Methodology and Method
This chapter consists mainly of two parts, methodology and method. The methodology part gives a background and suggestions to the chosen method applied to the study, through evaluating the research philosophy and approach. This is later on followed by our chosen method, its implications, and an evaluation based on analysis and trustworthiness.
“Qualitative leadership studies […] have several distinct advantages over quantitative approaches by offering more opportunities to explore leadership phenomena in significant depth…” (Klenke, 2008, p.5)
Methodology is related to the process where the choice if particular methods and the design of the research, and the vindication of their relation to the research area, are made evident (King & Horrocks, 2010).
Interpretivism is the philosophy this thesis is rooted in, which is also the philosophy associated with qualitative research (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005). Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012, p.137) explain interpretivism as “the difference between conducting research among people rather than about objects”. Interpretivists view of the world differs from positivists by arguing that the social world are far too complex to be able to fit into definite theories and laws. The emphasis of the interpretivism lies on the understanding that humans interpret the world differently. The philosophy behind interpretivism is that “knowledge is constructed by human beings as they make sense of their environment” (Anderson, 2004, p.42). The researchers must engage in a compassionate standpoint in relation to the research when exercising an interpretivist perspective (Saunders et. al, 2009). Due to the purpose of this thesis, the perspective of interpretivism was chosen to understand and interpret how policies can affect women and their ability to grow within a company. Saunders et al. (2012) find the interpretivist perspective to be highly suitable when the research regards business and management. This is due to the complexity of businesses and the many underlying reasons to why they behave in the way they do.
The interpretivist theoretical perspective is associated with qualitative research method (Belk, 2007). The research method used in this thesis was qualitative research. In comparison with quantitative research where the world is described in terms of variables, qualitative research are based on people, situations and events, and how these influence each other (Maxwell, 2013). A qualitative research method explains patterns, behaviours, functions, emotions, and how businesses uses polices to become gender equal. According to Strauss and Corbin (1998) a qualitative research is preferred when a research aims to explain and understand the meaning of nature or a phenomenon.
For the research an abductive approach was chosen, where “inductive inferences are developed and deductive ones are tested iteratively throughout the research” (Saunders et. al, 2012, p. 163). When working with the thesis the topic, research questions, and purpose were established before continuing with the identification of adequate theories. With an abductive approach the researchers are able to start out with specific theories and then alter them along the way (Saunders et. al, 2012).
For the researcher it is an advantage to be making adjustments and enabling flexibility during the process since it is beneficial for the end result (Eisenhardt, 1989). Gender equality and policy making are two broad research areas, and while address the research in the right direction flexibility was essential for reaching the conclusion. As proposed by Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Lowe (1991), different views of the facts emerged when gathering the data. Hence, the adequacy of the abductive approach was obvious.
An abductive approach is a mixture of an inductive and a deductive approach (Saunders et. al, 2012). A solely inductive approach was unsuitable for this research since the elemental idea here is to enter the research with a blank mind and then create potential theories (Eisenhardt, 1989). The reason for not choosing an inductive approach is that without predetermined theories it is truly hard and difficult to attain a research (Eisenhardt, 1989). Within the subject of this thesis, gender equality in Sweden, there is much research and the foundation was already recognized. Thereby basing the research on a deductive approach was inappropriate since its purpose is to test hypothesis and theories (Saunders et. al, 2012).
Method is defined as “the techniques and procedures used to obtain and analyse research data, including for example questionnaires, observation, interviews, and statistical and non-statistical techniques.” (Saunders et al. 2012, p. 674).
When choosing what type of method to use when doing a research, two common options to choose between are qualitative method and quantitative method. According to Joseph A. Maxwell (2012), when choosing what type of method to use it is of high importance to evaluate the context the research is within, also the issues of the study, and maybe the most important, the outcome of the research based on both all options of methods. “What would be an excellent decision in one study could be a serious mistake in another” (Maxwell, 2012, p. 87). In this case, it is chosen to base the research upon a qualitative method, which is defined as a “data collection technique or data analysis procedure that generates or uses non-numerical data” (Saunders et al., 2012, p.161). These non-numerical data often refers to factors like words, images, and video clips, and this method implies that the researcher make sense of e.g. what has been said in an interview or conversation regarding the research subject. Often this includes that in order for the researcher to get an in-depth overview of the subject, he or she has to create a relationship based on trust and respect with the counterpart in their conversations (Saunders et al., 2012). In this research the main focus has been in collecting in-depth data from interviews, which is why qualitative method is the right method for this research. It is believed that using a qualitative method will help in understanding the subject on a deeper level and also provide a broader view of its context, which would not have been provided if a quantitative method based on numerical data had been used.
