This part of the methodology chapter has information about the practical methodological decisions undertaken in regards to the study. That is away of collecting data, data sampling, and the eventual data processing.
3.6.1 Selecting the Literature
Having selected the subject for my case study research, the next step was identifying the appropriate literature to include in the final review. A systematic approach has been proven most likely as beneficial in informing industry practice (Booth et al., 2016). While traditional narrative reviews lack the depth of systematic reviews, the principles and structure therein may prove helpful in determining a researcher’s approach. Fink et al. (2013) recommend that researchers use relevance and comprehensiveness as criteria for the topic under research to help in focusing the results.
Nowadays, comprehensive literature searches are undertaken using electronic databases. These databases are advantageous in offering faster retrieval to vast quantities of information. There are many available electronic databases with many of them covering specific fields or industries. Therefore, it is the researcher’s responsibility to select an appropriate database relevant to the research topic. Since this study is focused on Organizational theory, Management Performance, and Supply Chain Management, I will utilize the University library as it has subscriptions to several electronic databases such as ProQuest, EBSCOhost, Jstor, and Google Scholar.
FinfgeldConnett et al., (2013) identify keyword searches as the best way of identifying relevant literature. To identify the applicable literature for this study, I used keywords such as Dabbawalas, Organizational Structure, McDonalds, Organizational performance, and Organizational culture. Current developments in technology also enable the database thesaurus to suggest additional keywords relating to the area of interest (FinfgeldConnett et al., 2013). I also employed another strategy of combining the keywords using Boolean operators such as ‘OR’, ‘AND’ and ‘NOT’ thus helping to specify the topic of interest. In addition to the primary literature on the research topic, I also utilized existing systematic reviews and literature reviews to obtain important data especially on the issues of organizational management.
3.6.2 Analyzing and Synthesizing the Literature
After having selected the appropriate literature, a researcher can utilize one of the several strategies to analyze and synthesize the literature and aid in constructing the final report. Initially, I will conduct a first read of the selected articles to understand their topic of interest. Fortunately, since I will be relying mainly on academic journals, the abstracts will provide short summaries of the articles thus facilitating faster initial grouping and classification of the articles.
After finishing the initial review, I then returned to the articles to conduct a more rigorous and critical analysis of the content. Vaismoradi et al. (2013) recommend that researchers adopt some kind of structure during this stage. For the purpose of this study, I utilized a simple method termed as the Preview, Question, Read, Summarize. This system enables easier identification and retrieval of information, especially when reviewing a large number of publications.
At this stage, I was asking questions of each publication. Ritchie, Lewis, Nicholls, & Ormston et al. (2013) suggest using a summary or indexing system to aid in the process. Although different indexing systems have slight variations in their criteria, they all involve the title of the paper, the author, and the general methodology and purpose of the research study.
The main limitation of this study is the lack of empirical data on the dabbawala’s operations. This mainly stems from their informal practices since few of them have educational attainments higher than eighth grade. Previous studies on the dabbawalas have been qualitative in nature, which limits the amount of statistical data available on the organization.
The second limitation was that due to financial and time constraints, my research had to be conducted from secondary sources and therefore, the accuracy of the arguments presented in this paper depends on the accuracy or prior literature.
CHAPTER 4: DATA ANALYSIS, AND PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS
The preceding part explored and described the organizational structure of the Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association. In the literature review, I gathered and grouped data on the Dabbawala organization from the existing sources analyzed it and derived the main themes related to the research questions.
4.1. Factors facilitating the dabbawala’s Long-Term Success
i. Community and Culture
Mintzberg et al. (2009) laments on the decline of organizational community, where employees have a sense of belonging and care for something larger than themselves. Mintzberg goes on to identify a lack of community as one of the factors that led to the collapse of giant corporations and ethical inconsistencies that resulted in the financial crisis leading to the Great Depression. He also notes that the most admired companies of today such as Pixar, Toyota, and Semco all have a strong sense of community.
The MTBSA has no mandatory retirement age and dabbawalas, aged 18-65, tend to remain in their delivery group their entire lives. Consequently, members of each team have a long-standing relationship and care deeply for each other. New workers are usually friend or relatives of the existing dabbawalas and although Mumbai is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, most dabbawalas have the same culture, language, work ethic, values, and religious beliefs (Roncaglia et al., 2013). This common culture arises from the fact that most of them come from the Pune region with ancestral roots to 17th century warriors. Since North India is extremely feudal, the dabbawalas coming to Mumbai often seek to reclaim the hierarchical and patriarchal culture, which provides them with a sense of belonging even when migrating to a new city. The dabbawalas view themselves as migrants in the big cities having come from places like Akola, Junnar, Rajgurunagar, and Ambegaon. The dabbawala recruitment usually arises from recommendations by existing dabbawalas or by village elders. Some of the dabbawalas still leave work to work in the fields from time to time especially at harvest time.
Since most dabbawalas are illiterate with low educational attainments, new recruits to the organization learn on the job through apprenticeship and practical management. This occurs since the main resources required to successfully carry out dabbawala work are the strength needed to carry the tiffins and being a native of the areas common to all dabbawalas. These two elements, especially the shared origins help the dabbawalas to ground their communication and work culture in a shared faith and language as well as a familiar body language common to all (Roncaglia et al., 2013). The new employees coming from the villages are always related to an older dabbawala who takes care of the training. Undoubtedly, the strong emotional ties between the members contribute to their exemplary performance. Past research by scholars such as Richard Hackman and Amy Edmondson et al. has proved that bonds, familiarity, and psychological safety lead to lower error rates in work processes. This conclusion is partially backed by data from the National Transportation Safety Board whose research statistics show that most of the accidents occurring in commercial aviation usually involve crew working together for the first time. Therefore, creating an environment with a shared organizational culture may help to enhance the potential or an organization while also minimizing risks.
The homogeneity in the organization is also a factor facilitating their success. While most literature focuses on the positive benefits of diversification in the workplace, such literature often fails to mention the downsides associated with such diversity. Increased workplace diversity is often associated with lesser levels or organizational alignment, which might lead to inefficiencies. However, the MTBSA’s workers mostly come from the same regions and share similar cultural and religious values thus creating a strong sense of identity and aids in setting boundaries in a highly variable environment (Podsiadlowski et al., 2013). As the MTBSA president notes, the common religious values help in giving the partners a sense of purpose to their work. Additionally, the sense of community helps in creating a knowledge sharing culture that in turn facilitates communication and information exchange in the organization. Proper communication is essential for problem solving, teamwork, and decision making while also easing the process of learning new things or working productively with others.
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