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The methodology section of this research paper is the most important part since it offers information needed to evaluate the validity of the study. Therefore, offering a clear description of the research methodology and the rationale for the choice of the method are crucial in affirming the validity of this thesis. The research methodology adopted depends on the research context and the nature of the research questions. Fisher (2007) points out that empirical research aims at explaining the existing state of affairs using predetermined measurement variables. It is also essential to take into consideration the fact that research relies significantly on probability; as a result, the methodological framework adopted in this study aims at offering an explanation why a given predetermined variable plays an integral role in influencing the outcome (Folta et al. 2010). Therefore, it is essential for this study to place emphasis on the research findings accompanied with a correlation to the existing theoretical frameworks in order to explain why Italian wines are known as the best in the world. The methodology chapter of this thesis provides a general overview of the participants, their description, where and when the study took place, and an overview of the research design procedures and their rationale (Landon & Smith 1998). The chapter also outlines the instruments used and their respective reliability, a concept map outlining the methodology and the data collection processes, data analysis, and a brief overview of how the research findings will be organized and presented.
According to Fisher (2007), the research design can either be qualitative or quantitative, or integrate both designs depending on the structure of research questions and context of the research. Qualitative research design uses analysis and evaluation of qualitative data in an attempt to answer the research questions and reach a conclusion (Landon & Smith 1998). On the other hand, quantitative research designs mainly involve the collection and analysis of quantifiable data and statistical measures to reach a conclusion. Quantitative research design incorporates investigative units for data collection such as questionnaires (Ritchie & Lewis 2003). According to the nature of the research questions and the context of the research, this study needs an evaluation of both quantitative and qualitative data to explain the dominance of Italian wines and ascertain why Italian wines are known as the best in the world. The data acquisition methods will entail a mix of both primary and secondary data sources to facilitate a comprehensive data analysis process (Neuman & Kreuger 2006).
Ruane (2005) defined qualitative research as an inductive process entailing the organization of data into categories and then establishing patterns and relationships among the data categories. According to this definition, it is apparent that data and their respective meanings are derived organically from the context of the study (Laurel 2003). The qualitative aspect of this study is viewed in the light of a system of inquiry that has the primary objective of building a holistic, mostly narrative and a comprehensive description of how the researcher understands the existing phenomenon under study: the prominence of Italian wines. Ruane (2005) asserts that qualitative research usually occurs under natural settings using a blend of interviews, documentary reviews and observations, which were deployed in this study. The qualitative research strategy relies mainly on underlying perspectives and assumptions, which in turn decreases the possibility of reducing complex phenomena into a few independent and interdependent variables. An important aspect of qualitative research design is that the research design should be devoid of the researchers’ limitations, definitions and delimitations; rather, the role of the researcher is to gather data from respondents in their natural environment (Ruane 2005). This is a significant strength of the research approach because the reality is expressed in the data collected with limited avenues for bias. The data is used to make post hoc conclusions, instead of relying on prior conclusions (Folta et al. 2010). The study relies on the data collected from participants in their natural settings, implying that the research avoided the manipulation of variables. In addition, the qualitative aspect of this study used an inductive mode of inquiry, as evident by the lack of firm hypothesis and over reliance on research questions. This study used a grounded research strategy, with the main purpose of using naturally iterative data collection and relationship processes, wherein the available theoretical frameworks outlined in the literature review section are the anticipated outcomes of the study (Neuman 2003).
Apart from qualitative data, the study used a quantitative research design to gather empirical evidence in an attempt to determine why Italian wines are known as the best in the world (Ruane 2005). It is evident that the nature of this study is explorative, which implies that quantitative research design is central towards addressing the research question. Fundamentally, quantitative research entails a mix of data collection methods to address a research question. Conventionally, a question or theory comprises of variables that are measured in a systematic manner and analyzed using statistical methods (Nardi 2003). The empirical data obtained from the study were vital in explaining the factors contributing towards the dominance of Italian wines in the global market. The quantitative aspect of this study will make use of a deductive approach since the study commenced with a research question and terminated with empirical measurement, analysis of data and evaluation. The advantage of incorporating qualitative research design in the methodology is that it will offer empirical evidence to explain the current dominance of the Italian wine market at the global level (Neuman & Kreuger 2006). The study used a deductive approach because the research commenced by a description of theoretical concepts such as quality perceptions of Italian wines and their dominance, after which it entailed the use of empirical evidence to ascertain the factors contributing to the success of Italian wines. Fundamentally, the research structure entailed an analysis of the existing theory, followed by the formulation of a research question and numerous objectives to help in exploring the main research question (Rossi 2011). Therefore, integrating both quantitative and qualitative research designs in this study is important because it will ensure that there are minimal biases and guarantee reliability and validity of findings by backing the data with empirical evidence (Morrison & Rabellotti 2006).
