Methodology and Epistemological Stance
Cost optimization techniques and strategies is a widely researched topic and in this paper, the focus is to determine how these techniques and strategies can be applied at Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (ADMA-OPCO) to help it cope with the declining international oil prices. According to Silva (2014, p. 51), when planning a research project, one of the most important factors to consider is the methodology that will be used. The methodology is determined by the aim of the aim of the study, the nature of participants, time and resources available, among other factors.
The most appropriate methodology that will be used in this study is a survey. This methodology is consistent with the epistemological stance of the researcher. The research will be quantitative in nature and as such, survey will be the most appropriate method. This method will make it possible to collect quantitative data from the sampled population for the purpose of analysis. It is also simple to conduct a survey given that the population has already been clearly defined as the employees and managers at Abu Dhabi Marine Company. The fact that the population is not widely spread geographically will make the process of collecting data less costly and time consuming.
Threats to Validity and Reliability
Validity and reliability are often critical when conducting a research project. The outcome of the research may be useful to policy makers and other researchers. It is very dangerous for policy makers to rely on an invalid study to inform their decisions (Salter & Mutlu 2012, p. 23). Such decisions may be harmful or ineffective because of lack of validity in that study.
A study by Creswell (2013, p. 19) advises that a researcher should start by first investigating the threats to validity so that these threats can be eliminated. Once the threats are identified, measures can be taken to come up with measures to counter them (Jacobsen 2012, p. 41). One of the main threats to validity of this study is limited knowledge of the respondents on the topic.
Cost optimization is a topic that some respondents may find to be a little complex. Some respondents may not be honest enough when answering the questions posed to them hence they may give misleading responses. Validity challenge may also emerge if the employees of the firm, especially the managers, deliberately decide to conceal information as a way of protecting their market strategies from their rivals (Bernard 2011, p. 37). Some of them may feel that if they share their strategies with the researcher, then the information may be made available to their competitors.
It has been stated that the respondents will be sampled from the current team of employees and managers at ADMA-OPCO. It means that the research will use a relatively small sample and this may pose a reliability challenge. Making a generalization from a small sample is often not advisable, especially in an area that is as diversified as oil and gas industry (Pathak 2008, p. 85). Given that the primary data will be collected in Abu Dhabi, it may not be possible to make a generalization of the findings outside the context of this emirate.
Data Collection Method
According to Lazar, Feng, and Hochheiser (2010, p. 88), a successful data collection process starts with clearly defining data collection method that is appropriate based on a number of factors such as those discussed in the section above. In this study, the researcher will conduct a face-to-face interview with the help of questionnaires. The interview will be appropriate because of the small size of the sample and the fact that they are centrally located. Face-to-face interviews are very effective when collecting primary data because it enables the researcher to go beyond the statements of the respondents when gathering facts.
Body language and facial expressions are important ways of knowing when a respondent is making up a story instead of providing truthful information when asked a question (Weber 2011, p. 74). This method will make it possible to answer research questions more effectively because the respondents will be able to ask for a clarification in case the response provided is not clear. The researcher has an opportunity to ask the participants to expound their answers, especially when it seems that their view is skewed from the information gathered from other participants.
Sampling Technique and the Reasons for the Profile of the Respondents
When collecting primary data, it is often appropriate to come up with a sampling technique that will help in selecting the most appropriate respondents from the entire population. The researcher will use stratified sampling technique to collect data in this study. Stratified sampling will make it possible for the researcher to collect data from participants in different position within this company. By having respondents of different profile, it is possible to associate a given pattern of response with a given group of respondents based on their profile (Bryman & Bell 2011, p. 90).
Using stratified sampling, the researcher intends to come up with three different strata. The first stratum will be respondents who are in the managerial position. These are people who are regularly involved with strategy formulation and as such they know how this firm has been trying to optimize costs and what needs to be done to make improvements in this area. The second stratum will be employees in non-managerial positions. The third stratum will be individuals sitting in the board of directors. In each stratum, the level of education will be an important aspect of the profile that will be captured by the researcher.
Problems That May Be Encountered in Gaining Access to the Data
When conducting a research, it is possible to encounter a number of challenges, especially when trying to gain access to data (Dawson 2002, p. 104). The main problem that is anticipated is misleading information. The managers and some employees may deliberately provide wrong information as a way of protecting their cost management strategies.
To overcome this challenge, the researcher will explain to the respondents that this is an academic research and that the information is not meant to help competitors’ access important information from the firm. Organizing for an interview with the top managers and directors of this firm may also be a challenge because they have very tight schedules. To overcome this challenge, the researcher will be more flexible in terms of time and place of meeting these respondents. Sometimes the management may reject the request to collect data from their employees. The researcher will strive to convince the managers to make it possible for data to collection to take place in this firm.
When collecting data, the researcher will put into consideration a number of ethical issues (Engel 2010, p. 86). One of the most important ethical considerations will be to protect identity of the respondents. The researcher will use codes to identify the respondents instead of using their real names. This will help in eliminating any form of victimization of the respondents based on their views. The researcher will also inform the respondents about the study well before the day of collecting data.
It will be necessary to get their consent and to ensure that they understand the nature of the research and its purpose. Before the day of data collection, the respondents will be presented with the questions so that they can familiarize themselves with them. The views of all the respondents will be taken into consideration during the process of analysis, including the views that seem to contradict the opinion of the researcher. The response from all the participants will be considered important.
Once primary data has been collected from the field, the next important task is to analyze it using appropriate tools (Siccama & Penna 2008, p. 101). As stated in the methodology section, the researcher has chosen quantitative methods for this study. As such, analysis of data will be done using mathematical tools. The analysis will be done using statistical package for social scientists (SPSS).
The data collected from the respondents will be appropriately coded in the SPSS spreadsheet for the purpose of analysis. Using this tool, it will be possible to analyze the response given by the participants in each question that was presented to them. The information from the analysis will be presented in graphs, figures, and charts. Each of these figures will be accompanied with further explanation of what they mean based on the questions of this research.
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