CHAPTER 3: Research Methodology
The research methodology is designed to provide empirical data which is statistically representative and adequate to test the research hypotheses (Clover 1979). Further, the methodology is in line with the academic trends of Strategic Management thesis research as discussed by Shirvastava, et al (1989).
“The mental process through which decisions are reached determine to a large extent the accuracy of conclusions. ”
Vernon Clover et al, Business Research Methods, Ohio, Grid Publishing, 1979, p. 13.
This exploratory empirical work constitutes applied research, (McGuire 1986 p. 15) and as such is aimed at solving a specific problem namely; the identification of an optimum Strategic Duration Perspective for the American Operating Environment.
This research questions the Strategic Duration Perspective as a critical alignment factor in the interface between corporate strategy on the one hand and the Operating Environment on the other. Thus, the research does not have a particular functional association but rather an inclusive functional application in that Strategic Duration Perspective relates to, and impacts on, the business conceptually and practically as a whole and as functional, operational and managerial parts thereof. This, within the conceptual theory of integrative contingency theory, where a holistic multidimensional relationship exists between the internal, internal-external and external dynamics.
The research is context-free in orientation, that is the research seeks to determine Strategic Duration Perspective in the Operating Environment of the United States of America regardless of organizational context beyond the “organizational matching” which ensures a scientific comparative basis between the three corporate categories. Thus, the research is issue specific, namely Strategic Duration Perspective for the American Operating Environment and organization generic, namely qualified matching corporations in the three categories American, Japanese and Japanese-American.
According to the research categorization suggested by Shirivastava, et al (1989) this research could be termed “environmental”. Yet, it should not be regarded as an environmental analysis but rather an analysis of the degree of alteration and or adaptation to a particular Operating Environment in terms of Strategic Duration Perspective. This research is conceptual and exploratory in nature which makes it difficult, but nonetheless significant.
The research is cross-cultural, in that the comparison is made between Japanese and American concepts of Strategic Duration Perspective in relation to the American Operating Environment. The objective measurement in this research is the Japanese-American Strategic Duration Perspective, ie. Japanese corporations operating within the American economy. Consequently an appreciation of the methodological implications of cross-cultural research are important to the quality of analysis. According to Brislin et al (1973) the real challenge in such studies is the cross-cultural methodology. The applicable problems raised in their book are:
cross-economy corporate matching.
researcher cultural and national bias.
geographical distance and costs.
v. cross-sectional study limitations
The researcher plans to manage these by:
i. the sampling plan (Brislin 1973 p. 21) will utilize an objective quantitative measurement (size, volume and industry) for sample corporations in both Japan and America. .to professionally translate the English survey into Japanese and then verbally “back translate” it into English as a means of ensuring translation equivalency in questionnaires (Brislin 1973 p. 33).
in spite of being based in America for much of the research, the researcher is a citizen of a third country thus reducing the effects of subjective cultural or national bias.
the research data will be gathered by a mail and literature survey (due to costs) , thereby providing a standard setting for data gathering.
v. by referring to a study conducted in 1980 by the authors of a book titled Strategic vs. Evolutionary Management a U.S. – Japan comparison of strategy and organization, Kagono et al Amsterdam, North-Holland, 1985 and secondly, by utilizing an extensive bibliography.
These represent an effort to avoid, in part, some of the inherent limitations of strategic research based purely upon cross-sectional data. Further, the limits of “cross-cultural” studies are reduced to the extent that the origins of a Japanese-American Strategic Duration Perspective (ie. Japanese SDP.) is surveyed; thus providing the historical perspective for a Japanese-American Strategic Duration Perspective and a quasi-longitudinal view of the (evolutionary and adaptive) process of the “objective” Japanese-American SDP ..
The fundamental question asked in this study is the viability of the American short-term orientation or short-termism (Buckely and Brooke 1992) toward corporate strategic management within the American Operating Environment from a holistic and applied perspective of the issue.
