Definition of Research and Research Methodology

In this section of study, components used to answer research questions and the methodology constructed to analyse those procedures are justified based on literature reviewed. Consequently, special emphasis is provided to other methods of research and the rationale behind them for not being subjected to be part of this exploration. However, constituent of research philosophy, research strategy and element of research design and research procedure are dealt in detail to offer maximum credibility to decisive findings. Besides, throughout the chapter ethical considerations have gained great substance allowing results to be analysed with immense attention.

Research is used to describe a number of similar and overlapping activities relating a search for information. It is “something that people undertake in order to find things out in a systematic way, thereby increasing their knowledge” (Saunders et al. 2009). According to Kothari (2004), endeavour of any research is to uncover the concealed reality that is yet to be exposed or revealed. However, research is constantly used to solve organizational problems through systematic strategies (Ojo, 2008).

Foundations of research are built and conducted over a structure called methodology (Remenyi et al. 1998) and a valid study will always adapt encouraging research methodology (Buckley et al. 1975). Hence, it is decisively fundamental to deploy quintessential methodology with great care and systematic understanding of the intricacies involved (Amaratunga et al. 2002). In this particular piece of study, efforts are made to discover the factors that lead to bullying at workplace with special emphasis on ethnic bullying. Intentions of this research were to illustrate, appreciate, anticipate, criticize and interpret the existing social science phenomenon (Maylor & Blackmon, 2005) by systematically obtaining data to solve research problem (Ghauri & Gronhaug, 2005).

3.3 Methodological Considerations:

3.3.1 Preconceptions and frame of reference:

Generally research questions are derived from preconceptions. When study samples respond to these questions they react differently with reality (Lundahl & Skarvad, 1992). Meanwhile, frame of reference formed in the minds of people due to preconceptions, repeatedly affect on findings of any research either directly or indirectly. Johansson Lindfors (1993) writes there are three major aspects to be considered in perceptions; Epistemological perceptions, Common perceptions and Theoretical perceptions.

Temporarily, epistemological perception is a method used to explain the knowledge in the form of theories (Fisher, 2004). Thus, it is obligatory to know the acceptable knowledge of any discipline (Bryman & Bell, (2003). While formation of common perception are developed through personal experience or firsthand information gathered from work or studies, Theoretical preconceptions provide an opportunity to appraise a range of views attained through various theories of academic sources, books, journals, articles, and magazines. To be precise they are impractical to compile through personal experience (Johansson Lindfors, 1993).

3.3.2 Research Philosophy and administration:

Given that the research philosophy transmits the enlargement of knowledge and its temperament, chosen research philosophy ought to answer all the research questions in actual fact (Saunders et al. 2009). A lot of times research philosophy inculcated will manipulate the researcher views and the methods that are chosen to construct research strategy. But, within the context of social science there is an uncompleted argument to pick the most suitable position from the excessive horizons of positivism to the extreme end of interpretivism (Smith et al. 1991). However, research philosophy is further broadly classified into three major categories; Positivism, Interpritivism and Pragmatism or Realism.

Core regulations of any approach are authentic/perceptual knowledge and hermeneutics (Johansson Lindfors, 1993) which constantly travel in opposite directions to each other (Andersson, 1979). While authentic/perceptual knowledge or positivism represents phenomenon of a discipline through quantifiable observations (Dayarathna, 2009), hermeneutics interprets the same social components through qualitative observations (Saunders et al. 2007). Under positivism there is a possibility of cause effect relation that can be confirmed or rejected (Patel & Davidsson, 2003). Here, values of researcher and phenomenon of the study are clearly distinguished with a rule or law helping the researcher to observe reality. Whereas in interpritivism, this rule or law doesn’t exist thereby making it viable for the researcher to involve in the process (Hartman, 2004) by allowing him/her to interpret the work at any desired stage in any desired ways to obtain complete knowledge.

The philosophy adopted here is believed to express both positivism and interpritivism. Objective methods are used to measure properties of externally existing social world and are not subjectively attached through sensation, reflection or intuition (Smith et al. 2008). Hence, “working with an observable social reality and the product of such research can be law-like generalizations similar to those products by natural and physical scientists.” (Rememyi et al. 1998, pp. 32). For the moment, Interviews and self administered questionnaires are used here to gather the required data by emphasising on both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection.

