Mark1023 Research Methods : Sustainable Assessment Answer

Answer:

Part I: 

Research Title: 

The topic for this research study is “Effectiveness of sustainability initiatives and marketing them: A case of Unilever in UK”.

Research Aims:

The main aim of this research is to evaluate the impact of sustainability initiatives and their marketing on the performance and effectiveness of the Unilever in UK.

Research objectives and framework:

  1. a)  To identify the objectives why companies adopt sustainability initiatives 
  2. b) To find out the ways a company can evaluate effectiveness of its sustainability initiatives 
  3. c)  To recommend effective strategies to market sustainability initiatives to create value for the company

Research questions:

The research questions are given below:

  • What impact sustainability initiatives do have on the company?
  • How Unilever does use Sustainability initiatives and market them?
  • What Initiatives do Unilever use for its sustainable development?
  • Are the employees satisfied with their job in the Unilever?
  • Are the customers satisfied with products of the Unilever?

Hypothesis:

The results to be come out of this research will help in identifying different sustainability initiatives of the Unilever. Along with this, it will identify the impact of sustainability initiatives on the financial and non financial performance of Unilever. The outcome of research will help in understanding that how the sustainability initiatives is used to improve the performance and ensure the sustainable growth of an organization. 

Introduction:

Sustainability is the capacity and ability of the company to continue to operate and runt its business in market. Moreover, sustainability is the ability of the company to sustain its existence in the market. Sustainability may be of three types basically, which includes environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, and social sustainability (Liedtke et al, 2015). The effectiveness of sustainability initiatives and their marketing in context of Unilever will be analyzed in this research study. Unilever is a multinational consumer goods company founded in 1930. Unilever is highly diversified company in the world. It deals food and beverage, personal care, cleaning agent, and home care products (Unilever, 2017). It sells around 400 hundreds brand under the corporate name of Unilever. Unilever runs various programs for its sustainability. Unilever provides free medical checkup, organize medial camps in society, initiated green sustainability bond, and sustainability living programs (Unilever, 2017). It improved the performance of the company.

Significance of research:

The research will be significant in identifying the effectiveness of the sustainability initiatives and their marketing in terms of their effect on the financial and non-financial performance of the company (Unilever). The research will be helpful in identifying the importance of the sustainability actions and strategies in ensuring the sustainable growth, and in improving the brand name and image of the company. This research will explain that how sustainability initiative and their marketing give growth to the company.

Part II: Literature review:

According to Liedtke et al (2015), sustainability means to continue in the world. It depends of the actions and strategies, operation and social responsibility of the company. Moreover, Sustainability may be something towards which everyone works. In the words of Fonseca et al (2014), sustainability initiatives and their marketing provides the company sustainable growth and brand image to the company. Sustainability initiatives have to be taken by the companies to ensure their sustainability in the market and continue to business.

In the words of Barners et al (2011), desire of sustainability drives innovation by the companies in market. They believe that sustainability initiatives are necessary for ensuring sustainability of company in competitive market. In contrast to this, they also say that it add higher cost to the company and does not provide immediate result. Companies have to more focus on social benefits and wellbeing than financial benefit to the company. 

Schrettle et al, (2014) stated that the effectiveness of the sustainability and their marketing is measured against the organizational effectiveness, brand image, and financial and non-financial performance. The sustainability initiatives make the sales, market share, and profitability of the company grow. How effectively a company uses its resources determines the sustainable development of the organization. Schoenherr and Talluri, (2013) observed that the effectiveness of the sustainability is that how a company is performing its social responsibility. Many of the company makes strategies of reducing wastage, wastage to landscape, pollution, carbon emission and run various environmental cleaning, health care, and other programs to marketing their CSR.

