Dissertation Chapter 3 Research Methodology

Research on Haier’s supply chain integration: focus on household appliances products

1.0 Introduction

The chapter seeks to explore the methods that will be used in data collection and analysis in this study. Precisely, the study has focused on research philosophy, research approach, research data type, research strategy, research instrument, research design, sampling, data collection, as well as data analysis. Additionally, ethical considerations of this study have also been explored vividly in this study. The onion research model proposed by Saunders et al. (2009) has been used extensively in this research.

Figure 3.1: Onion research model

Source: Saunders et al. (2009)

3.2 Research philosophy

Research philosophy as explicated by Bryman and Bell (2007) is the research tool that is employed by the researcher for the purpose of getting appropriate understanding about a particular phenomenon. This assertion has been echoed by Collis and Hussey (2009), who has elucidated that research philosophy is particularly important in any research owing to the fact that typically provides the assumptions that are adopted by the researcher. This in turn helps in shaping their perceptions regarding the study phenomena. According to Goddard and Melville (2011), various research philosophies have over the years been employed by researchers. Nonetheless, Kuada (2012).has singled out positivism and interpretivism philosophy as the main ones utilised by modern researchers. Taking this into account, the positivism philosophy is typically concerns with objectivity, and it upholds that scientific manipulation of data is detrimental when it comes to understanding a given philosophy.  Interpretivism philosophy on the other hand is concerned with subjectivity, and typically upholds that individual opinions as well as feelings are crucial in understanding a given phenomenon. When it comes to this study, interpretivism philosophy will be adopted.  This is because the study involves evaluation of the opinions and feelings of the respondents for the purpose of understanding how supply chain integration affects the overall performance of Haier.

3.3 Research approach

According to Collis and Hussey (2009), a researcher may either use deductive or inductive approach when conducting a given study. As explained by Goddard and Melville (2011), deductive approach typically begins with formulation of a hypothesis before embarking on testing it in order to establish its usefulness.  Deductive approach, as asserted by Kuada (2012) is usually applied suitably on natural sciences owing to the need of establishing the probability of a particular hypothesis occurring in future. On the contrary, inductive approach involves making observations before formulating specific theories from the result of these observations. As regards to this, study inductive approach will be the most suitable. This is because the researcher is required to make observations for the aim of describing the phenomenon being studied. Precisely, the researcher will begin by carrying out extensive observations of how supply chain integration affects the overall performance of an organisation before progressing to drawing abstract theories as well as generalisations.  Besides, since no formulation of hypothesis will be needed, inductive approach is the only option when it came to understanding how supply chain integration affects the overall performance of Haier.

3.4 Data type

The type of data used in any given research can either be quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative data as described by Blessing et al. (2009) refers to data that can be expressed in numerical form. Examples such data include distance, speed, time, and weight among others.  On the contrary, qualitative data refers to data that cannot be expressed in numerical forms. Such type of data is usually expressed in subjective forms such as opinions, feelings, and attitudes.  As regard to this study, qualitative data is the most appropriate. Precisely, this study involved evaluating the feelings of the participants regarding examine supply chain integration affects the overall performance of an organisation. Therefore, this is only be possible through the use of qualitative data.

3.5 Research strategy

Research strategy has been defined by Bryman and Bell (2007) as the plan used by the researcher for the purpose of getting a comprehensive conclusion regarding the aim and as well as objectives of the study. Although there are various strategies that a researcher can choose from, Kothari (2005) has espoused that the main ones include case study, ethnography, archival research, survey, experiments, as well as action study.  In this particular study, the researcher will consider using case study for the aim of addressing the research aim and objectives that had been identified. According to Goddard and Melville (2011), case study refers to the method of empirical enquiry which examines a given phenomena in its real-life context. Taking this into consideration, Haier is chosen as the case study. Through using Haier, the researcher will be able to identify real life experiences in regards to how supply chain integration affects the overall performance of Haier. Besides, through the use of case study, the researcher will be guaranteed the flexibility of the research process, which in turn facilitated development of ideas. It is also through the case study that the researcher will be in a position of capturing the reality regarding how supply chain integration affects the overall performance of Haier, which helped him in getting true as well as accurate picture of the situation of the company.