The objectives of research:

To discover different sources of ethnic minority bullying at work

To inspect diverse forms of ethnic minority bullying at work

To find out important causes that leads to ethnic minority bullying at work

To expose effects of bullying on ethnic minority employees at work

To observe reactions of ethnic minority employees to unhealthy practices bullying at work

To realize various defensive mechanisms developed by ethnic minority employees to prevent from being bullied at work

To examine the management/managers perspectives on ethnic minority bullying at work

To suggest recommendations to prevent ethnic minority bullying at work

A range of problems will be encountered throughout practical implementation of the project or research administration (Rowley, 2002). To avoid these inadequacies, study should infuse the objectives that are measure driven. Concurrently all the aims of research cannot completely revolve around human interests and beliefs (Smith et al 2008). Because, qualitative approaches often fail to reproduce commonality of the results (Sekaran, 2003). In such situations quantitative approaches appears much more meticulous.

3.3.3 Research strategy:

Normally intentions of research invade strategy, where time, resources, philosophy and approaches play a greater role. But, there will always be an element of deduction in any type of studies undertaken (Ticehurst & Veal, 2000), thereby persuading the researcher to be selective towards the data required or the data gathered. However, quantitative strategy is a method of data collection under deductive approach where data will be accumulated through survey questionnaires and acquired data will be analysed through statistical methods. Sub-sequentially deductive approach always helps in verifying or discarding a hypothesis by assembling and quantifying data (Dayarathna, 2009). Being objective and scientific in its nature this strategy is considered to be black and white method due to its lack of consideration with the results (Bryman & Bell, 2003). Owing to positivism deductive approach is used for this study.

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Although there are various types of research strategy, general and business research rely more upon survey based strategy (Saunders et al. 2009). Because, the techniques applied here to collect data largely depend on purpose of the study, intensity of the problem, information required and the availability of time, money and human resources (Ghauri & Gronhaug, 2005). Indeed, under this strategy data can be gathered in three different forms; personal interviews, survey questionnaires and telephone interviews (Bernard, 2006) and for the current project, personal interviews and survey questionnaires are used to extract required information.

As part of quantitative analysis, a self administered questionnaire will be sent to the ethnic minority employees working in the organization to extract maximum information on ethnic minority bullying, and the sources, causes, and forms that leads to bullying behaviour. Personal interviews will also be used as part of study to know the responses of the employees to bullying manners and the measures anticipated by them in abolishing ethnic minority bullying at workplace thereby fulfilling the requirements of qualitative analysis.

First section of the survey questionnaire consist of five basic or personal information questions; Age, Gender, Job Level, Ethnicity and Work Experience and in the second section of the questionnaire, eleven close ended and three open ended questions were asked focusing more on bullying and ethnic bullying at work. Especially, Open ended questions were used to present employees with an opportunity to express their genuine ideas and thoughts about the subject without any barrier. Primarily, all questions of the study were designed and uploaded to an online survey portal; ‘SurveyPirate’ with a note in the beginning of the questionnaire clearly stating the purpose and objectives of the survey in brief. Later, link of the portal leading to questionnaire was downloaded and delivered to the respondents by emails with the help of Vice President-HR, ABB. India.

Constructive nature of qualitative method makes it central to understand respondent’s views and how they generate meaning in an active manner (Maxwell, 2005). To involve interview approach as part of study researcher has to be very open in his perspective. As nature of the project demanded a qualitative approach to explore the unquenched myriads of ethnic bullying, a prior prepared semi-structured interview questions were also used during the study along with quantitative methods of data collection (Saunders et al. 2003). Personal interview conducted with the managers during the project will help in understanding the manger’s perspective towards existing ethnic bullying practices and the problems caused by them. Furthermore, it also assists in recognizing the policies and measures implemented by both organization and the government to address these unpleasant and unfavourable workplace traditions

By making use of qualitative or interview methods, analysis of the report gains a comprehensive and exclusive edge over other similar explorations undertaken on bullying. As it lend a hand in gathering valid and reliable information relevant to the questions and objectives of the research (Kahn & Cannell, 1957), it becomes easier to compare the outcomes of the study to the theoretical frameworks ethnic bullying. Under qualitative method understanding between the author, respondents and the subjects will be on much higher grounds than other approaches of data accumulation (Bryman & Bell, 2003) because Interview is nothing but a conversation or exchange of views and ideas between two people on a topic of mutual interest (Kvale, 1996).

