The proposed design for this study is a flexible mixed-method design making use of both qualitative and quantitative methods for data collection and analysis in order to understand and later analyse policy implementation networks for MSEs in Ireland, particularly concerning those in the Dublin 15 area.
This approach was required for two reasons: 1) time and resource constraints; and 2) the literature reviewed for this research indicated that such an approach would provide better answers to the questions being asked. As shown in Table 1 below, this method was also important to establish the complimentary nature of the methods being used for the enquiry. For example, qualitative methods were required initially for content analysis of documents produced by the European Commission and the Dept. of Trade, Enterprise and Employment. However, a quantitative approach is given to the treatment of the relationships under investigation namely, mandatory and voluntary cooperation for policy implementation. Therefore, the following steps were taken for this particular research:-
1. Internet research for qualitative content analysis and name generation of policy actors and policies being made at both European and Irish levels; 2. Short open-ended qualitative interview with a major policy actor in Ireland for name generation of policy implementation actors; 3. Quantitative data collection and non-random sampling and estimate number of start-up companies in the Dublin 15 area; and 4. Data collection and analysis using Social Network Analysis methodology for all names generated to measure the effects of mandatory and voluntary cooperation among policy actors. Patience
A follow-up interview with a key informant on the network composition and to confirm that the relationships drawn on the literature for policy implementation indeed existed in the manner they were in the questionnaire. In this case, a Head of Small Business Unit in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment could confirm the relationship among the actors in the network from an ‘ego’ perspective and pros and cons for this approach will be discussed further in the methodology chapter.
The table below gives an illustration of the design being used and it follows the design approach suggested by Creswell et alli 2003:-
Table 1 – Sequential Research Design
Sequential – Qualitative first
At Data Collection and Interpretation
With Some Combination
As mentioned earlier, this design draws on Creswell’s (2003) work about various research design approaches – with special attention to the use of mixed-methods in the human sciences. A rather overt and systematic use of the methods have grown in popularity and it is evidenced in the work entitled Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social Behavioral Sciences,