This section will present the method used for this thesis, starting with a discussion about the research approached used. It is followed by a presentation of the case study method used within this research. Then the data collection method is presented together with how the data was analyzed. Finally, issues of data reliability and validity are presented.
There are two main approaches of scientific reasoning; deductive and inductive. A deduc-tive approach produces propositions and hypotheses theoretically through a logical pro-cess, while using an inductive approach can be defined as searching for patterns and associ-ations from observations (Snape & Spencer, 2003). A deductive approach is in other words a search to discover if generalizations can be applied to a specific case. The inductive ap-proach goes in the other direction and aims to establish generalization by observing specific examples (Hyde, 2000). However it is noted that an inductive approach may not entirely lead straightforward to new theory. Much inductive researches using a qualitative strategy might not generate theory and theory is often used to give background to a problem (Bryman & Bell, 2007).
The two approaches can be associated with a waterfall (deductive) and a climbing hill (in-ductive). The deductive approach starts with a theory moving to hypothesis, to observa-tions to end up with a confirmation; “water falling down”. The inductive approach starts with observations moving to a pattern, to a tentative hypothesis and end up with a theory; “climbing up” (Burney, 2008). Both methods are used in qualitative and quantitative re-search. However, quantitative research is mostly associated with a deductive approach and qualitative research with an inductive approach (Bryman & Bell, 2007).
This research takes use of an inductive approach. The research is focused around the ob-servation of a specific case. The observations have been a search for identifying patterns and associations within the BRA BO project. In accordance with the purpose of this re-search an inductive reasoning, compared to deductive, was found to be the most appropri-ate way to approach the problem. The observations will act as the basis for the conclusions and build toward the future development of theory within CSR collaboration among actors from different sectors.
When conducting research, two distinguished strategies can be used: qualitative and quanti-tative research strategy. A qualitative strategy is deeper and focuses upon observations in the analysis. The quantitative strategy focuses on quantification of data and the analysis is based upon numbers and statistics (Bryman & Bell, 2007). The exact definitions of the two research strategies vary somewhat from researcher to researcher. One definition is provid-ed by Brannick & Roche (1997), which define qualitative research as research with a focus on the link between contextualized attributes concerning relative few cases, and quantita-tive research as research with a focus on the link between several defined attributes con-cerning many cases.
The similarities between the two types are that they both concern the interplay between ideas and evidence (Brannick & Roche, 1997). The main differences between the two strat-egies are the number of participants in the research, or the sample size, and in which way the data is gathered and analyzed. Qualitative research is open and participants have a greater chance to express their attitudes and experiences. The method of in-depth inter-views and/or focus groups is widely used for the qualitative strategy. The aim of quantita-tive research is to generate statistics and find patterns and analyze a larger population most-ly by using methods of questionnaires and/or structured interviews (Sanchez, 2006).
This research is based upon a qualitative strategy. The purpose of this research is to get a greater understanding of how a project develops and how the collaboration among partners evolves. In order to understand the involvement in a CSR related project a case study of a project using in-depth interviews has been conducted. The definition of qualitative research found to be most appropriate to the purpose of this research is provided by Snape & Spen-cer (2003, p. 22):
“The aims of qualitative research are generally directed at providing an in-depth and interpreted under-standing of the social world, by learning about peoples social and material circumstances, their experiences perspectives and histories.”
Primary and Secondary Data
Research data can be collected both from primary and secondary sources. Primary data is data gathered and collected for the purpose of a specific research. Secondary data on the other hand is previously gathered data collected by other researchers for their specific pur-pose. Secondary data could be in the form of historic data and background information and is mostly used as a complement to the primary data collected for research (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2009).
Within this research secondary data is used to get background information about the prob-lem in the form of reports, news articles and company presentation information. The pri-mary data of this research comes from in-depth interviews conducted with key persons in-volved in BRA BO. The analysis is based on the primary data collected from the interviews with the secondary data working as a complement to further describe and explain certain aspects of the problem.
A literature review is conducted with the purpose of exploring existing literature about the subject or the concepts which are of interest within research. The review should provide a basis for the development of question and the design of a research. It is a process of searching and gathering information about a specific subject. Conducting a literature review includes taking decisions and making judgments about what and what not to include within a research study (Bryman & Bell, 2007). Conducting a literature review gives background and contributes to the understanding of a specific subject. However, it also works as a tool from which arguments are formed. Within any research it is important to be able to find new angles and find a “new” problem within a specific topic. The aim of any scientific re-search has to be to make some kind of new contribution (Bryman & Bell, 2007). Exploring the existing literature is a search for identifying existing concepts, methods and inconsist-encies.
