Research methodology is an important section of the research process, which guides the researcher in his pursuit of solutions to the research questions. The research process encompasses the research design, research paradigm, research strategy, research approach, and research technique. Each one of these factors, impacts the research results in a significant manner. Therefore, it is important to select suitable research tools and techniques for accomplishing the research. Most of the times, the researcher selects the research tools and techniques, based on his philosophy and the research aims and objectives. The primary criterion in the selection of the research is whether the research tools will be able to fulfill the research aims and objectives. Most of the research methods can be divided into the qualitative and quantitative research methods. The qualitative research methods make use of the non-statistical techniques to obtain and collect the data (Salda?a, 2015). There are several methods to collect the data from the qualitative methods, such as the interview or the literature review. The qualitative research is a scientific enquiry which collects novel evidence to answer the research questions. The qualitative research provides important information about the social characteristics, which includes the behavior, emotions, opinions and relationships of an individual. It is an exploratory research method, which is dedicated to obtain understanding of the reasons, motivations, and opinions of the researchers. It provides insights to the problem, and assists in providing ideas and hypothesis to solve the problem (Bell, 2014). The qualitative research methods comprises of unstructured and semi-structured techniques to solve a business problem. There are several methods, such as focus groups, interviews and observations to obtain the qualitative information. In these methods, the sample size is very small and the respondents are selected based on strict selection criteria.
On the other hand, the quantitative research methods are aimed to quantify the problems. It is the process of producing numerical data, which can be transformed onto usable statistics. With these methods, the researcher can quantify the attitude, opinion, and behavior of a large sample size. The quantitative research methods are comparatively more structured than the qualitative research methods. Several methods, such as surveys, online polls and systematic observations can be used for obtaining the quantitative information.
Qualitative Research Study
In this regard, the present paper is focused to develop a quantitative research study. A qualitative research is selected as a fundamental for the paper. The research paper “Ensuring the flexibility and continuity of supplies in the B2B market” is selected for the research. It is written by Wieteska (2017) and published in Journal of Economics and Management. The paper resolves to explore and compare or contrast the best practices in supply chain in B2B market in among the small and medium enterprises. The two major criteria for successful supply chain are flexibility and continuity of the supply chain. In order to obtain the results, a two-phase research methodology has been designed. It includes conducting literature review and in-depth interview. The research paper compares the issue of supply flexibility with the subject of supply continuity. It identifies common strategies, which can be performed to assist in prevention and reaction to risk and uncertainty. There are certain limitations to current research, such as the limited number of interviews conducted to obtain information. As in-depth interview has been conducted with the research participants, interviewees is limited. The qualitative research has established that the sourcing flexibility positively affects the supply continuity of the supply chain. The supply chain flexibility and the continuity is dependent upon the business environment changes and events, which have already occurred. The companies have identified their use and prevention to deal with the supply chain issues. The findings of the survey have shed light that the present business enterprises use the traditional ways to deal with the supply problems. It includes the alternative suppliers and the inventory buffers. The research sheds light that the business managers do not consider the supply problems as the long-term problems, but considers it as issues related to the supply delays and supply quality problems. The supplier flexibility should be able to respond to the forecasted demands and unexpected situations in the supply chain. The manufacturing companies ensure that the supply companies use similar strategies to maintain the robustness of the supply chain. In order to develop the reactive strategies, the sourcing decision of the companies is crucial. On the other hand, the companies can take effective strategies for managing the supplier performance in the organization (Wieteska, 2017).
Quantitative Research Study
The quantitative research study is the investigation of a specific phenomenon with the help of statistical or computational techniques. The quantitative researches use the mathematical models, theories and hypothesis regarding a specific phenomenon. It establishes a connection with the empirical investigation and mathematical expressions to establish a quantitative relationship. The data is analyzed through statistical means so that unbiased results can be generated for a large population. There are several aspects of the quantitative research including generation of models, theories and hypothesis, developing measurement instruments, establishing control variables, collecting empirical data and modelling the data (Fine, 2018). The main purpose of the quantitative research is to establish a relationship amid two variables. The qualitative and the quantitative research go hand in hand. It means that both have their positive sides as well as shortcomings. Both research methods are beneficial in their own way; however, their selection is dependent upon the primary aim of the research. The qualitative research is used to form some theories; however, the quantitative research is used to test them. In the below section, a quantitative research is proposed on the research aim of identifying the factors, which ensure flexibility and continuity of the supply chain.
