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Methods of Enquiry

Research topic:
Marketing: The importance of company ethical reputation
Sainsburys are concerned that, in their efforts to catch up with arch-rival Tesco, their ethical reputation has slipped. With Ethical Consumer rating Sainsburys at just 2 points out of 20 for their social and environmental record (lower than Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons and Tesco), Sainsburys are considering whether they need to address such issues, and how important ethics are to their current and potential customers. They have asked you to outline a research proposal to investigate attitudes and opinions of British supermarket buyers towards the ethical reputation of supermarkets, what particular aspects they are concerned about and whether this actually affects supermarket spend. Sainsburys intend to use the results to develop aspects of their business such as purchasing from more ethical sources and developing communications to promote such changes.
Useful references: Carrington, M.J., Neville, B.A. & Whitwell, G.J. (2010). Why Ethical Consumers Don’t Walk Their Talk: Towards a Framework for Understanding the Gap Between the Ethical Purchase Intentions and Actual Buying Behaviour of Ethically Minded Consumers. Journal of Business Ethics, 97(1): 139-158

Objectives/ Learning Outcomes

The coursework assessment is designed to enable you to partially demonstrate the learning outcomes required for the successful completion of the module, with particular reference to the market/business/academic research skills development outcomes for this component as detailed in the module specification and module handbook:
• Evaluating secondary data sources such as market research reports and academic literature to frame research question
• Demonstrating understanding of development, conduct, analysis and interpretation of market, business and academic research to propose a research plan
• Working creatively with quantitative and qualitative (and potentially alternative research methods)
• Understanding of ethical issues in market, business and academic research that apply to your proposal
• Producing a succinct, well-argued and well-presented research proposal.

The Research Proposal

This element of the coursework prepares you for final year projects, in terms of content, structure and word count. It prepares you for commissioning, using and developing market research in future careers.

The Research Proposal is an outline of a proposed mixed methods research design for your chosen topic – as a market research agency would present to a client in order to pitch for, win and guide a market research project. No primary data collection is required. You choose a topic from a list of topics related to your degree programme so far. This is a maximum 4000 word proposal, to be submitted electronically by 2pm on April 28th, 2015.

You have a choice of topics, some of which you have covered over your degree programme so far: you must choose just one to develop and this should be in line with your chosen degree.

The entire module is based upon the proposal, taking you through the 4Ps of a market research plan:
– Purpose: analysing existing academic/practitioner literature on the topic to develop specific research aims, and identify appropriate methods for your own proposal.
– Population: identifying and justifying the appropriate sample size, type and recruitment methods for each stage of the proposed research.
– Procedures: outlining your proposed qualitative AND quantitative data collection methods, how you will combine these, and justifying your choices
– Publication: ensuring that resulting research would be robust, valid, and appropriate for your research aim, satisfying your client and other researchers in the area.

Although practically-focused, this assessment requires an academic slant uniting academic and practitioner knowledge. You are expected to integrate academic concepts and theories from your other modules, and your own reading, to underpin your work and support the judgements you are making. In this regard it is essential that you properly reference all books, academic articles, websites and other reference sources used in your report.

Your Research Proposal is expected to cover the following (N.B. word counts are guidelines only):
• Executive summary (c.100 words)
• Introduction briefly covering justification for research (c.200 words)
• Literature review – a short review of both academic and practical knowledge and evidence in the area, and research methods used by others in the field (c.900 words)
• Aim, and qualitative and quantitative objectives as bullet points (c.75 words)
• Research methods covering both qualitative AND quantitative approaches in a mixed methods study. These approaches should be covered separately (in whichever order you prefer and which makes sense for your study) and in each of the two sections should cover:
o Clear sampling plan for each stage, including sampling frame, sample size, intended recruitment methods and any requirements for incentives (c.150 words)
o Outline of data collection methods for each approach, and commentary on how anysurveys or moderators guides will be developed. This should include consideration of issues such as socially desirable responding, issues with literacy etc. Details about conducting the research (e.g. environment, recording data, any materials required) should be covered (c.760 words)
o Plans for data presentation, coding, analysis and interpretation suitable for each research approach (c.150 words).
• Consideration of ethical issues arising from the research and how to address these (c.150 words)
• Description of any limitations of the research (c.150 words)
• Proposed time frame for the research, ideally using Gantt chart (c.50 words)
• Brief closing summary (c.100 words)
More detail is provided below about content for each section and marking criteria.

Formatting
The report should
• Be in a Microsoft Word format to allow feedback, with 1.5 line spacing
• Be submitted online via Blackboard
• Use headings and subheadings to provide clear structure
• Use diagrams, charts or images where they help support your argument
• Use bullets and lists to help reduce word count and show your argument succinctly
• Be spellchecked and grammatically correct
• Be referenced in the UWE Harvard style (see Library website for details)
• For the avoidance of doubt, anything in the main body of the report beyond this word limit of 4000 words will not be read or marked. The word count includes everything in the main body of the text listed here: abstract, text, headings, tables, citations, quotes, lists, acronyms and numbers expressed as digits or in words. It does NOT include the contents page or the references.
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