In order to accomplish the aims of the study eight managers from different department were interviewed with prior appointment. The ambitions behind interviewing managers were to bring broader viewpoint to the observations made and to explore the problem on macro levels. All the interviews were carried out as per the semi-structured questionnaire designed with in the time limit allotted. Despite all the above precautions qualitative methods can be very subjective and the final outcomes could involve element of bias due to preconceptions (Patel & Davidsson, 2003).

Semi-structured Questionnaire:

Q1. Is ethnic minority bullying at workplace a major issue in your organization? Why do think so?

Q2. What according to you are the major reasons that ignite and magnify ethnic minority bullying in your organization?

Q3. In what form does the bullying take place in your organization and who are people that are often involved in the bullying practice?

Q4. Have any staffs of yours left their job or taken time off work in the past six months? If yes, what were their reasons for leaving?

Q5. How do the employees react in your organization when are being bullied?

Q6. How do you tackle ethnic minority bullying in your organization?

Q7. In your opinion what are the crucial factors that might lessen the likelihood of ethnic minority bullying in your organization?

Q8. Does your organization make any efforts to prevent ethnic minority bullying? What are your views?

Q9. Does your organization provide counselling services for bullied employees? If yes, how effective are they?

3.4 Research Design:

According to Gauri and Gronhaug, (2005, pp. 56), “The research design is the overall plan for relating the conceptual research problem to relevant and practicable empirical research.” It is an important method used by the authors, in order to answer research questions (Saunders el al. 2007) and any design under the control of researcher will adjoin more flexibility in terms of valuable information. Meanwhile, there are four major types research design; exploratory, inductive, and casual descriptive (Zikmund, 2003) and the most appropriate way to get solutions to the research problems is through exploratory design (Zikmund, 2003).

In exploratory design, researcher will have a weak idea about the problems as they are defined very poorly. But, the moment author starts accumulating relevant information; the entire picture becomes brighter and better thereby supporting to find healthier solutions to the problems (Gauri & Gronhaug, 2005). On the other hand, inductive design employs various theories built on observation. Diverse approaches are carried over for deliberating and pursuing these observations. Justified theory emerging out of these observations will further aid in discovering appropriate solutions to the research problems. Although casual research is better structured than the other designs of research, cause and effect relationship is often confronted. In fact, during majority of instances it becomes very easy to predict the final results evolving from the changes incorporated (Nargundkar, 2003).

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Nonetheless, in contrary to the explorative method, problems are well defined under descriptive design. Thus researcher can start assembling secondary data associated to the problem instantaneously. In some circumstances, where there is a scarcity or absence of resources author will have attempt to collect data through different data collection techniques (Gauri & Gronhaug, 2005).

The research design used for this project is descriptive approach where a concrete problem is identified and defined by exploiting secondary sources of data existing. It is frequently used to depict precise silhouette of person/persons events and situations (Robson, 2002). Since research question is a problem which necessitate further investigation to formulate anticipated results (Bjereld et al, 2002), question for the current study is derived from the area of interest. Passable numbers of study samples are involved right through the process and unbiased measurements are practiced to execute and report about on project. Given that the sampling is important in this form of research, survey questionnaires and interviews are included with definite time limits.

3.5. Research Process and Procedure:

3.5.1 Sources of data:

Sources of data are broadly classified in two categories, primary and secondary. According to Parasuraman et al. (2004) primary data are the information collected for the first time to bring about any explicit needs of a particular research. They are the firsthand descriptions represented by research reports, published in a scientific journal or periodical to reflect on the observations performed by the researcher (Gravetter & Forzano, 2008). Furthermore, they also facilitate authors to illustrate their research by answering and substantiating against the questions or uncertainties rose during the progression of investigation. Like, why and how study was undertaken, what results were found, and how those results were interpreted. However, course of primary data collection entail a range of diverse means. They are, personal or emails based survey questionnaires, face to face or telephone interviews, observations and focus groups (Ghauri & Gronhaug, 2005).

