Research Design and Dissertation

Research Design and Dissertation
Research Design and Dissertation

ASSIGNMENT 1: Research Design and Dissertation

The first assignment is to produce a research report (max. 3000 words) based on an analysis of qualitative data you will each collect by undertaking an interview.  Your task is to conduct an interview, record it, transcribe a sample of your recordings, undertake some initial analysis of the content of the conversation and reflect on the process of collecting data this way.  It is expected you will support this using insights gained by your wider reading on the subject of qualitative interviewing.

The aims of the assignment are:

  • to familiarise yourself with the use of a qualitative method (in this case interviewing) for both data production and data analysis
  • to develop your research interviewing and transcription skills
  • to promote reflection on the process of doing qualitative research.

The assignment task is to use a semi-structured or an unstructured interview process to discover your interviewee’s views and perspectives on the subject of the proposed dissertation topic, research question, aim and objectives

 This will involve using interview approaches to probe the subject and gather and analyse your interviewee’s own responses to this topic (in his or her own words).

The expectation is that you will interview a fellow postgraduate student, possibly someone from your own course (but you can interview a postgraduate student from outside the LSBF if you wish). You will have to use your initiative to find a person who will be willing to be interviewed.  It is preferable to make contact with someone you don’t know very well; a useful approach to do this may be to seek someone who is a friend of a friend. Alternatively you may be able to identify an individual who is an expert in the field of research you wish to explore.  This brings the benefit of generating useful primary evidence contributing towards your dissertation project.

It will make sense, if you are interviewing a fellow student, to ask them about their proposed dissertation topic since they will be motivated to discuss this.  They can then return the favour if you choose to be their interviewee.

Give yourself plenty of time to set up the interview.  Having made contact, you will have to explain what the interview is about and arrange a time and date.  The interview should take place at a location where the interviewee feels comfortable but also where you are both safe, for example, in a public space or business school building during normal office hours.   (University guidance on lone working can be found at Safety Handbook/S, Lone working policy and Guidance v1-5.doc).  Set aside between 1 to 2 hours for the interviewing; you may not need this long but don’t underestimate how long it may take to undertake a meaningful interview. The intention is to allow the interviewee to talk freely.

You decide if you want to use a unstructured or semi-structured interview approach.  You must explain your choices in the method discussion of your report. If you use a semi-structured approach prepare a schedule of interview topics you think it may be useful to discuss (please include these as an appendix to your report and comment on the practical and theoretical relevance of these in your analysis). If you use unstructured interviewing approaches describe in your report how you started the discussion and used follow-up questions. You should lead your interviewee into the topic gently without putting words into his or her mouth; so you should not introduce too much rigid structure or artificiality into the conversation.  The atmosphere should be relaxed allowing your interviewee to talk in detail about events important to him or her.  Your role is to keep the interview flowing and on-course and respond to their conversation appropriately with follow-up questions and comments.  Ideally you want to capture rich, descriptive details of their experiences and perspectives.

There are three stages to this assignment, each has specific marks allocated to it and must be in evidence in your final report:

1) Data production and Method (approx. 1000 words):

  • Each student is to conduct their own interview with a relevant participant and should consider (through appropriate reading) how to conduct this successfully.
  • The report should discuss who you selected (a general description, without identifying the individual); why you selected them and how you set up the interview with them.
  • Ethical guidelines are emphasised and you should ensure that you follow these (including for example considering issues of informed consent and confidentiality).
  • The interview must be recorded – this must be kept safe and made available to the tutor if requested.  You should be able to use your phone, mp3 player, computer or a recorder to complete this task.
  • Your report should include an account of the methods used and your methodological approach.  Academic references should be used to indicate how your approach was informed by background reading on qualitative interviewing.  You should also discuss how and why any themes were chosen to help structure the interview and how the resulting data was analysed.

