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Prepare a discussion posting of at least 500 words that answers the following questions:

  1. Identify the most used research design in your field of study.
  2. Why is this design the most used?
  3. With which of the three methodologies is this research design associated?
  4. How good is the fit of this research design with your chosen field of specialization?
  • Chapter 6 Arbnor and Bjerke

26 t h e g r o u P P r o C e s s

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fA leader fAn innovator fA thought developer fA team organizer fA completer fA free rider

Table 2.1 provides a summary of the relative strengths and weak- nesses associated with each of these roles.

role type strengths Challenges

the leader Mature, confident, and pragmatic; clarifies goals; promotes decision making; delegates, but assumes control if necessary

Has a strong ego and tendency to be manipulative; thrives on verbal admiration and gratitude from teammates

the innovator Creative, imaginative, unorthodox, and able to solve difficult problems

Can be somewhat inflexible; sticks to own convictions

the thought developer

Sober, strategic, and discerning; sees all options and judges with analytical brilliance

Lacks drive and ability to inspire others; can be too critical and difficult to persuade

the team organiser

Cooperative, mild, and diplomatic; listens, builds, and averts friction

Can be indecisive in crunch situations

the Completer Painstaking, conscientious, and anxious; searches out errors and omissions and delivers on time

Inclined to worry unduly and is reluctant to delegate

the Free-rider Contributes narrowly, where he or she has special talents; dwells on technicalities

Aloof and disinterested; off-loads personal work on others; uses personal situations as excuse; plays on group sympathy

Ta b l e 2 .1 . S t r e n g t h s a n d W e a k n e s s e s o f I n d i v i d u a l R o l e s i n G r o u p W o r k P r o – c e s s e s

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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27C h A P t e r 2

It must be pointed out that one member of the group can have more than one of the above attributes. He or she may, therefore, play dif- ferent roles at various stages in the work process. Even in a group of three, all six attributes can be present. What is neces sary is that the group members are aware of the behaviour that their col leagues ex- press and are able to interpret the positive contributions that such behaviour can make to the total group effort.

It is also highly advisable for group members to keep in touch with each other frequently, and note the progress that individuals are making with their assignments. If someone is having trouble completing his or her part, the group must assist him or her to fig- ure out how to solve the problem. The group as a whole must be sup- portive and helpful. At the same time, it must be clear to each group member that the entire group is depending on everyone doing his or her part.

The attributes outlined in table 2.1 are discussed in detail below.

t h e l e a d e r

A leader type of person displays powers of control and coordination of the resources within the group. He or she tends to operate on a democratic, participatory basis, but is ready and able to assume rather more direct control when it feels necessary. He or she is adept at recognising and using resources within the group, and balancing its strengths and weaknesses. The leader usually has a good deal of trust and belief in people and sees their talents as useful resources, and not as threats to the role that he or she has carved out. The per- son in this role tends to be more concerned with practicalities and feasibility than with imaginative leaps of thought. He or she may not be the formally nominated leader of the group. Persons with such character traits must, despite their ego, know which part to play and when to play it in order to avoid undue conflict with the group.

t h e I n n o v a t o r

The innovator is the “ideas person”. He or she thinks constructively.

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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28 t h e g r o u P P r o C e s s

That is, their strength lies in the capacity to advance new ideas and strategies; this person brings new insights to bear on the problems and issues discussed. Such a creative mind is doubtlessly essential in solving complex social problems. This type of person has, however, other personality traits that make him or her difficult to work with. They are highly resistant to persuasion, show an unflinching belief in the rightfulness of their ideas and feel hurt about what they con- sider as unfavourable criticism of their ideas. Innovators are also usually undiplomatic in their reactions towards other group mem- bers owing to their assertive self-confidence and uninhibited self- expression. Many group members may therefore find themselves en- gaged in heated arguments with such a person, a process that can, at times, be very frustrating. There is the danger that such a person will opt out of the group if his or her ideas are persistently rejected. It is therefore necessary for other group members to exercise toler- ance and try to examine the positive elements in the ideas he or she puts forward rather than uncritically rejecting them because they may sound outrageous. Sometimes the misunderstandings between the innovator and the group are due to lack of clarity of expression. It is the task of the group leader to listen critically to the discussions, pick up the essential points, and present them in a manner that ena- bles other group members to gain the insight that the new ideas pro- vide.