Primary data is often more consistent with the research questions and objectives. Under this method of data gathering questions can be formed both formal and informal ways (Parasuraman et al. 2004). Yet, success of this approach relay largely upon the capabilities of the researcher, who pose the questions to the respondents (Bryman & Bell, 2003). Major downside of this data source is that they require ample amount of time and may consume lot of money (Malhotra & Bricks, 2007). Since the researcher is completely dependent on the willingness and ability of the respondents, at times it becomes very hard to approach respondents (Kanikapati, 2007).

Secondary data is detailed information accessed by the researcher through other available sources of information to obtain thorough literature review. In fact, most of the studies begin in that fashion (Kanikapati, 2007). It is a second hand report where the observations of different authors will be discussed by the researcher to accomplish aspired objectives (Gravetter & Forzona, 2008). Generally secondary information is of high standards (Bryman & Bell, 2003) and fundamentally used to understand and explain research problems better. Secondary source of data is very easy to extract and available in plenty through, books, magazines, journals, articles, websites and etc. More importantly it is inexpensive and time saving but, its basic nature of collection for different purposes during different time span with different objectives makes it less effective to robust into present study.

In this project, a combination of both sets of data are used achieve maximum results. Since the objective of the research is to observe whether, membership of an ethnic minority plays a greater role in work place bullying? A significant role is played by the primary data as it is directly accumulated from the employees in the ABB, UK. All over the study secondary data have been utilized to explore literature on the consequence of bullying, workplace bullying and ethnicity bullying. Majority of the data pertaining to study have been collected trough books, magazines, journals, websites and articles.

3.5.2 Direction-finder:

Opportunity of every large study requires to be tested on a smaller sample size before execution. Direction-finder or pilot study will assist in inspecting the pros and cons of extensive process to be accomplished further. According to Saunders et al. (2007) questionnaires needed to be experimented on a limited population, to assess the difficulties that might encounter in answering the questionnaire and while recording data. By doing so, researcher can make certain that the collected data is valid and reliable. Conversely, pilot study is also essential to realise that the collected data answer all the research questions, easy to scrutinize and findings of the study are valuable (Smith et al, 1991).

In the meantime, a direction-finder test was conducted to 4 employees of the Lebara organization, UK to investigate accuracy of questionnaire in extracting require data and their precision in gauging ethnic bullying factors in ABB, UK. Pilot process not only helped in understanding whether the respondents have interpreted the research questions as the same way they are intended to but, made the author realise that there were lot of concerns pertaining to open ended questions. However, a few of them were later modified or replaced with close ended ones.

3.5.3 Time horizons:

At the outset, collection of samples was planned for the Month of July 2010 but shortly it was rescheduled to October 2010. Soon there were Christmas holidays to follow in the Month of December 2010 decision was made to distribute questionnaires in the Month of October to capture a balanced response as highlighted by Saunders (2007).

3.6 Research Context:

3.6.1 Obtaining permission:

To obtain data, a request letter (Annexure) drafted by the researcher explaining the purpose of the study and the types of data required was sent to the Manager-Human Resource of ABB, UK through Vice President of ABB, India. Mr Rajesh Kumar Roy (Vice President – ABB, India), who happens to be previous employer of the researcher accepted the request and recommended the proposal for further consideration. This was later approved by the respected authorities of ABB in UK.

3.6.2 Sample size:

Multi-cultural or ethnic diverse nature of the research topic encouraged the researcher to choose ABB, UK for sample selection. Since the organization has its branches in more than 100 countries, mobility of ethnic centred employees within the company will be abundant. And this movement of workforce will be much more effective in UK because of its versatility. As it is impractical to survey the entire ethnic minority staff of ABB, UK due to time and budget constraints, a sample of 120 employees that represents the entire ethnic minority population of the organization was viewed as satisfactory for the quantitative method of study (Saunders et al, 2007). But, when it was realised that whole ABB labour force in UK consists approximately 8% of ethnic minority employees, the numbers of sample numbers were further reduced to 92 by considering 50% of the total ethnic minority workers (8% of 2300 is 184 and 50% of 184 is 92). On the other hand, qualitative research requires very limited number unlike quantitative approach (Miles & Hubermann, 1994). Thus it is restricted to 8 members from four different locations (Daresbury Park – Warrington, 9 Moorbrook Park – Didcot, Park House Eastern Avenue – Burton-on-Trent and Unit 15; Peddie Street – Dundee).

