Research Methodology: Using Research Onion as a Framework

For extensive insight into the methodology that was used in this research, an illustrative figure (Research Onion Framework) has been given in Figure 3.1. Research onion was adopted from Saunders and Lewis (2012) and it was named such because of the spiralling nature of the figure as shown. To get the best out of this framework, we have to go from the outer layer to the inner layer.

research onion methodology and framework
Fig. 1 Research Onion Framework

Research Philosophy

The research philosophy is what makes up the outer-most layer of the research onion framework and for this research; the philosophical approach that was adopted is pragmatism. The reasoning behind the decisions to adopt the pragmatic research Philosophy was that CSR is not a factual but a socially constructed opinion with insights from the results of the views on corporate social responsibility. Furthermore, the pragmatic research philosophy could bring about improved research findings by using a mix of different research methods. The alternative to the philosophy of pragmatist research is to use the philosophy of interpretative research, or positivistic research philosophy, which are the principal philosophies used in basic researches but they however do not meet the requirements of this particular research.

When the philosophy of pragmatism research is compared with the philosophy of other research, it is considered to be new philosophy. The pragmatism research philosophy is a contrast between the positivist research approach and interpretivist approach. It has its major focused on finding solutions to problems with the use of theories and frameworks. This is why it is a perfect philosophical approach for this research.

Research Approach

The research approach is the next step in the research survey. The onion research approach is deductive, making it correspond with the pragmatist research philosophy. With the help of empirical datasets, the deductive research approach taken provides a better understanding of various social responsibilities. The deductive approach for research will provide the observations required to form the views for the results in order to meet the research goals. This is done by conducting primary research using a structured questionnaire to gain an understanding of observations in the field of research.

The inductive research approach is the alternative approach taken for this study. While the inductive research approach is compatible with pragmatic research philosophy, the decision was based on an inductive research approach in the assessment of observations, given the relationship to an approach based on objectivity. This contrasts with an inductive approach to research, which relied on subjectivity in the assessment of findings in order to support the research outcomes.

Research Strategy

A case-study approach with the use of the survey questionnaire is the research approach. This research strategy focuses on a single contextual environment. The research strategy for company case-study supports an enhanced understanding of the case organization (Blumberg, Cooper & Schindler, 2008). The Chevron case studies organization for research focuses on how these relate and apply to the organizational environment and situation of research issues and observations.

The case study approach focuses the research on the research topics focused on the impacts of these research questions on the case study organization. This gives stronger relevance to the applicability of research results and the possible impact on a particular organization if the results are taken into account. This would be different from applying the results if a more general approach were taken without considering a specific case study organization for the study.

Research Choice

Research choices are the next layer of the research onion. A mixed method is used with a qualitative approach and a quantitative approach, which are used as research methods that conform to the pragmatism research philosophy. The quantitative research follows the deductive approach of the research. This has been achieved by using primary research using structured questionnaires that form the basis for interaction with primary respondents.

Individuals with knowledge of Chevron’s CSR activities were the participants in primary research. The combined methodology approach gives the triangulation of the combination of qualitative research approach with quantitative research approach a more robust set of results. While the research has a broader scope, including further research activities, the research ensures that the results and robust conclusions of combining Qualitative and Quantitative Research approaches are more thoroughly evaluated.

Time Horizon

For the next onion layer of research, the time horizon was used with research over a period of ten weeks to provide cross sectional timing. Cross-sectional time horizon approach means that research focus on the present situation whereas a longitudinal alternative approach needs repeated studies over a period of time to identify correlations between observations and changes between results over different time periods. The research was carried out over a period of ten weeks with the following weekly activities as shown in figure 2. Table.

Timing Activities
Week 1 Submit the proposal and start the research project.
Weeks 2-3
  • Review related literatures.
  • Conduct secondary research.
Weeks 3-4 Prepare for the primary research.
Weeks 4-6 Conduct the primary research.
Weeks 6-7 Summarize the primary research results and link with the secondary research results.
Weeks 7-8 Draft the thesis from the results achieved.
Week 8 Meet with your supervisor.
Weeks 8-9 Finalize the thesis while incorporating the feedback.
Week 10 Turn in the complete thesis.

Fig 2. Weekly timeline of research

Techniques, Procedures, and Research Instruments

The last layer in the research survey concerns the techniques and methods used. Both secondary and primary research has been used in the research. The secondary study involved the investigation and use of academic literature, related reports and press reports. A structured survey was developed for primary research and used by respondents to provide their input in the questionnaire provided. This was the main tool of research used in the research. The structured questionnaire dealt with Chevron’s actions on corporate social responsibility and how these correspond to Chevron’s principles and goals.