2) Transcription (approx. 500 words of actual conversation from the interview):

  • The assignment must include a transcript of part of the interview; which should demonstrate the use of transcription techniques.
  • Students need to familiarise themselves with the ‘script’ of the resulting interview.  They should listen to the tape several times to work out which parts of the conversation are most relevant, interesting and able to demonstrate your transcription skills. This extract from the interview should be around 500 words and must include (as a minimum) the exact words as spoken during part of the interview.
  • The interview should be conducted in English (even if the interview participants English is not perfect).  Your transcript should be of the interview as spoken, and this may include mistakes and unusual sentences. You may however sometimes have to include some explanatory comments in order to make the sense clear to the reader.
  • In the extremely unlikely event you are unable to interview in English you would need to make a full transcription in the first language and then a full translation.  Your reasons for doing this must be justified and discussed in the method section and it should be noted that this is NOT RECOMMENDED – as it takes much longer to do and is much harder to capture the meaning of the conversations.


  • Reflection on research findings and process (approx.. 1000 words):
  • Students need to write a short reflection on the interview they conducted.
  • This should include a summary of the findings – including a summary of key themes emerging from the interviews and the lessons learnt.
  • You might want to discuss the differences between your original expectations of themes for conversation and those discussed in the interview itself.
  • You should reflect on the success or otherwise of the interview in addressing the overall original objective of the research.
  • You may want to relate this discussion to the known strengths and weaknesses of the technique you chose (giving academic references). Remember this should always relate to a reflection on the process of your interview and its outcomes not a general discussion.

The structure of the report should be as follows:

  • Method Description and Discussion (approx. 1000 words) – 40% of marks
  • Transcript. Presentation of an extract from the interview, a sample transcript with annotations (approx. 500 words) – 30% of marks
  • Reflection on the interview findings and approach (approx. 1000 words)  – 20% of marks
  • References (using Harvard conventions) – demonstrating appropriate wider reading and skills in referencing – 10% of marks

The report should be submitted electronically as ONE document; so as to detect any attempted plagiarism.  Please remember that academic honesty is required at all times and your work must be entirely your own.  Views and quotes from other authors are encouraged where they add to your argument/discussion but the source of these should be clearly given (as a reference) and all quotations/website extracts must be clearly indicated by using quote-marks.

Submission deadline 31 August 2014  (submitted through LMS)

Maximum word count: 3,000 words

Suggested Further Reading

Bryman A & Bell E (2007)  Business Research Methods 2nd Edition  Oxford University Press

Denzin N & Lincoln Y (2005)  The SAGE handbook of Qualitative Research London: Sage

Eriksson, P & Kovalainen, A (2008) Qualitative Methods in Business Research  London, Sage

Gummesson E (1991)  Qualitative Methods in Management Research  London: Sage.

Marschan,-Piekarit, R & Welch, C, (2005) Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods for International Business  London:  Edward Elgar.

Mason, J. (2002) Qualitative Researching.  London: Sage

Saunders, M et al (2006)  Research Methods for Business Students  London: Financial Times/Prentice Hall

Silverman, D. (2001) Interpreting Qualitative Data:  Methods for Analysing talk, text and interaction.  London: Sage

Silverman, D (2000)  Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook  London: Sage

Generic Marking Criteria

Overall result Marking Criteria













Excellent work that will:

o    display a full understanding of area of research and mastery of a significant body of data

o    use full range of sources, used selectively to support argument

o    provide a coherent and strong argument

o    display originality in analysis and subtlety of interpretation

o    be exceptionally well written and presented

o    present the possibility of publication.

High quality throughout with an excellent understanding of the subject.

Showing insight and potential for publication with some revisions.

Exceptional insight and of publishable quality.













The work will:

o    display effective use of main materials, going beyond the standard secondary sources

o    present coherent and concise argument of complex concepts

o    present independent and critical evaluation of a range of theories

o    show some evidence of originality

o    be written and presented to good academic standards.

Well developed argument and evaluation.

Approaching excellence in some areas.













The work will:

o    display a sound basic knowledge of principals relevant to the area of study

o    present a logical structure, though this may not be fully thought through

o    display some capacity to critically reflect or analyse

o    be unlikely to show evidence of originality

o    be presented and written to adequate academic standards.

