There are two main data resources, secondary and primary data. Secondary data is the one that already exists from previous investigations and it can be found in books, journals and films (Saunders at al, 2003). Primary data is the one that is recollected from the research and it can be obtained by using methods such as questionnaires, interviews, focus group, and other (Collis and Hussey, 2003). In order to achieve the aim and objectives of this research, both data collection methods were used.
The secondary data was mostly used to define and examine the concepts of career obstacles and strategies to cope up with them. On the other hand, the primary data was collected from the interviews of Hong Kong women managers in order to obtain their experiences of working with people that have different views about women working at executive posts. Saunders et al. (2003) points out that literature review helps to develop an understanding and insight into relevant previous research.
Collis and Hussey (2003), add to Saunders’s point of view saying that exploring the existing literature will help to have a better overview on previous research that has been conducted and its impact on the studied research problem. In addition, Saunders et al (2003) classify the secondary data into three types: documentary, survey-based and multi-source. For this investigation, it will be useful the documentary secondary data because written documents such as articles taken from the Internet, journals, books among others, could be relevant information to be used.
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Consequently, secondary data on its own is insufficient for the investigation and exploration of this study; for this reason the use of primary data helps to add and enrich information to that existent background on career obstacles for Hong Kong women managers. There are several methods for the collection of primary data, as it was mentioned earlier, and the choice of a specific one depends mainly on the purpose of the study and research question, the resources available and the skills of the researcher (Kumar, 1999).
Taking into account the already proposed sample characteristics, interviews are considered to be the most appropriate data collection technique due to the exploratory and analytical research nature of this investigation. It involves more interaction by questioning and discussion between the interviewee and the interviewer that is something it can not be obtained using, for example, questionnaires and observation (Blaxter et al. , 2001). The interviews were conducted in order to explore and discover participants’ attitudes, opinions and experiences toward working in a pro-man working environment.
According to Collis and Hussey (2003), interviews “are a method of collecting data in which selected participants are asked questions in order to find out what they do, think or feel”. Saunders et al. (2003) propose the idea that this method is an efficient way of collecting reliable and valid information, because the data gathered comes directly from the source in study, which certainly helps to achieve the research question and objectives of this project. Therefore, choosing interviews was based on its suitability in finding what is happening and seeking new sights when exploring career obstacles for Hong Kong women managers.
Interviews are classified based on the degree of flexibility as well as formality and structure that the researcher would like to apply. Therefore, there are three types of interviews, structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews (Kumar, 1999; Saunders et al. , 2000; Ghauri and Gronhaug, 2002).
In the structured interview “the investigator asks a pre-determined set of questions, using the same wording and order of questions as specified in the interview schedule” (Kumar, 1999, p.109); in semi-structured interview, the questions are also prepared beforehand, but in contrast, they offer more flexibility in facilitating the interviewee to modify the questions to investigate new ideas that might come up during the interview; and the unstructured interviews are based on a general topic of interest, but the questions are spontaneously posed to the respondent (Kumar, 1999; Guillham, 2000; Saunders et al. , 2000; Ghauri and Gronhaug, 2002).
It has been suggested that for phenomenological approaches and exploratory researches, a semi-structure interview is the most suitable type since the interviewer can explore in-depth a specific area that might be of interest (Jankowicz, 1999). The interviews carried out for this research were semi-structured. One of the reasons of choosing this type of interview is because they are more conductible and easier to control in order to establish and maintain empathy with respondents, so make the respondents be more comfortable and express their opinions more freely.
It also gives the interviewer the opportunity to discover and understand the respondents’ points of view and beliefs about a specific situation (Zikmund, 2000). Saunders et al. (2000) mention that semi-structured are qualitative research interviews and are classified as non-standardized, where questions might vary from one interview to another since it depends on the course that the conversation takes, hence it would required of additional questions.
In addition, Healey and Rawlinson (1994 cited Saunders et al. , 2000) point out that more than one type can be used within an interview, where one section may ask factual closed questions, such as personal details, and the next sections could explore more qualitative issues. In this case, a combination of styles was adopted within the interviews held. The first section consisted of a set of factual questions in order to find out the interviewee’s work position and background. The following sections were based on qualitative responses where relevant topics were taking under consideration accordingly to the literature review developed in Chapter II as well as aim and objectives of the research.
For instance, in the second section, Hong Kong women managers were asked to shed light on their marriage and family aspects; their nature of job, obstacles in their career pathways; and their plans to grow in their organizations in future. Furthermore, the semi-structured interviews allowed a free-flowing discussion, which in turn produced a better understanding of the way of thinking, opinions, and behavior of women manager in relation to their experiences towards working in an environment that supports male managers and the career obstacles they face.
There are a number of data quality issues to be aware and consider when conducting an interview, otherwise it would put at risk the findings of the investigation. In this case information supplied to the interviewee, confidentiality, listening skills and recording of interviews is going to be considered for this section (Kvale, 1996; Saunders et al. , 2000). An important issue to promote credibility to the investigation is the supply of relevant information to the participants prior the interviews.
In this way, the interviewee considered the information under study and was prepare to discuss their experiences and opinions, which helped to develop the research credibility. This was reached through a letter sent to the participants, which can be seen in Appendix A. It was also mentioned the duration of the interviews, in order to let them organize their time and provide an approximately one hour to one hour and a half to the interview with no interruptions.
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