Research approach and strategy analysis
In this chapter researcher has presented the problem of the research and empirical analysis has been done primarily with the in depth interviews and also used secondary literature for back up. This chapter will start with research method followed by the philosophy applied for the research. Research approach and strategy are further discussed, which will be applied during the data analysis. Researcher has further discussed the data collection method, used for the findings and discussion. Finally, concluded with the ethical constraint and limitations of research in the research.
This research investigates the causes of employee in the Indian call centre industry. “Formulating and clarifying the research topic is the starting point of your research project” (Ghauri and Cronhaug, 2002). The Indian call centre industry is facing a huge challenge of employee turnover today which is effecting the growth of call centres in India and also loss of revenue. The HR managers have implemented various strategies to retain employees. But, still the employee turnover is at peak and in this competitive industry, it’s critical to find out the key reason for turnover and the present strategies in practice by the managers to reduce the turnover. Thus, the purpose of the study is to look at the key factors of turnover and best practice to minimize it, by addressing following questions:
Identify the factors leading to employee turnover in the Indian Call centre industry.
Find out how Recruitment and Training can contribute to Turnover.
Establish the issues faced by Call centre Managers in India due to turnover.
Find out the effective retention strategies by HR Managers in India.
Establish whether there are any other best practices or innovative ways to reduce the employee turnover.
Researcher has followed the Onion process illustrated by (Saunders et al, 2003) to start the research with the best possible outcome.
Source: © Mark Saunders, Philip Lewis and Adrian Thornhill 2006
Researcher has used the onion process as the research method and has followed the pattern judicially through out the chapter. The researcher has started the chapter with the outer part of the onion which is research philosophy. Here researcher has tried to explain the philosophy which he is going to use in the research. Secondly, the research approach is been discussed to find out the correct approach for this research. Researcher has gone to the next layer by discussing the research strategy followed by time horizons. Data collection method is done in the last phase of chapter and have disclosed the appropriate method used in the research.
“The research philosophy depends on the way you think about the development of knowledge”(Saunders et al, 2003). Many authors have discussed and defined research paradigms. To Guba (1990, p.17), a research paradigm is “a basic set of beliefs that guide action. Research paradigm helps in understanding the investigation better as business and management researchers we need to be aware of commitment towards philosophy we make through our choice of research strategy. Johnson and Clark(2006) argues that “the important issue is not so much whether our research should be philosophically informed, but it is how well we inform are able to reflect upon our philosophical choices”. Corbetta (2003, p.13) presents a list of research paradigms as follows:
Positivist Post-positivist Interpretivist
There are two main paradigms named positivism and Interpretivism.
Positivism was originated in nineteenth century, by French and English cultures and the further development was steered by the French culture (Corbetta, 2003).Positivists adopt the positive stance of the natural scientist(Saunders,2003). Corbetta (2003) says positivist paradigm is “the study of social reality utilizing the conceptual framework, the techniques of observation and measurement, the instruments of mathematical analysis, and the procedures of the natural sciences. Positivism is a epistemological position that advocates the application of the methods of the natural sciences to the study of social reality and beyond(Bryman,2008). The methodology is highly structured so that replication can be facilitated. (Gill and Johnson, 1997 cited by Saunders et al,2003).
Interpretivism emerged with the criticism of positivism, from researchers. The first criticism attack was made by German philosopher who said “they are non homologous to the natural sciences”, (Corbetta, 2003) and hence it’s not possible to separate researchers from their critics. Interpretivism helps in understanding the difference between humans in our role as social actors. Weber (1904, cited by Corbetta,2003) brought the concept of Verstehen into sociology which was more inclined toward objectivity rather than subjectivity of social science both in terms of general nature and value judgment. The Interpretivists aim at “exploring the complexity of social phenomena with a view to gain interpretive understanding”(Collins and Hussey,2009). Interpretivism overlooked the positivism approach towards subjectivity and used objectivity approach, built on the interpretations of individuals to understand the society. This opened the new era of sociological research with positivism being the former, the study of everyday life.(Corbetta,2003).
In my case
The research in planned to explore, what are the key reasons for employee leaving the organization and what can be done by HR managers to reduce the turnover. The researcher has chosen the Interpretative philosophy as the research has to deal with social issues. It has the elements like working culture within the organization, employee dissatisfaction and relationship with the management, this research aims to locate some complex social issues. The researcher conducts the in depth unstructured interviews observing the participant response to gain the understanding of research. The researcher feels Interpretivism is the most suitable method to do the further research.
