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The Construction Industry, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1330

Essay

Questions

The following questions were given to supervisory personnel at a construction firm.

  1. How many contracts have been bid and secured?
  2. Of the contracts bid and secured, how many of them are for new construction (buildings) and how many of them are for partial construction (remodeling and repairing).
  3. What is the method used to assign specific tasks to specific employees (assuming the employees are in the same profession—for example, multiple plumbers or multiple electricians)?
  4. Are employees paid according to a standard pay or rate scale?
  5. Who is responsible for on-the-job training of employees?

Research Discussion

Qualitative research employs an emergent design. The qualitative researcher needs to focus on this emerging process including the outcomes and products of the research. Strauss and Corbin (1990) claimed that qualitative research was best used to examine events about which little was known. Merriam (2001) sought common characteristics among the participants. Stake (1995) called attention to the notion experiences of participants in their setting “may be epistemologically in harmony with the reader’s experience” (p. 5).

Qualitative research is judged based upon its trustworthiness. Patton (1990) observed that trustworthiness offered strategic ideals that provided direction and framework for developing specific designs and concrete data collection tactics. Patton labeled these designs as being “interconnected” (p. 40) while Lincoln and Guba (1985) called them “mutually reinforcing” (p. 39).  Denzin and Lincoln (2002) identified mutual reinforcement by the categories of intrinsic, instrumental, and collective. The intrinsic category was used to reflect researcher interest in the case.

According to Merriam (1988), “A qualitative case study is an intensive, holistic description and analysis of a single instance, phenomenon, or social unit” (p.21).  Yin (1994) categorized case studies as being explanatory, exploratory, and descriptive. The four stages of case studies are design the case study, conduct it, analyze the data collected, and arrive at conclusions, recommendations, and implications (Yin). Peshkin (1993) summarized the range of outcomes emanating from the categories of description, interpretation, verification and evaluation. Over a sustained period of time, detailed information was collected through a variety of data sources (Merriam, 2001; Yin, 1994).

Denzin and Lincoln (2002) pointed out that what the researcher may have experienced within the setting for his case study may have differed from other researchers’ and respondents’ settings. The information examined and the conclusions reached may differ from other individuals based upon their individual settings. When the purpose of the study is exploratory, field studies must be conducted (Marshall & Rossman, 1995). In this case study, the researcher examined a series of phenomena: persons, activities, and groups within a single site.

Researcher’s Role

During this study the researcher’s role will be that of an ethnographic researcher. According to Harris and Johnson (2000), “Ethnography literally means ‘a portrait of a people’ (p. 28). An ethnography is a written description of a particular culture–the customs, beliefs, and behavior–based on information collected through fieldwork (p.29). Moll and Greenberg (1990) identified ethnographic research through significant categories of human experience close up. Ethnography enhanced the inquiry process and generated new insights through interactive team exploration.

Van Manen (1990) called attention to the wide spectrum of observational strategies. The extent to which an ethnographer is involved in the case study could cause wide variations between what is being reported. In some case studies the researcher may involve himself in complete participation; in other studies he may choose non-participation, taking on the role of a spectator.

Spradley (1980) suggested that the researcher needed to involve himself, to the greatest extent possible, in the case study he was observing. Participant observation is a field strategy that “simultaneously combines document analysis, interviewing of respondents and informants, direct participation and observation, and introspection” (p.34-35). By developing an insider’s view of what is occurring, the researcher will feel what it is like to be a part of the group.

Hammersley (1992) identified ethnography by the following features:

  1. The behavior of people is examined in everyday contexts, instead of under experimental conditions created by the researcher.
  2. Observations combined with formal and informal conversations are the sources of the researcher’s data.
  3. The categories for the data collection are not preset or fixed, nor are the categories preset for coding the data. Data collection is not done unsystematically; it is just collected in as raw a form as feasible.

Patton (1987) gave several suggestions for effective interviewing. However, he was quick to note that no specific format exists; each researcher must decide for him/herself which guidelines are appropriate.

  1. Throughout the entire data gathering procedure, the research needs to keep focused on purpose. It is that purpose that guides the interviewing process.
  2. At all times the researcher needs to provide a framework in which the respondents can express their own feelings in their own terms.
  3. Select an interviewing process that is most appropriate to the purpose of the research effort.
  4. Understand the different kinds of data that can be collected through the interview process: opinions, feelings, knowledge, sensory data, and background information.
  5. Always ask truly open-ended questions.
  6. Use probes and follow-up questions, in the same or in subsequent interviews, to solicit both depth and detail.
  7. Establish personal rapport and personal interest.
  8. Always maintain an awareness of the interviewee’s sensitivity by how he/she responds to different questions.
  9. Whenever possible, record the interviews to capture full and exact quotations. In addition, take notes to capture and highlight major points in the interview process.
  10. Always maintain control of the interview process.

In addition to the interview process, the collection and review of documentation can be helpful. “Caseworkers seek to see what is natural in happenings, in settings, in expression of value. What the researchers are unable to see for themselves is obtained by interviewing people who did see or by finding documents recording it” (Stake, 1995, p. 242).

Effective case studies employ a variety of characteristics. Patton (1987) noted several qualities that a good ethnographic researcher must possess. Stake (1995) added the need for supporting documentation. Linn and Erickson (1990) acknowledge that participation in the work setting by the researcher creates a stronger case study than simply observation.

Finally, coding and data analysis processes is one of the most significant parts of the research. Padgett (2004) noted that paying careful attention to this process will aid the researcher in identifying the conditions that promote interaction in subsequent interviews. Good coding and analysis helped the researcher to understand what was happening and why it was happening.

Summary

The researcher discussed the methods that should be employed to ascertain the policies of a construction company located in a major city. The researcher interviewed consenting participants and discussed the management and leadership in a single organization. In addition to interviews, the researcher, if allowed, might also examine the company’s profit and loss statements and interview employee stakeholders and some of the company’s clients. Other documents may be reviewed as necessary.

References

Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.) The qualitative inquiry reader. Thousand Oaks, CA: London Publishing.

Hammersley, M. (1002). What’s wrong with ethnography? Methodological explorations. London: Routledge.

Harris, M. & Johnson, O. (2000) Cultural anthropology. (5th ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Lincoln, Y. & Guba, E. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. Linn, R., & Erickson, F. (1990). Quantitative methods—qualitative methods. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. Designing qualitative research (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Merriam, S. (2001). Case study research. A qualitative approach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Miles, M., & Huberman, A. (1994). Qualitative data analysis (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Moll, L. & Greenberg, J. (1990). Creating zones of possibilities: Combining social contexts for instruction. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Padgett, D. (2004). The qualitative research experience. Belmont, CA: Sage Publications.

Patton, M. (1987). Creative evaluation (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Patton, M. (1990). Qualitative evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Peshkin, A. (1993). The goodness of qualitative research. Educational researcher, 22(2): 23-29.

Stake, R. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research. Grounded theiry procedures and techniques. London: Sage Publications.

Van Manen, M. (1990). Researching lived experience. Human science for action research. New York, NY: Suny Press.

Yin, R. (1994). Case study research, designs, and methods. (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA; Sage Publications.

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