According HBR (2017) there are various regulations and policies of government that encourage organization for developing more sustainability initiatives and actions and to develop innovative products and services. At the same time, it gives huge cost to the company in terms of quality material, health care of employees, and others. As mentioned by Schoenherr and Talluri (2013), this is the CSR of the company to care of benefits and interest of society. In contrast to this, Carroll and Shabana, (2010) stated that management of the company is basically financial orientated and expert in taking financial and investment decisions and they are not expert and able to take society oriented decisions. This might cause a big issue before organization to ensure sustainability. It is because the sustainability is based on the decisions regarding sustainability initiatives.  

Sim et al (2016) found out that Unilever has produced a washing up fluid that requires very less water. This increased the demand of this fluid in the market lacking of water. Apart from this, Unilever developed sustainability living plan, environment greening plan and run health and fitness programs in the company for its employees. This provided the company with effectiveness and strong brand image.  As mentioned by Geels (2013), the sustainability effectiveness comes from the effective management of economic, social, and environmental values. The sustainability initiatives help the company in deriving good financial and non-financial performance, and protecting the company existence.

According to Schoenherr and Talluri (2013), benefit of sustainability initiatives may be in the form of innovation and creativity, social responsibility, differentiation, and reducing the wastage and cost that increase the sale and profit of the company. The sustainability initiatives develop brand value of the company that is much good for the company. Many of the company recycle their products that reduce their cost which directly affect the sales of the company. Liedtke et al (2015) stated that how a company concerns about the community and environment, determines the perception and attitude of the community towards the company.

Limitation:

Literature review given above is focusing on the sustainability initiatives and their effect on the performance of organization. However, there are some limitations of the literature review that there are very few researches regarding effectiveness of sustainability initiative. Apart from this, there are no significant research showing negative side of the sustainability initiatives to company. Therefore, there is limited information available through the literature review.


Part III: Research design and research methodology:

Research design:

Research design is the framework developed for research. The research design provides platform for conducting the research effectively. There are three basic research designs such as descriptive research design, experimental research design, and exploratory research design (Creswell, 2014). The researcher will use descriptive research and experimental research design in this research to find the effect of sustainability initiatives and their marketing.  In the descriptive research, the research problem is dug into deep for finding the insights into the research topic or problem. Descriptive research gives the answer of question of what, why, how, when, where, and which (Bryman and Bell, 2015). At the same time, the experimental research design will help in finding out the effect of the sustainability initiatives and their marketing on growth of Uniliver based on the information collected through descriptive research.

Research methodology:

Research philosophy:

Research philosophy is the way believed in, to collect, analyze, and use the data for resolving the research problem (Mackey and Gass, 2015). There are two research philosophies, which are interpretive and positivism philosophy. Positivism research philosophy provides the result based on assumption made based on the previous research outcomes. While, interpretive research uses the view of respondents investigated in practical research for to get at the result (Mkansi and Acheampong, 2012). Therefore, in this research the research will pick up the interpretive research philosophy to get the accurate information about research topic. The interpretive research philosophy will help in better analyzing the research problem that will lead to the creation of effective solution to problem (Hendricks, 2014). In interpretive research, varied data is collected relevant to problem that helps in analyzing the problem from every aspect but in positivism philosophy only quantitative data is measured that is used to prove established hypothesis. 

Research approach:

Research approach is the method of dealing with research problem. There are two research approaches, which are inductive approach and deductive approach. In deductive approach, the existing theories and hypothesises are proved and justified through the research study (Rubin and Babbie, 2012). At the same time, Inductive research is used to collect the raw data from field and produce the theories based on that, which can be applied to solve the problem. In this research study, inductive research approach will be applied to get insight into research problem with a view to generate effective solution to problem. Because inductive helps in detailed and descriptive analysis of the data while deductive approach deals with quantitative data and leads to the research proving only existing theories and hypothesis. Therefore, inductive research approach will help in collecting primary data from the field and producing theories that can be applied to resolve the concerned problems. 

