The aim of this section is to alleviate the differences between the three most frequently encountered research methods, namely the case study method, phenomenological method, and grounded theory method and to substantiate their applicability for the purposes of the present research. Whereas the importance of the highly qualified professionals is universally recognized by the labor and business communities (Cresswell, 1998), it is not an easy task to ascertain which research method is the best for meeting the needs of every research. Numerous methods have been elaborated as a result of the close cooperation between the scientific, business and governmental communities. The answer to the question which method suits the best the needs of this very dissertation topic will be structured in the following way:
The Dissertation Topic and Its Peculiarities
The aim of the study is to prove that the employers with higher job satisfaction are demonstrating greater desire to be involved in the working processes than their counterparts, who are not satisfied with the working environment on their jobs in the local and international healthcare insurance companies.
Among the main peculiarities of this very study is the commonly-acknowledged concept that the majority of the workers of this industry are working in the offices. Broadly speaking, the following are the criteria that define the business performance of the company as successful. The criteria have been elaborated empirically by the joint work of the leading United States Healthcare Insurance companies, namely, these criteria are utilized in the 21st Year Insurance, the Aetna Insurance Group, the Chubb Corporation, the Federated Mutual Insurance Company, the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, the New York Life Insurance Company, as well as many other United States and international health insurance companies:
a) The profits accrued by an individual insurance agent. Generally, this criterion is the most important one in terms of the assessment whether the socially oriented policy launched in the particular health insurance company is successful or not.
The method of the profit deduction is plain: the annual revenues of the company is collected and accordingly divided between the insurance agents employed by the company. This financial performance does seem to be the most effective way to assess the individual performance, which is the best indicator for the effective performance of the financial institution.
b) The second criterion used for defining whether the performance of the firm is successful is the fact whether the insurance employees are loyal to their company.
Under the principles of this criterion, the insurance workers are required to stay with their “mother company” for a specific period of time in order to demonstrate that they are indeed loyal to this very financial institution. It implies, if the working environment of the company is indeed healthy in its nature, the workers, insurance agents and top-managers of the company will not be enticed by the competitors of the company, if they are proposed to receive higher salaries or other job privileges and benefits. Averagely, the individual insurance agent of the typical United States insurance company is required to be at least 3 years with the firm. Following this assumption, the financial performance of the company may be defined successful and the working environment may be labeled as healthy.
Another indicator of this criterion is the number of the employees who prefer to leave the firm and to join the ranks of the competitors. If this number transcends 10% of the hired staff during the period of one fiscal year, the working environment can be defined as “unhealthy.”
Besides, the vitally important principle of the firm’s loyalty inter alia purports the ability of the employers to be engaged in the working processes during the times of the economic hardships and financial calamities, which accompany the activity of the firm. It means, in each individual case, the workers are required to stay with the company for a substantially diminished salary or with no salary at all, while the company suffers serious financial gravities. The most exemplary situation is the one which happened to the United States Insurance firm, the Federated Mutual Insurance Company, when the top managers of the company were performing their professional duties for half-wages and with no vacation at all. Approximately 71% of the entire numbers of the company employees preferred rather than started their employment with other insurance or other firms; although, propositions have been made by the competitors of the company.
The aforementioned criteria are the criteria that are applied to define whether a specific insurance institution performs successfully from the financial point of view (Miles & Huberman, 1984). The following lists are the criteria that have been elaborated by the association of the insurance institutions of the United States of America aimed at defining whether the firm has created favorable working environment for its employment or not.
The criteria of job satisfaction can be classified into two groups:
The salary paid to the individual employer. This figure must be comparable with the salaries and wages annually received by an average insurance agent, as well as the managerial and administrative staff of the insurance companies of the United States of America and the affiliated organizations. In particular, the amount of the salary is to be comparable with the salaries and wages paid to in the firms of the competitors.
The Case Study Method
The Case Study is an effective tool to conduct a detailed research within the frames of a specific phenomenon. The aim of the qualitative case study is to simplify the exploration and discovery of a specific phenomenon while the various data sources are applied by the researcher. The detailed exploration of the topic and the close review of the subject matter of the case study are required to conduct an effective case study. The process of the case study composing is simple in its nature.
