Research Design and Method
In the method chapter the authors will explain how they conducted the study, and provide the reader with a motivation for the chosen method. A closer description of the two companies and the respondents will be presented.
The role of the researcher is to create a link between theory and what occurs in practice. However, there is not an easy straightforward way to approach this. In general there are two different research approaches to take on when it comes to the relationship between theory and research, deductive and inductive approaches (Zikmund, 2000).
The authors of this thesis did regard neither the deductive nor the inductive approach, in their pure ways, to be appropriate for the type of research that was the focus for this thesis. This was due to the fact that the deductive approach prefers large samples of sufficient numerical size in order to enable for the researcher to generalize the results (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2007). As the purpose of this research was to find out how certain SMEs in the Småland region defines and communicate CSR, the authors did not regard the deductive approach to be relevant. The reliability and ability to generalize the developed theory is somewhat threatened when using an inductive research approach. This is because the developed theory is only relying and applicable to a specific situation, time or group of people (Patel & Davidsson, 2003). Consequently, the authors of this thesis did not consider the inductive approach to be appropriate either for this research. Instead a combination of the deductive and inductive approach was used.
Abduction is a combination of the inductive and deductive research approach. If a re-searcher uses a strict inductive or deductive approach, they may be „locked‟ to their strict approaches. When taking on an abductive approach the researcher is more „free‟ to carry out the research (Patel & Davidsson, 2003). The previous research concerning CSR and communication suggest different perspectives on how to define CSR and how to commu-nicate it. What could be found in previous research was also that different companies ap-proaches and uses CSR in different ways. Due to this, the authors considered the abductive approach to be the most appropriate research approach for the purpose of this thesis. Re-levant scientific theories were chosen and the aim was to try to confirm the empirical re-sults by relating to the theories.
Depending on the purpose of the research, the researcher can consider different types of research study approaches. These different research strategies are depending on the nature of the purpose of the research. The purpose of the research can be exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory. For this thesis the authors applied a combination of the explanatory and exploratory studies.
During the early stages of this research, background information was gathered in the form of previous research within the field of CSR and SMEs and CSR communication. This in-formation was needed in order for the authors to get information about the background to the problem. The literature was also used as a base for the frame of reference as well as a base for the study. These sources were found using the electronic databases provided by the university library. Using these databases the authors could find relevant scientific ar- ticles as well as books concerning the areas of interest. Finding previous research about CSR was relatively easy compared to finding information about CSR and SMEs. It became obvious to the authors that CSR communication and SMEs was a relatively new area in the research about CSR and this fact also contributed to the final focus and purpose of the study.
When searching for relevant articles regarding CSR communication and SMEs, the authors used a so called snowball sampling, which means that when finding one relevant article this lead on to other relevant articles through its cited references (Saunders et al., 2007). Con-cerning CSR and CSR communication relevant articles and books could more easily be found without using the snowball sampling.
Concerning the accuracy and reliability of the used literature, the authors have considered this when relating to the literature. General information about CSR have been used from a variety of sources, both older sources and newer. Since researcher has started to focus on CSR and SMEs during the last couple of years, these sources are more recently. The au-thors consider the accuracy of the information to be good since the sources are both up-to-date when it comes to CSR and SMEs and well established when it comes to information about CSR.
There are different techniques when it comes to gathering primary data. Which technique to use is much depending on the nature and purpose of the study (Saunders et al., 2007). In order to fulfill the purpose of this study, the authors needed to collect both primary and secondary data. The primary data was the actual investigation of the selected companies and the data from this study was then related to the scientific research that has been col-lected for the frame of reference.
Qualitative Data collection
According to the aim of the study a researcher can collect data that is either of quantitative or qualitative character. Quantitative data is characterized by numbers and are focusing on quantity, amount and number of variables that can be analyzed statistically. A quantitative approach is suitable in a situation where the researcher already has knowledge about what is going to be tested and for testing hypotheses. Studies which are characterized by the use of text, words and actions are qualitative studies. The main focuses of such studies are to understand the „whole picture‟ in a certain situation. This is more important than the un-derstanding of specific parts (Christensen, Engdahl, Grääs, & Haglund, 2001).
When a researcher wants to investigate a deeper meaning within a context, qualitative stu-dies are suitable. This is because qualitative studies require data collection methods that are sensitive to an underlying meaning when collecting and analyzing the data (Merriam, 2001). In this study the authors decided to conduct data of a qualitative character since they aimed at receiving more in-depth information about specific SMEs in the Småland region. The authors had no ambition in making any analysis that could be generalized for the whole population of SMEs in the Småland region. Rather it was the authors‟ ambition to look at two companies in particular and study them in-depth in order to understand them tho-roughly in this context. The reason for this was that since CSR is such a complex term and many companies, and SMEs in particular, find the term a bit confusing (Murillo & Lozano, 2006) it might be reason to believe that different companies define and work with CSR in different ways.
1.2 Problem discussion
2 Frame of reference
2.1 Previous research within the field of CSR and SMEs
2.2 Definition of CSR
2.3 Corporate Communication
2.4 Stakeholder theory and Communication
2.5 Strategic CSR communication
3 Research Design and Method
3.1 Research approach
3.2 Literature Review
3.3 Data Collection
3.4 Qualitative Data collection
3.5 Case study approach
3.6 Selection of cases
3.7 Qualitative Interviews
3.8 How the empirical material from the interviews was derived
4 Empirical findings