The focus of this research is on the wine market in Italy, implying that the achievement of the research objectives relies on the views obtained from the major stakeholders in the Italian wine industry such as the government, consumers and inter professional bodies charged with the responsibility of regulating the Italian wine industry. The study will not entail the Italian wine industry, but will use data obtained from the Piedmont Region to represent the views of the entire Italian wine industry (Department of Economics, Warwick University 2009). The rationale for this choice is because this region is one of the most renowned wine producing regions in the country, which provides an ideal sample for undertaking the study. Specifically, the participants used in the study included consumers of wines produced in this region, government agencies regulating the wine production in this region, and farmers (Morrison & Rabellotti 2006). This analysis will narrow down towards the Italian wine sector through conducting an analysis of the role of distribution and stakeholders in enhancing the prominence and competitiveness of the Italian wine sector. A correlation will be deduced between the above factors to establish the degree to which they influence the success of the Italian wine sector. Key government agencies under study include the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and inter professional bodies operating the Piedmont region. The participants in the study representing these government agencies will mainly include their respective officials. The study aimed at interviewing 100 officials from these agencies regarding the contributions of the regulatory bodies in promoting the quality of wines produced in this region (Department of Economics, Warwick University 2009).
In addition, the sample of the study comprised of consumers of Italian wines produced in this region. In order to enhance research diversity and accuracy of findings, the study incorporates a small cohort to represent Italian wine consumers. The research employed both quota and convenience sampling. Fisher (2007) defines quota sampling as a scenario wherein researcher selects a proportion of elements investigated during his/her research. The researcher can partition the various categories using gender, age, ethnicity and lifestyle. This study used three distinct quotas basing on age, which included 21≤ 30, 31-40, and ≥ 41. A further classification of the participants was based on socioeconomic status and gender of the selected participants. According to Nardi (2003), this selected set has sufficient diversity to incorporate people having diverse perceptions regarding the quality of Italian wines, and the influence of the perceived quality on their preference of Italian wines over other wines. Consumers of Italian wines will be asked to document factors that affect their preference of Italian wines using variables such as quality, price, market accessibility, taste, and reputation (Morrison & Rabellotti 2006). The findings will place more emphasis on the views of consumers of Italian wines and try to ascertain the connection between the findings and the prominence of Italian wines. It is also imperative that the consumers compare the attributes of Italian wines with wines produced in other countries; this is important in ascertaining the distinctive characteristics of Italian wines that contribute towards their dominance in the market (Landon & Smith 1998).
Data Collection Methods
Data collection is a crucial requirement for any study because it plays an integral role in determining the success of research through offering avenues for inferring conclusions. This means that this study significantly relies on statistical and descriptive data because it makes use of a probabilistic approach in explaining the dominance of the Italian wines (Nardi 2003). Data mainly consists of two kinds: primary data collected by the researcher through direct contact with respondents, and secondary data collected by other researchers that are relevant in exploring the elements of the research question (Ruane 2005). In order to confirm theoretical explanations of the success of Italian wines, this study utilized both primary and secondary data sources. In addition, the integration of both qualitative and quantitative research designs poses the need to make use of both primary and secondary data sources in meeting the objectives of the study.
Primary Data Sources
Primary research mainly entails data collection processes that rely on acquiring first-hand information from the respondents by the researcher. This mainly entailed the use of questionnaires, semi-structures interviews, and focus groups. Fisher (2007) asserts that primary data sources are effective methods of gathering information for a study because of the raw nature of data collected, implying that such data is devoid of manipulation. This helps in increasing the accuracy of the findings and ascertaining the validity of the entire study. Further, primary sources are sometimes helpful in augmenting secondary sources and comparison with prior research to examine trends and deviations (Laurel 2003). The following are some of the methods used in gathering primary data in this study.