Type of research or research method:

There are two types of research types such as qualitative research and quantitative research. Qualitative research is the research collects qualitative data regarding the research problem. Qualitative data is the kind of data, which cannot be measured and quantified. The qualitative data may be in the form of opinion, attitude, perception, and beliefs of respondents (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2015). Apart from this, quantitative research is the research opposite to qualitative research that gathers quantitative data. Quantitative data is a kind of data, which can be measured and quantified (Hendricks, 2014). In this research study, both quantitative research and qualitative research methods will be used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data for better analysis of the problem. The quantitative research methods will help in collecting and analyzing the quantitative data. The quantitative data will help in measuring the financial performance of the company using sustainability initiatives. At the same time, qualitative research methods will gather and assess the qualitative data related to the relation of the Unilever with its stakeholders, the perception and attitude of stakeholders towards company and others. Therefore, both qualitative and quantitative research methods will lead a successful research. 

Part IV: Data Collection

Methods of data collection:

Data collection method is the source of data to be derived from. There are two methods of data primary data collection methods and secondary data collection methods. Here, both primary and secondary data are required to get the information about research problem (Wilson, 2014).

Primary data collection methods: Primary data is the data, which is first time developed through physical research in the market. The primary data collection methods are too expensive than the secondary data collection methods. Primary data may be collected using interview, survey, observation, and questionnaire (Bryman and Bell, 2015). In this research study, survey questionnaire will be used. The survey questionnaire will help in collecting the primary data from the respondents. The survey questionnaire provides reliable and relevant information that helps in better decision. Although survey is expensive than other methods and consumes much time in collecting the data  however it best fits in case of quality, reliability, relevancy and facts of information that is the aims of any research. 

Secondary data collection methods: Secondary data are those data which are collected from the available sources. Secondary data can be gathered from the annual report of company, textbooks, research paper, literature review, journal, newspaper and magazines and public and private publication (Mackey and Gass, 2015). The researcher will use annual report, literature review, and research paper for secondary data. The annual report will provide the information about the performance of the company in terms of its profitability, number of employees, total market share, and other relevant information relevant to sustainability development of Unilever. Along with this, literature and research paper relevant to sustainability development, sustainability initiatives and marketing of initiatives will help in understanding the importance and effectiveness of initiatives (Mackey and Gass, 2015). It is very easy to access the annual report and research papers to get the information but at the same time there is chance of slight wrong information from these sources. 

Data collection process:

The data collection process starts from the decision about the requirement of data, and end with the collection of data actually. In this research study, the first of all the data has been selected that which type of data, quantity of data, and relevancy of data will be collected. After that, the data collection method is decided for gather the information. Eventually, the research is practically conducted to collect the information from the research field (Rubin and Babbie, 2012). In this research, the questionnaire will be disbursed among the sampled employees and customers to gather the information. The questionnaire will be recollected from the respondents that will help in identifying the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives taken by Uniliver.

Sampling:

Sampling is to pick up the variables from population to assess the research topic. Different decision are taken regarding sampling which includes

Sampling population and frame: Sampling frame may be called as the bucket from which the sample has to be taken. It is the fixed area or criteria from where samples are taken. The researcher here will select and pick up the samples from the stakeholders of company (Wilson, 2014). This kind of sample will best suit to this research because the sustainability of an organization totally depends upon the stakeholders (customers, employees, suppliers, lenders, and shareholders and others) of a company.

Sample size: Sample size is the total number of sample to be drawn from the sample frame. The sample size should be in proper amount to ensure the quality and reliability of research. Here, it is decided that the researcher will collect the information from 250 stakeholders of Unilever. 

Sampling Methods: There are various sampling methods such as simple random sampling, convenience sampling, quota sampling, strata sampling, area sampling, cluster sampling, deliberate sampling, and multistage sampling. In this research study, the researcher will use simple random sampling to select the sampling. Simple random sampling is the method of sampling in which samples are randomly picked up (Rubin and Babbie, 2012). This method avoids the biasness in sample selection that ensures the reliability of research. On the other methods, other methods have the chance of biasness in researcher while selecting sample.

