Research Methodology: Questions and Hypotheses

Introduction

This chapter will be organized with the help of the “onion” structure suggested by Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2009). Many scholars propose structures of performing research (Fower 2013; Ríos & Del Campo 2013; Gray 2017), but the one suggested by Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2009) is the most comprehensive and includes all the essential elements (Figure 1).

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Research onion.
Figure 1: Research onion (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill 2009, p. 136).

Therefore, following this structure, the current chapter will start by outlining the research aim, objectives, questions, and hypotheses. Also, research philosophy and approaches will be described, along with the rationale for their choice. Further, the introduction will discuss the rationale for choosing the methods and strategies of research. The time horizon will also be explained, as well as research instruments.

Apart from the mentioned issues, the introduction will include an explanation of the research’s reliability and validity. Finally, ethical considerations will be discussed.

Research Aim, Objectives, Questions and Hypotheses

Research Aim

The aim of the current research is to investigate the quality of hotel services as grounded on customers’ perception of such services.

Research Objectives

Based on the research aim, the following research objectives are outlined:

  • to analyze the concept of perceived service quality;
  • to investigate the constituent elements of customer perceived service quality;
  • to evaluate the relevant theories for evaluation and measurement of service quality;
  • to investigate the interrelation between service delivery and service quality.

Research Questions

The major question that research is expected to answer is, “Do such features as service design, control, and delivery have an impact on service quality?” The second research question is, “Do these features have a positive or a negative influence on service quality?”

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Research Hypotheses

Three research hypotheses were suggested for the research:

  • Hypothesis 1: “Service design” has a strong correlation with “service quality”, and “service design” has a positive effect on “service quality”;
  • Hypothesis 2: “Service control” has a strong correlation with “service quality”, and “service control” has a positive effect on “service quality”;
  • Hypothesis 3: “Service delivery” has a strong correlation with “service quality”, and “service delivery” has a positive effect on “service quality.”

Research Philosophy

Types of Research Philosophies

Research philosophy is made of researchers’ beliefs and assumptions when performing the study (Bryman 2012). The following major types of research philosophies are distinguished: positivism, interpretivism, pragmatism, and realism (Collins 2010; Mingers 2014). Positivism presumes that reality exists autonomously from the subject of study. The meaning of this philosophy in practice is that phenomena’s essence is invariable in different subjects (Collins 2010).

Positivism presupposes researching facts and objects that can be measured and observed. Philosophy of interpretivism assumes that human knowledge of the world relies on active perception and interpretation of the environment instead of passive understanding (Cohen, Manion & Morrison 2007). Unlike positivism, interpretivism is more suitable for studying people rather than objects.

Pragmatism philosophy seeks the practical meaning of things and ideas and rejects the unpractical ones (Nowell 2015). Philosophy of realism assumes that the existence of things and objects is not dependent on people’s minds (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill 2009). Realism is divided into two types: critical and direct. Critical realism is associated with the correspondence of sensations to people’s feelings whereas direct realism concentrates on objects themselves.

The rationale for Selecting Critical Realism Philosophy

For the current research, critical realism philosophy was chosen. This approach is a combination of interpretivism and positivism. Therefore, it suggests a rather good possibility of conducting a research study.

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Research Approach

Types of Research Approaches

There are two major approaches to performing research: deductive and inductive. The deductive one concentrates on developing the hypothesis on the basis of an already existing theory (Silverman 2013). The deductive approach is the most suitable for such kinds of research when the investigator wants to check whether the analyzed phenomena correspond to the assumptions established in earlier research (Wiles, Crow & Pain, 2011). This approach is identified as the movement from general to particular. Firstly, researchers determine the knowledge base and general theory, and then they test specific knowledge against that theory.

The inductive approach is defined as a shift from specific to general knowledge (Bryman & Bell 2011). Using this method presupposes looking for the patterns in data rather than in theoretical work. The inductive approach is predominantly used in qualitative studies whereas the deductive method is employed in quantitative research.

The rationale for Selecting Deductive Approach

The current research will analyze the impact of service design, control, and delivery on service quality. Since the exploration of hotel service quality will be based on customers’ perceptions, the most appropriate research approach for this study is deductive.

Research Design

Qualitative, Quantitative, or Mixed Research Designs

Three types of methods are distinguished in research design: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed (Creswell 2014). Quantitative design presupposes the use of quantity to display the phenomenon or issue. The answer, in this case, is obtained through analysis, testing, and interpretation (Leavy 2017). In qualitative design, the focus is on investigating people’s opinions about some issues (Bhattacharya 2017). It is crucial for researchers not to impose their ideas but let the respondents express their own opinions. The major difference between quantitative and qualitative design is that the former investigates the relationship between variables, and the latter is concentrated on analyzing the meaning of some social issues.

Mixed methods design is a combination of some features from quantitative and qualitative approaches (Morse & Niehaus 2009; Feilzer 2010). This design gives a possibility to understand the research question better than in a case when only one method is used.

The rationale for Selecting a Mixed Research Design

The current research will employ a mixed research design. Due to its nature, it will eliminate the weak points pertaining to quantitative and qualitative designs. Moreover, a mixed research design provides a better comprehension than a single design.

Research Strategies

Types of Research Strategies

Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2009) identify several research strategies: survey, experiment, action research, archival research, case study, ethnography, and grounded theory. Out of these, two are considered most productive when gathering data for research: surveys and case studies. A case study strategy is associated with a qualitative research approach since it provides investigators with in-depth analysis (Robson & McCartan 2016). A survey is related to quantitative and mixed methods design due to its possibility to suggest a deeper investigation into the matter.