According to Saunders’s (2003), Deductive and Inductive are two main approaches which can be practised. Even though it does not hold any practical value, researcher argues that inductive approach owes more to Interpretivism and deductive approach to positivism.
Inductive approach is generally is a bottom up approach and deductive approach is vice versa. Inductive approach starts with observation, then analyzing the data and finally developing the theory of the outcome. Deductive approach is in scientific research most of the time where you already have collected data, consequently you develop a hypothesis and decide whether to accept or reject and finally come to the conclusion with the statistics and data.(Burns and Burns,2008). “It involves development of a theory that is subjected to a rigorous test and the attempt is made to verify the revised theory by going back to the first step and repeating the whole cycle”(Hussey and Hussey, 1997 cited by Saunders et al,2003). Deductive theory is been criticized because of its rigid methodology that does not permit alternative explanations.(Saunders et, al).
Source :(Burns and Burns,2008)
In Inductive approach, researchers look into the empirical observation and draw the conclusion based on it and in Deductive approach the conclusions are made through logical reasoning. The researcher argues that inductive approach in not 100% sure about the conclusions because it is based on the empirical observation, the other approach may not be true in reality, but it is logical (Gauri and Grenhoug, 2005). The inductive approach strength is that without an understanding the human interpretation in this social world, you can make a cause-effect link between two variables.(Saunders et al,2003). Hussey (1997cited by Saunders et al,2003) says deductive approach is a dominant approach in the natural sciences where ‘law provides the basis of explanation, permit the anticipation of phenomena, predict their occurrence and therefore allow them to be controlled’. However, the science philosopher Popper (1959, cited by Gauri and Grenhoug,2005) argues though ” there is no such thing as objective observation and thus since theories can never be proven to be true, they can only be proven to be false”.
Inductive approach is generally related to the qualitative research and the deductive approach to quantitative research. Quantitative and Qualitative are the two main research methods (Blaikie, 2004). Quantitative research is generally concerned with the measurement and qualitative do not. (Layder,1993, cited by Gauri and Grohaug 2005). In qualitative research we are inclined towards the meaning and interpretation of the functioning of organization, social environment and relationships unlike in the latter where the findings arrive with statistical methods. The main difference between these research methods is not the quality but the pattern, they follow, it also depends upon the different perspective and the objective.(Gauri and Gronhaug,2005). The researcher has used the combined approach for the research as it gives the best outcome possible and gives more advantage to the research.(Saunders et al,2003).
relative lack of control
goal: understand actor’s view
dynamic reality assumed; “slice of life”
natural science worldview
attempt to control variables
goal: find facts & causes
static reality assumed; relative constancy in life
Source: Cook and Reichardt (1979) http://qualitativeresearch.ratcliffs.net/1.htm
In my case
In order to answer the research queries, research has to understand the human behaviour and the functions. “Data collected from small number of carefully selected samples on relevant issues can be sufficient in this case” (Patton, 1990, cited by Gauri and Gronhaug, 2005). It was not possible to float the questionnaire across the call centre due to lack of time and availability. Therefore, researcher has conducted in depth interviews with the team member and managers of different call centres. The interviews are done via telephone because it was easily accessible and saves cost. Also it can be done in less amount of time and quickly. The only draw back is the researcher would not be able to witness the non-verbal behaviour because the interviews are not face to face interview. Researcher has tried to get the data of the research through value, needs and feeling of the employees by asking them open ended questions. The researcher has used simple and understandable language and has been choosy with the terminology. This will be a qualitative research in which researcher will provide the result on the basis of interviews. As researcher has also used literature to guide the questions, used combined method approach is used to get a better result.
According to Saunders et al (2003), research strategy will be a general plan of how you will go about answering the research questions(s) you has set. It will give you a clear picture of your strategy being applied on the case and will give you a clear objective of your research question also will tell the specific source considering the constraints like access to data, time, location, ethical issues etc. There are different strategies which can be used depending on your research method: experiment, survey; case study; grounded theory; ethnography action research; cross sectional and longitudinal studies; exploratory, descriptive and explanatory studies. These strategies can be used according to the need of the research and cannot be limited to one strategy, if the research demands, researcher can use multiple strategies. (Saunders et al, 2003).
