CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY

CHAPTER OVERVIEW

This chapter describes the methodology of the study. Following this overview, chapter three begins with a discussion of why a grounded theory approach was chosen as the research design reflecting the use of qualitative methods. The chapter then outlines how and why grounded theory data analysis techniques were used for the qualitative analysis of data from semi-structured interviews of event organisers, event participants and event consumer organisations of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS in the United Kingdom. Finally, issues in trustworthiness, limitations and ethical considerations of the study are considered, reinforcing the rigor of the research process and acknowledging the researcher’s biases.


RESEARCH DESIGN

The choice of paradigm in the present study was based on the researcher’s worldview, assumptions on how the research should be conducted, and the nature of the research, as indicated by Remenyi et al. (1998 quoted in Martin 20011 p.60). The author of this study considers his task as a researcher “to understand the multiple social constructions of meaning and knowledge” as commented by Robson (2002 p.27).

The research paradigm adopted was, therefore, Constructivist. Robson (2002 p.27) refers to Constructivism as one of many labels used to denote the current state of qualitative research. By the term qualitative research, Strauss & Corbin (1998) refer to “any type of research that produces findings not arrived at by statistical procedures or other means of quantification” (pp.10-11). In speaking about qualitative analysis, Strauss & Corbin (1998) refer to “a non mathematical process of interpretation, carried out for the purpose of discovering concepts and relationships in raw data and then organizing these into a theoretical explanatory scheme” (p.11). The researcher chose a Grounded theory study (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) as the main methodology in conducting this research project. According to Robson (2002) “Strauss & Corbin (1998) make the explicit point that grounded theory is a general method that can be used in both quantitative and qualitative studies” (p.192). The present study adopted a qualitative rather than quantitative approach as this is more likely to uncover the subjective experiences of the participants involved in the study (Donninson 2000). Likewise, the qualitative approach is more likely to assume that relevant issues in capitalizing on the value of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS as Event Tourism resources produce different perceptions, on different individuals. The specific data collection method used in conducting the fieldwork was semi-structured interviews of several TEAM BUILDING EVENTS organisers, participants and consumer organisation in the UK. Robson (2002) observed the tendency of constructivist researchers “to use methods such as interviews and observation which allow them to acquire multiple perspectives” (p.27). The research participants in this study are clearly viewed (Robson, 2002) as “helping to construct the ‘reality’ with the researcher” (p.27). For Robson (2002) “interviews are the most common data collection method in grounded theory studies” (p.191). Additionally, for Robson (2002) “interviews can be used as the only approach in many grounded theory studies” (p.270).

GROUNDED THEORY STUDY

The research tradition that informs the present research project is Grounded theory study (Strauss & Corbin, 1988) rather than a Case Study or an Ethnography study. Strauss & Corbin (1988) defined grounded theory as “theory that was derived from data, systematically gathered and analyzed through the research process” (p.12). This is continued by the authors who stated that “data collection, analysis, and eventual theory stand in close relationship to one another” (p.12). For Robson (2002):

 “A grounded theory study seeks to generate a theory which relates to the particular situation forming the focus of the study. This theory will be ‘grounded’ in data obtained during the study, particularly in the actions, interactions and processes of the people involved” (p.191)

As argued by Strauss & Corbin (1988), “grounded theories, because they are drawn from data, are likely to offer insight, enhance understanding, and provide meaningful guide to action” (p.12). For Robson (2002) Grounded theory studies in qualitative research, are “particularly useful in applied areas of research, and novel ones, where the theoretical approach to be selected is not clear or is non-existent” (p.192).
The justification for this research to take a Grounded theory approach lies principally on the following grounds: Firstly, the theoretical approach for the research topic is perceived by the researcher as non-existent. Secondly, the applied nature of the research, as the study aims to address practical needs and produce recommendations. The latter- that is, the applied nature of this research is clearly seen in the aims and objectives of this research, which will be developed on a practical basis in following chapters. However, the justification of a Grounded theory study based on the novel theoretical approach to the present area of research needs further consideration.

