Research, according to (Smith & Dainty, 1991), is concerned with problem solving investigating relationships and building on the body of knowledge. It is a plan or design with the view to finding a solution to the research problem by social workers. Formulating and clarifying the research topic is the most important aspect of the research project as it is the starting point of the entire process (Alvesson & Skoldberd, 2000 ; Ghauri & Gronhaug, 2005 ; Mouton & Marais, 1990). Once the research topic is ascertained along with the objectives, the researcher must give considerable thought to the methodologies and the methods that may be employed and what perspectives lie behind the methodologies being adopted (Crotty, 1998).

Methodology is a way of thinking about and studying social reality (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) and is a way to systematically unearth the reasons behind a phenomenon (Kothari, 2005). The sheer latitude available to business students in terms of research strategies, techniques and tools is vast and it becomes imperative that a relevant and suitable approach be chosen for the study (Remenyi, 2002). Du Plooy (2001, pp 20-21) suggests that it is wise to consider the ontological, epistemological and theoretical assumptions about the research should be considered when deciding amongst the various methodologies available.

Bazeley (2004) mentions that approaches taken to defining ³qualitative´ and ³quantitative´ have long been associated with different paradigmatic approaches to research, different assumptions about the nature of knowledge (ontology), and the means of generating it (epistemology) . Qualitative and the quantitative are two pragmatically different approaches to research and based on their assumptions, these two approaches study the phenomena and realise the reasons behind it in their own ways (Bryman & Bell, 2003 ; Saunders et, al., 2003). While quantitative approach draws heavily from µpositivism¶ and seeks to study the phenomena from an objective and deterministic point of view striving to answer the question ³what´, qualitative approach is more influenced by µinterpretivism¶ and gives more weight to the subjective side of the problem, delving into the ³why´ of the phenomena being studied (Bryman A. , 1984 ; Bogdan & Biklen, 1992). Positivism alludes to the belief that the research in the social sciences should be done as it is performed in the natural sciences (Lee, 1999). Positivist approach implies that that essential


µtruth¶ can either be assertions which are capable of logical (mathematical) proof or scientifically or empirically verifiable (Remenyi et. al, 1998) i.e. the world is deterministic. It involves the manipulation of theoretical propositions using the rules of formal logic and hypothetico±deductive logic such that these confirm to logical consistency and explanatory power (Lee, 1991). Positivism is based on the ontological assumption that the reality exists in the world, independent of whether an attempt is being made to uncover it. Since the observer and the phenomena are different entities, the observer can study the phenomenon without influencing it (Guba & Lincoln, 1994 ; Sale, et. al,. 2002 ; Weber, 2004). Many positivists believe that the phenomena and its cause can be studied by a researcher and presented accurately with empirical proof and this is the only way of towards true knowledge (Durand & Vaara, 2006); ³inquiry takes place as through a oneway mirror´ (Guba and Lincoln, 1994, pp 110). Positivists tend to favour empiricism and often use surveys, field research and laboratory experiments as their research methods. They collect huge amounts of data which can then be analysed statistically and any regularity can be uncovered and studied (Bryman, 1984). The sample sizes used in the surveys are of a much larger size than used in qu alitative approach for example, so that the samples are representative of the target audience and statistics can be used to analyse the collected data (Carey, 1998). The main idea is there is coherence between the phenomena being studied and the analysed regularities and the results should be replicated by any researcher who is studying the phenomena as the reality should be universal, predictable and controllable (Cohen et. al., 2007, pp 21). Any differences in the results are usually attributed to the researcher bias, background, differences in the context of research or simply, measurement errors (Weber, 2004). The terms µpositivist¶ or µempiricist¶ often tend to denote the same fundamental approach which is the quantitative (Bryman, 1984). Quantitative research allows the researcher to familiarize him/herself with the problem or concept to be studied, and perhaps generate hypotheses to be tested. This approach is often viewed in contrast to qualitative approach (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992) (Firestone, 1987). This approach is taken to generalize the phenomena and test causal hypothesis. Researcher clearly knows in advance what he or she may be looking for and while trying to be objective, i. e. validates it through precise measurements and analysis. While using the qualitative approach, much emphasis is placed on defining and adhering to a methodological protocol so as to keep the objectivity and the reliability of the data intact.


