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E-Commerce, Qualitative Research

Paper Outline

Research methodology
Justification of the research approach
Why it is suitable for your research
Ontological, epistemological, axiological, and rhetorical assumptions that led to the methodological assumptions
Comparing the approach chosen with others
Comparing all possible research methodologies and justifying the uniqueness of the methodology chosen for the study
How this methodology will be conducted in the research process
Primary and secondary data source
Why are these sources considered
How you will access those sources (study sites, participants etc).
My role as a researcher in this process
Data gathering
What might be the procedure involved. What might be timeline planned
Data analysis
Telling the story
Metaphorical analysis
Analytical method
The use of SPSS in qualitative analysis
Linking the methodology chosen to the research investigation
Summary

Research methodology
The research methodology that will be chosen for the research proposal will be phenomenology. It refers to the narration of experiences in the perspective of first person. In the research proposal, the issues affecting men and women in the filed of e-commerce will be explored using the phenomenology tools. This methodology helps direct intentions of a research into a certain subject. As such, a certain object is discussed, to examine all aspects surrounding it and the content of the object is explored to identify the in-depth meaning. This ensures that all conditions surrounding an object are well explained to ensure that the reader understands the entire process. In this research, the aspect of gender differences on the perception of e-commerce has been explored. Phenomenology has been applied in research for a long period. The use of phenomenology came into use in the 20th century, and it has to do with first hand experiences of individuals who were part of the situation (Woodruff, 2011). Therefore, various theories about gender differences on e-commerce have been provided. It is the research that seeks to find out the real lived experiences of individuals and the essential truths that would rather be lost in translation within secondary sources (Bryne, 2001).
Justification of the research approach
The phenomenological approach is particularly appropriate and effective in this research process. Since Phenomenology has to do with first hand experiences of individuals, it will help identify the feelings of the respondents about the topic of e-commerce. It is particularly appropriate for the topic and the problem in question because the researcher will need to get the personal experience of both men and women with technology. The approach is also thorough, rigorous, and accurate. In addition, it will help create a proper link between the variables to be used in this research (Lewin & Somekh, 2005). The researcher will uncover the real environment surrounding gender parity in e-commerce between male and female managers in organisations. Using this approach, prior assumptions that might have been created will be avoided. The researcher will capture the real feelings of the respondents involved from an extremely basic point of view, as opposed to second hand information that might be modified and altered (Lewin & Somekh, 2005).
Why it is suitable for the research
This research will entail gathering information about the perception of e-commerce by both men and women managers in organisations. Phenomenological approach is the most suitable approach since it will assist in the gathering of direct first-hand information from the respondents. The approach will seek to describe, in a vivid way, lived experiences without any previous assumptions about these experiences (Vilakati, 2009). This means that the conclusions will be objective and not subjective in any way. The approach of research is descriptive and inductive and gathers information as it is.
Phenomenological approach to research deals with getting down to the level of the involved stakeholders in a certain phenomenon. Going to the field to gain feedback first-hand from the individuals involved could also be used as an advertising tool. It can be used as a way of creating and spreading awareness about a certain phenomenon (Vilakati, 2009). This includes trying to get the opinions of a certain individual about an organization and creates the awareness of the existence of the organization. In this case, the individual becomes aware of things he or she did not know and creates some interest on the subject in question. Such an individual is sure to check out the phenomenon and know more about it. That is advertisement in itself for the businesses involved. The phenomenological approach of research can thus be viewed as achieving two goals at the same time for the company; getting first-hand information from the stakeholders and promoting the company.
Ontological, epistemological, axiological, and rhetorical assumptions that led to the methodological assumptions
Bryman (2001) describes ontological assumptions as those that deal with the nature of individuals and the world in social contexts. These assumptions define the nature of social reality. These assumptions are independent on the surrounding environment. This means that various researcher can have different conclusions for the observations made on a certain phenomenon. In this research, ontology deals with the existence of the phenomenon in a social context while phenomenological assumptions seek to get the real feel of the situation. Real opinions about the use of technology in business must be collected from both male and female managers in this research.
