定性研究方法作业:Qualitative Research Methods Assignment

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Introduction and a Brief Literature Review

In the CSR literature (e.g. Niskala & Tarna, 2003; Friedman & Miles, 2006; Morsing & Schultz, 2006) much em-phasis has been put on the effective communication between a company and its stakeholders and successful stakeholder dialogue is said (Maignan, Ferrell & Hult, 1999) to play an important role even in companies’ overall success. However, creating a forum for flourishing stakeholder dialogue is easier said than done. To make CSR communication slightly less complicated Ásványi (2009) offers a list of different ways of managing CSR communication, includ-ing tools such as CSR reporting, codes of conducts and logos of certification, all of which facilitate the flow of information to relevant stakeholders. How-ever, many of these techniques are just one-way information from the com-pany down to the stakeholders, lacking a real opportunity for feedback, inter-action and mutual learning (Morsing, 2006). By contrast, social media, which is by definition interactive and engaging (Benkler, 2006; Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010), can serve as an innovative platform for sharing experiences and thoughts. If used wisely, social media holds great potential in helping compa-nies to pinpoint different stakeholder demands and to respond accordingly.   
A quick search using keywords ‘social media’ and ‘stakeholder communica-tion’ or ‘CSR communication’ on some major research databases pulls hardly any articles, let alone books. Fieseler, Fleck and Meckel (2010) discuss CSR in the blogosphere and Du, Bhattacharya and Sen (2010) briefly refer to social media as an informative communication channel in their study. Consequently, it seems that if there are academic papers written on the subject of CSR com-munication and social media, those texts are either in the pipeline (which might well be the case considering the novelty of social media as a phenome-non) or have been written from a rather narrow viewpoint. Having said that, though, the business community has acknowledged the potential of social media in stakeholder communication. The SMI (2010) ranks companies based on how well they communicate CSR-related issues through social media and companies like Starbucks and Timberland communicate with their stake-holders through different social media applications. The first mentioned, for instance, asks customers to share their ideas (on products, experiences and involvement) through MyStarbucksIdea.com where thoughts are then dis-cussed and voted by other users and then the best ones put into practice (Starbucks, 2010).   #p#分页标题#e#
Furthermore, the European Communication Monitor (2010) lists CSR com-munication among the five biggest challenges that the communication sector will face in the future. Accordingly, the importance of CSR communication has been recognised, but few companies appear yet to have jumped on the band-wagon with social media in CSR, and little outcomes have been reported so far. In my study, I consequently intend to discuss the benefits (and possible risks alike) of utilising social media in CSR communication and then compare the results with the traditional one-way CSR tools. I will support my argumenta-tion by combining the relevant elements of the much written theories of CSR communication on one hand and of social media on the other. My study is driven both by personal interest and aspiration to contribute to the current knowledge of the subject.