Generally accurate and sound understanding of area of study.

Approached good standard in several areas.















Many of the basic elements may be present but the work will be lacking in other areas, such as,

o    key information sources and content which will be limited

o    unsophisticated use of key sources

o    poorly structured and sustained argument displaying limited knowledge

o    conceptual understanding is poor.

o    defects in presentation

o    parts of the question may be missing or only partially answered

Overall knowledge limited and poorly presented.

Very poor knowledge of subject and weak understanding of issues.

Deeply flawed, containing fundamental mistakes.



Research Design and Dissertation


The dissertation topic to be considered concerns the influence the country of origin on consumer behaviour mainly because it is a phenomenon which is significantly affecting international business where consumers prefer products from certain countries compared to others. The research report will specifically involve conducting an unstructured interview inn order to make sure that the questions of concern are answered and the answers provided are analysed for the sake of giving out the research findings in form of a statistical findings which are presentable.

According to the selected dissertation topic which is “the influence the country of origin on consumer behaviour”, stating the research problem would specifically involve this issue. For instance, the use of products from outside the home country among consumers worldwide has been increasing despite the production of similar products in their countries which are made locally. This implies that consumer behaviour, and particularly the perceptions and attitudes of local consumers towards products made in varied countries seem to be different. However, it is important to note that the noted variations in perception and attitude among consumers can be attributed to the influence of country of origin on consumer behaviour mainly because it affects the perceived value and perceived quality of the product in market, eventually influencing the loyalty of consumers towards particular product brands.

The purpose of this research is to the influence of country of origin effects on consumer behaviour among consumers as well as their perceived quality and value of certain products manufactured in various countries, and how this relates to consumer loyalty towards the considered product.

The objectives of this research are as follows:

  1. To examine influence of the effects of a product’s country of origin on consumer behaviour among consumers.
  2. To establish how country of origin influences consumer loyalty towards a product.

In addition, the research questions are shown below as follows:

  1. How does country of origin influence consumer behaviour among consumers?
  2. How does the country of origin effects influence consumer loyalty towards a product?

This kind of research has crucial importance mainly because country of origin has in the recent past become an important factor in the determination of consumer behaviour in international across the world. This implies that, the findings of this research would be of great help to manufacturers of various products both locally and internationally because they would of critical significance in helping them to understand the influence of country of origin effects on consumer behaviour. This would help to enable manufacturers and marketers to devise the necessary competitive strategies which would help in terms of survival, customer retention, market share expansion, and building product loyalty among consumers.

Data Production and Method

This research used unstructured interview to collect information from a postgraduate student within the same department who was not my friend, but a friend of my classmate. A student within the same department of business was selected mainly because such an interviewee would be in a better position to understand the issue and/or phenomenon under study thereby making sure that the answers given to the questions asked during the unstructured interview are more appropriate and precise to the intended outcome (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005). The postgraduate student selected to participate in the unstructured interview is in his first year of studies, but has diverse knowledge on various contemporary business topics especially those concerning international business considering that the interviewee has significant experience in international business.

The choice for an unstructured interview to conduct this study was mainly because it is a spontaneous conversation, which does not involve asking of specific questions in a predetermined order since it involves collection of information concerning varied aspects of the issue and/or phenomenon under investigation (Silverman, 2000). The reason why unstructured interview was selected is due to the fact that the research respondents and/or participants and the researcher engage in a formal interview where both schedule time to sit and speak with each other in an interview in order to get answers for all the questions (Patton, 2002).  Despite the unstructured interview not having a particular schedule, the interviewer has a clear plan in mind concerning the goal and focus of the interview mainly for the purpose of guiding the discussion.  Moreover, a structured interview guide is not available and the interviewer builds rapport with the research respondents and/or participants by getting them to willingly open-up and express their views and opinions in their own way (Gillham, 2005; Saunders, 2006).  This is mainly attributable to the fact that questions asked are usually open-ended and express little control over the responses of the informants.