Epistemological assumptions are concerned with the manner in which information is attained (Bryman, 2001). These assumptions are concerned with the nature of the data being acquired and how it is validated. Since phenomenological approach is in use, epistemology ensures that knowledge gathered and validated as first hand from the male and female entrepreneurs using technology in their businesses. This means that data to be used will be acquired directly from the men and women who own businesses that use technology in their operations and not just existing scientific facts. The findings are, therefore, likely to be subjective and not existing scientific facts (Kuliah, 2008).
In axiological assumptions, there is the exclusion of values. Axiology views values as a cause to the clouding of the researcher’s view to reality (Williams, 1998). This places a considerable emphasis on the social nature of qualitative research that does not depend on existing facts, but seeks to dig deeper to find the real aspects of the phenomenon in question. This research depends entirely on the feedback received from the male and female respondents who have had their experiences with technology in E-commerce. This assumption seeks to overlook the aspects of science, logic, reason, evidence and methods and concentrate more on opinion, persuasion, rhetoric and ornamentation. It is the total separation of the rhetoric from the logic (Bryman, 2001). The rhetorical assumptions in this survey provide that there is a difference in perception of both men and women on the e-commerce processes applied.
The ontological, epistemological, axiological and rhetorical assumptions all have one thing in common; they seek to find out the real feelings of the respondents and present them as findings. These findings will then be analysed and is used to affirm of deny the already formed hypothesis of the study. The main hypothesis provides that men and women perceives e-commerce differently. Several assumptions will be developed to support the objectives of the study.
The methodological assumptions deal with the methods used in the collection of data during a research. In this research, questionnaires will be applied in collecting data. In addition, interviews and observations will be used in collecting data from the men and women who will be sampled to participate in the research process. Methodological assumptions will be determined by different aspects including the nature of the research, whether it is scientific or social. Therefore, all the other assumptions will contribute to the selection of the suitable methodological assumptions to be used in the research.
Comparing the approach chosen with others
The best qualitative methodology to use in the case of the sampled organizations would be the interview and questionnaires. Where possible, interviews will be conducted where the conversations will be recorded for later analysis. Questionnaires are appropriate since the male and female respondents are busy business managers and probably will not have time for the interviews. The questionnaires will be distributed, and the respondents will be given time to fill them. The filled questionnaires will then be collected later and the data analysed. The questionnaires will capture quantitative and qualitative data. The qualitative data will have to be converted into quantitative data by the use of scales. A comparison of questionnaires and interviews shows that interviews will collect a lot of information because it will apply face-to-face communication with the respondents. However, the interviews will take a lot of time to conduct compared to questionnaires and the potential respondents might be too busy to hold interviews. This shows that the interviews will have to be minimised to reduce the time spent to collect data. On the other hand, questionnaires cannot capture all the information required in the analysis of the variables found in this research. Hence, where possible, interviews should be the preferred data collection method (Babbie, 2010).
Another probable methodology that can be used is the participative observation. This is where the researcher participates in the everyday lives of the target group she/he wishes to get information from and make conclusions about the areas under research. The researcher can watch the male and female respondents in their places of work and draw his conclusions by observation. The observation that the researcher makes will be compared with the answers provided by the respondents during interviews and in the questionnaires and conclusions will be drawn. Observations might, however, not be remarkably accurate as the observer may be biased due to prior beliefs and stereotypes that he has already formed. One cannot also learns feelings and opinions of others just by observing. In comparison, interview allows the interviewees to express exactly how they feel (Boeree, 2005). Observation is not sufficient to collect the required data since it is difficult to tell emotions and opinions just by merely observing. It is also time consuming to rely on observation. It is easy to get information on someone’s opinion directly from the individuals concerned. Collecting data via observation can also be misleading. A researcher can misinterpret an individual’s actions and behaviour, unlike in questionnaires where the data is analysed through answers provided by the interviewee.