Research Question

Bryman and Bell (2007) suggest following a four-step model when defining a research question. They represent that the process of selecting a research question starts by first defining the wider picture, i.e. the conceivable re-search area and the suitable aspect of that chosen field. Subsequently, the next step of brainstorming possible themes helps to narrow down the general idea into more specific research questions. The last stage is to choose the most appropriate research question in terms of the study. Accordingly, at the beginning I had only a vague idea of studying something related to CSR com-munication, but in the course of time it became clearer that the chosen point of view would be something pertaining to social media. After conducting the initial literature review discussed earlier and not finding that much evidence of academic literature combining these two aspects, I decided to initiate my study by separately analysing the current usage of (1) social media and (2) the other CSR communication tools in companies’ CSR interaction. The fol-lowing step would, I thought, be to carry out a comprehensive risk–benefit analysis for each tool chosen. In other words, the first stage would be to iden-tify how and to what extent social media and other CSR communication tools are currently employed and the second step aimed to describe what kind of potential, to wit risks and benefits, each of them hold. In addition, to be able to define whether social media is a beneficial supplement to CSR communica-tion toolbox, the findings would then also be compared between each other. As a result of the consideration, the following research question is framed (see Table 1 for further information):  
What are the benefits of using social media in CSR communication in compari-son with other CSR communication tools? +Research Methods 
My positioning in terms of ontology (objectivism/constructivism) and epis-temology (positivism/interpretivism) falls neither purely under qualitative nor quantitative regimes, but rather somewhere in-between. I have therefore decided to pursue a pragmatic research design, by mixing quantitative and qualitative data collection methods as well as quantitative and qualitative in-terpretation and analysis techniques. (Gold, 2010.) My approach will be in-ductive, i.e. theory creating, as there are not great many pre-existing theories to be tested on social media and CSR communication. A sequential mix of both quantitative and qualitative methods will secure more comprehensive and holistic understanding of the issue than what employing just one of the afore-said methods would allow (Hohenthal, 2007).   #p#分页标题#e#
The following table illustrates the multi-dimensional framework employed. In order for acquiring a full understanding of social media in CSR communica- tion, the phenomenon will be studied first as it is at the present and subse-quently in terms of possible risks and benefits. Social media being such a new and constantly evolving communication tool (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010), nei-ther of the aspects alone would provide us with a sufficient picture of social media in CSR communication. Hence both aspects, i.e. the current situation as well as risks and benefits, are necessary to be included. In order to allow the comparison, the same approach will then be applied to the other CSR com-munication tools alike.+The quantitative techniques will include searching http://www.ukthesis.org/Assignment_Writing/ the web pages of the Top 100 companies on the Fortune Global 500 list to obtain knowledge of their CSR communication tools. The quantitative research is conducted in order to quantify what CSR communication tools are in use and if social media is util-ised one way or another. It forms the factual context within which the qualita-tive methods are being utilised.  
From a qualitative point of view, I will conduct a case study in the form of semi-structured interviews with a global professional services firm. The qualitative approach was chosen not only to add on to the quantitative re-search, but also to create a better and deeper comprehension of the risks and benefits involved in CSR interaction. Pratt (2009) argues that one of the big-gest assets of qualitative research is its creative nature and this is indeed one of the reasons why a qualitative approach is chosen. I do not just aim to state the ‘is’, but to go beyond that by studying what social media can bring to the table. Qualitative research has also been praised to be effective in illustrating complex issues (Conger, 1998) and as such ought to complement my study in the not well established field of social media in CSR communication.  
The one-hour semi-structured interviews will be conducted with two CSR consultants from the aforesaid professional services firm. Using consultants with experience across the industry, as opposed to interviewing just individ-ual CSR officers, provides better results in terms of generalisability across dif-ferent sectors. What is more, the firm in question has a long history in CSR consulting and their know-how is internationally acknowledged and trusted, in consequence providing us with a convenient and purposeful sample. ‘Nar-ratives and conversations are today regarded as essential for obtaining knowledge of the social world, including scientific knowledge’ (Kvale, 1996: 8–9), which is why interviewing is chosen as the qualitative data collection method. Interviews will give me an access to data which is not yet available anywhere else and is of nature that resembles tacit knowledge of a sort.  
All of the interviews will be recorded and transcribed so as to allow the inter-viewer fully to focus on the interviewee, repeat the examinations, if need be, as well as to avoid the accidental loss of data (Bryman and Bell, 2007). The initial interview guide consists of 10 questions. The first four questions re-gard the benefits of each CSR communication tool (i.e. CSR reporting, codes of conduct, certification logos and social media) and the following four on risks respectively. The two last ones will expand more on how to utilise social me-dia in CSR interaction. The approach of semi-structured interviews was cho-sen, because structured interviews might be too constricting and inflexible a method to tackle a complex phenomenon like social media and completely unstructured interviews seemed too uncontrollable for a novice interviewer like myself.#p#分页标题#e#


I have already started my study by conducting the initial literature review. Reviewing what others have written about the issue has allowed me to frame my research question and to create a plan for my research. The next step will be obtaining even deeper understanding of CSR communication and social media separately as well as combining these two aspects to serve the purpose of my study. Given that the interviews are scheduled for early spring, much of the preliminary research will be conducted during the very first weeks of 2011. The interviews will be conducted prior to the quantitative research so that a full advantage can be taken of the knowledge shared. After collecting both quantitative and qualitative data, hopefully by Easter, the records will be analysed and the results reflected against literature. The final part consisting of writing, reading and re-writing will be carried out during the summer term; see Appendix 1 for further information.


My research will not require any monetary contributions apart from a couple of journeys to and from the consultancy firm. Interviewees will provide the venue for the interviews and I will use my own mobile phone as a recorder. The quantitative study conducted on the Internet will also be zero cost as all the information needed, i.e. CSR reports, codes of conducts, certification logos and of course social media applications, should be downloadable free of charge and no paper versions are needed.   
Consequently, the biggest contribution will be my time. Searching, hunting down and going through the relevant literature will certainly take its time. Writing, re-writing and proof-reading will be the most time-consuming part and need to be scheduled and managed well for example through a learning diary. Both running interviews and transcribing are new methods that I have never used before and will therefore need some extra time and dedication from my side. I refer to Bailey’s (2008) suggestion of transcription as a highly interpretative process, which can take up to three hours per one-hour inter-view.  
My data collection should be rather straightforward and no special software will be needed. Microsoft Word and Excel ought to be enough for analysing the interview results after the transcription. Nor should I encounter major problems in accessing data, as CSR communication, by nature, is open, infor-mative and easily accessible. What is more, consultants’ confidentiality to-wards their clients should not be a problem as I am not investigating the per-formance of individual companies, but rather trying to illustrate differences between different CSR communication tools. Nevertheless, some unexpected drawbacks might occur; the aforementioned commercial SMI Index, for ex-ample, is extremely expensive and only the executive summary is available for free.#p#分页标题#e#