This implies that unstructured interview should be used when significant understanding has been developed about the research topic as well as the research setting. This is mainly because this would allow an open discussion between the interwar/researcher and the interviewees making sure that succinct, explicit and precise answers about the considered questions are obtained from the research respondents. Additionally, during an unstructured interview which often consists of open-ended questions and discussions, details of the interview particularly those concerning the main issues of the research should be recorded either manually using a pen and paper or digitally using recorders (Marschan-Piekarit and Welch, 2005). This is usually very essential in helping the interviewer towards focusing on the interaction with the research respondent or participant and following the discussion.

Furthermore, the unstructured interviews have many benefits which continued to make them useful against other methods of research. Firstly, the unstructured interviews are helpful in developing an understanding of the issue or phenomenon under investigation explicitly (Mason, 2002).  Secondly, unstructured interviews are essential in allowing researchers towards focusing on the respondents’ talk on the research topic, and in most cases it gives the researchers an opportunity to test their preliminary understanding regarding the research topic, while still giving them an opportunity for new ways to see and understand the research topic.  Finally, the unstructured interviews are in most cases used as crucial preliminary steps in the process of developing more structured interviews (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2008).

Additionally, ethical issues must also be considered in the research methods mainly to make sure that the research is ethically upright in terms of the main ethical issues which must be considered for the purpose of making sure that there is no violation of ethical issues because the research includes human subjects and/or subjects (Gummesson, 1991). In particular, obtaining informed consent as well as privacy and confidentiality are the most significant ethical issues that were considered during this research. For instance, informed consent must be obtained from all the research respondents and/or participants to make sure that all those taking part in the research do so willingly and without any form of coercion. This indicates that any information gained from the research respondents and/or participants would be relied upon in the analysis of the research findings since no single respondent or participant was forced to take part in the research process (Saunders et al, 2006).

The other ethical issues that were considered in this research include confidentiality and privacy which particularly regards that any information obtained from the research respondents and/or participants should remain private and confidential. This means that any unauthorized person should not be allowed to access any information obtained from the participants of the research unless the necessary authorizations are granted (Burns, 2000). This helps in making sure that the identities of the individuals from where the research information is obtained are not reveal to avoid compromising the validity and reliability of the research findings. The recorded information should then be kept safe and away from any unauthorized individual for the purpose of making sure it can be retrieved at a later date in a good form which would enable it to be used for many times throughout the research period without compromising its quality or content (Bryman and Bell, 2007).


This section presents the actual questions asked during the conversation between the interviewer and interviewee in a chronological manner whereby the opening conversation is involved together follow-up questions as well as closing remarks. The first set of questions concerns the process involved in preparing and writing a dissertation meaning that the questions are specific to the process of writing a dissertation. Additionally, considering that the research topic involves a study of the influence of country of origin to consumer behaviour amongst consumers, it is important specific questions concerning the topic will also be asked as shown below for the purpose of making sure that the goal or aim of the research is achieved.

Transcription from the interview

Part A of the interview (General questions on dissertations writing process)
Interview questions Response
1 The most important issue when selecting a research topic is that you should have interest in it and sufficient knowledge
2 Research questions, aims and objectives formulated through literature review or discussion with the supervisor
3 Research questions, aims and objectives importance is to ensure that the research does not deviate by keeping it in line with intended outcome
4 A dissertation should be structured in five chapters in the following order: introduction, literature review, methodology, analysis and discussion and finally the conclusion and recommendations
5 Literature review expounds on the knowledge on the topic being researched or helps to get new knowledge
6 Research type and/or design adopted by researcher is influenced by research questions and research strategy
7 Type of interview adopted by the researcher is influenced by the level of information obtained from the respondents
8 Semi-structured interview helps to generated data in an orderly manner through a set schedule, but rigid. Unstructured interview is easy to conduct, but the collected data not orderly.
9 By ensuring that the research materials are diverse and varied
10 The process of selecting part of the population to use in research work to make generalisations about the entire population
11 An entire set from where the sample is selected
12 Privacy of the respondents and confidentiality of whatever is discussed as well as seeking consent of the respondents
13 In bar graphs, pie charts, line graphs, and histograms
14 Discussion of the research findings is find their relationships between them and existing theories or form the platform for future research in case of a new area of research
Part B of the interview (Specific research topic questions)
Interview questions Response
1 Preferences are: price, quality of the product as well as country of origin
2 Yes, I do know considering that influences the purchase of me buying the product
3 Yes, I do prioritise the country of origin because of the quality probability of the product
4 I simply refuse to purchase because I don’t know the quality and probably the satisfaction I may gain when I buy
5 Yes, because technological aspects are very important for example when considering the electronics
6 Yes, I do believe so. For example south Africa is good in wine and therefore when am buying wines and I know is coming from South Africa I know am buying something good, irrespective of the price
7 Surely, I do always want to know the country of origin, because that would determine the quality of the product of course the higher the quality the higher the price
8 I do buy wine from south Africa also France, perfumes from France and when its comes to leather industry belts and shoes from Italy

