Perspective in the Swedish Retailing Industry

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Method and Data

In this section, we present the methodology, research method and data collection method. First is a description of the methodological, where the research approach is presented. The section continues with a description of the chosen method, and a justification of using a multiple-case study including semi-structured interviews.

Methodology

Research philosophies

According to Collis and Hussey (2014), there are two main philosophical paradigms (i.e. frameworks) that serve to guide how research should be conducted, namely positivism and interpretivism. The difference between the two is that interpretivism is developed to fulfill the insufficiency of positivism in order to meet the needs of scientists today. Interpretivism focuses on investigating the complexity of social phenomena, whereas positivism focuses on measuring social phenomena (Collis & Hussey, 2014). Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009) argue for the importance of understanding what philosophy to apply based on two main arguments. First, it shows the way the researchers view the world. Secondly, and of more importance, researchers need to be able to reflect upon philosophical choices and evaluate why research was conducted in certain ways.

 Positivism

As mentioned, positivism aims to measure social phenomena. The philosophy has its origins in the natural sciences. In addition to this, it rests on the assumption that everything around us is singular and objective, and hence not affected when being investigated (Collis Hussey, 2014). Saunders et al. (2009) also argues that if researchers are practicing positivism, it is more probable that it will be a philosophical stance similar to a natural scientist, where observations such as facts and final results can be highly generalized. Researchers within positivism are likely to use qualitative data collection techniques with large samples, and conduct their research from hypothesis building and use existing theories (Saunders et al., 2009). Since our purpose is aligned with a study of social relations, it does not fall suitable under the positivist philosophy.

Interpretivism

Collis and Hussey (2014) argue that interpretivism has been developed since scientists recognized gaps and insufficiencies in positivism that in some settings made the positivist philosophy inappropriate. Therefore they mention that instead of adopting quantitative research methods and statistical analysis, interpretive research derives from qualitative research methods. Saunders et al. (2009) support this by discussing how researchers that adopts to an interpretivist philosophy are typically conducting their research with small samples and in-depth investigations, and are much more likely to use qualitative research methods. Furthermore, they argue that interpretivism is critical to positivism in the sense that the social world of management, which is the focus of this thesis, is too complex to rely upon strict theories. In addition, Saunders et al. (2009) emphasize the necessity to understand the differences between us humans as social, independent actors. Based upon this, our research will draw more inspiration from interpretivism than positivism, because of the purpose of investigating the social relationship between franchisors and franchisees.

Research approaches

Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) explain that there are three research approaches, namely deduction, induction and abduction. These should be attached to the chosen research philosophy, in our case the aforementioned interpretivism. With a deductive approach, researchers develop a theory and build hypothesis, which later are tested. With an inductive approach, data is collected, and theory is built upon the findings and analysis. With an abductive approach on the other hand, data are collected to explore a certain phenomenon and recognize themes and to explain patterns to either generate a new theory or modify existing ones (Saunders et al., 2012). Saunders et al. (2012) further discuss differences between the three approaches, such as induction emphasizes understanding the research context through the use of qualitative data collection methods, and sees the researchers as parts of the research process. Based upon the differences of these approaches as well as our purpose to understand the social relationship we investigate, we see that our research approach will be an abductive one with qualitative data collection methods. It also means that we will move back and forth between theory and data, which could be seen as a combination between deduction and induction (Saunders et al., 2012).
In addition to this, Flick (2014) argues that the research questions should be used as a starting point when choosing what type of research should be used. Given that we do not work from a research question, we used our purpose as a starting point. From our purpose, it becomes apparent that this thesis is a study about social relations in a business context, since we address the franchisor-franchisee relationship. Hence a quantitative research is not appropriate, but instead a qualitative method will be applied. This decision is supported by Flick’s (2014) argument that qualitative research is especially relevant when studying social relations.