The justification of a Grounded theory study


By simply introducing the term Team building event in any World Wide Web search engine, this displays a wide amalgam of events and event providers self called Team building events and Team building event providers respectively. Many of those providers are also T&D companies and Corporate event companies. The concept Team building event is, therefore, in fairy common usage in the UK. However, it seems to be purely practical with extremely little referent to it in the literature. It can be said that research under the former term is practically non existent. The outdoor approach to Team building Clark (1994, pp.31-32 and 43-70) may be the most direct generic antecedent to TEAM BUILDING EVENTS as described in this thesis. Yet, there are still essential inconsistencies such as, for example the length of the events that in the Clark’s (1994) outdoor approach to Team building is “over three days” (p.44); the size of the participant team that in the Clark’s approach is, at the highest “20” (p.44). Appendix-E provides a more detailed description of the outdoor training approach to Team building.

TEAM BUILDING EVENTS as described in this study may have their most direct specific antecedent in the literature on Experiential Learning based T&D programmes. A broad search strategy was used to identify relevant literature from around the world on TEAM BUILDING EVENTS as defined in this thesis. A trail was followed through the literature on both Experiential Learning based T&D, Team building and Event Tourism relevant articles that were cited in the most powerful and pertinent literature, and therefore accepted by the academic community, were studied. Appendix-F provides a detailed description of the Literature sources consulted in this literature search process.
Experiential Learning based Training & Development programmes
No reference whatsoever was found by this research under de terms TEAM BUILDING EVENTS within the above mentioned body of knowledge. Furthermore, previous research on Experiential Learning based T&D programmes has always been angled so as to consider those as purely T&D programmes rather than T&D events with a potential value as Event Tourism resources.
Instead, the study found a wealth of empirical research on Experiential Learning based T&D programmes across the specialised literature. There is a jungle of terms and acronyms which stand for this type of programmes: OMD, CAT, EBTD, OCT, PDP, Development Training, Adventure-Based Experiential Training and the various types of Outdoor Training- that is Adventure-based, Outdoor-centered and Wilderness programs. The above areas of practice have been identified by this research as the most direct antecedent to TEAM BUILDING EVENTS as described in the present study.
Typically, each of these areas portray essential particularities among one another principally in facilitation techniques and programme objectives. Inconsistencies such as the length of the programmes or whether or not the programmes are facilitated on a residential basis for their participants are some examples of those. Yet, the former areas of practice all include Team building objectives within the range of purposes pursued by each of those different programmes.

It is beyond the scope of this thesis to explore the insights of the multiple Team building approaches and existing Experiential Learning based T&D programmes. But so as to be able to identify previous research relevant to the study, this research searched and reviewed the most relevant existing approaches to Team building and Experiential Learning based T&D programmes. Furthermore, the study tried to map out those particularly for the non experienced reader so as to contextualize the present research and place TEAM BUILDING EVENTS on this map. The results of such literature search and review process have been already presented. However, the mapping out process as it is not essential for the study to achieve its aims, it is featured in Appendixes D and E.

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING BODY OF KNOWLEDGE

The literature on Event Tourism reveals a profound lack of information about TEAM BUILDING EVENTS as Event Tourism resources. The existing research is limited to purely academic classifications. Such classifications acknowledge the existence of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS. Yet, do not go beyond their classification ‘per se’ and consequently do not provide any further understanding of the potential tourism value of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS as Event Tourism resources. Across the specialised literature on events and Events tourism, TEAM BUILDING EVENTS account for the category of Corporate events within the Business Tourism sector. Rogers (2003) supports this classification as discussed previously in Chapter 2 and depicted in Table B.1 (Appendix-B)

