Research Methodology. 1
3.1 Introduction. 1
3.2 Philosophy. 2
3.2.1 Ontology. 3
3.2.2 Epistemology. 3
3.3 Methodology. 8
3.3.1 Qualitative and quantitative approach. 8
3.3.2 Case studies approach. 9
3.3.3 Primary and secondary data. 10
3.3.4 Reliability and validity. 15
3.4 Research ethics. 16
3.5 Limitations. 17
3. Research Methodology
The aim of this research is to examine how to enhance the effectiveness of NGOs humanitarian relief work under China’s Emergency Plan through the Wenchuan Earthquake’s humanitarian supply chain. The objectives of this research are listed below:
First of all, critically examine the Emergency Planning Structure in China. Secondly, to critically analyse and evaluate the process of humanitarian supply chain management during a disaster cycle whilst trying to apply the different strategies from supply chain management into the different stages of a disaster cycle. Thirdly, overlook the supply chain management to find out the fundamental knowledge of humanitarian supply chain management, and find out the index of effectiveness. Next, examine the challenges faced by China’s NGOs. Finally, provide the recommendations about how to enhance the China’s NGOs effectiveness during the disasters.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of NGOs humanitarian relief work under China’s Emergency Planning Structure aspects, this research will try to find out how NGOs from China apply their humanitarian relief supply chains during disasters. Thus, it will be possible to evaluate whether the approach they apply is effective and efficient enough or not.
It is proposed to use qualitative, quantitative and case study approaches to conduct the research. This chapter firstly examine the philosophy of the methodology, approaches to research, and then illustrate and evaluate the methods that will be used for the research.
A research philosophy is a belief about the way data should be collected, analysed and used. The Research Philosophy includes ontology, epistemology, and methodology; Philosophical assumptions based on research can be divided into positivism, interpretation and critical analysis (Walsham 1995).
Through the study of the concepts of philosophy which involve the way the researcher views the world then these assumptions will support the research strategy choice as part of the method strategy (Sanders et al 2007). It can be affected by various factors, such as time or degree of access to data, but is more likely to be affected by the impact of the researcher’s view of specific knowledge and developments of progress (Smith 1998; Saunders et al 2007). As an illustration, the researchers who pay more attention to the speed of the first response phase will definitely use different methods in contrast with those who pay attention to the recovery phase, because of they are not only have a gap on strategy and methodology used, but even their perspective is different, so more seriously is that will lead to completely different conclusions and recommendations. Therefore, it is very important for researchers to understand the research ideas and aims to ensure that the researcher choose the right method as this could help enhance the reliability of their research results.
Why do you have to study ontology, epistemology? What are their relations? What is the level of the knowledge?
Ontology is concerned with the nature of reality (Sanders 2007), or in other words, people can “know” what “it” is. Philosophy is the subject of scientific practice which can be traced back to Aristotle, the type of object and structure, properties, events, processes and it is the reality which can be related to all areas; Ontology is about the things out there or the existence of things (Blaikie 1993; Welty 2003). Why it is important to know what is out there? The nature of existence is often about how to learn, it is important to know that it is also related with how it has been researched or studied, thus, we could conceptualize social reality in some terms and identify that (Archer 1995).
Therefore, we have some ingrained ontological assumptions that will affect our understanding of what is real whether the property exists or whether there is any attribute for a group of things to the other (Flower 2009). If these basic assumptions are not considered, some researchers may be blinded in some particular aspects of their investigation because they implicitly assume or take for granted, and therefore are not open to problems, to consider or to discuss (Flower 2009). When considering the different points of view about what is real researchers must be realistic about how to measure another question and that is what is the knowledge of reality. This leads to epistemological issues.
Epistemology is what is known to be true, which can contain a diversity of research philosophy (Jerry 2008). The term doxology is what is believed to be true. Under scientific use, this is to transfer things people believe into things people know: doxa to episteme.
According to Grix (2004) ontology is related to what we might know and the simple explanation of epistemology is about how we come to know and what we already know. Furthermore, Thomas (2004) defined epistemology as “branch of philosophy that asks questions such as how we can know anything with certainty; or what methods can yield reliable knowledge”. In this research, we need to know how the humanitarian supply chain management works, but how do we know this academic research area does exist. Thomas (2004) quoted four ways of knowing from Royce listed below:
Rationalism is to know the way of thinking and reasoning. If it is not logical, then that assumes there is nothing that can be true. In this way knowledge occupies a prominent position in mathematics and philosophy.