t h e t h o u g h t d e v e l o p e r

Relationships between the innovator and other group members will be substantially improved if the group has a person with the attrib- ute of the thought developer. The strength of the thought developer lies in his or her ability to think critically, to analyse ideas and sug- gestions, and to evaluate their feasibility in terms of solving the problem at hand. This person is usually a very serious, critical, and objective person who is very sober in his or her reflections. He or she may not have a highly creative mind of his or her own but be incred- ibly keen in discerning the merits of ideas presented and moulding

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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them to suit the requirements of the group. But these traits have their negative sides as well. The person may tend to be overly critical, and like the innovator, difficult to persuade once he or she takes a standpoint. If he or she is not careful they can lower the morale in the group and use their faculties in a counterproductive manner. On the other hand, without their critical mind, asking thought-provok- ing questions, the group may become complacent with any first idea that an innovator introduces that has been accepted by the majority. It is therefore important to listen to the thought developer rather than brushing off his or her criticisms without careful analysis. It can save the group from ending up in blind alleys later in the work process.

t h e te a m o r g a n i s e r

The team organiser is the social mixer type of person. He or she is perceptive of the feelings, needs, and concerns of other group mem- bers, observing and promoting their strengths and minimising their weaknesses. His or her presence therefore raises the spirit of the group, diffuses tense situations, and provides a positive outlook on the work. With timely comments and jokes, this person helps to blunt the sharp edges of arguments between other group members. By reducing the friction, he or she makes communication within the group easier and makes the team members feel like meeting again after long hours of heated arguments. Team organisers may not con- tribute brilliant ideas or provide incisive critiques, but their presence is a great asset to their groups.

t h e C o m p l e t e r

The completer helps the group follow an agreed upon timetable and compels individual members to take deadlines seriously; to contrib- ute inputs expected of them or face the sanctions that might be agreed upon by the group. In other words, the group rarely gets careless or overconfident if there is a completer in their midst. He or she keeps the group on its toes, so to speak. This person is highly

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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30 t h e g r o u P P r o C e s s

anxious, often compulsive, introverted, and tense, and is eager to get the project completed, always reminding other group members of the submission date. But he or she does not compromise on stand- ards. The completer can be very much irritated by the arguments generated by others and may also accuse the team leader of not tak- ing the role seriously. All of this is aimed at communicating a sense of urgency and purpose in all group deliberations.

The completer is not the easiest person to deal with. He or she can irritate other group members with persistent nagging, and some group members would want to socially isolate him or her. The team leader must notice such developments and take up a discus sion with the individual members in private, or pose the problem for group discussion.

t h e F r e e – r i d e r

The group work process assumes that all individual members of the group contribute to the best of their ability to the collective action of the group (i.e., by producing a well-written project). But some indi- viduals may want a free ride on the efforts of other group members by contributing nothing or making an insignificant contribution. The free-rider’s actions may demotivate other individuals, restrain- ing them from contributing their utmost, because they feel that the free-rider is likely to gain the same benefits as those who make the effort to write the project. It will be in the group’s interest to draw the supervisor’s attention to the situation at the beginning of the project. The supervisor will then assist the group to deal with the sit- uation according to the rules of the university.

I n I t I A l t A s k s I n g r o u P P r o C e s s d e v e l o P m e n t

Well-functioning groups make deliberate efforts to grant voice to each individual in the group and make everyone feel connected. They also require specific rules of behaviour that are agreed upon by the group during the initial stages of its formation and modified

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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when necessary. The rules ensure discipline in the group and facili- tate task accomplishment.

Groups normally go through several stages in their development process and are described in the management literature using the following terms (see Komives et al. 1998):

fForming fInitial Norming fStorming fFurther Norming fPerforming

F o r m i n g

When students agree to work together they must use their first meeting to develop their relationships with one another. Asking about each other’s backgrounds and expectations for the group work is always a useful starting point. They must not take it for granted that each of them has the same kind of academic ambitions regard- ing the project work.