The catalyst for this topic was the criticism of this American short-term strategic approach in the literature. This work is an attempt to improve the understanding of strategic management beyond the traditional organizational output-cost, volume and price references.• To deal with the Strategic Duration Perspective question from a converse perspective and illuminate the objective soundness and validity, or not, of the American short-term Strategic Duration Perspective.
The research method is the comparison of the Strategic Duration Perspective of three corporate categories namely; Japanese Corporations (J) operating in Japan with traditional long-term Strategic Duration Perspective (Brislin et al 1992 p. 391) approaches, American Corporations (A) operating in America with traditionally short-term Strategic Duration Perspective orientations and Japanese-American Corporations (JA) operating in America, whose Strategic Duration Perspective categorization will be established in the course of this research.
A sample corporation is defined within one of these three categories by one, geographical location, two, ownership and three, management.
The methodology is to measure the degree of Strategic Duration Perspective modification made by Japanese-American corporations in response to the American Operating Environment as compared to one, their traditional Japanese Strategic Duration Perspective which is postulated to be these (Japanese-American) corporations’ typical or historic Strategic Duration Perspective. Secondly, to compare such modified Japanese-American SDP. with American SDP ..
These comparisons [(JA with J) and (JA with A)] will facilitate a comprehension of the rational (or not) of American Strategic Duration Perspective by using the Japanese-American Strategic Duration Perspective as a quasi objective measurement. The objectivity of the Japanese-American corporations is deduced from their traditional long-term Strategic Duration Perspective orientation, and therefore any Strategic Duration Perspective modification made in America is theorized to be based upon tlie macro and micro, internal and external 11 American 11 Operating Environment. It is this degree of change or adaptation made by these Japanese-American corporations which will provide this study with an objective base-measurement of Strategic Duration Perspective for the American Operating Environment. From this objective-base the American Strategic Duration Perspective can be reflected so as to argue the rational, or not, of the American Strategic Duration Perspective.
The sample corporations comprise of public companies operating in the three categories and having their major management operations in the respective economies. The Japanese-American corporations need to have been operating in America for at least four years.
Writers on the subject of American strategy appear to have adopted a presumptuous attitude and suggest a simplistic solution: namely, to adopt the longer-term strategic perspective generally attributed to Japanese corporations. This argument is reinforced beyond the obvious by the comparative economic miracle of the Japanese in recent times and American difficulties.
Questions remain on two important levels:
One, the practical application of a long-term Strategic Duration Perspective within a culture and economy which shows no dispensation to such. Could it be argued that the American “short-term” performance-orientated Strategic Duration Perspective has resulted in a unique Strategic Duration Perspective based on the specific factors within the American Operating Environment’? As such could it represent a development in the overall field of strategy management’? This argument could be secured if the shorter Strategic Duration Perspective represents the most effective and efficient management of the American corporate environment: a comparative analysis of the respondent corporations will provide insight to this question.
Secondly, the economic desirability of a longer-term Strategic Duration Perspective within the general trend of shorter, more flexible and adaptive business activity, let alone the impact of technology.
The whole question recently of the applicability and redefinition of long range business planning generally, makes this research relevant and important to corporate strategists in the 1990’s and beyond. Can the long-term Strategic Duration Perspective suggested in the literature survive in an Operating Environment where all aspects of business and indeed commercial activity are being shortened in the name of time-based competition and commercial flexibility and productivity’?
The whole question of Strategic Duration Perspective is complicated further by the fact (Drucker 1959) that strategic decisions are present time-fixed while their results and effects are future time-variable within ever faster strategic and (operating) environmental evolution. Thus, the application, feasibility and desirability of a long-term Strategic Duration Perspective for the American Operating Environment needs to be questioned.
Survey Respondent Statistics
Surveys were mailed to American, Japanese and Japanese-American corporations.
The objective is to determine the Strategic Duration Perspective of Japanese and American corporations in their respective Operating Environments. The research will then measure the degree of alteration and or adaptation in Strategic Duration Perspective made by Japanese corporations as a result of doing business within the American economy.
A comparative analysis will then be done between the Japanese and Japanese-American Strategic Duration Perspectives to evaluate and determine the rational, or not or degree thereof, and direction for such movement or deviation from the respective traditional Strategic Duration Perspective model.