Selection of the Respondents
“In qualitative studies, the researcher is the instrument of the research, and the research relationships are the means by which the research gets done” (Maxwell, 2012, p. 91). When collecting data it is normal to talk about sampling, however many sampling strategies, like probability sampling, ignores the facts that qualitative research is based upon settings and individuals which implies that random samples cannot represent all participants in the same way as in a sample from a quantitative research. Instead for a qualitative research we use the term purposeful selection or purposive sampling. This strategy samples the most important parts of the settings, individuals, and activities that regard the purpose and goals of the research question. Maxwell (2012) also highlight the importance of capturing the views of all participants within this sampling method, in contradiction to almost all quantitative sample methods which usually only gives an average view of the situation. However, maybe the most important help this sampling method brings to the research when considering the respondents, is the fact that it considers one to chose the participants with whom you can build and establish the most effective and productive relationship (Maxwell, 2012). Swedish municipalities stand under the principle of publicity, ‘Offentlighetsprincipen’, meaning that the amount of information available for the research is large (Department of Justice, 2013). Hence, it was a contributing factor to why Swedish municipalities were chosen to investigate.
“Using a theoretical sampling strategy, the interviewer seeks out respondents who seem likely to epitomize the analytic criteria in which he or she is interested” (Gubrium & Holstein, 2002, p. 87). To get as broad and varied view as possible of the research, and to be able to, through analysing, come up with an adequate result and conclusion, it was needed to look into these previously stated recommendations and adapt to the purposive sampling method. Since all the municipalities in Sweden are regulated by similar gender equality policies and plans, the chosen municipalities was elected due to their differences in size and location in the country. It was chosen to base the targeted interviews on the following criteria:
It had to be at least five different municipalities, preferably in different sizes, not all located to closely.
If one municipality could offer more than one interview but with people within different positions, it would be to prefer.
Before deciding which municipalities to focus on, some research had to be done to make sure the municipalities met the requirements. Ultimately, a decision to contact Malmoe, Jönköping, Gothenburg, Umeå and a smaller municipality, who will remain anonymous, was made. Malmoe and Gothenburg are two of largest cities in Sweden, Jönköping and Umeå are placed as number nine and twelve (SCB, 2013). The last municipality chosen was a rather small but highly industrial municipality, in the southern Sweden, which will remain anonymous in throughout the thesis.
To be able to make a research properly the most important thing is to collect different types of data, in order to base the statement and result on something, to make it trustworthy. Depending on what type of research that is conducted, a certain type of collected data is needed. When collecting data there are two alternative sources one has to consider, primary or secondary sources. “Primary data refer to information obtained first-hand by the researcher on the variables of interest for the specific purpose of the study. Secondary data refers to information gathered from sources already existing” (Sekaran, 2003, p.219). In the case of this research, both primary and secondary data were needed in order to bring as valuable and trustworthy background to the results as possible. Examples of primary data are individuals and focus groups and some examples of secondary data are company records or archives, government publications, and industry analyses, all these data creates a great variety of opportunities in finding the information needed, however more important is how to actually collect these data (Sekaran, 2003).
Secondary data has been collected continuously throughout the research process. Adding information collected from academic journals from the Internet as well as different books that cover different areas of the research that needed to be backed up with other, already existing, researches. The most crucial data collected for this research though was the primary data, since this process requires more time, resources, and a general understanding of different conceptions of the world (King & Horrocks, 2010). Primary data can be collected via different types of interviews, motivational techniques, questionnaires, and observations. Because of its adaptability and flexibility the method chosen in this research to collect primary data are through interviews. By using interviews it enables the researcher to create this relationship based on trust and respect mentioned earlier, at the same time it opens up for possibilities to collect more valuable and in-depth information since questions can be changed and adapted as the interview is in progress (Sakaran, 2003).
Interviews are one of the major approaches when collecting data in a qualitative research, and it comes along with many advantages (Kvale, 2008). This research attempts to understand why the gender equality is still not fully achieved, but also how this issue has changed in the municipalities after the introduction of gender equality policies and plans. “A qualitative research interview attempts to understand the world from the subjects’ point of view to unfold the meaning of peoples’ experiences, to uncover their lived world prior to scientific explanations” (Kvale, 2008, p. xvii). Hence, collecting data through interviews was the most appropriate tool for this research.
When designing a qualitative interview study there is no specific guidelines for how it is ought to be done in detail. On the other hand, there are some guidelines of how to structure the interview process. King and Horrocks (2010) divide the interview process into four different stages:
Framing your research question
Choosing the type of interview to use
Defining your sample and recruiting participants
Developing an interview guide
The first task is basically the reason to why the decision to do an interview is made in the first place, to get answers regarding the research question. It is based upon this question the whole interview is built, with relating questions based on the main research question, in order to get as much in-depth information as possible in the topic. When deciding upon which type of interview to conduct one can choose to do either face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, computer-assisted interviews, or interviews through the electronic media, and also choose whether the interview should be an individual or group interview (Sekaran, 2003). The interviews in this research were both individual face-to-face interviews and telephone interviews in Swedish, and they were also all recorded in order for the researchers to go analyse the interviews retrospectively, in combination with some note-taking that was collected throughout the interviews (King & Horrocks, 2010).