The above transcription clearly shows that a succinct understanding of the general process of writing a dissertation is very critical. Particularly part A of the interview confirms this. Additionally, part B of the interview which covers specific research topic questions reveals a strong relevance of a product’s country of origin in influencing consumer behaviour.

Reflection on Research Findings and Process

When reflecting on the findings obtained from the interview that was conducted during this research, it is important to note that there are various issues that can be observed particularly on the research findings and the entire research process. For instance, a reflection on the interview that was conducted indicates that interviewing a post graduate student was more appropriate in making sure that the research respondents and/or participants give effective answers towards the asked questions. The interview answers also provided insights into the entire process of writing a dissertation. In addition, interview was also done on the selected research topic showing that the answers given to the asked questions were relatively appropriate meaning that there was a relationship between the country of origin and consumer behaviour of the considered research respondents and/or participants.

Therefore, it important to consider that the interview conducted during thing this research reveals that all the questions asked by the researcher or interviewee were succinctly answered all at once and very few follow-up questions were asked due to explicit answers provided to the questions asked. However, despite the fact that answers to all the questions which were asked are answered, it is necessary to note that the answers provided can be directly used for analysis in order to make sure that conclusions can be made from the research findings as a way of ensuring getting important meaning of the information obtained from the research respondents or participants during the research.

A consideration of the research findings in summary indicates that there is a very strong relationship between the country of origin of a product and consumer behaviour towards it mainly because consumer behaviour is determined by attitudes and perceptions of consumers towards the product. Precisely, the findings obtained from this research shows that many consumers usually consider the country of origin of the respective products as an important factor prior to making purchasing choices.

According to the research findings the process of product evaluation generally evokes some associations which are brand-specific stored within the memory of the consumers which end up contributing to the overall brand image (Williams and Page, 2011). The findings of this research also reveal that this is a very essential aspect of consumer behaviour mainly because it allows for differentiation between products which are manufactured in different countries meaning that the country of origin effects constitute one of the essential aspects of consumer behaviour due to the fact that their ability for allowing consumers in developing generalizations, perceptions and attitudes concerning a product’s country of origin, which is a crucial basis of consumer’s evaluations of products and/or brands (Drozdenko and Jensen, 2009). The research findings imply that consumers’ micro and macro country images have the potential of significantly influencing consumer behaviour which means that country or brand image which are often created based on the associations of country of origin effects with perceived quality of products made in the same country influence the key brand equity dimensions such as brand loyalty and brand associations (Shlomo and Jaffe, 1996). According to Koubaa (2008) the moderation of country of origin image effects on a brand is mostly done by both brand and country reputation. This is a clear indication that there is a direct relationship between consumer loyalty and/or consumer behaviour with a country or product image implying that products from various countries are in most cases evaluated differently on the basis of the image of their country of origin from the perspective of consumer’s attitudes and perceptions (Cai, et al. 2004).