They must also arrange a social activity during the initial stages of the group work, even if they are under severe pressure to get their project work started. A social activity allows group members to get to know each other in a more relaxed atmosphere and to begin to gain some awareness about individual comfort zones.

I n i t i a l n o r m i n g

It is also important for the group to decide on specific rules and working procedures. Issues such as how frequently the group should meet, where meetings should be held, and for how long must be dis- cussed and agreed upon. It is also important to decide on communi- cation procedures. These may include rules relating to how informa- tion among group members should be disseminated, how delayed arrivals of individuals at arranged meetings should be communi- cated, et cetera. Some groups may consider it important to stipulate

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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32 t h e g r o u P P r o C e s s

penalties for infringing upon specific rules of the group. Discussing these issues up front will help group members reduce conflicts and irritations due to the behaviour of individual group members dur- ing later stages of the work process.

s t o r m i n g

Even if the rules have been agreed upon during the formation stage, the group will inevitably enter a storming stage at some point in the group work process. During this stage of group development, inter- personal conflicts arise and differences of opinion about the group and its goals will surface. If the group is unable to clearly state its purposes and goals, or if it cannot agree on shared goals, the group may collapse at this point. For example, this means that the research issue that the group should work on (i.e., the group’s problem state- ment) must be agreed upon as quickly as possible. This will give the group a clearer focus in its work process.

F u r t h e r n o r m i n g

When conflicts arise the group reassesses the effectiveness of its ex- isting rules in ensuring smooth work processes. Some rules will be maintained while others will be modified to fit the realities of the group’s process and ambitions. Free-riders may be required to vacate the group while the remaining group members reorganise them- selves and reconfirm their accepted rules of behaviour and sanctions for deviations. It is also important for the group to clarify expecta- tions of individuals and of the group as a whole, and reconfirm their work procedures and timetable.

P e r f o r m i n g

During this final stage of development, issues related to roles, expec- tations, and norms are no longer of major importance. The group is now focused on its task, working intentionally and effectively to ac- complish its goals.

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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t h e r o l e o F A s u P e r v I s o r

It was hinted above that working on a project is an independent stu- dent exercise under the supervision of an academic staff member. The role of the supervisor is one of a facilitator rather than a direc- tor. He or she guides the learning process by asking critical ques- tions and making suggestions that help the group to re-examine their thoughts on the problem of investigation. It is not his or her re- sponsibility to define the problem of investigation, find the relevant literature, or edit the work. If he or she does any of these things, the group must see it as a kind gesture rather than an obligation. The su- pervisor’s contribution to the group’s learning process will be greatly facilitated if the group presents its views clearly and specifies the problems and/or doubts that confront its members. By involving the supervisor in the discussion the group members may be able to im- prove their perceptions of the issues and move forward with their work.

Most supervisors would like you to present them with a summary of your discussions and the issues on which you require their opin- ion. This may cover a few pages. You must avoid sending twenty to thirty pages to your supervisor each time you request a meeting without clearly specifying which issues/problems you would like the supervisor to discuss with you.

It is important for you to exhibit self-discipline in your relation- ship with your supervisor. For example, you must arrive at the agreed time when you arrange a meeting. It is also important for you to contact your supervisor when you are stuck in your work pro- cess. If supervisors are not made aware of difficulties, they cannot provide the support that you may otherwise get.

k e y P o I n t s

Although there are many advantages in learning together in a group, student groups nearly always face serious challenges for a variety of reasons. Irrespective of the reasons for conflicts, you must face the

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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34 t h e g r o u P P r o C e s s

challenges and tackle problems in order to produce a good project and enrich your interpersonal relational experiences. This chapter offers you the following guidelines:

fBe conscious of the varieties of roles that you and your group mates play at various stages of the project. fEmphasise the strengths of each individual in order to build posi- tive synergy within the group. fEngage in deliberate and open discussions of conflicts within the group to help the group move forward with the task. fGroup members must design deliberate strategies to manage the group development process (i.e., manage the forming, norming, storming and performing process). fRemember that your supervisor is a facilitator and not a team leader.

