Selection of the research method
The research plan is a crucial element in the research process (Johnson, 1994). A variety of complementary research methods have been used in this study. These methods are mainly qualitative and have been conducted through interviews with managers of mid-size companies in Singapore, economic experts as well as observation and examination of documentary evidence to form case studies. However, some initial quantitative research was aimed at gathering background proof of managers and leaders of mid-size companies to set the pace.
There was use of case studies to “follow up and put flesh on the bones” (Bell, 1999). This was done in order to perform the initial survey as well as to examine participants’ perceptions and judgments (Simons, 1996). It should be noted that case studies were criticized in the past as tools of research; they have come to be widely accepted as a form of the investigation (Simons, 1996). Case studies fit the objectives of this study as they assist in investigating the extent to which succession planning has been adopted by mid-size companies in Singapore. Simons introduced the notion of the paradox of case study by claiming that by studying the uniqueness of the particular, we come to understand the universal (Simons, 1996).
Qualitative research methods have been noted to be slow (Johnson, 1994). Visiting companies in the area of the study was indeed a time consuming process but worth pursuing all the same since it provided a better illustration of the varied nature of companies and individual perceptions and experiences of the managers as far as succession planning be concerned.
Sampling and selections are principles and procedures used to identify, choose and gain access to relevant units to be used for data generation by any method (Mason, 1996). In this case study, the researcher will use purpose sampling technique which allows the researcher to use cases that have the required information on the objective of the survey (Mugenda & Mugenda, 1999). The researcher will pick cases that possess the information necessary to answer the research question.
Arrangement of research access
The researcher has been an active participant having been thoroughly engrossed in the subject of investigation (Blaxter et al. 1999). Close involvement is significant in that it explains how access to companies and managers was done. This association provided easy access to managers and other key people in companies in Singapore. Questionnaires were given out to managers and key leaders in organizations. That provided useful information for this study. Random sampling technique was employed in the course of this study. It should be noted that the work was affected by the researcher’s motivations and values (Blaxter et al. 1999). The study was not aimed at identifying a single company but rather a broader perspective on companies’ adoption of succession planning in their strategic plans. The study was therefore as open and transparent as possible (Blaxter et al., 1999). The sample of managers and leaders in selected organizations was a broad representative of the mid-size companies in Singapore. There is a possibility to include sample in this study of companies that have not adopted succession planning in their strategic plan.
Development of the research instrument
This study will use various tools in the collection of data. First, there will be use of a questionnaire. Questionnaires are easy to process and are transformed directly into a computer format. Interviews, which are conversations in which one person, referred to as the interviewer, seeks response for a particular purpose from another individual, referred to as the interviewee. This instrument will be used to obtain information from the respondents. An interview schedule will be utilized as a guide to standardizing the interview situation to ask the same question in the same manner. The information obtained will be transformed into qualitative data using attitude scaling or rating-scaling techniques. The instrument will be used to derive data from the companies’ managers. Rating or scaling are a number of statements made and the respondents asked to indicate the extent to which one agrees. Likert attitude scales and semantic differentials are good examples of questionnaires based on scaling. The researcher will also prepare the optional checklist.
Observation is also another instrument that is available for a researcher. During data collection, the researcher will check every behavior as it occurs. That will permit the researcher to spend time thinking about what happens rather than how to record it. This will enhance the accuracy of the study. The researcher will not only observe the behavior but also evaluate the expression using a rating scale. The observation will be mainly done by the company, interaction, company facilities, and resources. The researcher will make use of direct observation.
Another instrument is focused group discussion. These are face-to-face encounters in a semi-structured format. The interview technique will involve one focus group comprising of managers of companies in the capital city of Singapore. The researcher who will facilitate the focused group discussions will engage the members on various aspects related to succession planning in companies located in the capital city of Singapore. The researcher will work closely with a recorder who will be responsible for taking notes as the researcher keeps the discussion on the topic.
This study used three main research instruments to accomplish the task. The initial investigation was carried out using a questionnaire, which was given to the main people in sampled companies. The questionnaire evolved after being tried with a manager who was not part of the sample. Bell (1999) provided a sound advice on designing and administering questionnaires. It is this advice that was followed in this study. The questionnaire was designed to be quick and easy for the managers and the key leaders in the sample companies to complete. There will several questions involving a choice of tick boxes, with a minimum amount of written responses required. Forty-five questionnaires were returned. This is a relatively small sample, but it was a perfect representation of the companies in Singapore. The sample used was non-probability (Cohen & Manion, 1994). The participants will be selected during real visits to the target companies and not at the convenience of the researcher. The questionnaires will be completed in almost a period of one week and was a bit inconveniencing to the respondents. However, they were glad to give the information needed.
The data from the returned questionnaires will be collated and analyzed in chapter four. The questionnaire is designed to gather data for a particular point in time with the intention of describing the nature of existing conditions (Cohen & Manion, 1994). From this initial small questionnaire, a small sample of respondents will be identified who will be prepared to complete more detailed questionnaires in a period of three to six months. This will form the basis of more detailed case studies.
The next stage of the survey will be to undertake the research to form case studies. Several companies will be visited where a prolonged interview based on another more detailed questionnaire will be used. Interview is appropriate for this study because of its adaptability (Bell, 1999). Each interview will be structured based on the same questionnaire schedule, which will differ according to the responses of the respondents involved as well as their experiences depending on the contexts of their companies.
As part of the background to the companies, reference will be made to the most recent reports available for the selected companies. Most of the case study companies will be made on leaders and managers who have put in place a succession plan. Observation of companies’ records such as the strategic plan will be done where possible. That will be done to recognize context for the case study and to draw conclusions from the report of the survey.