In the literature review or theoretical framework of this research the subject of CSR has been the main interest. There has been a search within the existing literature to get a back-ground and deeper understanding to the concept of CSR. There has also been a search for how CSR is connected to, and can affect, the business collaboration between actors from the private and public sector.
Case study is a research strategy often associated with qualitative research. It is a strategy that focuses on understanding dynamics within a specific case (Eisenhardt, 1989). A case study could include single or multiple cases and be analyzed on several levels. Using a case study strategy is found to be most appropriate when researchers search for answers to questions of the type “how” and “why” (Yin, 2003). One of the defining features of a case study is the range of perspectives that it presents, and the focus is rather on the context than the participating individual. A case study can be associated with following a process and providing different perspectives of how a project has changed and/or evolved over time (Lewis, 2003). Another feature that is associated with using a case study is the fact that a specific case is selected for a specific purpose of research. A case study is a process which is rich in detail and could be very intensive, which is why it mostly is associated with quali-tative research (Lewis, 2003).
This research focuses on a single case study: the BRA BO project. The intention is to an-swer “how” and “why” questions and gain a deeper understanding of the project within the context of CSR and collaboration among different types of actors. The purpose has been to study the process of the project to understand why actors get involved in the project and how it has evolved over time.
The sample size of a qualitative research is generally small, compared to quantitative, for which there are three main reasons. First, there will come a point in qualitative research when very little new evidence will be identified from increasing the number of participants in a research (Lewis, 2003). Second, qualitative research is not based on statistics where there are certain requirements on the sample size in order for it to be sufficient and statisti-cally valid. Third and finally, qualitative data is richer in detail and the recourses needed to gather the data is more demanding (Lewis, 2003).
BRA BO is under development which means that there are a limited number of people in-volved at this point. From the information gathered in the beginning of the research, elev-en actors were identified as being involved with the management and development of BRA BO. All individuals were contacted and nine responded positively within the timeframe of the research. The final number of participants in this case study should be sufficient in de-scribing all aspects of the BRA BO project.
Data Collection Method
In-depth interviewing is a method of collecting data for qualitative research (Darlington & Scott, 2002). In-depth interviews open up for a deeper understanding of a phenomena or a specific case. It is a method that takes the notion in that people are experts in their own fields and are able to describe their own experiences in the best manner. By interviewing different people involved in the same project, a researcher will get a range of perspectives from all the involved actors (Darlington & Scott, 2002). In-depth interviews can be de-scribed as a conversation with a purpose (Legard, Keegan, & Ward, 2003).
Semi-structured interviews are a type of in-depth interview used in qualitative research. With the use of a semi-structured interview the researchers have a list of questions pre-pared which can be referred to as the interview guide (Bryman & Bell, 2007). The guide does not have to be followed exactly every time, however, it does contain a set of main questions and topics that are desired to be covered during each interview. Questions do not have to be asked in the exact order every time but will in large be asked in the same way at some point during each interview with all participants included within a research study (Bryman & Bell, 2007).
There are a number of key features and advantages with using in-depth interviewing within a qualitative research. First, an in-depth interview is set to combine structure with flexibil-ity. Second, in-depth interviews are interactive in their nature and data is generated through the interaction between the actors involved in the interview (Legard et al., 2003). Third, there is the possibility to get more depth in the answers gathered. A researcher has the abil-ity to ask follow-up questions to fully understand the respondent and get deeper answers about opinions and beliefs together with the reasons and feeling associated with the dis-cussed topics. Forth, an in-depth interview is likely to at some point generate new knowledge (Legard et al., 2003).
Audio recording is a tool often used when conducting in-depth interviews. Recording an interview allows the researcher to pay full attention to listening to the respondent without hesitation and without having to wait for hand written notes to be completed (Darlington Scott, 2002; Legard et al., 2003). In order for an interview to be in-depth it is important that the researcher is devoted to what transpires during the interview. A recording gives se-curity and freedom to the researcher and offers the possibility to go back and review the material at a later stage. However, some people could be hesitant about getting recorded, as it can make people “act” in a way that is felt to be appropriate for the situation, but the use of audio recordings during an interview is seen as less intrusive than note taking (Legard et al., 2003).