3.6 Research instrument

Mackey and Gass (2015) have espoused that research instrument is the tool that the researcher uses in collecting data. According to Collis and Hussey (2009), although various research instruments are available for researchers to choose from, interviews and question are the most common. For this particular study, interviews will be the chosen research strategy. According to Goddard and Melville (2011), interviews can be structured, semi-structure, and unstructured. Structured interview are usually organised through a set of questions. Semi structured interviews combine a predetermined set of questions with the opportunity of the researcher to explore the study theme further. Unstructured interviews usually do not have any arrangement in terms of questions. In this study, semi structure interviews will be used. Through the use of semi-structured in interviews, the researcher in this study will be able to obtain first hand information from the managers of Haier regarding how supply chain integration affects the overall performance of Haier. This as a result will play a substantial role in increasing the accuracy of the findings.  Additionally, with the use of interviews, the researcher will be able to provide a conducive atmosphere, where the respondents will be comfortable in expressing their feelings, opinions, as well as attitudes regarding how supply chain integration affects the overall performance of Haier. This could not have been possible with other methods such as questionnaires. Nevertheless, the use of interviews in this study is limiting to a considerable extent owing to the fact that it will be time consuming, and thus it will not be possible to interview many respondents within a short period of time.

3.7 Research design

Taking into consideration the literature review, the table below presents the research design that will be adopted in this study. This is in light of the research objectives.

Research objective Theoretical underpinning Interview questions
To identify how Haier implement supply chain integration Wong, Boon-Itt and Wong (2011) 1-4
To discuss the influence of supply chain integration on operation performance of household appliances products Prajogo and Olhager (2012) 5-10
On which aspects Haier failed to effectively conduct supply chain integration; Waters and Rinsler (2014) 11-13
What measures can be taken to improve the above aspects Ramanathan and Gunasekaran (2014) 14


3.9 Data collection

Five middle level managers of Haier will be interviewed in this study. The managers will be from different departments including human resource, sales, purchasing, and marketing. The need to choose middle level mangers is fuelled by the fact that they are conversant with most of the operations of the company. For the purpose of gaining access to the company, the researcher will use his uncle, who is one of the managers in the company. The researcher will explain to him the aim an objective of the study, and will recommended five middle level managers in the company. The researcher will then approach the five middle level manager and interview data and time will be set depending on the availability of individual managers. Interviews will be conducted on individual manager’s office and lasted about 10 minutes each. The researcher will record the data collected on his personal computer.

3.10 Data analysis

After the researcher has gathered all the interview records, the next time will be to analyse the data. Taking this into consideration, content analysis will be used in analysing the collected data. According to xx, content analysis is a data analysis technique that involves grouping together the collected data, and identifying various patterns in regards to similarities as well as differences.  This as a result plays a significant role in helping the researcher to make inferences from the patterns.  In this light, the researcher will group all the responses identifying similarities as well as disparities. Through such, the researcher will be able to identify patterns that enabled him to come up with a conclusion regarding how supply chain integration affects the overall performance of Haier. Besides, in an attempt to make the conclusion of the study more solid, the researcher will consider performing a comparison of the patterns and past literature.

3.11 Research ethics

There are various things that the researcher in this study will consider for the purpose of upholding ethics required in conducting the study. Firstly, the research will obtain consent from the manager of Haier, in order to interview the five middle level managers. Secondly, the researcher will not disclose the information obtained to any third party. This implies that he will adhere to the principle of confidentiality and privacy. Precisely on this, while the researcher will not disclose the information to anyone, he will ensure that no one that has access to his personal computer, through the use of a strong password. Lastly, the information collected from the managers will be use solely for academic purposes, and the researcher will not divert the information to other unintended purposes.

3.12 Chapter summary

This chapter has established that interpretivism philosophy together with inductive approach will be used in this study. As regards to research strategy, case study will be the most suitable, where Haier will be the selected case study.  Semi-structured interviewees will be used in interviewing five middle level managers of Haier, in order to obtain information regarding how supply chain integration affects the overall performance of Haier.  When it comes to data analysis, content analysis will be used, where patterns will be identified in the responses. This will enable the researcher to come up with a comprehensive conclusion. Lastly, research ethics will be adhered where the researcher will maintain the confidentiality and privacy of information collected, consent will be obtained, and data collected will be used for academic purposes only.




Blessing, L. T. M., Chakrabarti, A., & Blessing, L. T. M. (2009) DRM, a design research methodology. Dordrecht: Springer.

Bryman, A. & Bell, E. (2007). Business Research Methods (2nd Ed.).  Oxford: Oxford University Press

Collis, J. and Hussey, R. (2009). Business Research. 3rd Ed. London: Palgrave.

Goddard, W. & Melville, S. (2011). Research methodology: An introduction. Lansdowne: Juta.

Kirsch, G. & Sullivan, P. A. (2012). Methods and methodology in composition research. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Kothari, C. R. (2005). Research methodology: Methods & techniques. New Delhi: New Age International (P) Ltd.

Kuada, J. E. (2012). Research methodology: A project guide for university students. Frederiksberg: Samfundslitteratur.

Mackey, A., & Gass, S. M. (2015). Second language research: Methodology and design. Routledge.

Saunders, M, Lewis, P, & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business students, 5th edition., UK: Harlow: Pearson education.

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