Research Design

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A research design is defined as a plan or blueprint of how one intends to conduct research (Mouton, 2005:55). A research design focuses on the end product of the research process, that is, the type of study being planned and the type of results aimed at. Its point of departure is the research problem, and hence it focuses on the type of evidence required to address the problem adequately.
According to Mouton, research designs are tailored to address different kinds of research questions. Thus, when attempts are made to classify different kinds of research studies to different design types, they are classified by the kind of research questions they are able to answer. Research designs can be mapped out to the types of research questions (research problem) using four dimensions: 1) empirical versus non-empirical dimension, 2) using primary versus using secondary data, 3) the nature of the data (numerical versus textual data) and 4) the degree of control (structured (laboratory) conditions versus natural field settings)
The first dimension, which is relevant to our study, is that of empirical versus non-empirical studies. Empirical studies involve observing and measuring reality, thereby confirming knowledge through direct experience. Non-empirical (theoretical) studies involve developing and exploring theories that account for given data.
The second dimension is that of the nature of data used in the study. Data used in empirical studies can be numeric, textual or a combination of both. When the basic data used in an empirical study consist of words, the research is classified as qualitative, whereas if the data used are numeric, the research is classified as quantitative. A research design may also combine quantitative and qualitat...

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...chniques and procedures among those associated with quantitative or qualitative research. A literature review, which included document analysis, was used to answer sub-questions one, two and three. A model building approach was suggested to answer sub-question four. In addition, the study uses a case study as a proof-of-concept. The use of a case study is a qualitative empirical study to strengthen the research validity. Since the research methods directly responding to the research questions (Literature review and Model building) make use of textual data, we classified this study as a qualitative study. Table 3.1 below summarises the classification of this study in terms of the dimensions discussed above.
Research Method Dimension 1 Dimension 2
Literature review Non-empirical Qualitative
Model building Non-empirical Qualitative
Case study Empirical Mixed Method

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