In order to settle for the best research strategy and approach, Saunders et al (2009) came up with a figure known as the ‘Research Onion’. This is used in defining the different layers of the methodology the research adopts. The first two layers are the research philosophy and approach. These are followed by the research strategies, time horizons, and the research choices. At the centre of the onion is the data collection and analysis.
The philosophy adopted by the researcher involves significant assumptions concerning the perspective of the researcher as far as the surrounding situations are concerned. This can be either realism, interpretivism, or positivism (Saunders et al, 2009). In positivism, replication of results and similar conclusions are possible due to law-like generalizations. In interpretivism, it is important that the researcher comprehends that humans interpret the social obligations of others according to the meanings they attach to them. Therefore, they adopt an empathetic approach. In other words, the researcher strives to understand the concepts from the point of view of the subjects. Realism, on the other hand, is a reflection of reality. This is to say, the researcher assumes the sense data as real (Saunders et al 2009). The first quantitative approach takes a realism approach because it takes the data collected by the questionnaires as true. The second qualitative approach, on the other hand, takes an interpretivism approach since it involves the study of experience from the viewpoint of the individual.
There are two main research approaches. These are the deductive and inductive approaches (Colman, 2002). A deductive approach is applied when the researcher comes up with a theory or hypothesis based on the literature review (Saunders et al 2009). This is the approach taken by the first quantitative research. In contrast, the inductive approach begins with the data collection activity then formulates a theory from the collected data (Saunders et al 2009). This is the approach adopted by the second qualitative proposal.
The first quantitative proposal takes a positive correlation approach. This allows more breadth to the overall analysis of the subject of the challenges of implementing management development schemes in China. The positive correlation approach also allows quantitative data to be taken into account and hence, the research of the subject will be more all-rounded. The second qualitative approach takes a phenomenology qualitative design strategy. The research settled for this approach since the strategy involves the study of experience from the viewpoint of the individual. In addition, it tries to find out and seek an insight into some of the assumptions that are taken, in most cases, for granted.
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