Empiricism depends on sensory perception. When the assumption is precise consciousness, then it is the truth. Empirical science therefore plays a key role in the world.
Knowledge by intuition is the basis of the direct or obvious consciousness, perhaps from the unconscious process. It is assumed that, if this kind of consciousness of insight, it is real. A large amount of basic art knowledge is intuitively derived from meditation or from personal knowledge.
Authoritarianism is the way of knowing based on the power or authority. It is true because the authority says that it is true. For example, in some religions, the authority reveals the truth about God or Allah or Buddha.
Thomas (2004) stated the field is often largely drawn from one or two out of these four (list above). For instance, a cognitive method is usually adopted as rationalism philosophy tries to build the truth through the deployment of parameters and rebuttal of some aspect. In contrast physical scientists think carefully, use logic control and record the empirical observations and interpretation theory (Richard 2010). Every single path to knowledge can be effective but has limited specific aspects of the world for which it may be suitable.
In terms of this research, epistemology is built on the reality of what happened after the Gujarat earthquake in 2001 (as mentioned earlier), that results on the increasing focus on the importance of logistics to humanitarian relief; moreover, the percentage of the funds spend on humanitarian supply chain management which forces the academic community to pay attention on how to apply the business supply chain management into the humanitarian area. The significant problem in humanitarian supply chain is how to improve this fifteen years development gap behind business supply chain so that it becomes more flexible, effective and efficient.
In epistemology, there are two main orientations in the social sciences these being positivism and interpretivism (Sanders 2007). Positivism must imitate the importance of natural science, interpretivism advocates the role of the human social action (Bryman and Bell 2003; Bryman and Bell 2007; Sanders etc 2007). Although they represent the two main approaches they are not the only ways to support social studies of epistemology.
There are two main lines of philosophical research which have been identified in science, namely positivism also referred to as science, and interpretivist sometimes called anti-positivist of the western tradition of science (Galliers 1991).
Positivism was the main research approach in the twentieth century (Grix 2004) and it can be traced back to Aristotle and has been developed through Francis Bacon and Auguste Comte (Thomas 2004; Grix 2004) and other researchers. It refers to the method of knowledge gained by limited observable facts and their relationship and rules out non observable entity references to god and to the senses (Crossan 2003). It is wild an epistemological approach is wild and a mixture of empiricism, objectivism, naturalism, and behaviourism (Bryman and Bell 2003; Grix 2004; Thomas 2004).
Positivists believe that reality is stable, it can be observed with interference phenomena being studied and from an objective point of view (Levine 1988), which describes. They argue that the phenomenon should be isolated and observed values can be repeated. This often involves the manipulation of reality only one independent variable changes, to identify the regularity and form of the relationship between some of the constituent elements of the social world.
Positivism has a long and rich historical tradition. It is so embedded in our society that knowledge claims not grounded in positivist thought are simply dismissed as scientific and therefore invalid (Hirschheim 1985). Positivism also has particularly successful associations with the physical and natural sciences.
Positivistic approaches could help a researcher to seek identify, measure and evaluate phenomena and to provide rational explanation.
Furthermore, this explanation attempts to establish causal links and relationships between the different elements of the humanitarian supply chain management among different NGOs, and related agencies to figure out how to enhance of effectiveness and efficiency of the humanitarian supply chain management and its operation.
Interpretivism, as distinct from positivism, is trying to “understand the reality of life and constitute an overall objective by survey and consideration by social actors to build specific meaning to the world” (Schwann 1994). Interpretivism usually links with other terms, for example, idealism, constructivism, phenomenology and relativism (Grix 2004; Thomas 2006).
The subjectivity of interpretivism concerns understanding, and cannot be explained by mechanical means (Primus 2009). It is very appropriate to a business and management research approach, especially in the areas of organizational behaviours, marketing and human resource management.
Interpretivism is particularly concerned about the behaviour of the participants. Therefore, when choosing research methods, attempts to describe, translate and interpret, research theme events must be used from the perspective of people, who are the subject of the research. This stand point assumes that people tend to influence events and actions in an unpredictable manner which interferes with any attempt to identify construction rules or guidelines (Bryman and Bell 2003).
