The origin of social business within social entrepreneurship

Get Complete Project Material File(s) Now! »

Research methodology

The presented master thesis relies on interpretative qualitative research, using the case study method accord-ing to Stake (1995). This means that the case researched provides the reader with “new interpretation, new knowledge, but also new illusions” (Stake, 1995, p. 99). In this part, the methodology will be further de-scribed.

Abductive approach

A common approach to conducting a case study is abductive research, which is closely re-lated to the interpretative approach followed by Stake (1995). The abductive approach is used in qualitative research in order to interpret a single case from a “hypothetic overarch-ing pattern, which, if it were true, explains the case in question” (Alvesson & Sködberg, 2009, p. 4). To strengthen the interpretation, new cases should be involved. This leads to an on-going theory (the anticipated overarching pattern) adjustment and refinement. As an advantage against other approaches, the abductive approach – as well as the interpretative – also includes understanding.
The starting point is an empirical basis but the goal is not to refuse theoretical preconcep-tions. Instead, empirical facts are combined with studies of previous theory in the literature during the analysis, which is seen as a source of inspiration of the finding of patterns lead-ing to understanding. Our aim is to expand motivational theories to the field of social busi-ness, based on empirical results, and as such the abductive approach was chosen.

Case study as a research method

The case study method is a method of qualitative research by using a variety of data sources. This variety simplifies the investigation of a phenomenon within its context. The followed approach leads to a broader view on the phenomenon that allows for several components “to be revealed and understood” (Baxter & Jack, 2008, p. 544).
In the literature there are two key concepts guiding case study method: The concept by Robert Stake (1995) and the one by Robert Yin (1994). Both methods guarantee that the focused subject is well investigated and that the core of the phenomenon is discovered. Nevertheless, these two concepts differ in the features they emphasize. While Yin (1994) is more focused on the techniques and methods that form a case study, Stake (1995) points out that the methods of inquiry are not the fundamental part of investigation, instead the purpose of study is the case itself: “By whatever methods, we choose to study the case” (Stake, 2005, p. 443).
According to Crabtree and Miller (1999) this approach leads to a close ‘collaboration’ be-tween the researcher and the participant because participants are allowed to tell their sto-ries. This is connected with another advantage: People can describe their sights of reality, which results in a better understanding for the researcher of the participants’ doings (Lath-er, 1992; Robottom & Hart, 1993).
In order to answer the research questions, the authors chose the case study method accord-ing to Stake (1995) as the suitable one because it allows a better focus on the chosen case in form of a certain social business and the selected employees instead of taking the methods in the center of the investigation. Moreover, Stake follows an interpretative approach where the nature of reality is seen in a post-structural constructivist way where the goal is understanding more than generalizing. This way is characterized by offering readers with “good raw material for their own generalization” (Stake, 1995, p. 102). Therefore Stake’s approach will be further described.
According to Stake (1995) cases can be simple or complex and the time spent on the cases also differs. Nevertheless, while focusing on the case, one is involved in case study. In addi-tion, it is important to see that certain qualities are within the boundaries of the case, while others are outside. Also some of the outside ones are significant as context, like the social, economic, and ethical features. This shows the difficulties in specifying the start and the end of a case, but ‘boundedness and activity patterns’ can be helpful concepts in order to specify the case. “Balance and variety are important; opportunity to learn is of primary im-portance” (Stake, 1995, p. 6).

Unit of analysis

Stake (2005) identified three types of case study:
Intrinsic case study: The goal is a better understanding of this particular case and not theory building. An intrinsic interest for the specific case is given.
Instrumental case study: The goal is to offer insight into an issue or to come up with a generalization. The case alleviates a better understanding of a phenomenon and plays a supportive role. In order to follow the external interest, there is still a deeper inquiry of the case, its contexts and ordinary activities.
Multiple or collective case study: Instead of studying one case, a number of cases are used in order to explore a phenomenon. Therefore instrumental case study is stretched to more cases out of the belief that understanding them “will lead to a better understanding and perhaps better theorizing” (Stake, 2005, p. 446).
We used the instrumental case study within the thesis, which also differs from the two oth-ers in the way the case is selected. While the intrinsic case study starts with an already iden-tified case, the instrumental and the collective case study need (a) case(s) to be selected. In contrast to the collective case study, the instrumental case study focuses on just one case, which plays a supportive role in order to ease the understanding of something else.
In this thesis the interviewed employees of The Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre Ltd. are the unit of analysis, which gives us an opportunity to study the already given phe-nomena closer. Most of them have been employed through the work integration program. The number of these employees varies from 180 to even 200 employees per year. The number of fixed full-time employees is 40, with an additional four fixed employees working part-time. All in all, seven interviews were carried out among the full-time workforce.

