This method is congruent with Fraenkel and Wallen (2001) who note, "Researchers usually dig into the literature to find out what has already been written about the topic they are interested in investigating. Both the opinions of experts in the field and other research studies are of interest. Such reading is referred to as a review of the literature" (p. 48). A critical review of the literature can also provide other benefits as well. For example, Wood and Ellis (2003) identified the following as important outcomes of a well conducted literature review:
1. It helps describe a topic of interest and refine either research questions or directions in which to look;
2. It presents a clear description and evaluation of the theories and concepts that have informed research into the topic of interest;
3. It clarifies the relationship to previous research and highlights where new research may contribute by identifying research possibilities which have been overlooked so far in the literature;
4. It provides insights into the topic of interest that are both methodological and substantive;
5. It demonstrates powers of critical analysis by, for instance, exposing taken for granted assumptions underpinning previous research and identifying the possibilities of replacing them with alternative assumptions;
6. It justifies any new research through a coherent critique of what has gone before and demonstrates why new research is both timely and important.
The primary data needed for the proposed study will be collected using an online custom survey instrument to be posted on a premium online survey service such as Zoomerang, SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo. The questions for the custom survey instrument will be based on the primary themes that emerge from the review of the relevant literature following the guidance provided by Proctor and Vu (2005). Face validity of the survey instrument will be achieved following the guidance provided by Neuman (2003) for this purpose. The survey instrument will consist of three sections:
1. Section one will consist of a series of yes/no, fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions to develop relevant demographic data and professional experience information.
2. Section two will consist of a series of five-level Likert-scaled questions ranged "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree," with a "no opinion/not application" option offered.
3. Section three will consist of an open-ended comment segment that will encourage respondents to include any additional thoughts, insights, empirical observations and experiences concerning good corporate governance practices in the small- to medium-sized enterprise.
The data that results from the secondary and primary research will be analyzed as described below.
Data analysis methods
The secondary data will be analyzed by identifying recurring themes, salient points, major issues and other areas of interest and synthesizing these findings with the results of the primary data analysis. The primary data will be analyzed using SPSS Version 11.0 for Windows (Student Version) to develop frequencies, standard deviations and means for each of the custom survey question responses. These results will be presented in tabular and graphic form and summarized and interpreted in a narrative fashion.
Mechanisms to assure the quality of the study
All respondents to the online survey will remain anonymous but will still be consented prior to the commencement of the survey administration using the informed consent form shown at Appendix a which is specifically designed for online surveys. Notwithstanding the anonymity of the respondents, all survey data will remain password-protected in the researcher's personal computer, maintained for a period a 10 years and then destroyed. Researcher bias represented a potential limitation, but the use of both secondary and primary data will help to improve the trustworthiness of the research findings and every effort will be made to interpret the findings objectively.
A tentative timetable for completion of the study proposed herein is shown in Table 1 below.
TIME (MONTHS) (2011)
Photocopy info from non-bibliographic sources
Submission of thesis proposal
Fine tune research question and methodology
Writing up of thesis
Revision, editing and submission
Submission of thesis
The research showed that in an increasingly competitive marketplace, small- to medium-sized enterprises need a competitive advantage to remain viable and sound corporate governance practices can provide this advantage. In fact, this was one of the few areas where there was a consensus about the importance of good corporate governance practices. The research also showed that while there is no universal definition of corporate governance, the main thrust of the concept relates to how companies are controlled, with the specific definition being applied to each company's unique situation and circumstances. Finally, the research showed that although the issue of corporate governance has received an increasing amount of attention in recent years, particularly following the corporate scandals as exemplified by Enron et al., there remains a dearth of timely and relevant studies concerning the need for good corporate governance practices in small- to medium-sized enterprises, making this study a valuable contribution to the existing body of knowledge.
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Proforma Electronic Informed Consent Form
You are invited to take part in a research study of corporate governance in small- to medium-sized enterprises. You were chosen for the study because you satisfied the inclusion criteria of the study (i.e., more than 10 years of executive-level experience and agree to participate) This form is part of a process called "informed consent" to allow you to understand this study before deciding whether to take part.
This study is being conducted by a researcher named [insert], who is a doctoral/master's student at [insert] University.
The purpose of this study is to develop a comprehensive assessment of the importance of corporate governance to the success of a small- to medium-sized enterprise.
If you agree to be in this study, you will be asked to complete an online survey in which you will remain completely anonymous.
Voluntary Nature of the Study:
Your participation in this study is voluntary. This means that everyone will respect your decision of whether or not you want to be in the study. No one at Insert all relevant institutions or agencies will treat you differently if you decide not to be in the study. If you decide to join the study now, you can still change your mind during the study. If you feel stressed during the study you may stop at any time. You may skip any questions that you feel are too personal.
Risks and Benefits of Being in the Study:
There are no perceived or discernible risks associated with completing the survey instrument, but the results of the study could potentially be enormously valuable for executives of small- to medium-sized enterprises.
No monetary compensation is offered for participation in the research project; however, all respondents can obtain a copy of the completed research study by contacting the researcher at email address [insert].
Any information you provide will be kept Insert either the word confidential or anonymous (note that while anonymity is preferred, it only applies in studies in which no one, not even you as the researcher knows who participated, i.e. A survey with consent implied through completion of that survey). The researcher will not use your information for any purposes outside of this research project. Also, the researcher will not include your name or anything else that could identify you in any reports of…