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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35C h A P t e r 3

ChAP T ER 3 t h e P r o j e C t w o r k P r o C e s s

I n t r o d u C t I o n

A very important first step in the project work process is choosing the right topic and research issues that you want to investigate. This chapter seeks to help you make these important decisions regarding your choice of research themes and topics and to guide you through your problem formulation process. It also guides you about what to do when you get stuck in the process due to unforeseen circum- stances. When you decide to work on a topic or a problem that cap- tures the interest of all students in the group, this will motivate you to be fully engaged in the work. It will also stimulate positive inter- action and discussions within your group.

The chapter also discusses the iterative nature of a project work process. That is, as you read further about the project and continue work on the problem you have initially formulated, you will discover newer dimensions and perspectives to the problem. This will make it necessary for you to modify the problem.

r e s e A r C h A s A n I t e r A t I v e P r o C e s s

A research process is not a straight line. It is iterative. Your group must therefore develop its own logic of investigation. This will help you to determine issues that are essential and guide you to the sources of information required for your analysis. As your project progresses, you and your group members will acquire new knowl- edge and improve your perception of the issues that you investigate. You will then be able to take a fresh look at some of the ideas and viewpoints that you have earlier expressed and to modify them in

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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36 t h e P r o j e C t w o r k P r o C e s s

the light of your improved knowledge. Even your research questions (i.e., problem formulation) are likely to change as new information is acquired about the issues that you are investigating. This is an essen- tial dimension of the learning process based on project work.

Start writing drafts of the various chapters of your project as soon as to you have agreed on the research issues to investigate. This will give you the opportunity to think through your arguments several times during the project work process. If you begin the writing pro- cess only after all data have been collected you will realize that you will run out of time and you cannot read through the project care- fully before submitting it. This can have disastrous consequences for the quality of the project.

In figure 3.1 I have summarized the iterative project work process:

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Choosing a project theme

Specifying topic of interest within the theme

A review of available knowledge on the theme and topic of interest

Problem formulation and definition of scope and aim of the project

Identification and choice of relevant concepts and theories through literature reviews

Initial data collection and analysis

More elaborate collection and analysis

Acquisition and analysis of additional data

Discussions and reflections

Final corrections and completion of the project

F i g . 3 .1 . A S c h e m a t i c I l l u s t r a t i o n o f a P r o j e c t W o r k P r o c e s s

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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C h o o s I n g t h e P r o j e C t t h e m e

The first decision that your group has to make is which theme in your field of study you consider interesting for your project. For ex- ample, if you are students of international business you may con- sider these themes as relevant areas for your study:

1 International industry analysis 2 Analysis of the international competitive advantages of small

firms 3 Export marketing and market analysis 4 Foreign direct investment 5 Development of international organisations 6 International human resource management 7 Intercultural management

Each of the themes listed above draws attention to a set of specific is- sues that have relevance for understan ding the strategies, opera- tions, and performance of international businesses, but they are too general for a good research project.

C h o o s I n g t h e t o P I C

Having decided on the theme of investigation you can proceed to choose a topic that captures your interest. For example, if you choose industry analysis as a theme, you will have to decide which particu- lar industry or industries will be the focus of your investigation. Similarly, several topics may be considered under export marketing, such as the mode of entry into foreign markets, or the motives and process of internationalisation.

The topic must be considered relevant and intellectually stimulat- ing for all group members. That is, there should be a strong desire in each member to work on that topic. You must therefore engage in elaborate discussions of the various topics of interest of the individ- ual group members. These discussions will initially cover a wide

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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range of interests, but you will eventually realise the similarities in your interests and be able to agree on a topic that all of you consider relevant to investigate.

Fisher (2010) provides a six-stage process model to guide students in choosing a project topic. These are reproduced in box 3.1 for a quick reference.

B o x 3 .1 . P r o c e s s f o r C h o o s i n g r e s e a r c h to p i c

1. Identify a broad topic of interest 2. Determine the scope 3. Discuss the key issues, puzzles, and questions that arise from

the topic 4. Map and structure these issues to see their interconnections 5. Reflect on the relevance/research potential of each of the issues 6. Frame the research questions you would like to address

Source: Adapted from Fisher (2010: 35).