In consequence, the grounded theory study taken in conducting the present research is grounded on the lack of research on TEAM BUILDING EVENTS as described in this thesis and the value of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS as Event Tourism resources respectively, within the bodies of knowledge considered; that is, Experiential Learning based T&D programmes and that of the Event Tourism industry.
Data Collection Method
The research methodology adopted by this study in conducting the fieldwork aimed to put event organisers, event participants and event consumer organisations of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS in a central position. The study wished to gather such key players’ perceptions on the Event Tourism value of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS and formulate a theory based on their point of view. Robson (2002) suggests the tendency of constructivist researchers “to use methods such as interviews and observation which allow them to acquire multiple perspectives” (p.27). Furthermore, Robson (2002) pointed out that “interviews are the most common data collection method in grounded theory studies” (p.191). Lastly, the former author goes on to comment that “interviews can be used as the only approach in many grounded theory studies” (p.270)
The form of data collection was face-to-face semi-structure interviews. This method is appropriate according to Robson (2003 p.271) for studies focusing on the meaning of particular phenomena to the participants. Therefore, this approach is likely to be the best suited to gather the different perceptions that TEAM BUILDING EVENTS and relevant issues on these events as Event Tourism resources produce on different individuals. The option of group interviews was rejected, event providers, buyers and event participants were very busy and difficult to assemble into one group.

The multiple views of people with deep first-hand knowledge were collected through face-to-face semi-structure interviews. Up to 12 interviews thoroughly prepared and scheduled (Robson 2003 p.273) of around 40 minutes of duration, were undertaken. The interviews were all taped and partially transcript as soon as feasible, habitually within 24-48 hours. As an incentive to participate, research participants were each offered an electronic copy of the study on its completion.
Sampling
According to Robson (2002), “sampling in grounded theory studies is purposive” (p.193). This study did not seek a representative sample for its own sake. Robson (2002) goes on to indicate that “there is certainly no notion of random sampling from a known population to achieve statistical generalizability” (p.193). According to the forgoing considerations, this study did not make random choice of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS providers, participants, and consumer organisations. Instead, the study chose research participants from Scotland, Wales and England which may be more likely to broadly represent the understanding of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS and issues relevant to their value as Event Tourism resources at the time in the whole UK. The sampling, however, did not either intend or achieve in any way statistical generalizability. In this study, sampling of research participants was undertaken according to Robson (2002) “so that additional information could be obtained to help in generating conceptual categories” (p.193). Within grounded theory, goes on Robson (2002) this type of purposive sampling is referred to as “theoretical sampling” (p.193). That is, the research participants were chosen to help the researcher to formulate theory (Robson, 2002 p.193).
This research, according to common practice in grounded theory studies (Robson 2002 p.265), carried out an initial sampling. Subsequently, from analysis of its results, the sampling was extended in ways guided by the emerging theory (Robson, 2002 p. 265).

Participant profiles    No.
Managing Directors of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS Companies                   
Strategic Managers of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS Companies       
Freelance providers of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS                                                                                             
Corporate Buyers of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS                                                                                                                     
Participants of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS                                                                                                
Total Participants in sample:                                                                    4
1
3
2
2
12

Table 3.1 Research participant profiles
Diego (2006)

DATA ANALYSIS METHODS

This researcher did not begin the present project with a preconceived theory in mind; rather the researcher began with an area of study and allowed the theory to emerge from the data (Strauss & Corbin, 1988 p.12). The data obtained from ‘the field’ by means of semi-structured interviews, were analysed each time between the twelve data collection sessions according to Robson (2002 p. 192). Though the analysis, theory was built through interaction with the data, making comparisons and asking questions of the data (Robson 2002 p.493). Grounded theory studies have explicit procedures for the analysis of qualitative data (Robson 2002 p. 192).
The data collection process continued, according to the procedures described by Robson (2002), until the categories found through analysis were “saturated” (p.192). Strauss & Corbin (1988) defined category as “concepts that stand for phenomena” (p.101). According to Robson (2002) A saturated category is one that “you have squeezed as much conceptual juice as you can out of the data so that continuing analysis is giving severely diminished returns in the new categories and insights that is yielding” (p.494). As described by Robson (2002, p.493) this research sought to find the central core categories which are both at a high level of abstraction and grounded in the data collected and analysed. As defined by Robson (2002) core category is “a centrepiece of the analysis/ central phenomenon at the highest degree of abstraction around which the categories arising from axial coding are integrated. (p.495)
This process was accomplished in three stages (Robson, 2002 p.493-494):

Open coding: This is a process of interpreting and coding data by means of which the researcher split interview transcripts into discrete parts; eventually, The researcher proceed to label these resultant pieces of data. Some pieces of data were considered to fall within more than one conceptual category (i.e. label). These conceptual categories arose from the data and were not pre-determined in any way. The open coding process took place before data collection was complete which this researcher believed to be appropriate in order to monitoring categories and detecting saturated categories. 

