Research Methodology

There are different approaches to research. This chapter will describe the research approach, strategy and data collection methods used in the research. There are many different choices for research methodology. Saunders et al (2003) designed a research process onion which gives an overview of issues underlying the choices of data collection methods. In figure X, such an overview is given for this particular research project with the research options chosen highlighted. Not all options for each ‘layer’ of the onion are mutually exclusive and multiple selections are possible, which is the case for the layers of research strategies and data collection methods. The following subchapters will give a more detailed description and justification of each research choice. In subsequent order, these are the research philosophy, research approach, research strategy and data collection methods. This chapter will end with a description of the credibility of the research findings.

Fig. X: The research process ‘onion’ of Saunders et al (2003) edited for this particular research. Choices made for each onion layer are highlighted. For the sake of simplicity, not all possibilities for research strategies and data collection methods are mentioned.

Two different strategies are used: Exploratory and Descriptive Studies. Descriptive studies are used mostly in the first part of the research. The theory of whether or not opportunities exists in Germany for E kwadraat advies depends on the data collected. This is especially useful for this particular research. the inductive approach is chosen. Another philosophy is realism. The view depends on the way the researcher thinks about the development of knowledge. Therefore. For example. Another reason is that the subject area is a complex business situation that is influenced by many different factors. This is not possible given the limited time span of around two months.e. Interpretivism and Realism. The data collected are quantifiable observations suitable for statistical analysis. Research Approach The research approach can be classified into two different approaches: Deductive and Inductive.Research Philosophy There are three views of the research process: Positivism. The research philosophy of Positivism is usually adopted by physical and natural scientists. Another option would be longitudinal studies. Another reason is that the inductive approach is flexible and allows for change during the research process. Realism seeks to understand the existence of an external and objective reality that influences people’s social interpretations. i. which studies change and development. i. Cross-sectional means that it is a study of a situation at a particular time. Exploratory studies are used throughout the research and become more important in the second part of the research. The time horizon of the research is cross-sectional. in case a new technology for the process of co-fermentation is discovered in Germany. when identifying opportunities. Data Collection Methods . the research approach allows room for further researching into this technology. Research Strategy The research strategy describes the plan of answering the research questions. One of the reasons for this is that it is important to gain an understanding of the subjective reality of the participants. since market analysis needs to be made of the German biogas markets. interviewees. The outcome of the research are often generalizations based on data collected in a highly structured methodology. and logically the research is cross-sectional. The inductive approach is used when theory does not yet exists and needs to be build. The deductive approach is used when theory already exists and needs to be tested. The research philosophy adopted for this project is that of the interpretivist. Most of the exploratory research is conducted by interviewing experts in the biogas industry and searching literature.e. There is not a need for explaining relationships between variables.

Triangulation takes place when using different methods to gain the most reliable and valid results. which causes triangulation. Validity Data collected is valid since it is collected mostly from fairly independent. secondary data that shows the growth forecast for biogas installations is tested by asking an expert if the forecast is still valid. using the computer and telephone. The reason for this is that answering the research questions does not really require field research. Another reason why the data collected is reliable is that the interviewees work for independent organizations. This is another reason why quantitative data is not used that much since it is simply not available for some parts of the research area. such as the German government or the German Biogas Association. Secondary data is data that has already been collected but can be re-used in the research. Primary – Secondary Data can also be grouped into primary and secondary data. For example. These data are also used and collected from books. non-profit organizations. Time and resources also put constraints on field research. Qualitative – Quantitative Most of the data collected is qualitative in nature. The data collection method used for primary data is by interviewing industry experts. Quantitative data is still used in describing the market and showing market trends. because most of the research findings are based on qualitative data. young and undergoing continuous change. The data also becomes more valid since different data collection methods are used.This subchapter will give a more detailed description and justification of the data collection methods used and the nature of the data. However. Most interviews are conducted over the telephone. The reason for this is that the biogas market is very diverse. however. It is therefore difficult to find useful quantitative data. . Primary data is collected by the researcher. government publications and branch organizations. Credibility of Research Findings Reliability Reliability of the research findings is an issue. field research has still been conducted to some extent by visiting exhibitions and meeting experts face to face. The threats for reliability is reduced by asking the same questions to multiple experts of different organizations. The interviewees have no interest in the research outcome and therefore do not have a reason for not telling the truth. Desk Research – Field Research Another distinction that can be made between the type of research is desk or field research. Physical cues of the interviewee are also missed. which also form a cause for concern. The vast majority of the research is done by desk research. Interviewees are not always willing to give out the information. E kwadraat advies offers a unique service together with partners to different type of customers. qualitative data is used more for describing the opportunities. websites.

Especially the market analysis of the German biogas market is generalisable to other studies. since it is specifically for E kwadraat advies. . The research part that deals with the microenvironment has little generalisability.Generalisability There is some generalisability to the research results.

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