External Market Forces Methodology Chapter

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¶ … external market forces have a measureable effect on the manner in which small, private, non-profit higher educational institutions in Jamaica are managed in both economically good times and bad. Additionally, the purpose is to determine to what (if any) extent external forces influence creativity and innovation within the administration of the institutional strategies which those small, private educational facilities employ during both good markets and bad markets. To accomplish this purpose the design of the research will be quantitative in nature, and will seek to confirm results with hard numbers.

Quantitative, correlation analysis of such abstract human features as innovation might at first seem misplaced, but such techniques have been commonly used in similar research in order to yield more concrete and directly applicable results (Von Stamm 2008; Tao et al. 2010). The correct identification and quantification of certain qualitative variables "such as strategies" and ultimately quantitative variables such as enrollment and financial performance are proper so long as explicit definition is provided and adhered and, and multi-layered analysis is conducted to determine true correlation and significance (Von Stamm, 2008).

Furthermore, although it is possible to determine the relationships between changing institutional strategies and external factors such as certain market forces and changing enrollment and financial performance through qualitative methods, a qualitative approach would constrain the study in terms of restricting the number of participants and amount of data collected, extending the time for collection, and reducing the ability to generalize the results of the investigation (Leedy & Ormond, 2005; Simon, 2005). A quantitative research design will provide an objective means to collect and analyze a wider range of longitudinal data across a larger population than permitted by a qualitative methodology (Cooper & Schindler, 2003).

Additionally, the quantitative methodology supplies the researcher with hard numbers that are difficult to argue against. Experts may disagree with qualitative research that has been developed and analyzed concerning participant's thoughts, ideals, perceptions and beliefs primarily due to the fact that such factors are difficult to measure in a quantitative style. Quantitative measuring, however, provides those numbers the researcher is searching for to justify or confirm certain theories or ideals, even if they are qualitative in nature. A research design that is used to prove a hypothesis is usually considered as quantitative in methodology. As is true in the study used in this paper as an example, if the researcher hypothesized that certain factors effected the management of small, private educational institutions in Jamaica, during two totally different eras, then the researcher would set about verifying the data collected to ascertain if such a hypothesis were true.

The researcher's role in a quantitative study is quite different than the one in a qualitative study. A researcher that is using the quantitative methodology is more of an analyzer and collector of data, statistics and measurements than the one using qualitative methods. There are other factors that assist the researcher in determining whether to use quantitative or qualitative (or a mixture of both) methodologies in a specific study; some of those considerations include time, expenses, demographic and geographic constraints. Because a qualitative methodology deals with participant emotions, thoughts and beliefs it is deemed much more difficult to use as a design than the quantitative methodology. The quantitative design allows the researcher more flexibility in gathering and analyzing the data without having to interact with study participants. Some might say that the qualitative researcher is more likely to focus on gathering and analyzing the numbers, than on interacting with people.

An additional reason why a qualitative design was not used over a quantitative is because the study is not measuring beliefs, thoughts, ideals or perceptions. Instead what this study is attempting to measure are the strategic and financial changes that take place due to the external factors pressuring small educational facilities in Jamaica. These changes that are being measured lend themselves to a quantitative design rather than qualitative primarily due to the fact that they are much more easily measured with numbers than qualitative data is known to be. Additionally, when a study is seeking to determine correlations between changes involving measurable forces such as changes in enrollments and financial performances, then quantitative designs are much more conducive to producing sound results than are qualitative designs. The factors being measured in this study include measurable numbers such as the numbers of students during a set period of time at certain institutions in Jamaica. These are hard numbers, not feelings or perceptions which are much more difficult to measure. The question is whether there is any correlation between the external factors and either rising or declining enrollment or finances.

The researcher considered other forms of research design. Making the decision to use quantitative research design exclusively rather than a qualitative or mixed research methodology was determined to be the most efficient manner of accomplishing the study's goals and objectives. A qualitative study would take too much time and money. A mixed research study, while combining the best of both the qualitative and quantitative research, would also take more time and funding than could be allotted to the study and still not add enough data or measurements to justify the cost over a quantitative study design. The optimum choice for the study was deemed the quantitative approach.


The study pertains to the external forces and resulting internal strategies of small, private, non-profit educational institutions in Jamaica of which there are currently 75 in number. Data will be collected from the institutions in a completely random manner; questionnaires will be delivered to the administrators of each entity requesting voluntary participation. Since the questionnaire response will be based solely on whether the leaders of each institution choose to participate, or choose to not participate, the data obtained should be essentially free from selection bias. One of the disadvantages of approaching the data gathering process in such a manner is that while the randomness of the selection process is maintained, the certainty of receiving enough qualifying responses to verify any trends or patterns is far from guaranteed. The data gathering focus is on what external forces were present and what changes were precipitated due to those forces on small, private non-profit schools, yet if the response rate to the questionnaire provides the researchers with only a minimal number, the validity of the data may be compromised. Since it has been established that the smaller, private, non-profit higher educational institutions are the ones most likely to have felt the negative impacts of the financial crisis, it would seem that they would respond to the questionnaires if only to be of assistance, not only to the researcher but to themselves, as they would probably benefit from the study's conclusions as well.

It would be nice to assume that the response rate will be sufficient to determine the validity of the data, and to do so, it is likely that a definition of the sufficiency would be of great assistance in that determination. A recent study states that sample efficiency can take place by considering "the sample size that minimizes the average cost per subject" (Bachetti, McCulloch, Segal, 2008, p. 577). This is an interesting method for choosing a specific data-gathering process, however, it makes perfect sense in this case.

Considering the fact that to visit each higher education institution in Jamaica that fits the study parameters would be much more costly (although admittedly it would likely be much more effective) and much more time consuming, the constraints of such costs places a big burden on the researcher. It would be more cost efficient to email or snail mail the prospective participants with the questionnaire coupled with a pre-phone call and a post-phone call to the subject verifying participation. A recent study determined that "the clear challenge is the implementation of an efficient trial design which can relatively quickly determine whether progression can be modulated or not" (Chataway, Nicholas, Todd, Miller, Parsons, Valdes-Marquez, Stallard, Friede, 2011, p. 82). The study was determining medical samples, but the same parameters apply in this case as well.


Based upon the 80% rule, a sufficient sample rate would be 60 responses to the questionnaire. However, from observed secondary data, it was estimated that the target population size is approximately 50.

According to Leedy and Ormond (2007) a representative and sufficient sample size should be close to 100% of this estimated population size, which equates to 50 institutions, although it is hoped that 60 participants are willing to assist in this study, in order to meet the 80% standard. However, a relatively smaller sample size would also be adequate or effective given the fact that the institutions within the population are fairly homogenous or alike in respect to the characteristics of research interests (Leedy & Ormrod, 2005).

The institutions will be chosen in a non-probability or non-random sampling manner. A purposive method will be used as they will be chosen according to specific criteria or hand-picked because of certain required characteristics (Trent, 2009). Overall responses from these… [END OF PREVIEW]

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