After deciding on the topic, you must also discuss the scope of your research: what to include and what to leave out of the project. Like other parts of the process, this is also tentative; however, doing so entails brainstorming, using lecture notes and other readings, and combining them with your personal observations and reflections. Each of the group members must participate actively in the discus- sions if individual interests are not to be overlooked by the others. Each suggested focus or problem must be written on a black/white- board and thoroughly discussed.

P r o B l e m F o r m u l A t I o n

Having agreed on the topic, the next stage in the project work pro- cess is to define the research questions (i.e., possible problems that will be worth investigating and/or solving within the chosen topic). I have argued earlier that research problems should, ideally, be de-

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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39C h A P t e r 3

fined in specific terms in order to avoid creating doubts in the minds of the group members as to the focus and scope of the project. But such a clear-cut definition may be nearly impossible in social science research. The problem definition must, therefore, be considered as an iterative process where new knowledge about the problem im- proves your perception and the clarity with which the problem can be defined.

Initially, your group must arrive at a working definition of its problem—in other words, a tentative description that highlights the central issues of investigation. For example, a group interested in analysing the pharmaceutical industry may want to examine the de- gree of concentration within that industry and the factors that influ- ence relationships of companies within the industry. Another group interested in export marketing may want to investigate the market selection process of small companies in Denmark or of companies within a specific industry.

The following questions may provide you with some inspiration in formulating your problem :

fWhat is the background of the problem (i.e., how did it come about)? fWhat has been the focus of earlier studies done in this area? fWhat have these earlier studies ignored or paid limited attention to? fWhat knowledge gap can be identified? fWhat are the main research issues we want to focus our attention on? fWhat makes these issues interesting and relevant? fWhat do we hope to accomplish in the project? fWhat are our strengths (and limitations/constraints) in conduct- ing this investigation? fCan these issues be investigated within the specified time limits? fCan we gain access to relevant data?

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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40 t h e P r o j e C t w o r k P r o C e s s

Discussions along these lines will help you to provide a strong ra- tionale for your project by demonstrating its relevance to some spe- cific stakeholders in an organization or society or justifying the en- hancement of knowledge that the study seeks to provide. This will also help you to avoid choosing a problem area that may be interest- ing but too broad to be handled in a satisfactory manner within a short span of time. Bear in mind that by focusing attention on se- lected issues you automatically ignore others. This is normal. It is, however, a good idea for you to inform your readers that you are aware of this general limitation in social science research.

Many non-Scandinavian students usually consider the problem formulation process very tiresome, boring, and a sheer waste of time. They wonder why their Scandinavian group mates cannot sim- ply agree on an issue and just find a solution. The frustrations they experience are partly due to differences in learning traditions. It is important for the group members (both Scandinavian and non- Scandinavian) to remind themselves that the problem formulation process involves an upfront time investment, but time savings dur- ing subsequent phases of the project.

l I t e r A t u r e r e v I e w A n d j u s t I F I C A t I o n o F t h e r e s e A r C h

Research must be positioned in relation to the existing body of liter- ature and build on previous research done on the subject. This helps the researcher identify issues that have not been covered by previous researchers and therefore provides a justification for the research. A strong justification for the research motivates readers to read be- yond the opening paragraph of the project. As students, you will be required to do the same. You must therefore read a bit about the topic. Scan through the contemporary literature, noting the main- stream thoughts and issues discussed, as well as the different view- points expressed by other scholars on the issue. In this way you will be able to contribute in a lively and constructive manner to the dis-

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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cussions at your group meetings and help your group to bring sev- eral different perspectives to bear on the issues discussed. It will also be useful to involve the group’s supervisor in the discussions and to draw on other academic staff members that may have some knowl- edge of the issues that you consider worth investigating. The in- volvement of these people in the discussion at this stage of the re- search process will help your group settle misunderstandings that might arise.