Like mentioned earlier, Saunders et al. (2012) emphasize respect and trust based relationship between the two parties in an interview, and therefore individual, in-depth interviews with all participants was the chosen structure in this research. To conduct an in-depth interview it means to seek that intimacy that is required for the self-disclosure required in some interviews. In-depth interviews themselves almost always require the interview to be a face-to-face interview since the whole interview is based upon a high personal commitment from both parties (Gubrium & Holstein, 2002). However due to restrictions in time and distance it was chosen to make three out of the six interviews on telephone. A main reason to the choice of interview is backed up in Gubrium and Holstein’s (2002) statement, “The interviewer seeks to achieve the same deep level of knowledge and understanding as the members or participants. If the interviewer is not current or former member or participant in what is being investigated, he or she might use in-depth interviewing as a way to learn the meanings of participants’ actions.” (Gubrium & Holstein, 2002, p.103).
An interview can be unstructured, structured, or semi-structured. The interviews conducted in this research are semi-structured interviews, which imply a set number of questions, but instead of having an interview dictated by these questions, the questions work more as guidance throughout the interview (Smith, Harré & Langenhove, 1995). When using unstructured interviews there are no direct set of questions, the questions are instead shaped individually to every interview based on e.g. what position the person possesses (Sekaran, 2003). Even though the interviews conducted in this research include interviews with people with different genders and different positions, it has been crucial to stick to the same base of questions with every interviewed person to be able to compare different views that might arise in some questions. Just like unstructured interviews were too unstructured, structured interviews were too structured. The interview structure needed had to keep the interview to the research topic but still make room for unexpected but still valuable information within the subject, so that as a result, the interviewer could build upon what had been said as well. Therefore semi-structured interviews were conducted (Smith et al. 1995).
Conducting the Interviews
In total, six in-depth interviews were conducted in this research, and the chosen municipalities for these interviews were Jönköping, Malmoe, Umeå, Gothenburg, and a smaller anonymous municipality (Chart. 1). Three interviews were face-to-face interviews, one in Malmoe and two in Jönköping’s municipality hall, and the rest of the three interviews, with the small municipality, Gothenburg, and Umeå, were telephone interviews. Generally semi-structured interviews can last for quite a long time, therefore it was important for the interviewers to make sure the interviewees were prepared for what was coming. All interviews, both face-to-face, were scheduled for one hour. Sufficiently long time before the interviews, e-mails were sent out to all interviewed, describing the interviewers, who they were and what their purpose of the interview was. Also a description of the topic was presented so that the interviewed could be somewhat prepared before the interview, the question schedule was sent out in before hand to those interviewed on telephone, however no questions were revealed before the face-to-face interviews (Smith et al. 1995).
All questions asked during the interviews are provided and translated in Appendix I, and like mentioned before the interviews were recorded and some of the interviewers also took notes during the questioning to be able to review the interview afterwards (King & Horrocks, 2010). The interview start is of great importance in creating the aimed relationship, in order for this to happen King and Horrocks (2010) suggest to start the interview with the simple and least threatening questions. Then, as the conversation evolves the interviewers can ask the deeper and more complex questions, and to properly close the interview the interviewers should kindly ask the interviewee if he or she has anything else to ad to the conversation that still has not been covered. Like mentioned earlier the interviews were conducted in Swedish, the reason for this is simply because it is the native language for all participants, including the interviewers. Also the gender equality policy is originally in Swedish, and it generally minimizes the language to become a barrier when the researchers collect in-depth information. However important quotes along with information was later on translated into English by the interviewers. So was important and valuable documents the researchers were able to take part of from each of the interviewed municipalities.
Table of Contents
2Frame of reference
2.1 The Gender Gaps
2.2 The Role of Genders and Management in Sweden Today
2.3 The ‘glass ceiling’
2.4 Other Barriers Associated with Gender
3 Methodology and Method
3.3 Qualitative Data Analysis
4 Empirical Findings
4.2 The Interviewed Municipalities
4.3 Interviewees about ‘glass ceiling’
5.1 Combating gender stereotypes
5.2 Women in higher positions
5.3 Municipalities’ success factors-‐ the importance of plans and policies
5.4 CEMR Declaration
5.5 HåJ Policy
5.6 Gender Equality Plan
6.1 The Gender Equality Model
6.3 Further Research
7.1 Implications for Policy Makers and Gender Equality Workers
8 Reference List
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