This research uses semi-structured interviews as the primary method of collecting data. This method was found to be most appropriate in order to achieve the purpose of the re-search. During the data collection process the authors took use of the semi-structured in-terviews advantages of combining structure with flexibility. It was important to have a set of main topics and question in order to fully understand the basis of the BRA BO project. The structure of the interviews acted as a tool in the search for patterns and to make com-parisons between the different actors. Flexibility was also a very important factor in the da-ta gathering process. Since this is a case which involves different actors from different sec-tors it was important to have a data collection method that was very open in its from. It could not be fully predicted what type of topics that were going to be discussed during each interview due to the different competences that the actors contribute with to the BRA BO project.
Before each interview the potential participants were firstly contacted by telephone. The authors of this thesis presented themselves and described how they had learned about BRA BO. The authors also described the purpose of the study and what topic areas the interview would be targeting (Darlington & Scott, 2002; Lewis, 2003). At the end of the presentation, each participant was asked if they would consent to participate in the interview (Lewis, 2003). In the situation of a positive answer, an interview was scheduled for a later time and place. This initial contact helped to establish a relationship before the actual interview.
This research study has included a combination of face-to-face and telephone interviews. Telephone has been used as a complement where an appropriate face-to-face meeting was not possible to be scheduled within the timeframe of this research. However, more than half of the interviews were conducted face-to-face. In this research all participants, both during face -to-face and telephone interviews, have been made aware that the interviews were being recorded. No one has opposed this and the recordings have been made using a Smartphone.
An interview guide was constructed in order to act as a foundation and a starting point to the discussion during each interview. The questions were designed to get an understanding of the interviewee’s involvement and roles within BRA BO. Each interview has been dif-ferent but at some point during each interview all the questions have been asked (Appen-dix: A). Before the questions were asked, a general discussion about the participants’ daily work and background took place. The approximate time of each interview was one hour.
The data analysis of this research consisted of two steps. In the first step, all the interviews were transcribed. It is argued that in order for qualitative data, from interviews, to be ana-lyzed in a systematic way the interviews need to be transcribed (Darlington & Scott, 2002). Since high quality audio recordings were made during each interview the transcribing pro-cess was efficient however time consuming. The transcripts have been completed manually by the authors without the aid of any specific computer software. The transcribing process has left out portions of the interviews which were not relevant for this research. This is in line with suggestions from Bryman & Bell (2007), who recognize that not all data collected from an interview will be relevant. Since the interviews of this research were conductive in the native language, Swedish, of both the authors and the participants, the interviews was firstly transcribed in Swedish. At the next stage the Swedish transcripts were translated into English. Due to the fact that words can have different meanings in different languages dis-tortion in the data can be created (Bryman & Bell, 2007). However, this has been mini-mized by back-translating the analysis to Swedish to compare the finding. No distortion or indifferences were found between the two versions whereby the English translation is found to be valid for this research.
When a transcript has been completed it gives the authors a chance to become more famil-iar with the data. During the actual interviews it can be hard to get familiar with the data due to other aspects of the interview process which require the attention of the researchers (Darlington & Scott, 2002). Riessman (1993) suggests that it is at a stage after transcripts have been made that a researcher fully gets a sense of the focus for the analysis and the findings become clearer.
The second step of the analysis consisted of coding or breaking down the data into com-ponents. In qualitative research coding is a process of shifting through data to categorize it and making sense of the information that has been gathered. In qualitative research this process can also be referred to as indexing (Darlington & Scott, 2002). For this research coding has been a process of shifting trough transcripts in order to find patterns and identi-fying different ways in which the data from the interviews relate to each other. This process has been made manually without the aid of any computer software. The interview guide used for the semi-structured interview act as a tool which have made it easier to identify and categorized the data.
Table of Contents
1.1 Bra Bostäder för Småhushåll till Rimligt Pris
1.2 Trästad 2012
1.3 Problem Discussion
2 Theoretical Framework
2.1 Corporate Social Responsibility
2.2 CSR Collaboration
2.3 CSR and Strategy
3.1 Research Approach
3.2 Case Study
3.3 Data Collection Method
3.4 Data Analysis
3.5 Validity and Reliability
4 Empirical Findings
4.1 Bra Bostäder för Småhushåll till Rimligt Pris
4.3 Södra Timber
4.5 Kronoberg County Administration
4.6 Linnaeus University
4.8 SP – Technical Research Institute of Sweden
5.1 Involvement in BRA BO
5.2 Collaboration within BRA BO
5.3 Future of BRA BO
7.1 Future Research
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
Collaboration within a CSR Project