Access to sample:

The physical access is the first access, where the researcher will request to gatekeeper to get permission for conducting research. After physical access, next access level is cognitive access. At this level of access, the acceptance and consent of potential respondents or participants is won to access the information and data. In this research study, access of hybrid nature would be required to access the data (Thomas et al, 2010). The hybrid access is the combo of internet access and traditional access. The internet access will help in gaining virtual access to the data because the internet will help in sending questionnaire to respondents. It will help in collecting secondary data as well. Along with this, traditional access will help gather the data by personal contact to the participants. In traditional access, the researcher will do face to face interaction with participants and ask predetermined questions to obtain necessary and relevant information (Thomas et al, 2010). The internal stakeholders will be personally approached to access the information while external stakeholders will be sent questionnaire through email to collect information. 

Data analysis:

Data analysis is to process the data, and analyze the outcomes to make generalization and theories, which is applied to solve the problems going with the company, and in real world. Data analysis is conducted using various techniques such as SPSS, MS Excel, Z-test, F-test, Regression, Correlation, T-test, Chi square test, and various other tools (Wilson, 2014). In this research study, MS Excel, SPSS, correlation, regression, graphs, tables, and other statistical tools will be applied to analyze and interpret the data. The SPSS method will help in easily calculating relative measures. This will develop the graphs that will help in analyzing the consistency of data and correlation and deviation among variables in data set. At the same time, statistical tools such as central tendency and descriptive statistical tools will help in measuring the level of performance of company and stability of company. This will help in measuring the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives. 

Ethical consideration:

The ethical consideration is the compliance of ethical norms and values by researcher in research study. The research in this research will comply with all the ethical norms and guidelines. The respondents will be fully aware of the purpose the research study (Wilson, 2014). At the same time, the information to be collected from the respondents will be confidential, and will not be used for other than original research objectives. The data will be collected originally from the field rather copying form the existing sources.

Outcomes:

It is expected and hypothesized that the research will possibly provide the insights into the sustainability initiatives of the Unilever. Apart from this, the research will gives the information that how the sustainability initiatives affects the performance and growth of the Unilever. Apart from this, this will provide the information about the effectiveness of the initiatives taken by the Unilever for its sustainable development. Apart from this, the research will clear that how the sustainability initiatives put impact on the brand value and brand image of the company.

Part V: Conclusion:

From the above analysis, it can be said that the researcher will use both quantitative and qualitative research to collect the data. The researcher will use survey questionnaire to gather the information. Along with this, around 250 stakeholders will be selected randomly as sample and the information from them will be analyzed through SPSS and other statistical tools. Both primary and secondary data will be collected to get insight into the research problem. 

Part VI: Time scale and Gant chart:

Time scale: 

Time scale is also known as schedule. The schedule is the tools of arranging all the activities in a proper sequence with the time span required in their completion. The time scale for this research project is given below:

Work Schedule

S. No

Activity

Duration (in days)

Starting Date

Finishing Date

1

Study of literature review

5

01/02/2017

07/02/2017

2

Ascertaining the research problem and deciding about research objectives

6

08/02/2017

15/02/2017

3

Research methodology and research design

4

16/02/2017

21/02/2017

4

Election of effective research design

3

22/02/2017

24/02/2017

5

Decides about the data collection method

2

27/02/2017

28/02/2017

6

Planning for survey and drafting a questionnaire

7

01/03/2017

09/03/2017

7

Sampling: method, size, and frame

4

10/03/2017

15/03/2017

8

Questionnaire disbursement among and recollection from respondents

10

16/03/2017

29/03/2017

9

Amalgamation of data collected

3

30/03/2017

03/04/2017

10

Data processing and analysis

6

04/04/2017

11/04/2017

11

Findings and limitations

2

12/04/2017

13/04/2017

12

Conclusion and Recommendation

2

18/04/2017

19/04/2017

13

Production of research report

3

20/04/2017

24/04/2017

14

Submission of report

1

25/04/2017

25/04/2017

Gantt chart:

The Gantt chart depicts the flow of activities in project with their time. The Gantt chart shows the amount of work finished during a certain time span that helps in monitoring the project. Gantt chart of this research project is given below:

References:

Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2015) Business research methods. USA: Oxford University Press.