Case criteria

The company was chosen among businesses that have received the mark for social busi-nesses introduced by The Association for Finnish Work. In Finland, the mark of official social business is given to companies that are trying to solve social and ecological problems through their businesses. The Association for Finnish Work has several criteria they use to determine whether the company deserves the status of social business. The primary criteria are (Association for Finnish Work, 2012):
Primary purpose and goal of the business is to produce social good.
Most of the profits stay within the business to produce the social good, or to be donated in accordance with their mission for the social good.
Openness and transparency of the business.
The association also looks for aspects such as commitment of the employees, increasing employee satisfaction and welfare, customer focus, developing local communities, minimiz-ing the health and environmental effects, and assessment of impact in terms of society (As-sociation for Finnish Work, 2012).
In addition to these criteria we assessed the companies in terms of the mission, organiza-tion type, age, and size of the company. First, we reviewed the companies’ mission state-ments linked to social and environmental purpose. Second, we looked at the organization type focusing on limited companies. Third, as our research focus was on established social businesses, we excluded start-up companies. Finally, we were looking at the size of the company, excluding micro and small companies in order to have a wider pool of employees from which to choose the persons to be interviewed. After reducing the list of possible companies and talking to representatives of the remaining companies we chose The Hel-sinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre as our company to be researched.

Data collection

In order to answer the research questions, primary and secondary data were collected. The next section describes which sources of each data collection approach were used.

Primary data

To gain primary data, we have decided to conduct focused semi-structured interviews in the Reuse Centre. We conducted interviews with employees of each of the four depart-ments (HR, Finance, Communication and Development) and the Education unit of the company. Most of the employees had previously worked in the shop operations. This gave us the opportunity to get a whole picture of the company from the employees’ point of view. In the semi-structured interviews, the starting point can be a pre-determined topic of conversation and discussion stimulus. The aim is to collect responses and interpretations in a largely open form within the interview (Hopf in Flick et al., 2005).
The questions and thus the content of the conversation were set in advance, but without strict order and as an open conversation. This follows the range criteria mentioned by Merton et al. (1956), which says that the range of the bleed problem in the interview may not be too tight. That is, the respondents must have a maximum chance to respond to the ‘stimulus situation’. This involves both, theoretically anticipated and unanticipated reac-tions.
Appendix I introduces the focused interview guide (p. 53). This method further allowed an informative schedule, but still focused on the relevant questions. Our interview guide was formed in order to reach a proper understanding on perceived employee motivation in so-cial businesses. It was divided into different themes as follows: 1) social business in general, and 2) perceived motivation, consisting of questions on prosocial motivation, meaningful-ness, value congruence, and task significance. This was done in order to meet the criteria of ‘specificity’, meaning that the issues raised and the questions in the interview should be dealt with in a specified form, and ‘depth’, which should be also adequately represented. Respondents should be supported in the presentation of affective, cognitive and value-related significance, which have certain situations for them (Merton et al., 1956).
The willingness of the individuals to discuss the appropriate was of great importance for the quality of the primary data collection. All of the interviewees gave their consent to sup-port the work and were available within short time when required for the interviews. In ad-dition, it is also important to mention that they belong to the same hierarchical level and all of them work in the headquarters, which leads to better comparability.
The first contact was made via e-mail, indicating their willingness to support our research. Furthermore, the topic was introduced and the research focus was shortly explained. As none of the interviewees asked for the interview guide beforehand all of our questions were new to them.
In total we interviewed seven employees. The interviews took 40 min to 55 min. One in-terview took place at the company site, which made it possible to visit the firms’ headquar-ters in Helsinki. Another advantage of the face-to-face interview was to make sure that misunderstandings were avoided besides it also gave us the opportunity to ask follow-up questions (Sekaran, 2002). The other six interviews were conducted via Skype and tele-phone in order to avoid the distance problem between the interviewees (located in Finland) and the interviewer (in Sweden), which may be according to Sekaran (2002) named as a problem imposed by face-to-face interviews. Easier access, speed and lower costs may be mentioned as advantages of this approach (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2000). The lack of personal non-verbal communication however may be mentioned as a disadvantage of tele-phone interviews (Sekaran, 2002). Nevertheless, concerning the availability of the inter-viewees, we argue that this was the only practical way of conducting the interviews.
In Table 3-1. we are going to present the interviewed employees, their position, how long they have been working in the company, and their education. We also give the time, the place and the type of interview method.

