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2. Methodology

The purpose of the methodology section is to give an overall understanding of the choices made concerning the study approach and the research design thus giving the reader an understanding of the final structure of the thesis.

2.1 Research strategy

The study is based on a qualitative research methodology. This is an approach that seeks explanations through empirical studies, in contrast to quantitative studies that rely on statistical data.10 Thus, as our main source of data is interviews, our method qualifies as a qualitative one. A case study is the most suitable method to study a specific phenomenon11, which in this thesis constitutes how and why IKEA performs CSR. The nature of our case study is exploratory and as is possible in this case, the collection of data has been initiated before the exact formulation of the research question. We have opted for a single case study design as we consider it beneficial to focus on one company enabling an in-depth investigation.12

Three alternative research approaches are available: the inductive, deductive or abductive approach. The inductive approach is defined as a process of establishing a universal proposition on the basis of observation or particular facts. The deductive approach consists of building a hypothesis that can be accepted or rejected, from existing theory. The abductive approach is a mix of these two approaches and a process that starts from a set of accepted facts and is interpreted through a comprehensive hypothetical pattern. To study the chosen phenomenon, we initially collected the empirical data and thereafter found relevant theories to explain the data. This constitutes the inductive approach and by using it our empirical data was not predetermined by any specific theories. This allowed us to investigate the case in depth. The deductive approach may have come up with a stronger base for rejecting or accepting propositions. However, we have found the coverage of the existing theory lacking, and hence the inductive approach was more suitable as it allowed us to build our case first without any pre-determined notions of the field. IKEA is a unique organization and so our purpose has not been to generate a general conclusion and or universal truth valid for all occasions. Even though we do not believe that all of our findings can be generalized, elements of it may also be true for similar organizations.

    • 2.2

      Collection of the empirical data

      • 2.2.1

        Choice of company

In the initial stage of the thesis, we had to choose a company to study. We developed a list of interesting companies from a CSR point of view. International companies proved difficult to approach and therefore we decided to focus on Swedish companies as they were easier to gain access to and still are considered highly developed in the CSR field. IKEA was our final choice for the case study as ít fits the profile both from a CSR perspective and was accommodating to our thesis. Furthermore, as IKEA did not have any demands when it came to the problem formulation or wished to approve the material before publication, the form of study we wished to undertake was possible.

2.2.2 Data collection The broad scope included in this study has created a demand for empirical data that includes a wide

spectrum of information. We considered using both quantitative and qualitative data but concluded

10

Alvesson, M. & Sköldberg, K. (1994).

11

Merriam, S. (1994).

12

Yin, R. (2003).

4

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