Finally, a key reflection of the research findings and the entire research process shows that there is need to prioritise primary research because it allows collection of original information and/or data. This means that the obtained information would be very essential to determine how the final research will be carried out; hence, the findings obtained from the unstructured interview would form an important basis for a more structured interview and/or study because it provides a framework for conducting a more robust and bigger study which would be carried out for research findings which are more valid and reliable. A combination of these reflections indicate that using a good research design as well as a good research methodology would result to appropriate findings which could be applied in many situations of contemporary business dues to their validity and reliability which ensures that they can be replicated to a variety of situations. Furthermore, consumer behaviour is considered to be highly dependent of the perceptions and attitudes of the consumers towards certain products and services, and country of origin has been determined to be one of the important aspects because research findings reaffirms the same.

Reference List

Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2007), Business Research Methods, 2nd Edition. Oxford:  Oxford University Press.

Burns, R. B. (2000), Introduction to Research Methods. London: Sage Publications.

Cai, Y., Cude, B. and Swagler, R. (2004), “Country-of-origin effects on consumers’ willingness to buy foreign products: an experiment in consumer decision making”, Consumer Interests Annual, Vol. 50, pp. 98-105.

Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. (2005), The SAGE handbook of Qualitative Research London: Sage.

Drozdenko, R. and Jensen, M. (2009), “Translating country-of-origin effects into price” Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 18 No. 5, pp. 371 – 378.

Eriksson, P. and Kovalainen, A. (2008), Qualitative Methods in Business Research.  London: Sage.

Gillham, B. (2005), Research Interviewing: The Range of Technique. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Gummesson, E. (1991), Qualitative Methods in Management Research. London: Sage.

Koubaa, Y. (2008), “Country of origin, brand image perception, and brand image structure”, Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 139-155.

Marschan-Piekarit, R. and Welch, C. (2005), Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods for International Business.  London:  Edward Elgar.

Mason, J. (2002), Qualitative Researching.  London: Sage Publishers.

Patton, M. (2002), Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Saunders, M et al (2006), Research Methods for Business Students. London: Financial Times/Prentice Hall.

Silverman, D. (2001), Interpreting Qualitative Data:  Methods for Analyzing talk, text and interaction.  London: Sage.

Shlomo, L. and Jaffe, E. (1996), “Country of origin effect on international market entry”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 1/2, pp. 61-72.

Silverman, D. (2000), Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook. London: Sage Publishers.

Thomson, S. B. (2011), “Sample size and grounded theory”, Journal of Administration and Governance, Vol.5 No.1, pp. 45-52.

Williams, K. C. and Page, R. A. (2011), “Marketing to generations”, Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 37-53.


The questions asked concerning the general process of writing a dissertation as well as how to set research questions, aims and objectives are as follows:

  1. How do you select the research topic?
  2. After selecting the research topic how are research questions, aims and objectives formulated?
  3. What is the importance of research questions, aims and objectives?
  4. How should a dissertation be structured?
  5. How does literature review help in the process of writing a dissertation?
  6. What influences the research type and/or design adopted by the researcher?
  7. What influences the type of interview adopted by the researcher either semi-structured or unstructured?
  8. What are advantages and disadvantages of both types of interview?
  9. How does the researcher make sure that the research findings are valid and reliable?
  10. What is sampling in qualitative research?
  11. What is a population in a qualitative research?
  12. What are the ethical issues considered by the researcher if a researcher involves human subjects in the study?
  13. What are the most common methods of representing data collected in a research?
  14. Why is it necessary to discuss research findings?

The questions asked concerning the specific research topic are as follows:

  1. When purchasing a product, what is your preference?
  2. Do you know the product of origin of all the products which you purchase?
  3. When a lot of equivalent products are available, do you prioritise the product’s country-of-origin prior to purchasing?
  4. When you do not know a product’s country of origin, do you refuse to purchase it?
  5. When purchasing a product, do you believe that its technological aspects are determined by the country of origin?
  6. Do you believe that the quality of a product is determined its country of origin?
  7. When purchasing a product, do you always seek to know its country of origin?
  8. Which are the countries from where you mostly purchase their products?

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