Questionnaires
Interviews
Observation

Data collection is direct
 
The data is collected directly from the respondents
Data has to be collected via the researcher’s eyes. This shows that it the data collect is direct

Easy and fast to administer
It takes time to conduct interview with all the respondents
Slow to undertake and time consuming.

Follow up is required to collect filled questionnaires.
No follow up is done because information is collected at the spot. The interviews are recorded, and there is no need
No follow up needed after collection of data.

Easy to interpret collected data.

Data can be difficult to interpret since it may be biased.

Creates awareness about the company.

Rarely creates awareness of the company.

Comparing all possible research methodologies and justifying the uniqueness of the methodology chosen for the study
Other methodologies that can also be used are like a case study, where the researcher keenly studies his targets over time and makes conclusions about their behaviour. A case study involves analysing a certain organization, or individual to identify the environment surrounding the organization or individual. Even though case studies are remarkably efficient in data collection, they tend to take up a lot of time. The sampled organizations need to make progress and capture the market. It has no time waiting studies to be made. It needs a fast research methodology that will serve the same purpose, only faster. Therefore, the questionnaires are the best option when it comes to collecting data for sampled organizations.
How this methodology will be conducted in the research process
Primary and secondary data sources will be used in the collection of data. The primary data will be collected by the use of questionnaires and interview sessions. The questionnaires will be distributed to the sampled men and women in UAE. The respondents will be given time to answer the questionnaires. The research assistants will then collect the questionnaires after two weeks. Interviews will be conducted in cases where it will not be possible to use the questionnaires.
Primary and secondary data source
Primary data source refers to information that is raw, and has not been processed. This is the first hand information provided by observers or participants during a research process. Testimonies about certain events are reported in primary sources. The facts provided in primary sources are direct evidence from observers or individuals involved in a certain event. Examples of primary data sources include letters, emails, and autobiographies among others. Primary sources are essential when information concerning a certain topic is not available. In some cases, some topics may have not been researched in the past, and this creates the need to develop information from the scratch. As such, a research is supposed to develop primary research to collect data which can be useful. It becomes easier to test the hypothesis of any research when primary data is collected (Kuiper, 2009).
Secondary source is defined as information that has already been collected and processed by other people. This information is used to identify the ideas of other researcher in a certain research topic. They provide a guide to researcher when developing their own research designs. Information from secondary sources is noteworthy because it provides a guide and helps in processing primary data. Information presented in secondary sources is usually presented somewhere else. This shows that the user of secondary source should provide adequate reference to the author of the source. The author of a secondary source should be given enough credit by referencing all external information used in a research document. Examples of primary sources are books, journals and articles from newspapers, encyclopaedia, websites and others (Stephenson & Thurman, 2007).
Why are these sources considered?
Primary and secondary sources are both exceptionally crucial in the collection of data for the organizations’ research process. Primary sources are significant because they give the researcher the real feelings and opinions of his source of information. Primary sources are an excellent source as they provide the data in its raw nature. In this case, it is easy to get the real sense of the phenomenon in question without getting it from a secondary source. In qualitative research, every case being studied is unique. Though there might similarities with a situation in the past, the uniqueness of every case is what qualitative research seeks to get. Primary resources provide data that are unique to the situation in question. The primary sources, which can be used in gathering data for the sampled organizations, include the testimonies by the individuals that will be interviewed by the researcher.
On the other hand, secondary sources should not be overlooked altogether. They also provide particularly valuable information that might be useful to the sampled organizations. Information contained in books can be used to form sound conclusions and explain the results that will be got from the research. McCleary (2009) says that secondary sources can be used as guidelines while gathering data from primary sources. Therefore, this means that both primary and secondary sources are crucial in the research of the sampled organizations.
How the sources will be accessed
The primary sources are easy to access because the researcher will just have to go directly to the stakeholders of the sample companies and get the data he needs from them. The researcher will seek permission from the management of the sample companies. This will give the researcher the mandate to conduct research in the premises of the companies and also book appointments with extremely busy entrepreneurs. This will help distribute the questionnaires easily. The responses obtained will be used to conduct the study. The data collected from respondents will be used for research purposes only. This assurance will be given to respondents to avoid fear that may be as results of the respondents fearing that the information they give might be used in other activities.
Secondary sources will be accessed from libraries and book stores. Information that has been written about other companies similar to the sample companies can prove to be immensely useful in data collection for the research. The internet will be the most reliable source of secondary information because it contains up-to-date information. The researcher will conduct Google research to identify various books, journals and other online materials to get the information required in this research. Other online sources such as website information will also be obtained to provide a guide in the research. A comparison of various theories about the research topic will be compared to ensure that adequate literature has been collected to support the research.
My role as a researcher in this process
My role as a researcher will be to gather data from the necessary sources, to analyse it, process the data and present the processed information as the findings. In addition, I will coordinate the entire process of collecting primary data. This will be conducting by collaborating with other participants in the research process. In addition, I will sample the companies and individuals to participant as respondents. I will also communicate with both the male and female business owners to plan for interviews and presentation of questionnaires in their places of business in a bid to collect the required primary data. I might come across some ethical issues. Ethics in this research process will involve conducting the exercise in the correct way possible without compromising professional requirements. For one, I might be faced with the challenges during the writing stage since I will also be using secondary sources. The issues I might face are like paraphrasing, plagiarism and quotation. These are issues that cause problems both to the researcher and the sampled organizations. So the researcher has to ensure that these issues do not interfere with the research. Rules and regulations of writing should be followed, and policies adhered to in order to ensure everything is done right and nothing sabotages the research.