The rationale for Selecting Survey Research Strategy

This research will use the survey as a research strategy based on the chosen research design (mixed methods). With the help of a survey, it will be possible to gather a considerable amount of data in the most productive way.

Time Horizon

Cross-Sectional or Longitudinal Time Horizons

The time horizon is the frame of time within which a researcher plans to complete the study. Within the scope of research onion suggested by Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2009), there are two kinds of time horizons: cross-sectional and longitudinal. The cross-sectional time horizon involves collecting data from the respondents only once (Flick 2011). This type is employed when research is concerned with a concrete issue at a concrete time. Longitudinal time horizon presupposes gathering data at several points during a lengthy period. This type is useful when a researcher wants to demonstrate how some issue has evolved over time.

The rationale for Selecting Cross-Sectional Time Horizon

The current research will employ a cross-sectional time horizon since data needed from the respondents can only be collected once. Moreover, research questions do not necessitate the use of a longitudinal time horizon since the study aims at finding out people’s opinions about hotel service, and the opinion is not likely to change if no experiment is involved.

Research Instruments

Sampling Instruments

Sampling occupies a prominent place in doing research. This process presupposes choosing an appropriate population sample on the basis of which a researcher will establish the criteria for the whole population (Leavy 2017). The main advantage of sampling is that it allows researchers to analyze data from a small group of respondents rather than from the whole population. The major types are probability and non-probability sampling (Creswell 2014). In probability sampling, every respondent has an equal possibility of being picked for research that is considered experimental. In non-probability sampling, a researcher chooses the participants that are considered most suitable. Such research is considered quasi-experimental.

For the current research, probability sampling was chosen since it gives more independent data. The specific sampling technique chosen for the study is stratified sampling.

Data Collection Instruments

The data collection instrument employed in the study is a questionnaire survey. Out of 312 questionnaires distributed, all are valid. Respondents are classified according to gender, marital status, age, education level, and occupation

Data Analysis Instruments

Data analysis instruments are statistical. SPSS software is used for the analysis of data collected from the questionnaires. The basis of reliability analysis is the gap between customers’ expectations and perception of hotel service quality.

Validity and Reliability

It is rather important to ensure the best validity and reliability of research. To increase these factors in current research, only first-hand data will be gathered from the participants with the help of questionnaires. By using a probability sample, the researcher will ensure an equal picking rate. Such an approach will guarantee high reliability and validity of the study.

Ethical Considerations

Ethics is a crucial element of research (Farrimond 2013). To ensure the ethicality of their studies, researchers need to take into consideration a lot of factors. In the current research, ethicality is ensured in two ways. Firstly, all the sources used in the study are fully acknowledged, and research is plagiarism-free. Secondly, the researcher guaranteed the avoidance of causing any harm to participants by making research results confidential and anonymous. Only the answers revealing people’s attitudes will be published. No personal data will be reported.

Chapter Summary

Chapter discusses crucial issues regarding the research methodology used in the study. The chapter is organized by the “onion” structure proposed by Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2009). Such elements of research as aim, objectives, research questions, and hypotheses are discussed. Apart from that, this chapter outlines research philosophy and approaches as well as the rationale for choosing them. The reasons for choosing a mixed research design, survey research strategy, and cross-sectional time horizon are explained. The chapter also discloses the sampling instruments along with data collection and analysis tools.

At the end of chapter, the study’s validity and reliability are disclosed. Finally, the importance of ethical considerations of research is discussed, and the ways of guaranteeing the ethicality of the study are described.

Reference List

Bhattacharya, K 2017, Fundamentals of qualitative research. Taylor and Francis, Milton.

Bryman, A 2012, Social research methods, 4th edn, Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

Bryman, A & Bell, E 2011, Business research methods, 3rd edn, Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

Cohen, L, Manion, L & Morrison, K 2007, Research methods in education, 6th edn, Routledge, New York, NY.

Collins, H 2010, Creative research: the theory and practice of research for the creative industries, AVA Publishing, London.

Creswell, J W 2014, Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, 4th edn, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Farrimond, H 2013, Doing ethical research, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY.

Feilzer, MY 2010, ‘Doing mixed methods research pragmatically: implications for the rediscovery of pragmatism as a research paradigm’, Journal of Mixed Methods Research, vol. 4, no. 1, pp.6-16.

Flick, U 2011, Introducing research methodology: a beginner’s guide to doing a research project, SAGE, London.

Fowler, FJ 2013, Survey research methods, 5th edn, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Gray, DE 2017, Doing research in the business world, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Leavy, P 2017, Research design: quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, arts-based, and community-based participatory research approaches, The Guilford Press, New York, NY.

Mingers, J 2014, Systems thinking, critical realism, and philosophy: a confluence of ideas, Routledge, New York, NY.

Morse, JM & Niehaus, L 2009, Mixed method design: principles and procedures, Left Coast Press Inc., Walnut Creek, CA.

Nowell, L 2015, ‘Pragmatism and integrated knowledge translation: exploring the compatibilities and tensions’, Nursing Open, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 141-148.

Ríos, VR & Del Campo, EP 2013, Business research methods: theory and practice, ESIC, Madrid.

Robson, C & McCartan, K 2016, Real world research: a resource for users of social research methods in applied settings, 4th edn, Wiley, West Sussex.

Saunders, M, Lewis, P & Thornhill, A 2009, Research methods for business students, 5th edn, Pearson Education Limited, Essex.

Silverman, D 2013, Doing qualitative research, 4th edn, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Wiles, R, Crow, G & Pain, H 2011, Innovation in qualitative research methods: a narrative review. Qualitative Research, vol. 11, no. 5, pp. 587-604.

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