Secondary data

Secondary data for this thesis was achieved through academic articles, books, reports, doc-uments and online sources. Through this material we got a better understanding of the company, its business model, stakeholder relationships, and the business environment. Fur-thermore, through this data the interviews were supplemented and supported.

Theoretical sampling

Theoretical sampling was used to compile the research sample. According to Coyne (1997, p. 629) in theoretical sampling the “initial decisions are based on general subject or prob-lem area, not on a preconceived theoretical framework.” The researchers purposefully se-lect a sample as the research progress to fit the emerging categories and theory. Marhshall (1996, p. 523) indicates that “theoretical sampling necessitates building interpretative theo-ries from the emerging data and selecting a new sample to examine and elaborate on this theory.” In our research, after the initial four interviews, three new ones, with different employees, were set in relation to the findings and to new categories of perceived motiva-tion that emerged from the interviews. This is in line with the abductive approach ex-plained previously.
The interviewed employees were chosen in terms of their position in the company by ex-cluding managers, owners, and unpaid/voluntary workforce. Our focus was on employees that are employed full-time and that are not included in the long-term unemployed or oth-erwise disadvantaged workforce, since these might have different motivations to work in the company. For example they might have no other choice of employment.

Theoretical saturation

Associated with theoretical sampling is the notion of theoretical saturation. The point of theoretical saturation is when the researcher sees similar instances repeatedly and no new categories are identified (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Rogers, 2003). It should be noted that this is rarely fully achieved. Most researchers stop at the point when they feel that “they have a ‘good enough’ categorization to have been able to articulate a meaningful and useful theory” (Rogers, 2003, p. 90).
In this research study interviews were continued as long as new relevant information was revealed. Once the interviewees repeated information, and we had the feeling of having ob-tained enough information in order to categorize and analyze it, we decided to conclude our interviews.

Procedure of data analysis

According to Stake (1995) there are two strategic ways existing in order to grasp new mean-ings about cases: (1) through direct interpretation (of the individual example) and (2) through aggregation of examples. The direct interpretation means that the researcher gets ‘new meanings’ about the case through directly interpreting the individual example while the second means the aggregation of examples until it is possible to talk about them as a group (Stake, 1995, p. 74). Both methods were used within our case study. Nevertheless, the qualitative researcher analyzes and synthesizes in indirect interpretation where he or she tries to pull the focused example apart and to put it back together more meaningfully.
We further endeavored to make sense of certain reflections of the case by studying it as closely and deeply as possible. Therefore documents, such as brochures, annual reports, and magazine articles as well as the company’s webpage were used to get a deeper knowledge about the focused organization. This part is greatly subjective, but allowed a bigger focus on identifying causalities instead of talking about objective facts of the com-pany during the interviews.
Part of this work was first preceded with the help of hermeneutics as a basis for developing a qualitative content analysis. Objectives of scientific hermeneutics are to build an art of displaying and interpreting texts and develop the meaningful reality in general.
Following Stake (1995) the interviews were taped in order to systematically analyze the fixed communication (Mayring, 1995), and transcribed in extenso. The interview transcripts were reviewed and statements were categorized and divided into units in a word file. Den-zin (2001, p. 71) also suggests, “bracketing or reducing” the phenomenon to its essential el-ements in order to cut it loose from the natural world in order to uncover its “essential structures and features.” Then, we discussed the case against the background of the prob-lem theoretically reviewed in chapter two. Next, we grouped and summarized the previous-ly disassembled units in the following emerging categories, which are partly guided by the specific research questions posted in the section 1.4.

Table of Contents
1 Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Problem statement
1.3 Purpose
1.4 Research questions
1.5 Delimitations
1.6 Definitions
1.7 Structure of the thesis
2 Frame of reference 
2.1 The origin of social business within social entrepreneurship
2.2 Social businesses with a social purpose
2.3 Perceived Motivation
2.4 Intrinsic motivation
2.5 Prosocial motivation
2.6 Task significance
2.7 The meaning of work
2.8 Value Congruence
3 Research methodology 
3.1 Abductive approach
3.2 Case study as a research method
3.3 Unit of analysis
3.4 Case criteria
3.5 Data collection
3.6 Theoretical sampling
3.7 Procedure of data analysis
3.8 Ethical considerations
3.1 Reliability and validity
4 Analysis 
4.1 The Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Centre Ltd
4.2 Empirical Findings
4.3 Perceived employee motivation in the Reuse Centre
5 Proposed model for perceived employee motivation in a social business
6 Conclusion 
6.1 Summary of the findings
6.2 Concluding thoughts
6.3 Limitations
6.4 Future research
List of references
Perceived Employee Motivation in Social Businesses A Case Study of a Finnish Social Business

Related Posts