According to Ruane (2005, 123), a questionnaire is a “self-contained and self-administered instrument for asking questions”. This study used questionnaires to collect information from the respondents, mainly the consumers and officials of government agencies operating in Piedmont, in order to explore the factors contributing towards the success of the Italian wine industry. The study preferred to utilize questionnaires because this method facilitates the acquisition of enormous amounts of data within constrained time frames. In addition, questionnaires provided an ideal avenue through which respondents freely documented their opinions concerning the quality of Italian wines and their relative scale of preference compared to wines produced in other countries (Rossi 2011). The primary goal of using questionnaire is to motivate the respondents to participate actively in the study; this was achieved using attention-grabbing questions and visual aid representations to enhance the clarity of questions. In addition, respondents were asked to undertake blind tastes at the end of the questionnaires to evaluate whether they can distinguish Italian wines from other wines. The questionnaire has structured and open (unstructured) questions. Ruane (2005) points out that structured questions can either take the form of multiple choice questions, scales or dichotomous questions. Dichotomous questions are used in the collection of fundamental data from participants such as gender, wine preference, and quality perception. The advantage of using dichotomous questions is that they will save the time needed to respondents to reply questions because they mainly involve a simple format comprising of Yes or No multiple-choice questions (Ritchie & Lewis 2003).
Checklists were used in gathering diverse information from the participants; for instance, why they prefer Italian wines over other wines or vice versa. Ratio scales were designed in the form of five-point scale range between zero and five, indicating the extremes of the specific variables being investigated. Zero denoted very poor, whereas five denoted very outstanding. Open-ended questions were incorporated in the questionnaires in order to ensure that respondents expressed their views comprehensively (Rossi 2011). It is important to note that the study used two different sets of questionnaires because the sample was classified into two different categories of stakeholders in the Italian wine sector: officials of government agencies in Piedmont region, and consumers of Italian wines. In addition, the different questionnaires incorporated different sets of variables because of the different nature of their involvement in the Italian wine sector. Consumers are mainly involved in the demand side, whereas the government plays a significant role in the supply side (Ritchie & Lewis 2003).
Questionnaires were imperative in addressing the elements of the research question by providing data regarding the various factors contributing to the success and dominance of Italian wines in the market. The questionnaires had the primary goal of evaluating the role of key stakeholders, particularly the government and regulatory bodies, in ensuring that Italian wines are of the highest quality (Neuman & Kreuger 2006). Concerning this, respondents were asked of the effectiveness of government efforts in establishing a service oriented wine industry rather than a market-oriented industry that embarks on mass production. The respondents will also be asked to evaluate whether the government efforts and strategies to regulate the wine industry have translated to the production of high quality wines. This will primarily involve the opinions of officials of the government agencies regarding the effectiveness of their regulatory strategies and the extent to which such strategies enhance the competitiveness of Italian wines in the market. In addition, the respondents will be asked to document their expert opinions concerning the role that wine denominations in Italy plays in leading to the production of high quality wine. This will take the form of a five-point scale ranging between zero and three, with the following designations: zero denoting less significant, one representing moderately significant, two representing significant, and three denoting ultimately significant (Landon & Smith 1998).
Respondents on the demand side, the consumers, were asked to rate the perceived quality of Italian wines on a scale of zero to three, with zero indicating extremely poor quality, one indicating moderate quality, and two indicating outstanding quality. The respondents were also asked whether their quality perceptions and affordability of Italian wines were influential in determining their preferences towards Italian wines (Rossi 2011). This was vital in establishing the relationship between affordability and quality, and the competitiveness of Italian wines in the market. Further, consumers were asked to document their views regarding the changing quality trends of Italian wines and their perceptions concerning the view that large-scale productions created a negative perception of the quality of Italian wines. The open-ended questions were used in documenting views of the consumers regarding the effectiveness of laws and regulations for production, taxation of grape spirits and products in ensuring high quality production and distribution of Italian wines (Neuman 2003). The research aimed at collecting approximately 500 questionnaires from consumers of Italian wines and 100 questionnaires from officials who are representing government agencies regulating the Italian wine sector (Neuman & Kreuger 2006).