The First Step of the Case Study – Defining the Unit and the Objects of the Study
The first step is the process of definition, which subject matter or in criteria will be used for the purposes of the case study. To be more exact, at this stage both the novice and the experienced researchers are required to identify the research question or set of the research questions. The most commonly encountered mistake at this section is the failure to define the scope of the questions sufficiently enough. If this omission is perpetrated, the outcome of the study can be seriously affected.
The Second Step of the Effective Case Study
The second step for composing an effective case study is to set the limits of the study, or in other words to ascertain what aspects will not be reviewed in this case study. To be more exact, the research problem must be formulated to broadly or too many objectives for a particular case study must. If the one defines the topic of the case study too broadly, the results will be naturally misinterpreted by the researcher, because the scope of the research tools will not cover the peculiarities of the specific research topic. Covering the aspects of the present research topic, an effective case study conducting shall be integrally limited to the confines of the problem. As it has been formulated in the previous sections, the problem is defined in the following way: do the employers with higher job satisfaction have a greater desire to work than their colleagues who are not particularly satisfied with the job environment on their job places in the enterprises, which primarily operate in the insurance markets. In the presence instance, namely the companies operating in the insurance markets must be regarded by the researcher, and solely the conditions that are somehow connected with the working environment must be reviewed by the research team. To illustrate, for the purposes of the present study, there is no need to focus on the issues which address the performance of the legal, oil, mining or tourism companies, and there is no necessity to describe the factors, which nature is not based on the working environment of a specific enterprise, but which hypothetically may, in their turn, affect the performance of a specific insurance company. For instance, there is no necessity to scrutinize the market situation of the company or to put accent to the Human Resources policy of the company, due to the fact, that these factors are not necessarily connected with the performance of the company. In fact, they influence the overall performance of the company in general and the financial performance of the company in particular, but for the hypothesis of the present study, these assumptions are irrelevant. Therefore, in this study, the data will be solely confined to the issues which cover the aspects connected with the industrial performance of the insurance agents who operate in the insurance industry exclusively and who are not linked to the operations of the firm in other industries.
Determination the Type of the Case Study
The aim of this stage is to ensure that the proper structure of the case will be chosen to address the needs of the specific research activity. To be more exact, there exist several types of the case studies, and they are universally utilized for the variety of different purposes. The specific identities of the various cases studies are used to group them into the explanatory, descriptive or exploratory accordingly.
The overall objective of the explanatory case studies is to ensure that the subject matter of a specific study, which may be outwardly difficult for understanding for the laymen and for other non-professionals must be alleviated in a clear and comprehensible way so that everyone can comprehend the peculiarities and to understand even the most insignificant details of the case study (Brach & Glass, 1968). Another widely recognized aim of these types of the case study is to ensure that the process of research is absolutely linked to the projected results of the case study in question. Besides, this very case study strategy is utilized when traditional experimental studies are not applicable and when the traditional types of survey are not possible.
The Exploratory Case Study
The aim of this case study is to inform the target audience about the outcomes of the specific scientific or non-scientific phenomenon, which are not currently available for the international and national research communities. Regarding this type of the case study from the purely scientific positions, it can be easily assumed that this type of the conducted case studies in general and academic research in particular can be determined as the most important one, due to the fact that namely the exploratory case study provides the scientific and business communities with the answers to the currently unanswered questions. However, it must be noted that the scientific authenticity and reliability of this type of the case study is among the most questionable and objectionable ones (Van Manen, 1997). Leading scholars permanently dispute about the relevance and the applicability of these case studies, vigorously advocating the idea that these case studies are in advance erroneous in their natures and that they shall never be utilized for the subsequent research, unless their authenticity is corroborated by the advanced studies. However, the importance of these case studies can hardly be disputed, primarily due to the fact that they may effectively serve as a starting point for the researches when other data is not available for the scientific community.
Descriptive Case Study
The aim of the descriptive case study is to provide a target audience (irrespective of the fact that the target audience is professional researchers or a general public). The descriptive case studies are usually applied by the scientific and business communities to corroborate and to affirm the findings drawn from the exploratory and explanatory case studies. Therefore, assuming the fact that the exploratory case study is considerably substantiated and well-supported by the findings of the descriptive case study, the obtained results can effectively serve as supportive arguments for the validity of specific conclusions, which are inherent for the exploratory case study. It is utilized by the scientific community purely to substantiate the real-life situations which have already occurred and which do not require to conduct a fundamental and meticulous research.