Having agreed on the issues to investigate, your group can now plan the subsequent stages of the research, including the theoretical foundations on which to base your investigations, methods to adopt to fulfil the objectives, and how to structure the entire project. I will discuss these in detail in part two of the book.

r e s e A r C h s t r A t e g y A n d r e s o u r C e s

Considering the fact that students normally have limited time and resources for their projects, you may need to discuss these resource limitations while choosing a problem for investigation. For example, there are some issues in business economics that are highly interest- ing, important, and may be relevant for investigation within the current business situations, but that are too resource demanding for you to undertake. From a learning perspective, it will be pedagogi- cally more rewarding for you to work on a problem that is less ambi- tious in scope and novelty than to set out on an ambitious inves- tigation that you may abandon halfway. You must therefore consider your resource limitations when defining the problem in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.

The above statements suggest that you must undertake prelimi- nary discussion of appropriate methods of investigation at the same time as discussing the focus of the project. It is important for you to get some idea about which kinds of data are required for a satisfac- tory work on the various problems of interest, the sources of such data, methods of data collection, and anticipated problems in col-

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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42 t h e P r o j e C t w o r k P r o C e s s

lecting them. These considerations should influence your problem formulation.

In some cases the data collection process may prove more difficult than you anticipate, even after previous elaborate discussion. You must not discontinue the project for this reason. Discuss the diffi- culties with your supervisor and work out an acceptable approach that will enable you to finish the project.

o B j e C t I v e s o F y o u r s t u d y

It is important for you to state the aim of your project very clearly. This specifies what your readers should expect from reading the pro- ject. You can choose between descriptive and normative types of re- search. As the name implies, the aim of descriptive research is to provide a description of a particular problem under investigation. That is, the project provides a clear picture of the issues investigated. For example, your project may be about Danish companies’ attitude to investment in developing countries. Such a project may provide information on the number of Danish companies investing in devel- oping countries, the distribution of their investment in terms of size, geographical location, sector, and product. You may also describe the investment decision-making process, as well as the underlying reasons for making such investments. Further investigations may also examine whether there is any relationship between the compa- ny’s size, industry of operation, investment decision, et cetera. Such an investigation can form the basis for forecasting Danish foreign investment in developing countries in subsequent years. This kind of project has a descriptive objective (or ambition), because it de- scribes what is happening, how it is happening, and what is expected to happen in the future, based on what we know today.

On the other hand, a normative research project provides guide- lines for decision making. That is, the project outlines what a ra- tional decision maker should do under the identified conditions in order to attain a given objective. For instance, if the project that ex-

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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amines investment in developing countries had a normative aim, the group would identify mistakes made by Danish companies in their investment decision-making process and discuss the reasons for committing such errors. The project would also present sugges- tions for solving the problems in order to help the Danish compa- nies make optimal use of their investment resources. A normative objective would, for instance, be appropriate when dealing with the investments of a specific Danish company in a given country or re- gion.

A normative study will have a descriptive part, which forms the foundation for the strategy or actions proposed by the group. This means that the group will use its analysis of the situation to justify the guidelines it recommends. Many supervisors of business-related student projects encourage their students to have both descriptive and normative ambitions for the projects.

k e y P o I n t s

This chapter highlights the iterative nature of the project work pro- cess that you will be involved in. It also identifies some of the stages of the process and the decisions that you must make at each stage. These include: the identification of a theme and a topic, the formula- tion of the problems to be investigated, and the need to take your re- source limitations into account in the various decisions you make.

The chapter stresses the importance of the problem formulation process and provides you with some guidelines on how to go about formulating your problem statement. The following points require particular attention:

fYou (and your group) must spend adequate time discussing the research issues that you would like to investigate and formulate them in clear terms. fYou must read what other researchers have written about the is- sues that you would like to investigate and draw attention to the

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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44 t h e P r o j e C t w o r k P r o C e s s

issues that have not been covered in the previous research. This provides justification for your investigation. fYou are allowed to modify the research issues as you read more about the project and gain more insight into it. fThe entire research process is iterative. In other words, each step in the process can be revisited when new ideas or new informa- tion emerge that require a re-examination of decisions made ear- lier. fThe writing process must not wait until all data are collected. Drafts and notes must be written, kept, and revised continuously in order to produce a good quality project at the end of the pro- cess. fDo not stop your project if you run into unanticipated difficulties in implementing your research plans. Discuss the problems with your supervisor. He or she will help you find appropriate solu- tions.