However, from an interpretivism research method point of view, human behaviour is not easy to measure as is natural scientific phenomena. Human motivation is not always visible, such as the internal thought processes, so that it can become difficult to generalize, for example, the motivation just observed. In addition, people have a habit of interpreting events in different ways (Bryman and Bell 2003).
Interpretivists contend that only through subjective interpretation and intervention in reality can reality be fully understood. The study of phenomena in their natural environment is the key to the interpretivist philosophy, together with the acknowledgement that scientists cannot avoid affecting those phenomena they study (Richard 2010). They admit that there may be many interpretations of reality, but maintain that these interpretations are in themselves a part of the scientific knowledge they are pursuing (Bryman and Bell 2003). This approach was conducted in the case study chapter; it helped the understanding of phenomena in in the environment.
How would you apply this to your research?
3.3.1 Qualitative and quantitative approaches
Qualitative research usually requires a lot of different academic disciplines like those frequently used in social sciences and educational researches. The aim of qualitative researchers is to gain a better understanding of human behaviours, and why they act as they do. Qualitative research methods investigate the reasons and methods of human decision-making, not only just what decisions people make but why, when, where and how they make decisions (Richard 2010). Thus, qualitative research tends to focus on a smaller but more concentrated sample, resulting in tighter information or knowledge about a particular case study. In the traditional view, qualitative methods produce only particular case study data; any more general conclusions need different considerations. Quantitative methods can be used to seek empirical support for this hypothesis (Bryman 2001).
Cons and pros of qualitative approach
In the social sciences, according to (Given and Lisa 2008) quantitative research refers to the use of statistical, mathematical or computational techniques and other methods to carry out systematic empirical study of social phenomena. The goal of this research is to develop and apply a mathematical model related to the social phenomenon, theory or hypothesis. Quantitative research is the most important measuring process, because this process fundamentally links the phenomenon of “empirical observation” and “mathematical representation”. Quantitative data includes a variety of information in digital form, such as statistics or percentages presented. Quantitative research methods will generally experience obtained data, pre-data and data analysis, report evaluate four stages. There are two methods which could be used to analysis the quantitative research methods which are statistics and the linear programming methods.
Cons and pros of quantitative approach
Quantitative and qualitative research studies typically contrast, for instance, analysis and observation to discover the potential meanings, patterns and relationships, including the type of phenomena and entities classified in such a way as to not involve any mathematical model of explanation. A scientific investigation normally draws a distinction between qualitative and quantitative aspects, although some researchers argue that the two go hand in hand. To exemplify this, Kuhn (1961) stated “large amounts of qualitative work have usually been prerequisite to fruitful quantification in the physical sciences”.
Therefore, this researcher believes the best way is to conduct both quantitative and qualitative research, because both of these research methods have advantages and disadvantages which have been explained in the last section. In studying the humanitarian supply chain management among the NGOs of the different region, the qualitative method will be carried out.
3.3.2 Case studies approach
Case study can be used to develop primary and secondary data. According to Yin (2004), the distinctive features of a case study is that it attempts to explore contemporary phenomenon in real-life situations, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not obvious. Compared with other methods, a case study is one of the advantages of the ability to research, in-depth. In addition, case study is one of the best applications, it solves the description or explains how or why it happened (Shavelson 2002), and the purpose is to produce a first-hand to understand of people and events.
Yin (2004) defines a case study as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly defined. Yin (2004) argues that the case study allows an investigation to retain the holistic and meaningful characteristics of real-life events such as individual life cycles, organisational and managerial processes, neighbourhood change, international relations and the maturation of industries.
This case study could provide an opportunity to researcher to study a particular subject in depth, such as one organisation or a group of people. It normally contains information/data collection and analysis, which could be both qualitative and quantitative information/data. Furthermore, data should be collected from different sources and its integrity should be ensured. However, the case study has been criticized, the critics focused on the extent to which the method can generate some data, brings high availability, and concerns outlined the method (Thomas 2004). The value of the form of case studies, show another aspect, the triangulation (e.g using a number of circumstances, if possible) is an effective way to enhance case study effectiveness Bromley (1986). The latter criticism is concerned, there are several scholars responded: Sauders (2007) refers to a case study rather than as particularisation generalization, and March et al (1991) pointed out, something to learn, even from a sample.
