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This client came to us while working on a Ph.D. in Business Management.


This chapter outlines the methods through which the research will be carried out. The research assumptions for the methods adopted, including the research philosophies, techniques, and approaches to address the research questions, are discussed in this chapter. The different concepts relating to research methodology are explained in order to better justify the choice of methods used to achieve the objectives of this research. Furthermore, the rationale for the adoption of a specific research design and approach is provided to justify their use in this study. The research methodology adopted is specifically designed to address the research aims and objectives which are:


  • To assess the current state of Business Excellence (BE) implementation and to define the key barriers and success factors for the implementation of Business Excellence Models (BEMs) for micro nonprofit organizations (NPOs) in Saudi Arabia 

  • To assess the impact of organizational size on the successful implementation of BEMs 

  • To design a model that supports the successful implementation of BEMs in micro nonprofit organizations in Saudi Arabia


Definition of Research Methodology

According to Antony et al. (2002), a research methodology is a vital tool that allows a researcher to determine a procedure for achieving the research objectives. It is defined as a systemic approach to any type of real-world problem that can be applied in the context of a changing environment (Bell, 2005). According to Pathirage et al. (2005), developing a research methodology is an essential process for giving careful consideration to a research study in order to choose an appropriate approach and research method. It lays out the suitable steps that can be adopted by a researcher to reach a logical conclusion to a research problem (Kothari, 2004; Collis & Hussey, 2009). 

According to Dainty (2008), defining the research methodology not only refers to the methods used in a given research study, but also includes the philosophical assumptions that support the research. These influence the actual research methods used to examine a problem or to collect and analyze data (Dainty, 2008). 

In order to articulate the research methodology for this research, the researcher will follow the research onion model of Saunders et al. (2016) (Figure 3.1). 















Figure 3.1: The Research Onion
Source: Mark Saunders, Philip Lewis and Adrian Thomhill

The research onion model has been chosen due to its clear illustration of the structure and layout of the research design which begins with the research philosophies and ends with the collection and analysis of the data. This model is considered to be one of the most important research methodology frameworks and the entire strategic framework of the present research study does fit within it. 

The research onion model features six layers which begin with the main types of research philosophies followed by the research approach and methodological choice. The fourth layer refers to the research strategy which is followed by the time horizon while the techniques and procedures are defined in the final layer of the model. The following sections will begin with the first layer and explain the research design in terms of the research philosophy with research data collection and analysis techniques being the final layer to be discussed. 

Research Philosophies’ Assumptions

A research philosophy is a set of beliefs, philosophies and assumptions about the nature of knowledge and various aspects of the world as viewed by the researcher (Collins and Hussey, 2003). A research philosophy includes important assumptions that support the research strategy and methods. The philosophical approach strongly influences the reasoning behind the research and, subsequently, the data collection and analysis (Saunders et al., 2009). 

Many experts in the area of methodologies such as Saunders et al. (2016), Collis and Hussey (2013), Hussey and Hussey (1997) and Giddings and Grant (2006) believe that there are major domains of research philosophy and that each of these comprises three philosophical assumptions, which are ontology, epistemology and axiology. Based on these assumptions, the current research adopts a relativist/subjectivist, interpretivist and value laden approach. 

The following subsections will explain and justify the philosophical stance taken for this research starting with ontological, epistemological and axiological assumptions, which will be described in direct relation to the aims of this research. 

​Red Pen's Outline:
  1. Introduction

  2. Definition of Research Methodology

  3. Research Philosophies Assumptions

  4. Research Approach

  5. Methodological Choices

    1. Mono-method Research

      1. Quantitative Research Design

      2. Qualitative Research Design

    2. Multiple Methods Research

      1. Multi-methods Research

      2. Mixed-methods Research

    3. The Explanatory Sequential Design

    4. Justification for Adopted Research Method

  6. Research Strategy

  7. Time Horizon

  8. Data Collection Techniques

    1. Quantitative Data Collection through Questionnaire Surveys

    2. Qualitative Data Collection through Interviews

      1. Structured Interviews 

      2. Semi-Structured Interviews

      3. Unstructured In-depth Interviews

      4. Justification for using Semi-structured Interviews

      5. The Interview Protocol

  9. Research Sampling Techniques

    1. Questionnaires: Total Population Sampling

    2. Semi-structured Interview: Purposive Sampling

  10. Data analysis

  11. Design Thinking Approach

  12. Design Thinking Process

  13. Service Design Thinking

  14. Ethical Considerations

  15. Chapter Summary

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