The structured questionnaire was designed to provide an easy response to questions from respondents. This is an advantage in the research as it makes it easy and consistent for the respondents to understand the questions by tabulating results, it also made the formulation of the questionnaires easy on the side of the researcher. Microsoft Excel was another research tool that was used with this software application for graphical presentation of the data. The researcher was in contact with the respondents via email for some of the answers.

Sources of Data

On the main source of data; the primary and secondary research processes were used to source for data. The available data and details from Chevron on actions taken in the Niger delta area is provided in secondary research. Theoretical arguments and industry data from various published sources are added to these. On the other hand, the primary research provides the results of the structured survey with deductive approach.

Research Sampling

After the initial questions were developed, the survey questionnaire was piloted to assess the clarity and to ensure a consistent understanding of questions. The first questionnaire for feedback on the developed questions was given to some potential respondents. Based on the pilot’s findings, the questionnaire was revised and feedback from those who made the research pilot’s comments was incorporated.

The study used a convenience sampling approach for research sampling. This is mainly due to the fact that the convenience sampling approach provides a straightforward and urgent approach in identifying possible respondents. Although convenience sampling is not a common method of research sampling, convenience sampling is increasingly accepted where research constraints affect the ability to use alternative techniques of sampling (Brewis, 2014).

Furthermore, convenience sampling also works in studies that are not primarily focused on generalizations (Brewis, 2014). The focus of this research is on Chevron as the case research organization. In order to identify relevant respondents in primary research, the convenience sampling approach can be used as a logical sampling technique. Twenty of the respondents identified with convenience sampling approach were included in the final questionnaire replies.

Research Ethics

Because primary research is included, research ethics have been extensively used to ensure that the results of the research are considered robust and relevant. Informed agreement, anonymity and confidentiality are the principles of research ethics which have been used. In order to gain informed consent, primary research respondents had the opportunity to understand the research goals and to allow potential respondents to opt in or out of primary research (Christensen, Johnson & Turner, 2011).

For the purpose of data protection, the details of primary research participants are not included and are not related to any of the primary research findings (Blumberg, Cooper & Schindler, 2008). Finally, in the interests of confidentiality, the results of the research will only be shared with those who are involved and who are part of the research on a specific basis.

Research Limitations

The study’s main research limitation is the completion time and the researcher’s ability to include a larger sample for primary research. The researcher was limited, for the duration of the study, to the timing guidelines for completion of the thesis, including all parts of the study and the defined period for dissertation research. The limited time for completion means that the researcher had to allocate adequate amount of time to work on every part of the study in order for it to include a bigger sample for the primary research. The time for the primary research was therefore limited to the answers the questionnaire researcher had received. The scientist was also influenced by the questionnaire respondents’ identification and this was mitigated by the convenience sample approach.

The extent of information in chevron concerning the company’s CSR activities is another limitation. Although the annual reports, the website of the company and other CSR reports from the company had sufficient data and information available to the public, there is probably another amount of information that the researcher could not access because they hadn’t been made accessible to the public. Hence, the researcher had no access to the company’s non-publicly provided data and information.

Research Reliability and Validity

The reliability of the research depends on the performance of the examination questionnaire as the test instrument. This has been piloted by several potential questionnaires to ensure that different respondents understand the questionnaire consistently. The questionnaire was revised to address the questions in the questions which the respondents in the questionnaire pilot did not understand easily or similarly. Since potential respondents had consistently understood the revised questionnaire, it was considered to be a reliable answer to the questions included in the questionnaire.

The questionnaire was also validated. The questionnaire was designed to minimize test validity issues as a closely completed questionnaire, thus limiting the respondents ‘ answers to a positive answer, negative response, or no answer to the question raised. Since the questions were close-ended questions, it was accepted that the questionnaire was valid because the answers were based on the respondents’ views.

Research Budget

The most part of execution of this research was done through with desktop research, with the primary research taking the larger share of the cost implication. The research was conducted in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, hence the following costs was incurred on the researcher;

  • £800 round-trip flight to Nigeria

This happens to be the main incremental costs. All other costs are considered not to be materially incremental in the process of conducting this research.

Watch this Video for more explanation on Research Onion:

Source: Youtube.com (S Dadwal)