Method
Case Studies

According to Yin, ”The essence of a case study, the central tendency among all types of case study, is that it tries to illuminate a decision or set of decisions: why they were taken, how they were implemented, and with what result” (Yin, 2009, p. 17). Furthermore, Yin (2009) compares different research methods, such as experiments, surveys, archival analysis, histories, and case studies to each other in order to assort when to use what method. In general, he suggests that case studies have an advantage under particularly three circumstances (Yin, 2009, p. 2);

  1. When how and/or why questions are being addressed by the investigators.
  2. The investigators have little control over events.
  3. The aim is to gain extensive and in-depth knowledge about a contemporary phenomenon within a real-life context.

Saunders et al., (2009) reinforces this by also emphasizing case studies to be particularly suitable when how, and why questions are addressed, and hence a method commonly used in explanatory and exploratory research. According to Collis and Hussey (2014), the case study method is also commonly associated with interpretivism. The negative aspect with case studies includes for example that they are not sufficient to make scientific generalization, and that they could be very time consuming (Yin, 2009). But as we aim to build an understanding of how and why the social relationship is prevailing, the case study method is suitable for our research based on the suggestions from Yin (2009), Collis and Hussey (2014), and Saunders et al. (2009).
After choosing case studies, Yin (2009) suggests that the next step is to design the case study. The research design is commonly known as a “logical plan for getting from here to there, where here may be defined as the initial set of questions to be answered, and there is some set of conclusions (answers) about these questions” (Yin, 2009, p. 26). Hence, the main purpose is to assure that the research question, or purpose, is being addressed. Based upon this, we have chosen to interview the franchisees and use those interviews and answers as our main collection of evidence. Since the purpose address the perspective of the franchisee in a Swedish context, we believe that this method is the one that will generate the highest validity.

Multiple Case Studies

According to Yin (2009), multiple-case designs have both pros and cons compared to single-case designs, for example, the multiple-case design is considered to be more robust in its evidence, but naturally more time consuming than the single-case design. However, Yin (2009) also suggests that when possible, one should preferably conduct a multiple-case design for the analytical benefits of having more than one case. Eisenhardt (1989b) further argues for the number of cases to be chosen within a multiple case study, and she suggests a number between four and ten to be appropriate. In our situation, we wanted to use two companies in order to reduce the risk of interviewee bias in terms of company culture and personal values, thereof the decision to use a multiple-case design. In this thesis, we use five different cases, that each consists of one current, or ex-, franchisee in the sports-retailing industry in Sweden. Further, the cases are collected from two different companies, named in this thesis as Company Red and Company Blue, where two cases represent Company Red, one current, and one ex-franchisor. In Company Blue, three cases are chosen, two current franchisors, and one former. The justifications for selecting these specific cases, e.g. that we wanted franchisees with different backgrounds, and from different companies in order to reduce bias, are further explained in section 3.2.3.3.
Yin (2009) proposes that researchers should conduct so called pilot cases in order to help refining the future data collection. This is supported by Collis and Hussey (2014), who propose preliminary investigations to be a main stage within case study research. Based upon this, we chose to conduct a preliminary interview with one of the franchisees of one of our selected companies in order to be as prepared as possible for the actual data collection.

Interviews

Interviews is a data collecting method where selected participants are asked questions with the purpose of understanding actions, thoughts and feelings (Collis & Hussey, 2014). According to Clarke and Dawson (1999), it is an especially common data collection method when conducting qualitative studies, however not exclusively used for that type of method. Used under the interpretivist paradigm, interviews are conducted for understanding attitudes and feelings that people have in common (Collis & Hussey, 2014). Hence, in a study like ours, it is suitable to use a qualitative approach in terms of the interviews. Several authors differ between interview types. Essentially, existing literature regards semi-structured interviews as the most commonly used method. To elaborate on relevant parts of existing literature, Flick (2014) discusses different types of semi-structured interviews. Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009), mentions semi-structured interviews as well, but also structured, unstructured and in-depth interviews as the most commonly used in research.
The first type mentioned, the structured interview, relies on either a questionnaire or predetermined questions as the data-collecting instrument. Here the questions are asked in a specific order by each interviewer, and the purpose is that all the interviewees are to be exposed to the same stimulus during the interview, and this type of interviews are only used when it is clear what the relevant questions are (Clarke & Dawson, 1999).
The second type, the unstructured interview, is according to Clarke and Dawson (1999) the most informal one. This type is only used when conducting qualitative studies, where additional questions are generated during the interview.
Lastly, a semi-structured interview is according to Clarke and Dawson (1999) a mix between the two aforementioned types, where both standardized questions, e.g. regarding age and sex are covered, as well as open-ended questions with the purpose of contributing to a more qualitative result.