The research questions formed for the research are:
- What are the strategies that the companies use to ensure the supply flexibility and supply continuity?
- What are the strategies to ensure the supply flexibility and the supply continuity?
- Which of these strategies are proactive and which of them are reactive?
The hypothesis of the research can be developed as whether sourcing flexibility can positively influence the supply continuity. The hypothesis can be defined as a clear statement, which tries to explain a clear phenomenon. It requires application of scientific methods so that it can be tested. The scientific hypothesis is based on the previous observations, and they can be explained through scientific theories.
Methodological and Ethical Consideration in the Quantitative Research
The quantitative researches are different from the qualitative research and require application of different methodological and ethical considerations in the successful completion of the research. There are several key issues, which needs to be addressed to ensure valid and reliable research study. The validity of the research indicates whether the conclusions obtained from the research are accurate. It measures the accuracy of the results and what exactly the research is going to measure. There are four types of validity, such as conclusion validity, internal validity, construct validity and external validity. The conclusion validity analyzes whether there is relationship between the variables and the intended outcomes. The internal validity examines whether the relationships are casual in nature (Becker et al., 2016). Similarly, construct validity analyzes whether the definition of a variable reflects the meaning of the concept. The external validity examines whether the results are applicable in other settings. The reliability of the research is related to the consistency of the measurements. It means that the research instrument is able to produce the same results every time and at every condition. The reliability of the research can be analyzed with the help of retest methods. Whether the research instruments are able to generate same results is an important criterion for determining the validity of the research. The falsifiability of the research states that the hypothesis must be evaluated whether, it is correct or incorrect. The researcher must evaluate the hypothesis to examine whether it is true or false.
Other than that, the quantitative research methods often involve experiments and the primary research methods. These methods often involve the human participants, which raises several ethical questions. It is important that during the research, the research participants should not be subject to harm or other issues. The researcher should prioritize the dignity and the self-respect of the research participants. The consent of the research participants is the most significant aspect of the research. Therefore, the researcher should provide full consent to the researcher prior to the study. There should be confidentiality of the research data so that the personal information of the research participants does not go in the wrong hands. While publishing the research, the researcher should ensure that the anonymity of the individuals and the organizations participating in the research is ensured (Polit & Beck, 2010). The researcher should provide accurate results without any manipulation. There should not be any exaggeration of the research aims and objectives. There should not be any conflict of interest and any possible source of funding should be declared to the organization. There should not be any misleading information and the primary research findings should be represented without any bias. The consent and the voluntary participation of the research participants are essential. Moreover, the participants should have a right to withdraw from the study at any given point of time.
The respondents should participate by their informed consent. The informed consent means that the research participants should provide sufficient information about the aims and objectives of the research. They should be informed about their role in the research. The individuals should be informed about the implications of the research on the research participants. It is also important that the research participant should consider that he does not use offensive, discriminatory, or other unacceptable language, which are directed towards a particular community or people (Johnson & Christensen, 2008).
During the research work, the acknowledgement of the works and published papers of other authors should be acknowledged. The researcher should also assure that the highest level of objectivity is achieved in the discussion. It will ensure that the discussion and the analysis of the research have the level of objectivity.
The present paper is focused on providing a quantitative research design for finding the correlation between the supply flexibility and continuity studies. The flexibility in the supply chain can enhance the performance of the organization in a positive manner. It has a significant role in the supply chain as it is one of the four factors which impacts on the performance of the supply chain. The other three factors are time, cost and the quality. In the current times, there is high uncertainty in the business environment; therefore, it is important to increase the flexibility in the supply chain. However, the supply chain flexibility is a complex issue as it requires the involvement of all the value added processes in the supply chain. The flexibility in the supply chain can be defined as the can be defined as the ability of an organization to manage the internal process, interfacing process and help the key suppliers to adapt itself according to the changes in the supply, product and demand in a proper manner. The flexibility should be enabled according to the technical and the social platforms. The supply chain flexibility is a significant success factor as it assists the organization in handling the errors, emerged due to inaccurate forecasts. The flexibility is the characteristics of the agile systems. The external macro-environment factors can impact on the demand and supply flow in the supply chain; however, flexibility gives it a power to handle the issues in the supply chain.
