL BODY
2.37 SUPPORT TO MEMBERS AND AFFILIATES
2.38 NEEDS OF MEMBERS
2.39 ROLE OF A PROFESSIONAL BODY
2.40 INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP
2.41 PRESENTATION OF A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
2.42 SUMMARY OF LITERATURE REVIEW OF MAIN CONSTRUCTS
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1 RESEARCH APPROACH
3.2 RESEARCH PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENTIFIC BELIEFS
3.3 RESEARCH PARADIGM
3.4 RESEARCH DESIGN
3.5 RESEARCH STRATEGIES
3.6 DATA COLLECTION METHODS
3.7 RESEARCH PLAN AND METHODOLOGY
3.8 SIZE AND RESPONSE
3.9 ASSESSMENT OF THE VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY
3.10 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4: DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF RESEARCH RESULTS FOR PROFESSIONAL BODY RESPONDENTS
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 RESPONSE RATE
4.3 STATISTICAL DATA ANALYSIS OF PROFESSIONAL BODY RESPONDENTS
4.4 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5: DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF RESEARCH RESULTS FOR PRACTITIONER RESPONDENTS AND THE STUDY OUTPUT
5.1 PRACTITIONER DATA DISCUSSION
5.2 BACKGROUND INFORMATION OF PARTICIPANTS
5.3 SECTION B: PROFILE OF PROFESSIONAL BODY
5.4 FACTOR ANALYSIS RESULTS – PRACTITIONER DATA
5.5 PROFESSIONAL BODY CURRENT OPERATIONS (RECAP OF LITERATURE DISCUSSED IN PRIOR CHAPTERS)
5.6 PRESENTATON OF THE DEVELOPED FRAMEWORK
5.7 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 6: FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 DISCUSSION OF THE FINDINGS
6.3 CONCLUSIONS
6.4 DISCUSSION OF THE RESEARCH OUTPUT
6.5 ORIGINAL CONTRIBUTION TO THE BODY OF KNOWLEDGE
6.6 BENEFITS OF THE STUDY
6.7 IMPACT OF THE STUDY230
6.8 LIMITATIONS
6.9 RECOMMENDATIONS
6.10 SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
BIBLIOGRAPHY
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