In my case
The researcher uses the exploratory strategy in order to meet the objective of the research. The strength of exploratory study helps you to give a strong backing to the finding by clarifying it and getting close to the objective. The researcher has conducted semi structured interviews and has covered the questions through in depth interviews. Also few of the questions have been omitted and added as per the need of the interview. ” With the growth of natural science philosophers became increasingly aware that a deductive…can only bring out what is already implicit in its premises, and hence inclined to insist that all new knowledge must come from some form of induction”.(Stebbins, 2001). The qualitative data and inductive approach has been approached to enhance the interpretation of data.
There are two types of time horizons, ‘Cross sectional and longitudinal’. Cross sectional is generally referred as ‘snap shot’ because it is conducted in a short period of time and Longitudinal is when a research is done through over a period of time, it is also called ‘Diary’.
In my Case
Due to constraint of time, researcher had to take a “snapshot” at a particular time. The interviews are conducted over a short period of time using the qualitative method and whilst taken the cross sectional study.
The cross sectional study is being approached to get the result for the research. The key factors for turn over and its resolution is calculated by conducting face to face interviews over a limited period of time. (Saunders et al, 2003).
It is very important that a successful research project must be based on high quality though process and research design must be based on flow of logic and number of assumptions which must be able to stand up to the closest scrutiny.(Saunders et al,2003).
The research population for this study entails different managers from different companies. There are HR managers and operations managers being interview from the senior management including the Team Leaders. Also different team members from different call centres were picked to make sure there are no biases. (Saunders et al, 2003).
Using Primary Data through Interviews
Semi Structured Interview
An Interview is purposeful discussion between two or more people(Kahn and Cannell, 1957 cited by Saunders et al, 2003). Due to the shortage of people to fill the questionnaires, researcher has attempted to contact the potential interviewees by conducting semi structured interviews. According to Ghauri and Gronhaug (2005),”To be able to run the interview efficiently and without any disturbances, the researcher needs to know the respondent, his background, values and expectations. Keeping all this in mind, researcher has tried to fulfil all the expectations. Interviews are often considered the best data collection methods and can be done vial mail, telephone or in person.
Interview by phone
Interview by mail
A typology of interviews
Source: Ghauri and Gronhaug(2005)
The researcher has conducted all the interviews via telephone and recorded it due to time and constraint; otherwise researcher had to go to India to conduct the face to face interviews.
Researcher was able to gather valid and reliable data for the research question and objective through these interviews. Through semi structured interview, researcher covered the set of questions with the interviewees. Researcher preferred semi structured interview because it was in expensive and the database to sample was not huge, also it gave freedom to use the question according to need of the situation. Researcher has prepared open ended questions and has made two different sets. The first set is made for the team members and has two different scenarios, first being the current job and the second is on the previous job experience if applicable. The second set of questions is for the managers which will discuss the impacts of turnover and the best practice which can be implemented in Indian call centre industry.
“When you are undertaking an exploratory study, or a study that includes an exploratory element it is likely that you will include qualitative research interview in your approach (Cooper and Schindler, 1998). As researcher have talked to interviewees to find out the reason of turnover(Why do they leave) and also what can be done to minimize it?, basically their beliefs and behaviour in respect to turnover, the exploratory compliments the semi structured interview very well by adding value to it. The researcher has ensured the quality of the primary data was unbiased and reliable. The researcher has tried be unbiased while conducting the interviews with both managers and team members ensuring there is no hierarchy biases.
Researcher has ensured that the interviews were compiled in short period of time keeping the constraint of time in mind. It took just 3 days to transcript the interviews and making sure that data was valid and accurate. Also interview had taken the permission before hand from the interviewees and did send the voice recording for their reference. This has omitted the possibility of data being misplaced or misused in a short period of time.(Ghauri and Gronhaug,2002). The interview questions are included as a part of Appendices (Appendix A and B).