Semi structured Interviews
Semi structured interviews offer an opportunity for a researcher to collect quantitative data. This data collection technique involved the researcher in creating a situation that gave the respondents the scope and time to articulate his or her views on the success of Italian wines. The principal focus of semi structured interview is to have an understanding of the respondent’s viewpoint. Semi structured interviews in this study used mainly limited open-ended questions; however, the interviews were flexible and allowed more questions to be outlined in the course of the interview depending on the response of the interviewee. According to Laurel (2003), semi structured interviews are preferable because they offer a positive rapport between interviewee and interviewer. This is because semi structured interviews are extremely simple and serve as a practical approach for collecting data concerning unobservable things. The second justification for the use of semi structured interviews is that because of their high validity (Laurel 2003). This is because respondents discuss the issue in depth and detail. In addition, semi structured interviews provide an avenue for clarifying and discussing complex issues. However, the significant limitation is that it is time consuming and non-standardized. It is also difficult to affirm whether a participant is lying. Semi structures interviews were conducted randomly through spotting people consuming Italian wines in designated areas, especially restaurants in Italy (Morrison & Rabellotti 2006).
Ruane (2005) asserts that focus group is one of the most effective and efficient methods of acquiring collective data concerning an issue. Ruane further defines focus groups as panels facilitated by a moderator under specified time duration with the goal of exchanging viewpoints, knowledge and opinions. Focus groups used in this study will consist of seven individuals comprising of three consumers, three officials and one facilitator. The duration of focus groups meetings ranges from 30 minutes to one hour (Neuman 2003). The rationale for using focus groups to gather primary data is that they can facilitate quick identification of the core issues relating to Italian wine. In addition, the researcher can assess reactions among the participants in an open forum because respondents use their own words and emotions. The disadvantage of focus group is that it faces significant generalization limitations (Landon & Smith 1998).
Secondary Data Sources
Secondary data sources involve data sources documented by other researchers that are relevant in answering research question. This study used secondary data collected in the most renowned Italian wine guide, I Vini di Veronelli, which has been published annually since 2003 (Department of Economics, Warwick University 2009). The choice of this wine guide was made because industry experts, consultants, wine makers and consumers perceive it as the most comprehensive documentation and a precise appraisal of the Italian wine industry. The editors of the wine guide engage in constant monitoring of vineyards in all wine producing regions in Italy and follow up the success of existing wineries and the emergence of new ones (Folta et al. 2010). The wine guide offers a comprehensive report of wine labels; specific information of each label such as producer, classification, appellation, aging method, planting acreage, type of wine produces, prices and number of bottles produced at each winery. For the purposes of this research, one significant advantage of this wine guide is that it provides an objective quality evaluation of the quality of each wine label. These quality ratings will be integral in comparing the perceived quality by consumers and that quality ratings indicated in the wine guide, which is essential in determining the variables that influence quality perceptions of Italian wines among consumers (Department of Economics, Warwick University 2009).
Value of the Study
The value of the study was affirmed using an initial pilot study, which was initiated with the goal of ensuring the quality and accuracy of the questions outlined in the interview and questionnaire. The pilot study was used to evaluate the reliability and validity of primary research methods through a discussion with peers at the university (Folta et al. 2010). The initial, primary study was integral in the detection and ramification of difficulties present in the questionnaire, such as lack of clarity and ambiguous questions. The pilot study was undertaken within the neighbourhood and the surroundings of the university.
Limitations of this Study
A significant limitation that this research will face is time constraints, which can lead to inadequate collection of questionnaires from respondents and undertaking semi structured interviews. This has the likelihood of increasing the marginal errors in the research findings, and ultimately the conclusions made (Folta et al. 2010). The second limitation associated with this research design is the likelihood of some target respondents providing false information or being unwilling to answer some questions in the course of the research and interview. This imposes significant constraints on the reliability and validity of this study. Inaccurate findings can lead to inaccurate conclusions and inferences, which can render the research insignificant. As a result, the data analysis section will take into consideration the identified potential limitations that have implications on the research findings and conclusions. Another limitation is the sample size and selection process; this study is only limited to the Italian wine market and uses a small sample to make generalizations regarding the prominence of Italian wines. There is a likelihood that the selected sample might be an accurate representation of the Italian wine industry. This may affect the validity of the generalizations made by the study (Morrison & Rabellotti 2006).
Ethical and Legal Considerations
It is imperative for any form of research to take into account ethical and legal concerns associated with undertaking a research study. It is crucial that the data collection instruments be devoid of sensitive questions. This is because most people do not like their views going public and seek confidentiality regarding their personal information and disclosure of their views. This study took into consideration the various ethical and legal concerns, which are discussed in the following paragraphs (Ritchie & Lewis 2003).