There are two primary ways, which can be used to maintain the supply flexibility of the organization. It includes flexible sourcing and cooperating with flexible suppliers. The flexible sourcing is the ability of the manufacturing organizations to switch orders between different suppliers in an effective manner. The low switching cost of the company is a catalyst to encourage the companies to increase the flexible sourcing in the business organizations. The supplier flexibility means the ability of the suppliers to respond to the demand changes in the market. A company can achieve supplier flexibility by establishing a flexible manufacturing system.
The supplier flexibility can be achieved through four variables, namely, volume, product, delivery and mix. The mix flexibility can be achieved when the supplier is able to produce a high range of products. The flexibility in the delivery means that the supplier is able to respond to the changes in the delivery time. The product flexibility means that the supplier is able to implement changes in the offered products. There are several internal and the external risks in the supply chains. These risks occur in the sourcing flexibility, supplier responsiveness, and both. It can be analyzed that the reactive approaches struggle due to the reactive approach of the organizations. Most of the supply chain issues are dependent on the emergency and the recovery plan of the organization. The companies perceive that the supply continuity is based on the proactive activities of the organization. However, it is essential to build anticipatory supply chain for the business organizations. The flexibility can reduce the supply chain risk and the contingency plan can increase the flexibility of the supply chain.
The Research design is a significant factor in the success of the research process. The quantitative research can be conducted through various methods, such as experiments and surveys. In the present, the survey method is used for the research. It is the field of applied statistics as the survey uses the samples of individual from a population. The survey can be used to include the instruments and the procedures for making statistical interpretations about the population being studied for the research (Bryman, 2006). A survey requires a sample for the data collection, a questionnaire and the participants whose data can be analyzed statistically. In the research, the survey always require a sample population, whose results are spread are generalized over an entire population.
The people responding to the research are called respondents. There are several modes of administrating a survey, which is influenced by several factors including the costs, coverage of target population, flexibility in positing questions, and respondent’s accuracy. The most common modes of survey administration are telephone, email and online survey.
In the present section, survey method is used as it is a cost-effective method. The quantitative research is targeted at establishing a link between two variables. Survey data can easily be used to establish the links between two variables. It is the most common method to test a hypothesis.
Population and Sample
The sample size is the representative of the entire population. The survey cannot be conducted with the entire population; therefore, a limited people are selected for the survey. However, the sample should have the capability of representing the entire population. The sample size of the population should be appropriate that it demonstrate the features of the entire population. There are several different types of sampling such as random sampling, systematic sampling, and stratified sampling method. In these methods, the random sampling method is selected for the future research. The research participants are the managers or the supply chain executives in the small and medium enterprises in the manufacturing industry (Creswell & Clark, 2007). Therefore, there will not be any significant variation between the executives of these industries. In the light of the above discussion, the random sampling method is used. In this selection method, ever research participant is given an equal chance to participate in the research. The whole sampling process is completed in a single step. The simple random sampling is one of the easiest sampling methods. In this method, each member has an equal opportunity of representing each sample. The sample size selected or the study is 50. 50 executives working in different firms in different industries will be selected.
The research process outlines all the steps, which are required to conduct the complete research process. In the below section, the major steps followed to complete the research process.
- Selection of the research domain: It is the first stage of the research. In this phase, the researcher will select the research area. It is one of the crucial aspects of the research. If the research hypothesis and the research problem are wise devised, the later strategies of the research can be completed in an easier and quick manner.
- Developing the research aim, objectives and the research questions: The next phase in the research process is developing the research questions and hypothesis. The development of appropriate research aim and hypothesis requires several attempts, which is essential before moving onto the next stage of the research.
- Literature Review: The literature review is a significant phase of the research process. In this phase, the researcher conducts the analysis and the synthesis of the current knowledge on the research subject. It will also assure the researcher that no other research has been conducted on the research subject. It also creates a background for the research and the reader can have the gist on the current knowledge for the better understanding of the research (Chenail, 2011). It is the longest stage of the research. It uses a wide range of authentic primary sources, for example, books, newspapers, magazines, journals, online articles etc. The current literature review is focused on obtaining the current knowledge regarding the flexibility of the supply chain. The supply flexibility of the organization can be increased by flexible sourcing and cooperating with flexible suppliers. The flexible sourcing refers to the ability of the manufacturing organizations to switch orders his order switching is done between different suppliers. The low switching cost of the company is focused to encourage the companies to increase the flexible sourcing in the business organizations. The supplier flexibility means the ability of the suppliers to respond to the demand changes in the market. A company can achieve supplier flexibility by establishing a flexible manufacturing system.
