Research Methodology and Structure

Proposed Research Project

The effects of social networks on e-commerce; with special reference to consumer buying behavior and demand patterns.”

The proposed research will address the impacts that social media networks have on e-commerce. In particular, the dissertation will be examining the influence that these social networks have on consumer buying behavior and demand patterns. In this section, the paper addresses the methodology that will be used in the dissertation. The ethical issues that are likely to be encountered while conducting this research have been outlined too. Further, the structure of the entire dissertation has been proposed with a focus on the varied sections that will be included. Based on the underlying discussion of any dissertation, it is always important that a researcher selects the best methodology that is suited for that particular study (Mason, 2002).


Research Philosophy

The interpretivism research paradigm has come out as the most appropriate philosophy to use for this research. Interpretivism bears a relation to both epistemology and ontology through the belief that reality is both relative and multiple. According to Cheung & Lee (2010), these multiple realities tend to depend on other systems in order to gain a meaning something that makes it difficult to interpret aspects in terms of fixed realities. This means that the usage of this philosophy enables a researcher to acquire knowledge that is socially constructed.

Interpretivism tends to avoid usage of rigid structural frameworks as it is the case with the positivist approach by adopting a more flexible and personal research structure. A personal and flexible structure makes it easier to capture meanings in human interaction and also helps in making sense of the aspect that is regarded as reality (Crossan, 2003). There is an assumption that the respondents and the researcher are mutually interactive and interdependent. Through this philosophy, the researcher is always open to new knowledge that is coming from the respondents. This helps in building on what the researcher already knew regarding the topic of study (Guion et al., 2001). Such a collaborative and emergent approach tends to be consistent with what interpretivists believe; which is, humans have the capacity to adapt and that people cannot attain prior knowledge of context and time bound realities (Ratchford et al., 2001).

Simply put, the objective of the interpretivism research paradigm is to interpret and understand the meanings that are embedded in human behavior rather than generalizing and predicting causes. Based on the current study, consumer behavior and social networks can be more complicated relative to the literature (Blythe, 2008). In addition, the primary aim of this study is to identify the role of online social networks in influencing consumer choice and decision. The identification of this influence, as well as the reasons for the relationship, is best achieved through a research philosophy that has a more flexible and personal research structure (Blackwell et al., 2001).


Data Collection Methods

Based on the nature of study involved, the research will employ the usage of qualitative data. More precisely, the research will use both primary and secondary data. Primary data will be collected through semi-structured interviews while secondary data will be collected through assessment of contemporary data sources (the internet). These methods of data collection are well in line with the interpretivism research paradigm.

For the semi-structured interviews, they will involve approximately 30 respondents. This will be individuals that are normally involved with online shopping and are users of various social networking sites.  The interviews will be purposed to examine the impacts of social media sites on e-commerce. In particular, their decisions on purchases as well as demand patterns will be explored in detail. There will be a draft of varied questions revolving around this issue that will help in getting a vivid understanding of the topic under research. The questions involved will be semi-structured in order to help the participants to express themselves in some areas (Zikmund, 2000). Semi-structured questions will also help in d

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