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3.6.3 Sampling techniques and selection:

Selection of appropriate sample is the key in both qualitative and quantitative procedures of research (Maxwell, 2005). There are two major types of sampling techniques;

Probability sampling or representative sampling – Since they reflect the characteristics of the population, they often provide the most valid or credible results. But, they are expensive, time consuming and require certain level of skill sets to perform (Adamchak et al. 2000). However, under probability sampling every element has a chance of being selected and the selected elements probability can be calculated. Any variation between the elements is only a matter of chance as there is no bias involved (Adamchak et al. 2000).

Non-probability or systematic sampling – Though these methods are more elastic, cheap and require very limited time span, they are less desirable than probability samples due to their weaker evaluation and outcomes (Adamchak et al. 2000). But, their validity can be increased by approximating random section, and eliminating sources of bias. Here the elements are obtained on the basis of opportunity, judgement and referrals from other sample subjects (Adamchak et al. 2000).

Probability sampling technique or procedure cannot be employed for this research because the population of the study is well defined. Therefore, systematic stratified sampling method is used to represent all the ethnic minority employees of ABB, UK without any discrimination.

3.6.4 Non response bias:

Non response rate of any study depend upon sensitivity of the subject, clarity of objectives and level of confidentiality. However, anonymous questionnaires always enjoy high response rates. Hence, a covering letter (Annexure) stating purpose of the study was attached to the questionnaire to attract soaring response rates. Meanwhile, questions of the survey were kept anonymous to convince the respondents that the data collected will be treated with confidentiality (Sekaran, 2003).

3.6.5 Response rate:

Respondent’s interests vary depending upon the type of research being conducted. Response rates tend to be very high among educational oriented studies. However, according to Saunders et al. (2007) satisfactory response rate of a research lies between 30% – 40% and they could become even lesser when a topic is more sensitive and hard to relate. Meanwhile, unbiased approaches and ethical considerations might boost response rates despite all obstacles and hardships that could come in between. For the current research 92 survey questionnaires were distributed and 72 returned back. So the total response rate for this project was 78.26%. Non-response rate for the project was 21.74% and the core reasons for non-response could be refusal to become a part of the study or reluctant to answer all the questions (Dayarathna, 2009).

3.6.7 Rejected methods:

Even though, focus groups are the supreme means of understanding through exchange of ideas within a group. They are not involved in the study due to their unfeasible nature. They are boring and often unsuccessful in bringing the group together under a single roof. Moreover, they don’t provide sufficient time to the respondents during group discussions (Parasuraman et al. 2004).

3.7 Ethical Considerations:

Issues pertaining to ethics of the study arise throughout research starting from formulation of research question, till presenting results. According to Saunders et al. (2007), they arrive in five stages; topic selection, designing and gaining access, collecting data, processing and storing data and during analysing and revealing findings.

To begin with, access to data collection was attained by drafting a formal request letter to the concerned authority explaining the purpose of the study. When the access was granted a covering latter was prepared addressing respondents of the study ensuring that the data collected will be kept confidential and will be used only for the academic purpose. Anonymous questions were formed to conceal the identity of the individual participants (Smith et al. 1991) making it hard for other to recognise separately.

To avoid personal bias and to add credibility and validity to the report research was conducted with minimum intervention. Collected observations are carefully analysed and results presented without any manipulations. All the secondary sources used for the study are recognised and acknowledged.

3.8 Limitations of the Study:

Limitations are often accompanied by the element of human factor. Like any other general and social research even this research escort certain amount of boundaries to its procedure, scope and applicability. Firstly, Very limited numbers of open ended questions are used in the study and the ones that are used with the help of qualitative approach can make the results of the project biased (Patel & Davidsson, 2003) by reflecting lack of transparency (Brayman & Bell, 2003). Secondly, Closed ended questions used in the study might have restricted the respondents from indentifying various others factors that encourage workplace bullying. Finally, there will always be a problem of time, money and resources when a particular study is undertaken.

3.9 Conclusion:

Comprehensive discussion about methodology for the selected study was presented in the above chapter to justify tactics incorporated is in line with the topic chosen. Deployment of deductive approach and addition of positivism and interpritivism were proved to be appropriate for the research due to various reasons as illustrated. Sampling procedures, sampling techniques and the size of samples were also explained along with the data collection methods, ethical considerations and limitations of the project. In the next chapter results of the research will be evaluated in detail.

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