Data gathering
Data gathering in this research study will be done through interview with the owners of businesses that make use of technology run the daily business operations and the filling of questionnaires. The researcher will try as much as possible to get face-to-face interviews with these people and where it is not possible; questionnaires will be left behind for them to fill. The respondents will be required to fill in questionnaires that will be both physical and online and then the filled questionnaires will be collected by the researcher.
What might be the procedure involved: What might be timeline planned?
For the questionnaires, physical ones can be handed to both male and female managers in their places of business. Some can also be sent online to these respondents where distance is an issue. In this way, the researcher will get feedback from the respondents and use it.
Data analysis
As for the interviews, the researcher has to ensure he is getting genuine information. During the interview, the researcher will ask additional questions to the individuals being interviewed. This is aimed at ensuring that they are telling the truth as most likely people tend to lie in order to paint themselves in a positive picture. All narrative data in the form of interviews, testimonials and observations by the researcher should be recorded (Powell & Renner, 2003). The recorded information will then be processed to create the resulting information. Data from the questionnaires will be processed, sorted and compiled to come up with conclusions on various issues that are critical in the research procedure.
Telling the story
The stories collected from the field will be told through writing a formal report. The report will be presented in the form of chapters. These chapters will be the introduction, review of literature from other theories, methodology, findings and conclusion. Recommendations will also be provided. After analysing the data, there will coding in order to prepare the processed information for presentation. Thematic coding will be used in this research. This is where the research captured according to the major themes within the work.
Metaphorical analysis
Metaphorical analysis will be in play here. This is because it is the easiest way to solve any problems that may arise. This involves creating a situation in the abstract, which symbolizes the situation in the real world, then solving problems in the abstract that will reflect in the real world.
Analytical method
The most consistent analytical method to be used here would be the narrative inquiry since a metaphorical analysis is also in play. The importance of narratives in transferring knowledge is immense, and thus it is a reasonable option. This is because the one listening is bound to memory. Apart from capturing the memory, narrative inquiry is also suitable because it can portray and capture feelings and emotion. The situation is not just passive but active. The research is a qualitative one seeking to portray the perceptions and feelings of the stakeholders of the sampled organizations concerning various issues. It has been observed that the narrative provides the inclusion of actions, the ones who acted and the effects that came as a result of these actions. Therefore, narrative inquiry will bring out these findings to the maximum.
The use of SPSS in qualitative analysis
To analyse the qualitative aspects of the research, SPSS software will be applied. The results obtained from the questionnaires and interviews will be fed into the software and run to collect the results. SPSS is software that is used to analyse data in social sciences (Punch, 2005). The abbreviation refers to the Statistical Package for Social Sciences. The aspects to analyse by SPSS are descriptive statistics, Bivariate, predicting numerical outcomes and predicting identifying groups. The results of analysis can be presented in tables or charts (Field, 2010).
Linking the methodology chosen to the research investigation
The use of phenomenology will ensure that the study gets the personal touch it requires. A research like of this nature cannot be based on scientific facts and evidence. This methodology will give the research and its findings the touch of a social nature that it needs.
The use of questionnaires for the male and female entrepreneurs of Organizations that have adopted the use of technology is the most suitable methodology. This is because such people are usually exceptionally busy running the organisation and also because getting the information from them would be most reliable. Therefore, the questionnaires come in handy as users can fill them online and the researcher can access the data on the website. This saves on the problem of expenses and time. Conducting the collection of data would be a cumbersome process for the research. This is also an expensive process.
Questionnaires also tend to be direct. This means that male and female managers will not have a problem understanding them and providing short, precise answers that will not trouble the researcher trying to make out the meaning. The use of questionnaires can also be applied in the promotion of the company.
Summary
The research methodology provides a description of the research process. The research questions are an extremely significant part of the whole research process. They guide a researcher and help him not to stray out of the goal of the research. These questions reflect in the whole research process. The questions also appear in the methodology part of the research. Since the research is supposed to use questionnaires and interviewing as the methodology process, the research questions reflect there too. These questions feature in the questionnaire that respondents are expected to fill and also the interview questions that they will be asked. At the end of research, analysis should be conducted to make sure that every research questions were answered fully and that a sound and viable conclusion was made.
References List
Babbie, E.R. (2010). The practice of social research. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Cengage.
Boeree, C.G. (2005). Qualitative Methods. Retrieved on 2nd from
Bryman, A.E. (2001). Multimethod Research. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from
Bryne, M.M. (2001). Understanding Life Experiences through a Phenomenological Approach to Research. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from
Field, A. (2010). Discovering statistics using SAS. London: SAGE.
Giovannoli, R. (1987). The Narrative Method of Inquiry. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from
Kuiper, S. (2009).Contemporary business report writing. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.
Lewin, C. & Somekh, B. (2005). Research methods in the social sciences. London: SAGE Publications.
McCleary, S. (2009). Different Uses of Primary and Secondary Sources. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from
Powell, E.T. & Renner, M. (2003). Analyzing Qualitative Data. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from
Punch, K.F. (2005). Introduction to social research: Quantitative and qualitative approaches. London: SAGE Publ.
Rahmawati, Y. (2008). Epistemological, Ontological and Methodological. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from
Stephenson, J. & Thurman, C. (2007). Entrepreneur magazine’s ultimate small business marketing guide: 1500 great marketing tricks that will drive your business through the roof. Irvine, Calif.: Entrepreneur Press.
Vilakati, C.Z. (2009). Chapter 3: Research Design and Methodology. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from
Williams, E. (1998). Research and Paradigms. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from
Woodruff, S.D. (2011).”Phenomenology”: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved March 31, 2012 from:


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