Instrumental Case Study
The aim of the instrumental case study is to ensure that the case is to polish the applicability of the specific theory rather than to develop a general understanding of a specific problem, which is a subject matter of the case study (Richards, 1994). Thus, these case studies are applied purely for the educational purposes, and the outcome of the case study itself is not necessarily important, whereas the particular accent is made on how the research is conducted and how consecutively the case study stages are being followed by the individual researcher or by the team of the researchers in order to estimate the individual performance of each researcher of the team.
Multiple and Collective Comparative Case Studies
The purpose of those case studies is to find the similarities, commonalities, and differences in the different case study phenomenon. The key factors of these case studies methods lie primarily in the understanding of the researcher that cases are selected meticulously and that the data has been collected properly and accurately, hereby ensuring that the limits of the case study have not been transcended by the researcher or by the team of the researchers. Generally, the aim of these case studies is to affirm a specific hypothesis and to corroborate it empirically. Because of these reasons, the cases must be selected as carefully as possible, with a specific attention paid to the fact that the limits and restrictions of the case are spanned by the goals of the case study and that the chosen information is connected to the research topic.
The Applicability of the Case Study Types to the Purposes of this Study
Having made a close review of the study topic, it has become evident that the peculiarities of the study topic undoubtedly require the combination of the abovementioned case study methods. To be more exact, the explanatory method can be utilized to explain the peculiarities of the concepts and the categories which are necessarily used by the researcher or the team of the researchers in this case study. The objective of the exploratory model is to ensure that the aspects of the case study, which have not been previously investigated by the scientific and business communities, will be reviewed accordingly and closely (in particular, the affect that is exercised by the working environment conditions on the performance of the employees of the specific industry, the insurance companies in the present study). Overall, the application of the various case studies methods does seem to be the best alternative for the purposes of this study. It is an undisputed fact that namely the case study will be the best option for the researcher, primarily due to the following facts.
The Validity of Results
The outcomes, which have been drawn as a result of the case study, are usually the most veritable scientific sources, which are widely applied for the business and for the scientific purposes, as well. The subsequent corroboration of the results obtained as a result of the combined case study, as we do have in the present instance, is not scientifically necessitated, because the assumptions are made not on the basis of the thesis or a hypothesis, but on the basis of the scientifically digested and processed data (Pidgeon, Henwood, 1996). The validity of results is always supported by the significant number of the conducted calculation and by the simultaneously conducted case studies with the similar structures and with the similar case study objectives. Considering the above stated positive feature of the effective case study, it can be easily assumed that an effective researcher who conducts a research in the entire accordance with the research method and postulates of the effective and accurate case study is likely to achieve a high rate of scientific validity.
The bias and criticism from the peers is the integral constituent of the any research method. Moreover, the prejudiced attitude has always been present to the issues concerning the effective research conducting, when the case study method is used as a primary methodology. Having surveyed the literature, it can be easily assumed that the scientifically substantiated criticism of the case study has not already been formulated substantially enough by the scientific community.
The Phenomenological Approach
Alongside with the wide application of the case study methods, the scientific community is extensively applying the so-called phenomenological approach, which is no less important from the both scientific and business standpoints. This section of the study is to outline the concept of the phenomenological research approach and to evaluate the relevance of this approach for the purposes of this research in question.
The Concept of the Phenomenological Approach
The concept of the phenomenological research first emerged on the scientific horizon in the early 30th of the 18th century. The essence of this approach is the following. First and foremost, a specific assumption is made. Secondly, this assumption is formulated in the specific thesis statement. Then, the thesis statement is substantiated and supported by the empirical research, i.e. personal experience and personal reflections obtained as a result of a direct communication with the objects of the research study or with the informational sources, which bear specific data that may directly or indirectly relate to the purposes of the study.
The most important advantage of this approach is that the phenomenological strategy helps to eradicate the disadvantages of the specific research, which arises if it is conducted in accordance with the “normative” rules. In particular, it helps to accentuate specific provisions of the specific research from the purely personal empirical standpoint, experience, and personal reflections.