- Research methodology: There are different methods present for the data collection; however, the selection criteria are based on its relevance to the research aims and objectives. Moreover, the researcher needs to analyze the advantages and the disadvantages of each primary data collection method. The research methodology should include the benefits and the drawbacks of each of the data collection methods (Creswell & Miller, 2000). Proper justification for the selection of a research method should also be included in the research.
- Primary Data Collection method: It refers to the data collected solely for the research aims and objectives. The researcher should focus on the development of a primary research method, which can address the research aims and objectives. Developing the questionnaire and conducting a pilot study can be beneficial in giving insight to the research study (Creswell, 2002). In the present, the research method of survey has been selected. The survey needs to be collected with the 50 executives and managers in the supply chain department of the organizations.
- Data Analysis: The analysis of the data results into the development of crucial knowledge, which can deliver insight to achieve the research aims and objectives. There are different data analysis methods; however, they vary according to the primary and the secondary data (Creswell, 2002). It is also dependent on the nature of the research study, for instance, qualitative research and quantitative research.
- Drawing Conclusion: It is the last section of the research in which appropriate answers are provided in relation to the research questions and the research hypothesis. The conclusion of the research also contains limitations and the future scope of the research.
Framework of Data Analysis
In the present, survey method has been used for the research. Therefore, statistical data will be obtained for the research. This data will be analyzed with the help of SPS software. It is a software package, used for the statistical analysis. It is commonly used by the researchers, survey companies, and government and education hubs (Kothari, 2004). There are also several other uses of SPSS software such as case selection, file reshaping, and data documentation. The software can provide several other calculations such as, descriptive statistics and bivariate statistics.
Implications of Data Analysis
SPSS is a software tool, which is used for logical batched and non-batched analysis of statistical or numeric data. It is one of the most popular statistical packages; therefore, it can perform highly challenging data manipulation and analysis. SPSS can extract data from different types of file and they are used to generate tabulated reports, charts or distributions and trends, descriptive statistics and conduct complex statistical analyses. The packages of program are available for both personal and professional use (Creswell & Clark, 2007).
SPSS is helpful for both qualitative and quantitative data or information. Therefore, identical importance is given to people thinks that the SPSS software is comparatively better in quantitative. However, importance is not given to all types of data. There are several software available in market to analyze quantitative data, SPSS is more desirable than other software due to its wide spread use. It is customer-oriented software & ease to use for the novice users.
Salda?a, J. (2015). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Sage.
Bell, J. (2014). Doing Your Research Project: A guide for first-time researchers. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).
Fine, B. (2018). Theories of social capital: Researchers behaving badly. Pluto press.
Becker, T. E., Atinc, G., Breaugh, J. A., Carlson, K. D., Edwards, J. R., & Spector, P. E. (2016). Statistical control in correlational studies: 10 essential recommendations for organizational researchers. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 37(2), 157-167.
Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2010). Generalization in quantitative and qualitative research: Myths and strategies. International journal of nursing studies, 47(11), 1451-1458.
Johnson, B., & Christensen, L. (2008). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches. Sage.
Bryman, A. (2006). Integrating quantitative and qualitative research: how is it done?. Qualitative research, 6(1), 97-113.
Creswell, J. W., & Clark, V. L. P. (2007). Designing and conducting mixed methods research.
Chenail, R. J. (2011). Interviewing the investigator: Strategies for addressing instrumentation and researcher bias concerns in qualitative research. The qualitative report, 16(1), 255.
Creswell, J. W., & Miller, D. L. (2000). Determining validity in qualitative inquiry. Theory into practice, 39(3), 124-130.
Creswell, J. W. (2002). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative (pp. 146-166). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Kothari, C. R. (2004). Research methodology: Methods and techniques. New Age International.
Creswell, J. W., & Clark, V. L. P. (2007). Designing and conducting mixed methods research.
Bazeley, P. (2004). Issues in mixing qualitative and quantitative approaches to research. Applying qualitative methods to marketing management research, 141, 156.
Amaratunga, D., Baldry, D., Sarshar, M., & Newton, R. (2002). Quantitative and qualitative research in the built environment: application of “mixed” research approach. Work study, 51(1), 17-31.
Wieteska, G. (2017). Ensuring the flexibility and continuity of supplies in the B2B market. Journal of Economics & Management, 29, 118-13