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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ChAP T ER 4 s t r u C t u r e o F y o u r P r o j e C t r e P o r t

I n t r o d u C t I o n

Two of the main criteria for evaluating your final report are the rele- vance of the materials that you have presented in each chapter and the logical flow of your arguments. Experience shows that some stu- dents place greater emphasis on the size of the report (i.e., the num- ber of pages) than on the relevance of the contents to the problem that they set out to investigate. Very often, the descriptive chapters that are aimed at providing background information swell up dur- ing the writing process and assume prominence over the analytical chapters. As a result, although the final report covers several pages, the substantive discussions become thin and superficial. It is there- fore important for you to pay attention to each section and chapter of the project and make sure that the purpose is clearly communi- cated to the reader.

This chapter provides you with some guidelines in the design of the entire project. It draws your attention to the role that each chap- ter can play in the project. Some universities and departments pro- vide their students with clear guidelines on how to structure student projects. In the absence of such guidelines, the structure presented in this chapter should offer you a useful guide.

A g e n e r A l P r o j e C t s t r u C t u r e

Box 4.1 provides you with a list of items included in a project report. This constitutes a generic structure.of a project report. Different universities and departments may deviate from this general struc- ture by specifying a sequence of items that serves the purpose of the

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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programme that they offer. Universities also differ in terms of text layout, section headings and sub-sections that they recommend their students to use. Follow the guidelines offered at your univer- sity.

B o x 4 .1 . g e n e r a l s t r u c t u r e o f t h e P r o j e c t r e p o r t

1. Title page 2. Table of contents 3. Abstract or executive summary 4. Acknowledgements 5. List of acronyms (if any) 6. Introduction 7. Main body of the project

This will usually contain several chapters including methodolo- gical, theoretical, and empirical chapters, as well as discus- sion and reflection chapters

8. Summary and conclusions 9. References 10. Appendices

t i t l e p a g e

The title page provides the following information

fThe title of the project fThe name of the students fThe name of the study programme and the semester fThe name of the department and university

ta b l e o f C o n t e n t s

The table of contents provides a list of the chapters and main sec- tions in the project, as well as the pages on which they appear. Some universities specify different levels of headers that students must use in their projects. In the absence of specific guidelines, students may use three levels of headers. The first is the title of the chapter. The

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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47C h A P t e r 4

second is the title of each section (also called an A-head), and the third is the title of each subsection (also called a B-head). The con- tents normally contain only first-level headings, and in some cases second-level headings.

A b s t r a c t / e x e c u t i v e s u m m a r y

Abstracts and executive summaries are written after the report has been completed. An abstract covers just half a page. It provides a summary of the whole project, highlighting the reasons for the pro- ject, the research design, the main findings, and the conclusion. An executive summary serves the same objective but is a bit longer (two pages maximum) and is usually written by business students who would like to provide executives with a summary of their investiga- tions. These executive summaries place emphasis on the main find- ings, conclusions, and recommendations.

The choice between abstract and executive summary is usually determined by the preferences of the programme director and/or su- pervisor of the project. You are therefore advised to read the guide- lines for your programme to determine whether abstracts or execu- tive summaries are required.

A c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s

The acknowledgement section offers you an opportunity to express your gratitude to those who have supported you in the research pro- cess, which may include organisations, companies, managers, and other officers that have granted you interviews or supported you by providing other forms of data. You may also offer thanks to persons and organisations that have granted you financial assistance in con- nection with the project.

l i s t o f ta b l e s

As an aid to the reader, it may be a good idea to provide a list of all tables included in the project for a quick overview, but this is not ob- ligatory.

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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48 s t r u C t u r e o F y o u r P r o j e C t r e P o r t

l i s t o f A c r o n y m s

Acronyms are popularly known names of institutions made up from the first letters of their official names or titles. Examples include the UN, NATO, WTO, EU, and OECD. You may also create your own acronyms as short versions of names of organisations that appear in the project. It is purposeful to provide a list of these acronyms and what they officially cover so that the reader can quickly reference them when he or she is in doubt.