The Validity of Results under the Concept of the Phenomenological Research
The validity of the research outcomes obtained from the phenomenological research is probably one of the most disputed issues in the scientific and business communities. First and foremost, it is vitally important to stress the fact that the basis of the findings are personal reflections and personal experience, irrespective of the fact that personal experience could have been obtained empirically. Therefore, whereas the validity of the results directly depends on the peculiarities of the specific case study, while for the one, it may be almost absolute and may be acknowledged by the entire scholarly community, for other study, this method will be extensively disputed and challenges, and ultimately, the findings will not be recognized.
The Scientific Bias of the Method
As far as the bias of the method is concerned, it is natural to assume, that this method is among the most challenged from the positions of the authenticity. In other words, whereas the personal reflections and experience are in the essence of the method, the objectivism of the study and the research are the first things to be discussed and challenged by the scientific community.
The Aptness of the Method for the Study Topic
Assuming the fact that it is the task of extra complexity to question at least 100 insurance agents from the various insurance institutions located in the different parts of the United States of America, as well as overseas, this method does not seem to be the most opportune option for this task. Therefore, it seems to be relevant to apply this method in combination with the mixed case study method and with the related approaches.
Grounded Theory Approach
This section of the paper provides a deep description of the grounded theory approach and defines whether this theory is applicable for the purposes of this study, evaluating the validity of results and stressing the projected scholarly bias of this approach.
The Concept of the Grounded Theory Approach
The approach in question substantially differs from the rest of the strategies discussed in the previous abstracts of this study. Alongside with the case study method and the phenomenological approach, the aim of this method is to substantiate a specific theory or a specific hypothesis. However, the main difference to the rest of the methods is that the research is reverse in its nature (Pidgeon & Henwood, 1996). The first step is the data collection, followed by the grouping of the collected data into the categories and with the final step being the inference of the theory on the grounds of the scientifically collected, proceeded and evaluated information.
The Validity of the Data
It must be noted that this approach eventually leads to the most substantiated and ultimately to the most veritable scientific and business outcomes, primarily due to the fact that the data is collected to formulated, but not to substantiate the theory. In other words, the facts are very unlikely to be intentionally distorted or misinterpreted by the researcher or by the team of researchers.
However, while being and almost undisputed advantage, this postulate may happen to be a disadvantage at the time, due to the fact that, if the collected data or information is erroneous, subsequently the elaborated theory will be erroneous alongside.
The Scientific Bias of the Grounded Theory
The main criticism and bias expressed by the scholarly and business communities are that, under the grounded theory, it is practically impossible to anticipate the formulation of the theory. Therefore, the application of the grounded theory is relevant exclusively for the purposes of the dissertations and other surveys where the proof of the specific hypothesis is not the paramount task, but i where the main objective is to analyze the data and to make conclusions on the available information (Stones, 1988). The bias of this approach is especially relevant in the researches conducted in the natural sciences primarily owing to the fact that the data collected in this field is always deemed to be collected wrongfully and digested erroneously. Moreover, the leading scholars have numerously expressed their concerns that the grounded theory research method is not applicable in the cases when there has already been a specific theory already, and it needs to be merely substantiated, or when a specific existing assumption must be substantiated and justified. This research method is applicable only when the researcher is required to elaborate a new theory or a new hypothesis.
The Applicability of the Theory for the Purposes of the Present Study
The present study has already formulated a thesis statement, and therefore objectively, there is no need to apply a grounded theory approach to this very situation. In this study, it is necessary to ascertain whether the enhancement of the working environment and the working conditions exercises effect the improvement of the working process in general and improves the outcomes of the working process in the insurance companies.
Overall, having reviewed the presented material, it can be easily deduced that the most appropriate method for the purposes of this very study is the combined case study method, which allows suiting the needs of this study topic the best way. Thus, the application of this method enables the researcher to obtain the most scientifically substantiated results and to adjust them to this theory. The data will collected under the guidelines of the case study method, which enables the researcher to focus on the proof of the hypothesis, while simultaneously exercising an accurate and detailed data collection, which will be subsequently used for the substantiation of the subject matter of the study.
As far as other methods are concerned, both the phenomenological and the grounded theory method may be applied as a supplementary means of the research, in order to ensure that the selected topic is researched from the all aspects and nothing is left unaccented by the researcher. The postulates of the grounded theory are likely to be used in the data collection section.