From this point the focus shifts to a comparative analysis of the American and Japanese-American Strategic Duration Perspective data to test the hypotheses that the American Strategic Duration Perspective is a resourceful and innovative approach in relation to the specifics of the contemporary American Operating Environment.
The survey methodology comprised of a survey mailing to ninety-eight Japanese strategists, one hundred sixteen American strategists and one hundred seventeen Japanese-American strategists. Respondents were provided surveys in English or Japanese. The corporations were selected from a list of Fortune 500 corporations in the August 23rd 1993 issue of Fortune Magazine. The Japanese-American Strategic Planners were selected from the Japanese respondents who had operations in America. This list was compiled manually with the assistance from the James J Hill Library in ST. Paul Minnesota USA. using the following Japanese directories: Japan Country Profile 1991-92, Japan Country Report No 11992, Japan Trade Directory 1985-1986, 1991 – 1992 Directory Japanese-Affiliated Companies in USA & Canada, Japan Company Handbook First Section Spring 1993, Japan Company Handbook Second Section Spring 1993, Diamond’s Japan Business Directory 1992 and Japan Yellow Pages Spring 1993.
A modification of the three wave method was used to maximize responses. The respondents were mailed the following correspondence:
Questionnaire mailing cover letter and introduction with survey.
Reminder letter with survey.
Reminder letter with survey.
v. Follow-up mailing cover letter with survey.
Survey received thank you letter.
Survey results and discussion malling letter.
Schedule of correspondence:
i. Pre-mailing letters were mailed 14 February 1994 to three hundred thirty one target respondents, in three research categories namely, American Corporations, Japanese Corporations and Japanese-American Corporations.
Survey mailed 22 February 1994 to three hundred thirty one targeted respondents as listed below (see List of survey targeted corporate respondents) . The response rates (see table below Survey response pattern table) was as expected for an exploratory study, targeting over surveyed and hard to survey respondent positions.
The researcher estimates that approximately two hundred ninety of the surveys and correspondence dispatched reached their targeted destination and targeted corporate positions. The researcher then utilized reminder letters to increase the response rate to the rates indicated below. These reminder letters were mailed with second and third surveys to solicit sufficient responses to satisfy the study.
Thank you letters mailed as needed.
Reminder letter one mailed from 5 March 1994.
v. Reminder letter two mailed from 15 April 1994.
Reminder letter three mailed from 10 June 1994 with letter of support from Professor A J Strickland.
Reminder letter three was mailed in smaller batches throughout June, July and August 1994.
Survey Data collection completed August 1994.
A summary and discussion of the survey results where mailed to one hundred ten respondents in November 1994 in the Respondent discussion letter, (see Appendix 8) .
The response rate was achieved in late August 1994 when the response rate reached between thirty two and thirty nine percent of surveys reasonably estimated to have reached their targeted respondent corporate positions.
The researcher acknowledges that such response rates are lower then average; but it should be noted that such response rates are average or slightly above average given the target respondents and the complex nature of the topic surveyed. The researcher was encouraged by the fax correspondence and notations made by respondents on the surveys and cover letters which indicate a heightened interest in the survey material (see Appendix 4) .
CHAPTER 4: Analysis Of The Data
The researcher would like it noted that this research is exploratory in nature, dealing with the investigation, measurement and analysis of a complex, descriptive and conceptual phenomenon – Strategic Duration Perspective.
The Strategic Duration Perspective concept was new to the survey respondents; in spite of the fact that the respondents are a sample of the population which is (in part) responsible for the issues and behaviour upon which Strategic Duration Perspective was developed and identified.
The remainder of this chapter is devoted to a detailed analysis and discussion of the data. This will be accomplished by taking each question in turn and:
Explaining the relevance of the question.
Discussing the anticipated response based upon the current literature.
Discussing the empirical response.
Representing the data from each questions numerically and graphically.
Discussing the results from each sample category.
Each of the four sections will be dealt with in a similar manner. This micro perspective of the data is followed by the more inclusive, macro discussion of the four hypotheses.
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