Creswell, J. (2014) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative And Mixed Methods Approaches. United States Of America: Sage Publications, Inc.

Eriksson, P. and Kovalainen, A. (2015) Qualitative Methods in Business Research: A Practical Guide to Social Research. UK: Sage.

Fonseca, A., McAllister, M. L., & Fitzpatrick, P. (2014) Sustainability reporting among mining corporations: a constructive critique of the GRI approach. Journal of Cleaner Production, 84, 70-83.

Geels, F. W. (2013) The impact of the financial–economic crisis on sustainability transitions: Financial investment, governance and public discourse. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 6, 67-95.

Hendricks, D. W. (2014) Analyzing Quantitative Data: An Introduction for Social Researchers. US: John Wiley & Sons.

Liedtke, C., Baedeker, C., & Borrelli, L. M. (2015) Transformation Towards a Sustainable Society Key Intervention Areas. Innovative Energy & Research, 2015.

Mackey, A. and Gass, S. M. (2015) Second language research: Methodology and design. UK: Routledge.

Mkansi, M. and Acheampong, E. A. (2012) Research philosophy debates and classifications: students’ dilemma, Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 10(2), pp. 132-140.

O'Leary, Z. (2013) The essential guide to doing your research project. USA: Sage.

Rubin, A. and Babbie, E. (2012) Essential Research Methods For Social Work. United States Of America: Cengage Learning.

Schoenherr, T., & Talluri, S. (2013) Environmental sustainability initiatives: A comparative analysis of plant efficiencies in Europe and the US. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 60(2), 353-365.

Schrettle, S., Hinz, A., Scherrer-Rathje, M., & Friedli, T. (2014) Turning sustainability into action: Explaining firms' sustainability efforts and their impact on firm performance. International Journal of Production Economics, 147, 73-84.

Sim, S., King, H., & Price, E. (2016) The Role of Science in Shaping Sustainable Business: Unilever Case Study. In Taking Stock of Industrial Ecology (pp. 291-302). USA: Springer International Publishing.

Unilever, (2017) Abut us [Online]. Available at: https://www.unilever.com/about/ (Accessed: 6 January 2017).

Unilever, (2017) The Unilever sustainable living plan [Online]. Available at: https://www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/the-sustainable-living-plan/our-strategy/ (Accessed: 6 January 2017).

Wilson, J. (2014) Essentials Of Business Research: A Guide To Doing Your Research Project. USA: SAGE.

Carroll, A. and Shabana, K. (2010) The Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility: A Review of Concepts, Research and Practice [Online]. Available at: https://f2.washington.edu/fm/sites/default/files/Business%20Case%20for%20CSR%20Review%20of%20Concepts,%20Research%20and%20Practice.pdf (Accessed: 4 April 2017).

Bergner, J., Barnes, R., Evans, I., Goldman, J., and Miller, A. (2011) leading sustainability initiatives through your organization [Online]. Available at: https://www.apta.com/resources/hottopics/sustainability/Documents/Leadership-APTA-Leading-Sustainability-Initiatives-Through-Your-Organization.pdf (Accessed: 4 April 2017).

HBR, (2017) what sustainability is now the key driver of innovation [Online]. Available at: https://hbr.org/2009/09/why-sustainability-is-now-the-key-driver-of-innovation (Accessed: 4 April 2017).

Thomas, J.R., Nelson, J.K. and Silverman, S.J. (2010) Research methods in physical activity - 6th edition. USA: Human Kinetics Publishers.

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