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Corporate Social Responsibility as differentiation from international competition

A case study of the German book retailing sector

Written by Nicole Bulawa

Paper category

Master Thesis


Business Administration>General




Master Thesis: Academic method In the academic method of this research, the considerations of epistemology and ontology are discussed, followed by applicable research strategies. The epistemological philosophy followed in this research is interpretivism, because it distinguishes between people and institutions in social reality and natural science models. Based on this, this research focuses on the subjective sense of human nature and phenomena (Bryman and Bell, 2011, Myers, 2013). In addition, ontological considerations define whether a social actor is an independent social entity with external reality or a social construction of social behavior and perception. A constructivist stance was adopted in this research because it is believed that social phenomena are affected by the behavior and actions of social actors (Bryman and Bell, 2011). The choice of academic method will affect all subsequent research method choices, because these methods are highly related to each other and need to be consistent (Saunders et al., 2009). Based on these philosophical positions, a research strategy was chosen. Generally speaking, a distinction can be made between quantitative and qualitative research strategies, which provide specific directions during the research process and guide the selection of research methods to complete the research (Bryman and Bell, 2011). 2.1.1 Research strategy A more detailed examination of the research strategy is given in the following paragraphs, followed by a description of the research design used in this study and the rationale for the method chosen. The subsequent research strategy is qualitative. It emphasizes words rather than the quantification proposed by quantitative research strategies. The choice of research strategy is closely related to the research question domain and research question (Bryman and Bell, 2011). In this study, the CSR framework should be used to improve CSR practices as a way to differentiate it from international competition, and to investigate how CSR communicates with customers taking into account the effect of the country of origin in Germany. Therefore, rich and detailed information is obtained in a specific research context in order to gain insight into the research field under study (Bryman and Bell, 2011). As previous studies have shown, both quantitative and qualitative research strategies have been deployed. Nonetheless, it is clear that quantitative research strategies dominate comparative studies or studies involving broad sample sizes, such as Gjølberg in 2009, while qualitative research strategies dominate a single case. 2.2 Investigation method Investigation method describes the relationship between theory and research and distinguishes two methods, namely deductive method and inductive method (Bryman and Bell, 2011). The investigation method chosen in this study is the deductive method, in which theory precedes observation and discovery (Bryman and Bell, 2011). Even though deductive investigation methods are commonly used in quantitative research strategies, and inductive investigation methods are mainly used in qualitative research strategies (Bryman and Bell, 2011), deductive research methods correspond better to the outline of master's thesis, and detailed literature is used for research. The purpose is to lay the foundation for observation and discovery (University-West, 2015). In addition, the inductive investigation method is more suitable for research fields that others have not investigated (Bryman and Bell, 2011). Although there are still some research gaps in the focus of this research, there is a large amount of research in these fields, which provides a theoretical basis for further research, such as the study of Pedrini and Ferry in 2011 or the study of Castelo Branco et al. Al. In 2014, according to this survey method, a thorough literature survey was conducted, and a qualitative research survey was conducted on this basis. 2.3 Data collection In this study, secondary and primary data collection occurred in the literature research and empirical data collection. Both of these are discussed in the next paragraph and divided in the research questions presented. In addition, the reasons for the main data collection methods are given at the end. 2.3.1 Secondary data collection As mentioned above, thorough literature research has been carried out in order to provide a solid theoretical basis for the investigation of these two research questions. This theoretical frame of reference is based on second-hand data collection. Therefore, various topics are covered, such as the definition of corporate social responsibility, the discussion of the corporate social responsibility framework, and corporate social responsibility as a way of distinguishing. These research fields are selected according to research question one. In the next steps, the theory on the second research question was studied, including external CSR communication, covering general and online communication methods and the country of origin influence of Germany on communication practices. These topics are also selected based on the research questions presented in order to have a thorough understanding of the field. The literature used comes from scientific articles and academic books. Read Less