Quantitative research focuses more on the empiricism and requires a large amount of data to analyse (large samples). However, the technology behind the SaaS ERP is still in the nascent stage and not many organisations have adopted this cloud offering. Considering the strategic importance of ERP in any organisations, it is more prudent to consider the social settings, culture, and corporate environment when unearthing the individual factors and their relevance to the organisation with respect to the SaaS ERP adoption. (Qualitative more suitable) Despite the fact that quantitative research is much more prevalent in social research, not all problems lend themselves to this paradigm (Remenyi, 2002). The problem under observation here relates to the factors considered and their relative importance to the organisations who are wishing to adopt the SaaS ERP. The number of variables involved coupled with the fact that the relative importance of each factor may depend on the tolerance level of that particular organisation, makes it the approach of positivism a difficult one to adopt in this particular scenario. In this paradigm, the emphasis is on facts and objective data (Bogdan & Biklen, 1998) leaving out the circumstantial evidence. Quantitative research overlooks these issues such as human behaviour, or the motives (world views) while exploring a problem (Dainty & Smith, 1991). The research problem touches various aspects of an organisation and hence it has to be dealt with, in a subjective manner (Jankowicz, 2005, pp 114) as the adoption of any ERP software is a strategic issue that is not relegated to a certain problem category with a fixed solution. Guba & Lincoln, (1994) say that research and it has been dominated by a need to quantify the hypotheses. Guba & Lincoln (1994) have further challenged the effectiveness of quantitative techniques to quantify hard facts due to the objective nature of the approach as it tends to leave out the contextual nature of the information which is precisely what the researcher is trying to achieve here. Additionally, positivism is described reductionistic as it seeks to measure precise quantities about people (Bryman & Bell, 2003). Individual organisation has its own backgrounds, corporate culture, beliefs etc which may differ from others. Also, it limits the scope of the research as it does not encourage the researcher to look beyond the aims and objective which is important while exploring a research problem dealing with emergent technology (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).


The ground belief of interpretivism is that the reality exists as the perception of the individual and the society he is surrounded with. The basic idea is that by studying the problem along with the social context it is present in, gives a more in-depth idea of the entire scenario and helps to understand the reasons which form the individual perceptions (Hussey & Hussey, 1997). This research paradigm is concerned with the uniqueness of a particular situation, contributing to the underlying pursuit of contextual depth (Myers, 1997 ; Silverman, 2004). Interpretive approach to research believes that objectivity is illogical and the main aim of the researcher should be to understand the subjective reality of the problem and the context in which it exists. Interpretivism is based on the premise that there are multiple realities of single phenomena as the different persons can have different perceptions of the same problem and this can differ across time and place (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).

Interpretivism emphasizes the use of qualitative data in the pursuit of knowledge. The significance of the qualitative approach has increased tremendously over the last decade. Initially the perception of qualitative methods was that of a paradigm that stood for everything quantitative is not (Strauss & Corbin, 1990), which has changed over the time to that of being a supplement to quantitative research and thus has gained a lot of importance in the field of business research (Sale, Lohfeld, & Brazil, 2002 ; Bryman & Bell, 2003). There is an epistemological distinction between a qualitative researcher, who uses methods to gain insight in the subjective reality of the problem and taking into account the circumstantial evidence to improve the comprehension of the issue as a whole, when compared to quantitative researchers who adopt rigor in methods to remain removed from the problem maintaining the objectivity (Bryman A. , 1984 ; Guba & Lincoln, 1994 ; Bryman & Bell, 2003 ; Silverman, 2004).


Strauss & Corbin (1990) mention that "any kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or other means of quantification" in reference to qualitative research. Babbie and Mouton (2001), Denzin and Lincoln (1994), Du Plooy (2001), Marshall and Rossman (1995), and Mason (2002) describe qualitative research as a paradigm that allows the researcher to get an ³insider perspective on social action´. Babbie and Mouton (2001) further describe the primary goal of this research approach as describing and then understanding as opposed to merely explaining social action. Qualitative research contributes to discovery and theory-building (Gilles, 2000) which is what is being attempted by the researcher here with respect to a SaaS ERP. The strength of qualitative research is in their ability to understand the meaning and the context of the phenomena under study and the particular events and processes that make up the phenomena over time in real life, natural settings (Guba & Lincoln, 1994 ; Denzin & Lincoln, 1998 ; Kaplan and Maxwell, 1994). It seeks to develop sensitizing concepts and the meanings of central themes in the life world of the subjects (Maykut & Morehouse, 1994). Since the acquisition of a SaaS ERP is a major decision which affects the organisation on multiple levels, the µintangible¶ factors related to changes and its adaptability or competitive advantage, are difficult to quantify and a qualitative approach is a better suited mode of research here. Also, the way these factors are related to each other and their relative importance with respect to different organisations is much better understood with the organisational perspective in place. Qualitative methods can be used to explore substantive areas about which little is known or have conflicting views (Stern 1980; Rossman & Marshall, 1999). Since there is no clear mandate on SaaS ERP and cloud computing as a whole that could be verified, this approach is better suited to this research topic. Qualitative approach is based on the belief that the persons are actors who take an active role in responding to situations and the realisation that the response is based on a certain meaning (Strauss & Corbin, 1990 ; Rossman & Rallis, 2003). It allows for the finer differences to be brought to light, without imposing any perspective on the issue under study, which will allow the researcher to investigate his research problem thoroughly. Denzin & Lincoln, (1998) summarise the characteristics of this approach as enabling the researcher to study phenomena in their natural settings, while attempting to interpret these phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.