Axial coding: At this point the researcher linked together the conceptual categories developed through the process of open coding. No particular pre-determined format was adopted. Instead, the axial codes (i.e. new clusters formed) emerged from the data (Robson, 2002 p. 494; Strauss & Corbin, 1988 p.12)
Selective coding: At this stage of the analysis, the research was ready to explain what is central in the data (i.e. core category). The researcher started by describing the picture of relationships between categ

Selective coding: At this stage of the analysis, the research was ready to explain what is central in the data (i.e. core category). The researcher started by describing the picture of relationships between categories that the axial coding had produced.

On complexion of this process the researcher was ready to explain what is central in the data (i.e. core category). This is the conceptual category which enables the researcher to understand the story line (i.e. overall picture) Strauss and Corbin (1998) in Robson (2002 p.495)

TRUSTWORTHINESS OF THE STUDY


Reliability

For Robson (2003 p.551) there are well-established procedures for assessing reliability in fixed design research. However, as suggested by the former, this issue is “more difficult to deal with in flexible design research, where some researchers would regard the concept as inappropriate” (p.551).

As expected from a constructivist paradigm, this study aimed to explore the unique personal testimony of 12 players in the TEAM BUILDING EVENTS marketplace in the UK; collecting their views on a range of relevant issues so as to enable the study to capitalize on the value of TEAM BUILDING EVENTS as Event Tourism resources. There is no reason to believe that another 12 people would say the same things or that these same participants would say the same thing at another time.

Researcher bias

When processing the data the researcher remained aware that he played a major role in the production and interpretation of the data. According to Denscombe (1998) cited in Brown (2003, p.49) no facts exist just because they were spoken by the research participants, the selection of themes was subjective and therefore the researcher acknowledges that his own paradigms and values were included in the process and in the data. The researcher’s position as a novel provider in the TEAM BUILDING EVENTS market and his background in Event Management will have also influenced him.

Validity

Maxwell (1992) cited in Robson (2003 p.171) argued that the main types of understanding involved in qualitative research are description, interpretation and theory. Robson (2003, p.171) described the main threats to validity in qualitative research designs in relation to these types.

Description: The inaccuracy or incompleteness of the data was minimized by audio-taping the interviews (Robson 2003, p.171). Consistency was achieved by partial transcription (Robson 2003, p.171) of the most relevant issues of each interview from tape onto a separate word document as soon as feasible, typically within 24-48h.
Interpretation: No framework, meaning or perspective of participants was imposed. Instead, these emerged from what the researcher learned during his involvement with the setting (Robson 2003, p.171)
Theory: Alternative explanations or understandings of the phenomena subject of study in this research were sought whenever feasible (Robson 2003, p.171).

LIMITATIONS AND ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS OF THE STUDY

Limitations of the study

The area of research –that is, the TEAM BUILDING EVENTS market today in the UK, is relatively broad and extensive in so far as the number and variety of providers, the overall volume of the business, and its geographical distribution. The scarcity of resources of this research, particularly in terms of time and research budget certainly influenced the size of the sample and therefore the data collection process. In an “ideal world” where time, budget and other constrains would not have limited the study, the sample for this research project would have been bigger in terms of participants number so as to further inform important categories that the researcher did not believe to be saturated at the end of the data collection process. Therefore, such ‘non-saturated’ categories would not see the light in the present study and will have to wait further research in the years to come. In consequence this research findings may be broad and relatively shallow rather than deep and narrow.
As a final point, although the supply side in the sample includes the most relevant kind of providers identified by this study, the demand side of the sample is lacking non-corporate organizational consumers, principally institutional consumers such as Home office, NHS or Universities in the UK.

Ethical considerations of the study

The three main ethical issues considered (Brown 2003 p.43) were:

Consent: All research participants were invited to be interviewed and the whole study was explained to them in advance.
Confidentiality: All participants were informed that their identity would be kept confidential.
Consequences: Participants were informed that the results may be of benefit to the industry and that those results would be shared with them.