In this research, the case study is China’s Wenchuan Earthquake. The reason to choose this particular sites is fully depends on the degree of development in humanitarian aid and the NGOs participation rates during disaster. China is not only the place that still in the developing stage and just rise up this humanitarian relief issues recently, also the NGOs barely been noticed officially by Chinese Government. Therefore, the benefit of this research is help people to figure out how to enhance China NGOs capability to carry out more effective humanitarian relief work under China’s Emergency Response Plana.
What is the scope of the EQ in Wenchuan you are going to examine? Are you going to study all NGOs or one? Why?： only one NGO involved in both Wenchuan Earthquake(China Red Cross: biggest NGO in China) and Morakot(Tuz Chi: biggest Ngo in Taiwan)
In the primary data collection stage the interview is one of the main sources. There are two requirements are very important for the choice of respondents in the study. The respondents need to again relevant acknowledge within the scope of research. Another one is the respondents willing to openly discuss all the issues with interviewer.
Primary data in this research are collected through interviewing of few persons serving as humanitarian personnel from different NGOs; people from different departments of Government and military as well during disaster response and recovery phase.
Research data could be either primary or secondary which fully depends on the source of information. This research used a combination of both primary and secondary data, and conducted secondary research first, and then following up with primary research to fill any gaps in the study. Secondary sources include scholarly analysis of humanitarian supply chain management in the humanitarian relief work, official reports of Chinese and Unite Kingdom authorities, international humanitarian organizations, paper and online newspaper articles etc.
· Primary data
An advantage of using primary data is that researchers are collecting information for the specific purposes of their study (Tracy 2012). In essence, the questions the researchers ask are tailored to elicit the data that will help them with their study. Researchers collect the data themselves, using surveys, interviews and direct observations. Primary data is information collected by the researcher directly through instruments such as surveys, interviews, focus groups or observation. Tailored to his specific needs, primary research provides the researcher with the most accurate and up-to-date data (Creswell 2013).
Semi- structure interviews
The Semi- structure interviews is attempts to collect information from another person by asking questions. Although the interview follows the predetermined questions but semi-structured interview provides a chance to participants to state what the most important issues to the industrial are (Bryman 1988). Many researchers prefer to use a semi-structured interview, because the interview questions can be prepared in advance, so that allows the interviewers to be prepared and appear competent during the interview (Cohen 2006). Semi-structured interviews also allow informants to freely express their views, their own terms, but also to provide reliable and comparable qualitative data (Tom 2001).
The research selected semi-structured individual interviews, because they can provide a deeper understanding of China NGOs humanitarian relief work. Through face-to-face conversation the researcher seeks to find out how and why those NGOs manage their supply chain, what are the certain procedures involved, effectiveness of relief measures and basic level of humanitarian support for affected population. Subjective views of respondents are used as the crucial instrument for interpreting empirical data acquired through secondary sources. Protagonists’ views on the efficiency of humanitarian logistics and their opinions on potential ways to improve it are critical supplement and interpretation material for understanding humanitarian supply chain management during the disasters among different NGOs.
The interview is one of the main sources of primary data collection, and the choice of respondents in the study was critical and needed to meet the following two requirements: 1) respondents should have the relevant knowledge within the scope of research, 2) willing to openly discuss with the interviewer.
I’ve interviewed 12 interviewees (6 each ) whom played one of the following roles:
Interviewing was realized through face-to-face conversation the time of which was determined through a phone call, there are six core people interviewed, three people from Government sector which mainly responsible for relief materials management; two people from NGOs and one from military.
Time and location agreed by respondents the researcher conducted the interview using on-line communicational devices such as Skype. One full interview took approximately 1 hour hours to be conducted. The interviewing process in China was conducted in July 2014.
After obtaining their informal consent they were provided with the formal consent form that contained basic description of research topic and purpose, ethical and confidentiality provisions to secure that their opinions and views are not used in other purposes than research primary data. Respondents had a right to terminate their participation in the interviewing process at any stage without giving explanations of their motivation.
Semi-structured interview was organized around the following six main points:
Frame structure of the existing humanitarian relief aid and humanitarian supply management in China;
During the disasters how does the humanitarian supply chain system operated and why;
How humanitarian supply management was organized and what part was played by different emergency relief institutions and organizations;
How could humanitarian supplies chain become more flexible and effect, and how important to apply this into the humanitarian relief work;
In what ways the authorities coordinated their efforts at local level/ national level, and how does they satisfied with the celebration with different authorities;
What was the biggest challenge or challenges in that time, why, and how they are to be solved;
Interview questions excluded sensitive questions linked with respondents’ organizational position, personal views on effectiveness of Chinese authorities’ response to disaster and other issues associated with moral hazard. Each respondent was granted with opportunity to refuse answering any question he/she wants.