The first ethical consideration is the principle of voluntary participation, which implies that no respondent should be forced to engage in a study. The study achieved this by ensuring that enlisted participants did so out of free will. The consent to participate in the study was obtained after the respondents agreed to participate in the study. The informed consent is a significant ethical issue in a research study. Voluntary informed consent is a prerequisite for undertaking any study, especially when it involves people expressing their views. This study initiated efforts to ensure that respondents understood the elements of the consent documents and invitations to participate in the study (Folta et al. 2010). The need for informed consent is also important as it ensures that the respondents are informed of the research procedures and any potential risks associated with participating in the study.
The second ethical concern entailed anonymity preservation of respondents. Confidentiality of respondents is a primary precondition for all forms of research, particularly when study relies on viewpoints of respondents. The study will ensure that all information provided in interviews and questionnaires will not be disclosed to any other party under any circumstance. Furthermore, the study ensured the preservation of anonymity of respondents by designing questionnaires and interviews that are devoid of personal and sensitive data. This implies that the views collected will not be correlated to any personal data such as names. The study should adopt standards aimed at preserving the privacy of respondents. Therefore, the study should guarantee respondents’ confidentiality, implying that no identifying information will be disclosed to any party that has no direct involvement in the study. Privacy is also implemented using the principle of anonymity, implying that the respondent will remain anonymous in the course of the study, even for the researcher (Folta et al. 2010).
The third ethical consideration in this study is the study must guarantee that the respondents will not be harmed in any manner before, during and after the study. Harm can be either psychological or physical, and the study should restrain from inflicting any form of harm on the respondents. It is an ethical prerequisite that the study will not place the respondents in a harmful situation when they participate in the study. In addition, it is imperative that the views collected from the respondents should not be used to victimize them. It is also imperative that all respondents are accorded equal treatment devoid of bias. The respondents were informed of the reasons for undertaking the study prior to their engagement in the study (Neuman & Kreuger 2006).
Data Analysis and Representation
Fisher (2007) defines data analysis as the process of examining, converting and modeling collected data with the primary objective of highlighting any useful information, providing conclusions and supporting the decision-making process. In the context of this study, data analysis was mainly used in providing conclusions that answer the research question. Data analysis is a crucial phase in any study because it is central in inferring conclusions and recommendations. The findings of this study will offer a framework for finding a solution to the research question. This denotes the significance of accuracy during data collection in facilitating the process of data analysis (Folta et al. 2010). As a result, this study used both inferential and descriptive statistics to infer conclusions from the collected data. Descriptive statistics were primarily used in summarizing and describing data using statistical quantities such as percentage, mean, mode and proportions. Descriptive statistics is integral in summarizing the collected data in a significant way in order to assess the patterns emerging from the gathered data. The limitation is that descriptive statistics cannot be used in making conclusions; it is just used for describing data. For instance, percentage of consumers perceiving Italian wines as being of high quality (Neuman & Kreuger 2006). Descriptive statistics plays an integral role in data presentation, which in turn facilitates data interpretation. This study will make use of measures of central tendency and measures of spread in data description. On the other hand, inferential statistics is used in generalizing the data collected. This will primarily involve the use of statistical variables such as the standard deviation, chi-square and paired t-tests. Inferential statistics is used in generalizing about the entire Italian wine industry. This denotes the significance of ensuring that the sample selection accurately represents the population (Morrison & Rabellotti 2006).
The technique of data analysis comprised mainly of univariate data analysis which was used in examining the distribution of a single statistical variable at a time. For example, the percentage of consumers having a preference towards Italian wines relative to other wines. Bivariate and multivariate data analysis was used in establishing the relationship between variables; for instance, the relationship existing between quality perceptions, affordability and dominance of Italian wines in the market. Bivariate data analysis used contingency tables, and correlational statistics to facilitate comparative analysis between two variables. Paired t-tests were used in comparing the preference of Italian wines over wines produced fromin other countries (Landon & Smith 1998).
Data representation of descriptive statistics will primarily entail the use of visual representations, which included graphs, charts and tables. Graphs were used in representing comparative data and trends of the iterative data collected from respondents. Tables were used for comparative analysis of data, especially when comparing Italian wines with wines produced in other countries.