Much of the literature treats inductive and deductive approach to research as polar opposites which are comparable to the arguments between qualitative and quantitative approach. Deductive line of reasoning employs the type of logic that goes from general statement to a specific conclusion (Saunders et. al., 2003) and usually the conclusion follows as a specific aspect of the founding arguements.

General Ideas



The major disadvantage with respect to deductive approach to research is the fact that many themes can remain obscured due to pre-conceived notions of the researcher who might overlook any other themes (Thomas, 2004). These might add to the result but remain invisible in such a scenario, which makes its usage in a research that investigates a yet to mature technology, problematic. Johnson (1996) describes the inductive theory as a mirror image to deductive which starts with an established theory (Spens & Kovacs, 2006). An individual makes a number of observations which are then moulded into a concept or generalization. The idea behind the use of inductive approach is to allow the significant themes to emerge from the analysis of collected data in a natural way without having preconceptions of any kind as observed by (Patton, 1980, pp 306) who says µInductive analysis means that the patterns, themes, and
categories of analysis come from the data; they emerge out of the data rather than being imposed on them prior to data collection and analysis¶.

Logical Premise / Theory


Generalized concept

Since the researcher is trying to develop and understanding of the factors influencing the decision to adopt a SaaS ERP which is based on the paradigm of cloud computing in its nascent stage, this approach is much more suitable to the this research. Added to that,


inductive approach is a better option as it helps to deal with uncertainty by linking all the contextual factors into a single overall view (Backett & Davidson, 1995). Inductive reasoning is a hallmark of qualitative research approach and is the logic behind it.

Qualitative research comprises of multiple traditions and different methods. Creswell (1998) stresses the importance of approach taken by the qualitative researcher since this tends to shape the design of the study; ³baffling number of choices of tradition´. He proposes five qualitative approaches that can be adopted by the researcher which are grounded theory, phenomenology, ethnography, case study and biography (narrative). When using narrative, the researcher may use storytelling, life history or biography. This method favours the role of a researcher in a study rather than the traditional theory oriented classical approach (Creswell, 1994). The author has an authority over the data he is collecting and relates to characters that might be present in his ³story´ (Denzin, 1989). This form of qualitative is not suitable to this research as the research problem (REFER AND COMPLETE). Phenomenology is a line of thought that emphasizes the study from an individual¶s perspective that takes into account his view of the world (Creswell, 1994). A phenomenalist considers that each event is

unique and is controlled by variables such as time, location and culture which lead to the conclusion that in probability, no two events are of similar or identical (Bolender, 1998) when taken with their context. It is sometimes referred to as ³lived experience´ (Devers, 1999).
This approach does not concern itself with the cause of the experience or analyses it. Instead, it explores the experience itself from the subject¶s perspective and how he or she might perceive the world due to this (Denscobme, 2007). The researcher refines the gathered data from several sources to form a central theme. This approach is not suitable to this research as (REFER AND COMPLETE) Ethnographic research was used to describe and interpret a social group and to understand the inherent behavioural mannerisms and actions along with interaction amongst the people themselves. (Devers, 1999). As evident, it requires an up-close and personal involvement of the researcher within his subject organisations or culture and it may be important to participate as well. Ethnographic studies are usually site based as the researcher has to spend a considerable amount of time before he can gather enough data to analyse. The ethnographer listens and records the voices of the informants with the intent of generating a cultural portrait and in the process


undergoes through the same experience himself (McCaslin & n Scott, 2003; Sandelowski & Barroso, 2002). (LACK OF TIME) ?? Case Study is a in depth study of a particular case within a specific issue being researched (Creswell, 1994), the focus either being on the case or the issue to understand the dynamics , within a single setting (Eisenhardt, 1989). This approach would not work for the researcher for the simple reason that this research attempts to develop a generalized framework that could be applicable to each organisation irrespective of any differences they may be having.

