In this chapter of the thesis, the authors present the outline of the methodology concerning how the empirical data was collected. A discussion of the research strategies, approach, and data collection methods are also presented. Finally, the research limitations and validity are discussed in the latter part of the chapter.
The purpose of this thesis is to describe and examine how firms concerned with air freight handling processes, manage risk in these processes. To be able to achieve this, it is vital to adopt a suitably structured research method which focuses on the researchers’ purpose. An understanding of the various approaches available in collecting and analysing empirical data needs to be understood. This enabled us to strategise and adopt a plan which maximises the quality and relevance of the research. A research framework was developed in order to illustrate this (Figure 3-1).
There are two major approaches with regards to conducting research and each can have implications for testing and adding to theory. Colberg, Nestor and Trattner (1985, p.682), define an inductive approach as ‘a type of argument in which the conclusion follows from the premises only with a degree of probability’ and a deductive approacz as ‘the conclusions follow necessarily from the premises’. Saunders, Lewis and Thornill (2012) state that a deductive approach concerns research that starts with theory, from which the research is designed in a way that this theory can then be tested. Alternatively, where research begins with collecting data to explore a phenomenon, and theory is generated, this indicates an inductive approach. Hair, Celsi, Money Samouel and Page (2011) supports this that an inductive approach is a way of discovering how the reality is and create probably theories based on it. However, a deductive approach sets up a hypothesis from the outset, which is then tested (Hair et al., 2011).
The approach of this thesis that has been adopted by its authors, uses a mix of research strategies. This is because begins with presenting a literature review to help ground the research topic, which tends to be a characteristic of deductive research. The thesis then tends to be inductive in its method, seeking to answer research questions which aim to create propositions by identifying patterns in the empirical data to reach conclusions and build theories.
There are three types of studies which can be undertaken depending on the nature of the study, known as exploratory, descriptive, and explanatory (Saunders et al., 2012).
Exploratory studies investigate areas which are relatively unexplored. These studies tend to deal with research questions that ask what. Descriptive studies deal with problems which are are already understood. These tend to deal with the question of when, where, and who. Finally, explanatory studies seek explanations concerning different variables, dealing with the questions of how and why (Brannick, 1997).
In this thesis there tends to be an exploratory approach. This is because the area which is explored is relatively unknown and the overarching objective is to identify what risks are present in air handling processes. This is critical in allowing the study to progress in meeting the overall research purpose and questions. However, the thesis also has elements of explanatory approach as it seeks to ask how the identified risks are managed.
Saunders et al. (2012, p.162), state that ‘qualitative research studies participants’ meanings and the relationships between them, using a variety of data collection techniques and analytical procedures, to develop a conceptual framework’. Raign (1987) has also suggested that qualitative approaches tend to look at cases as a whole, which means comparison of whole cases with each other. This thesis tends to use qualitative approaches which are affected by the overall nature of the study, and the fact that it focuses on a single activity (handling) within the air freight transportation industry. A qualitative approach can help by allowing a wider and better understanding about this particular situation and assist in meeting the objectives of the research purpose and answering the research questions.
Cross-sectional Time Horizon
When conducting any type of research, considerations with regards to time must be evaluated. There are two clear ways of approaching this. Longitudinal, involves collecting data over a period of time and a continuous analysis of the data and its changes. Alternatively, data can be collected at one specific point in time, which can be more practical for most types of research (Saunders et al. 2012).
Types of studies that examine substantial and external themed concepts that are of a complex nature in terms of factors and scales are better suited to the cross-sectional data collection approach (Rindfleisch, Malter, Ganesan & Moorman (2007). This indicates that this is most appropriate when the long-term factor of the problem is defined or where there are likely other explanations and therefore unsuited to be examined with a cross-sectional approach (Rindfleisch et al., 2007).
In this thesis, the authors have chosen a cross-sectional time horizon due to the specific time limitations of conducting a master thesis, and also that it is ideal for the research purpose. Saunders et al. (2012) supports this view, as cross-sectional studies may also use qualitative data and that case studies tend to be based on interviews conducted over a short time period.
1.2 Problem Discussion
1.3 Research Purpose
1.4 Research Questions
2 Theoretical Framework
2.1 Risk Management
2.2 Air Freight
2.3 Risk in Air Freight
3.1 Research Strategy
3.2 Research Approach
3.3 Data Collection Methods
3.4 Data Analysis
3.5 Research Limitations
4 Empirical Study
4.1 Introduction to Jönköping Airport
5.1 Physical Risks
5.2 Financial Risks
5.3 Information Risks
5.4 Organisational Risks
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Risk Management in Air Freight Handling Processes