· Secondary data
According to Saunders el al (2007), the secondary data is the exist data, it have been collected already. The advantages point out by Kervin (1999) of conduct this secondary data are save money and time. In another words, using secondary data is cost you much less expenditure than collecting data by the researcher. In addition, secondary data usually provides a permanent and available data sources can be checked relatively easily by others in the form of data and research results which means more open to public scrutiny (Denscombe 1998).
There are three different types of secondary data list below (Saunders el al 2007):
Documentary: Written materials: Books, journals, magazine, newspapers, websites
Non-written materials: Television, radio, pictures, drawings, films, DVDs and CD-ROMs
Multiple sources: Industry statistics and reports, government publications
Survey: government surveys, organisation surveys, academics surveys
In this research, going to conduct all these tree type of secondary data. There is numerous ways to collect the secondary data: such as researcher could collected secondary data by reading particular type of books, journal articles, news which all of them are related to humanitarian supply chain management. Moreover, the reference from the articles and book contains reference to the source of data, so the research can track down to the original source.
3.3.4 Reliability and validity
What are reliability and validity> How to achieve? – triangulation
It is very important that assessment and association of validity and reliability of the methods used takes place. According to Thomas (2006), validity and reliability is frequently present together in social research. David and Johnson (1997), reliability refers to “the consistency of results obtained in research, to satisfy this criterion it should be possible for another researcher to replicate the original research using the same subjects and the same research design under the same conditions” (Collis and Hussey 2009).
Validity and reliability is the most well-known use of qualitative and quantitative research. However, according to the nature of the study, a method may require more than the other. Utilising interview, documentary survey (including literature and grey literature) to validate the outcomes of the research.
How you make sure the reliability?
3.4 Research ethics need revised.
Ethics are norms or standards of behaviour that guide moral choices about our behaviour and our relationships with others. The goal of research ethics is to ensure that no one is harmed or suffers adverse consequences from research activities. The researcher needs to receive ethics approval before collecting any data (Gregory 2003).
The research has been followed Coventry University research ethics guideline. It considers the five principles: rights; routes; risks; respects; record keepings.
Refers to rights, Interview questions excluded sensitive questions linked with respondents’ organizational position, personal views on effectiveness and efficiency of Taiwanese/Chinese/British authorities’ response to disaster and other issues associated with moral hazard. Each respondent was granted with opportunity to refuse answering any question he/she wants, they also could withdraw from any point of this interview without give me any reason.
Refers to routes, I will receive ethics approval before collecting any data. Refers to respect, interview participants agreed that their views and opinions taken in appropriate and non-bias context without changing their original meaning may be attributed to them. They agreed that therefore their interview responses are used in the research process. Refers to risk and confidentiality, there is no real names will appear in this research, and research will personally sealed answers separate from other information.
Refers to record keeping, I get permissions for interviews and recording of interviews before started. Primary data security is to be guaranteed by using password protected computer. Each file containing interviewing data will be also protected by unique password known only by the researcher. After I completed this MPhil, all the data will destroyed by myself on 1st of May in 2016.
The study is naturally limited due to the fact that obtaining the full scope of empirical data associated with natural disaster and humanitarian relief response to it is difficult. Moreover, data linked with humanitarian relief management and logistics is often sensitive in terms of national security due to the fact that military personnel and security forces are widely used in the course of humanitarian relief operations.
Primary data collection and analysis procedures are also limited by subjective perspective of respondents and interpretation difficulties. Seeing emergency logistical management through the prism of main managers is often instrumental in understanding the response, but if may impair objective perspective on disaster. In this study this potential discrepancy is sought to be overcome through efficient utilization of theoretical research framework organized around sounds methods and approaches for the analysis of secondary data. In sum, we hope that the proposed research will contribute to better understanding of theoretical and practical aspects of emergency logistical management in highly complex emergency situations.
Nevertheless, the transparency of the government information access is very different among these three places, which could result the research might receive different levels of information. It will cause fail of comparisons if the data are based on different level of information under different country policy.
Furthermore, the capability of comparing among three parties is also a limitation to the research.
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