Observations are the starting point for this approach (Kvale, 1996) and seek to develop theory, but not test it (Rossman & Rallis, 2003). Qualitative researchers analyze their data inductively using a bottom up approach. Induction is usually described as moving from specific observations to broader generalisation and theories (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Glaser & Strauss (1967) and later Strauss & Corbin (1990) mentioned grounded theory where the theory is grounded in the observations made by the researcher. Inductive approach is intended to aid the researcher to understanding of meaning in data through the development of emergent themes or categories. These themes are likely to be based on premises of the research such as security, adaptability, performance factors, scalability etc and will guide the researcher when examining and analysing the data, thereby forming theory. Grounded theory is an inductive, comparative, and interactive approach research that offers several open-ended strategies to identify emergent themes. Grounded theory used the

inductive approach towards the research with no preconceived notions (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) about the research topic. This use of induction and deduction is supported by Bryman


and Bell (2003) who argue that grounded theory is an iterative process which includes elements of both induction and deduction. The analysis within grounded theory is done as the constant comparative method. This included comparing incidents within each category, comparing categories to each other, clarifying the developing theory, and writing a coherent theory as a result. (Glaser & Strauss, 1967 ; Strauss & Corbin, 1990). A key concept for this approach is ³theoretical sensitivity´ (Glaser, 1978), which can be described as an ability to perceive the interactions between the relevant themes and factors. The researcher finds this an apt approach due to his interpretivist nature and the fact that the cloud computing is a novel concept that can be adopted by every organisation due to various set of factors which can have a varying degree of influence on the decision. Silverman (2004) summarises the main features and stages of grounded theory: 1. An attempt to develop categories which derive from the data; 2. Attempting then to give as many examples as possible in the categories developed in order to demonstrate their importance 3. Then developing these categories into more general and broader analytical frameworks (or theories) with relevance to other situations outside the research subject. Generalizability is the degree of universal applicablility outside of the specific problem researched (Robson, 2004). The researcher here is trying to establish a framework of factors that would be applicable to any organisation that may be willing to adopt the SaaS ERP and generalizability of the research is an important aspect here.

Interview is the primary technique of the researcher here. The main task in interviewing is to understand the meaning of what the interviewees say (Kvale, 1996). An interview seeks to determine the factual information along with the contextual information. An interview with the subject in its natural environment brings out the nuances in their perspectives and the definitions are continuously refined (Kalnis 1986 as cited in Marshall and Rossman, 1995). However a cloud based ERP is a relatively new concept and is a major decision on behalf of an organisation to actually adopt it. It is important that the data gathered from an interview be viewed in relevance to the background of the subject being interviewed as some of the factual


information may not make much sense or may stand to be misinterpreted if it is not seen along with the circumstances that affected it (Saunders, et al., 2003). Every method has its drawbacks and qualitative approach is no exception. According to Stiles (1993), Patton ( 2001) and Lincoln & Guba (1985), validity and reliability are the factors that affect the quality of the traditional qualitative research. Denzin & Lincoln (1998) put forward four factors to establish the correctness of the data and research: credibility, transferability, dependability, and conformability. It would be very difficult for another researcher to reproduce the survey and replicate the finding for confirmation of the research with the same amount of validity and personal bias. Generalizing the findings of the report is an aspect of the high quality reports. Maxwell (1992) suggests that it is easier to generalize findings in the quantitative research and is a potential drawback in this study. Patton (2001) argues that the generalizability is a criteria that is subjective to the individual case study. Also, according to Cassell & Symon (1994), it is easy to drift from the original context of the research when using the qualitative approach due to the changing context of the research . Every organisation may have its own reasons to either acquire or shun a cloud based ERP and these factors are unique to each organisation which reflects the disposition of the organisation lending itself to being subjective. The end result would be a descriptive that is mainly expressed in qualitative terms. In general, the researcher is pursuing an inductive qualitative approach due to which a relation can be established between what the subject is expressing, what he means, the background and the culture he is from and what he requires. This is supported by Elliott (1995) and Strauss and Corbin (1990) who has taken the position that qualitative research lends itself to understanding participants¶ perspectives Saunders et al. (2003) and Bazeley (2004) articulate a case for the epistemological relevance of both forms of knowledge and that it is important to understand how both are established and grounded. It is not that the researcher does not want to pin the issues empirically and statistically. It has more to do with the caution of not rushing into the subject and realising the fact that the decision to adopt a cloud based ERP by an organisation is influenced by a lot of contextual factors and the responsible factors are is not easily fathomed through quantification (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Apart from this, an ERP is not pervasive, ³everyday´ computing and it becomes difficult to gather statistical data from varied sources.




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