Semi-Structured Interviews

In this study, we used semi-structured interviews, which we considered to be the most suitable for our purpose. This allowed the use of predetermined questions, but also flexibility and deviation from the order of which the questions were asked if it was needed to achieve desired quality from the interview (Clarke & Dawson, 1999). We also have the possibility to encourage the interviewees to elaborate upon their answers and hence receive more thought through and in-depth answers. Flick (2014) points out that semi-structured interviews are widely used in research methods because of the increased potential of getting the interviewees to express their subjective attitudes when discussing in a more openly designed atmosphere, which is also aligned with our purpose and hence reinforces our choice of interview type.

The Responsive Interview

An interview style mentioned in the study about qualitative interviews by Rubin and Rubin (2012) from Flick (2014), that is suitable for our method, is the responsive interview. In this style, emphasize lies on building a trustworthy relationship between the interviewer and the interviewee, which is supposed to lead to a give-and-take kind of conversation. In this type  of interview, the atmosphere is flexible and the tone is friendly and there is no attitude of confrontation. Flick (2014) argues that this approach fits most interviews, since the focus lies on understanding what the interviewee has experienced, and the aim is to develop a holistic understanding instead of generating short and general answers to the questions.

Interviewees

For this thesis, five interviewees were chosen. These five interviewees were all representatives of the franchising sport retailing industry in Sweden. Two of the interviewees are active franchisees in one sports retail chain, one interviewee are active in a second sports retail chain, and two has terminated their role as franchisees, one from each of the sports retail chains considered. The choice of interviewees was based upon five different factors. First, we wanted them to represent at least two different companies within the Swedish sports retailing industry. Looking at the four largest actors within the industry, two companies operate with a franchise company structure (Reithner, 2014). Secondly we wanted to address franchisees that are currently active within those companies, but also ex-franchisees, in order to reduce potential bias towards company culture. Thirdly, we wanted franchisees with different background, in terms of education and previous work experiences. Fourth, we wanted the number of stores and turn-over among the franchise firms to differ, in order to get various results. Lastly, we wanted the franchisees to come from different geographical regions within Sweden, in order to investigate if there were any differences depending on the geographical location of the operations.
Since the businesses are located in Sweden, and the interviewees are all native Swedish speakers, the interviews were held in Swedish and later translated and transcribed into English in order to make it as clear as possible for the interviewees due to potential limitations in the English language.
Additionally, the justification of only having interviewees as the single collection of evidence is yet again based on our purpose. Since we address the problem in a Swedish context, and from the franchisees perspective, we are confident that interviews will yield the best result.

 Abstract 
1 Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Problem
1.3 Purpose
1.4 Definitions
1.5 Disposition
2 Frame of Reference 
2.1 Franchising
2.2 Property Rights Theory
2.3 Agency Theory
2.4 Control Methods
2.5 Entrepreneurship
3 Method and Data .
3.1 Methodology
3.2 Method
3.3 Data Collection/ Secondary Data
3.4 Method of Analysis
3.5 Delimitations of the Method
4 Results / Empirical Findings
4.1 Case 1- Blue One
4.2 Case 2 – Blue Two
4.3 Case 3 – X-Blue
4.4 Case 4 – Red One
4.5 Case 5 – X-Red
5 Analysis 
5.1 Favorable Control Methods
5.2 Decision Propensity
5.3 Possible Underlying Factors
6 Discussion
6.1.1 Contributions
6.1.2 Limitations
6.1.3 Further Research
7 Conclusion
References 
Appendices

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Franchising Focusing on Franchisees’ Perspective in the Swedish Retailing Industry

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