I n t r o d u c t i o n

The introductory chapter should contain the following information:

fBackground and justification of research issues. fBrief outline of the structure of the project and links between the chapters.

You must specify the domain of your research in the opening para- graph of the introduction. This paragraph should highlight the im- portance of the research topic and why it deserves academic atten- tion. The immediate justification of the research topic will motivate readers to read beyond the opening paragraph.

The second paragraph should help you to further develop the re- search problem. As noted in chapter three, researchers normally do so by locating the issues of investigation in the existing literature on the topic, by providing a brief but focused review of the available lit- erature. This paragraph indicates the current state of knowledge in the area and what is important to know but not yet known. Remem- ber that a study cannot be justified on the grounds that it has not been done previously.

You will normally start writing the introductory chapter of the project right from the beginning of the project work. But remember that you cannot fully introduce the project until you have finished your work. The initial drafts of the introductory chapter will provide you with a direction or roadmap for the project. When the project is

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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49C h A P t e r 4

completed, read through these drafts once again and revise them to reflect what you have actually done before submitting your project for examination. That is, you must be sure that what is in the intro- duction is consistent with the various elements in the entire project.

The introduction is followed by the main body of the project, which will typically contain a number of chapters that discuss the methodology, the theory, the empirical aspects, as well as discus- sions and reflections as described in the following:

t h e m e t h o d o l o g y C h a p t e r

You will present your research design in this chapter. The research design explains the master plan of the research (i.e., how to conduct the research and the methods used). That is, you must specify which kinds of data you will collect, why, where, and how you will collect them, and how you will analyse the data in order to answer the re- search questions. (See chapter five of the book for a more detailed discussion. Additional information can be obtained in chapters eight, nine, and ten regarding choice of methods.)

t h e t h e o r e t i c a l C h a p t e r s

These are chapters that highlight your understanding of the existing body of theories on which your study is based. This may contain several chapters, depending on the nature of the project. (See chap- ter six of the book for a more detailed discussion.)

e m p i r i c a l C h a p t e r s

These are chapters that present an analysis of the data as well as the major findings from the study. (See chapters eight, nine, and ten of the book for a more detailed discussion.)

d i s c u s s i o n a n d r e f l e c t i o n

You should devote a chapter to discussing the implications of your findings, as well as some reflections on the project process itself. This chapter allows you to take a final look at what you have done.

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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50 s t r u C t u r e o F y o u r P r o j e C t r e P o r t

First, you will discuss the implications of your findings for the vari- ous stakeholders that the project concerns: governments, organisa- tions, companies, and/or various groups in the society. Second, you will also reflect on how you have conducted the investigation, the difficulties that you have faced, and how you have addressed these difficulties. Third, you may specifically reflect on your choice of the- ories and method, noting the consistencies between them. (See chapter elevent of the book for a more detailed discussion.)

s u m m a r y a n d C o n c l u s i o n s

Following the main body of the project report, you write your sum- mary and conclusions. Some students have a tendency to write their conclusions hurriedly as if they do not expect them to be read with any seriousness. You must pay attention to your conclusions. Most examiners will take a look at the introductory chapter of the project and then hold the contents against the conclusions in order to ascer- tain whether you have delivered what you promised in the introduc- tion. That is, examiners read conclusions with substantial attention.

You may start your concluding chapter by briefly summarising the project, highlighting the main assumptions and findings. There must be consistency between what you have written in the introduc- tion and the conclusion. That is, the conclusion must reflect the ex- tent to which you have been successful in fulfiling the objectives set out for the project. Box 4.2 provides you with some guidelines on how to write conclusions.

B o x 4 . 2 . g u i d e l i n e s f o r w r i t i n g C o n c l u s i o n

▶ Are the conclusions related to the focus of the investigation (i.e., the research problem)?

▶ Do we have solid arguments and bring evidence to bear on the conclusions?

▶ What limitations does our analysis contain and how do these in- fluence our conclusions?

Kuada, John, and John Kuada. Research Methodology : A Project Guide for University Students : A Project Guide for University Students, Samfundslitteratur, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/indwes/detail.action?docID=3400854. Created from indwes on 2021-03-18 12:49:00.

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