Access to Data
Researcher got the access to interviewees by emailing the research questions to the employees and the managers in the Indian call centres. As researcher has 5 years of working experience working in the same industry, it was easy to approach the managers and the team members for the interview. They all are the inbound call centres with different customer service processes. Researcher managed to conduct interview with 5 managers from different call centres and 7 team members from different call centres again. All the interviews lasted between 30 to 45 minutes and the permission was taken by the interviewees. Interviewee’s are from Wipro, American express, SITEL India and V care, all these companies are the leading call centres in India. The interviewee is conducted with the operations manager, training head and HR manager from 4 different call centres in India and team members participated from 5 different call centres. All the participants are Indian, 11 male and 2 female have participated in the interview. The managers and team members are mostly graduate’s who have pursued their education from different universities. Most of the employees participated are from Gurgaon, India which is the main hub of call centres. The interviewee in the research will be abbreviated as Interviewee A, Interviewee B, Interviewee C, Interviewee D, Interviewee E, Interviewee F, Interviewee G and Interviewee 1, Interviewee 2, Interviewee 3, Interviewee4, Interviewee5 as employees and the mangers respectively, with their opinion based on the interview questions.
Using Secondary Data
Researcher has used the primary data as the main source, but has also referred to some of the journals for better insight. The secondary data has collected to compare with the interviews to make the base even stronger and has added value to the research. In this research, qualitative secondary data has been studied which comes under the category of compiled data, which has helped to get an inference on the turnover in the India Call Centre Industry. The author has assured that the secondary data collected is from repute cites and the data is absolutely valid and reliable.
The research study is analysed on the basis of qualitative data in a well planned manner and the approach is inductive, therefore the qualitative data will reflect the inductive approach. (Robson 2002 cited by Saunders et al, 2003) has said “the qualitative data are the characterized by their richness and fullness based on the level of exploration of the subject”, whilst researcher has concentrated in the qualitative data, which remains the key factor for the research with the interpretation of data. Researcher has used the exploratory strategy among the different methods to find out the result. The strategy adopted is Interpretivist, semi structured and inductive type of qualitative analysis.(Saunders et al,2003).
In my case
Researcher has taken in depth interviews with the managers and the team members of the different call centres through semi structured interviews. Secondary data has also been used marginally in order to back up the primary data. Researcher has conducted the first phase of interview with team members to find out the key factors of turn over and then with mangers to find the best practice to minimize the turnover through qualitative data.
Research Methodology Overview
The summary of the research methodology is categorized below for reference.
Interpretive research philosophy
Combined approach ‘inductive and deductive’
Cross sectional which includes indepth interview with different call centre managers and team members.
Research Data Collection methods
Semi structured interview and secondary data
Wells defines ‘Ethics in term of a code of behaviour appropriate to academics and the conduct of the search’. It is important that the interviewees be aware of the transparency of the data. They should be mad aware of, for what purpose the interview is being conducted and to what extend will that be used for the academic purpose. The research should keep the ethical constraint in mind and without harming the research population to humiliation. (Saunders et al,2003).
In my case
Researcher has given ethics the highest priority to ethics as it can lead to integrity issue. Researcher has assured that the data provided by the respondents are kept confidential as per the laws of Call Centres and have hidden their original identity. Researcher had to face constraint while getting the interviews done with the managers of different call centre. The researcher has assured that all the interviews were recorded over the phone and has kept it with him securely as it is confidential. Researcher has also pre informed the purpose of interview to the Managers and the team member. However they have been assured that the names used will be different due to integrity issue and will be used only for the academic purpose.
Limitations of Methodology
The major limitation of the research is the time constraint and the availability of interviewees.
The researcher wanted to go to India, personally to conduct the interviews, as the research is based on the ‘Turnover in Indian call centres’. Due to time constraint, researcher had to take interviews over the phone in a limited period of time. Also, due to less availability of interviewees, researcher could not conduct the surveys, but had to settle with the in depth interviews. The researcher has taken interviews with manager of reputed call centres and also with number of team members.
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Burns, R., Burns, R(2008). Business Research Methods and Statistics using SPSS.London: Sage publication
Gauri,P., Grenhoug, K(2005)Research Methods in Business Stuidies. England: Pearsono Education limited
Blaikie, N(2004) Designing Social Research. Cambridge Polity press.
Stubbins, R(2001)Exploratory Research In The Social Sciences.[online]. Available from: http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=hDE13_a_oEsC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=exploratory+research+quatations&ots=NjPGX3EDxK&sig=ROhiiChNXY2ssFUEN_0DfQrmzvA#v=onepage&q&f=falseOrder Now