Ásványi, K. (2009) ‘CSR communication of a large bank’. In Proceedings of FI-KUSZ ’09 Symposium for Young Researchers  1 –2 .  udapest  Tech Keleti Károly.  ailey, J. (200 ) ‘First Steps in Qualitative Data Analysis  Transcribing’. Family Practice, 25: 127–131. Benkler, Y. (2006) The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Trans-forms Markets and Freedom. Available: http://www.congo-education.net/wealth-of-networks/ (Accessed: 2010, 13 December). Bryman, A. & Bell, E. (2007) Business Research Methods 2nd ed. Oxford: Ox-ford University Press. Conger, J. A. (199 ) ‘Qualitative Research as the Cornerstone Methodology for Understanding Leadership’. Leadership Quarterly, 9: 107–122. Du, S., Bhattacharya, C.B. & Sen, S. (2010) ‘Maximizing  usiness Returns to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)  The Role of CSR Communication’. In-ternational Journal of Management Reviews. 12: 8–19. Gold, M. (2010) Lecture Notes, Lecture 10 - Proposal Advice (all). European Communication Monitor (2010). ‘Status Quo and Challenges for Public Relations in Europe: Results of an Empirical Survey in 46 Countries’. Available: http://www.zerfass.de/ecm/ECM2010-Results-ChartVersion.pdf (Accessed: 2010, December 12) Fieseler, C., Fleck, M. & Meckel, M. (2010) ‘Corporate Social Responsibility in the  logosphere’. Journal of Business Ethics, 91: 599–614. Friedman, A.L. & Miles, S. (2006) Stakeholders: Theory and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hohenthal, J. (200 ) ‘Integrating qualitative and quantitative methods in re-search on international entrepreneurship’. Journal of International Entrepre-neurship, 4: 175–190. Kaplan, A. M. & Haenlein, M. (2010) ‘Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media’. Business Horizons, 53: 59–68.

Kvale, S. (1996) InterViews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Inter-
viewing. California: Sage Publications, Inc. 
Maignan, I., Ferrell, O. C. & Hult, G.T.M (1999) ‘Corporate Citizenship  CulturalAntecedents and  usiness  enefits’. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sci-ence, 27: 455–469.
Morsing, M. & Schultz, M. (2006) ‘Corporate social responsibility communica-tion  stakeholder information, response and involvement strategies’. BusinessEthics: A European Review, 15: 323–338.
Morsing, M. (2006) ‘Strategic CSR Communication  Telling Others How GoodYou Are’ In Jonker, J. & Witte, M. (ed.) Management Models for Corporate So-cial Responsibility: 238–246. Berlin: Springer.
Niskala, M. & Tarna, K. (2003) Yhteiskuntavastuun raportointi. Helsinki: KHT-Media.
Pratt, M.G. (2009) ‘From the Editors. For the Lack of a  oilerplate-Tips onWriting up (and Reviewing) Qualitative Research’. Academy of ManagementJournal, 52: 856–862.#p#分页标题#e#
Starbucks (2010) ‘MyStarbucksIdea.com’. Available  (Ac-cessed: 2010: December 9).
SMI (2010) ‘The SMI Social Media Sustainability Index’. Available:(Accessed: 2010, December 9).

Appendix 1. Timescale
Month  Schedule
January  In-depth literature review + preparing for the interviews. Fram-
ing the final questions, piloting the interview questions, dealing
with the practicalities, such as checking the equipment, ac-
quainting myself with the interviewees and their company,
meeting with my supervisor etc.
February  Interviews. The exact number and length to be confirmed with
the interviewees in accordance with their availability March  Transcribing + drawing preliminary conclusions
April  Quantitative research. Collecting data and making some conclu-sion alike
May  Exam preparation. If time, start with writing (background for
June  Exams. Writing: introduction, literature review and research methodology. Second meeting with my supervisorJuly  Writing: data analysis, linking with the literature. Hopefully third
meeting with my supervisor
August  Wrapping up the writing: conclusion, references + proof-reading. Asking a friend to read and comment the latest version.Final modificationsSeptember  Handing in the final version of my dissertation


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