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    [MUSIC PLAYING][Research Methods Case Study][Researching CSR in the Fashion Supply ChainUsing Case Study Methods]

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    PATSY PERRY: Hi, I'm Dr. Patsy Perry.I'm a Senior Lecturer in Fashion Marketing at the Universityof Manchester.[Dr. Patsy Perry, Senior Lecturer in Fashion Marketing,University of Manchester]So my research is predominantly qualitative in nature,and I'm quite interested in how fashion supply chains workand looking at the organizational and businessmanager perspectives to supply chain management in fashion.So my PhD research was looking at

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: corporate social responsibility in fashion supply chains,and I was interested why social responsibility doesn't alwaysplay out at factory level, even though the lead retailer wouldset out a code of conduct that the factory must followin order to protect the employeesand ensure that the working conditions are good for them.However, we still have instances of sweatshop

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: working conditions and exploitation of laborresources.So I was looking more at the factory levelto try to understand why those good working conditions werenot always present.And I was interested in the managerial perspectivefrom the people that manage the factory and manage the workers.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: [How did you decide on your research question?]So in terms of research questions,the idea from the research came from reallywhat I was reading about in the media in terms of sweatshopsand so on.It's quite a hot topic.And in terms of framing those research questions

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: and making them academic, that came from a reviewof academic literature--so reading about what had alreadybeen published on the topic from different aspectsfrom supply chain management, from fashion and textilesindustry sector, and then using that to identifyresearch gaps that could lead to questions that Iwas going to address in the primary data stage.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: [How did you identify gaps in the literature?]So in terms of the research gaps,I looked at the different disciplinesof research, such as supply chain managementin other industries, as well as lookingat how the fashion supply chain works from industry reports

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: and publications as well.And then I came up with the research question, whichwas, "how do factory managers balancethe need for ethical compliance within the fashion supply chainpressures of cost and lead time?"which often leads to poor working conditions, long hours,overtime, low pay, and so on.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: [How did you plan and design your research project?]For planning and designing the project,I had to figure out a case study that Icould use to explore this issue because obviously fashionsupply chains are global.You cannot study the entire globe.And I eventually decided on looking

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: at Sri Lanka where garment manufacturing is the number oneindustry now.But that was also a pragmatic choice because at that timethe sweatshop debate was quite important for many fashionretailers, but they were quite nervous about talkingabout things like that.So it was quite difficult to gain accessto organizations that would be willing

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: for me to conduct the research.So therefore, I chose Sri Lanka through a contactin my PhD office, and they were quitehappy to talk about this issue because theyhave a specific industry program called Garments Without Guilt,and they're doing a lot of good practice in this area.So it's very famous for eco-manufacturing in garments

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: as well.So therefore, I was able to gain accessbecause people were willing to speak to meand answer my research questions.[How did you decide what research methods you were goingto use?]I chose qualitative research as the method

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: to conduct research partly because I'mmore interested in that method than quantitative research,but also because it was more suitable.So where you're looking at a novel or a difficult or complexissue, it can be beneficial to use qualitative methodsin order to uncover the nuances of the topic

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: where it's not ready for measuring or testingthrough hypotheses yet.[How did you decide on your sample?]In terms of choosing a sample, my sampling methodwas purposive, not random.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: So there were specific types of peoplethat I wanted to interview that I'd identifiedas being important and be able to give methe information I wanted.So I targeted factory managers of the different typesof company, different types of size of factory.But then, also, I realized that another interesting populationto study would be the HR managers, as well,

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: because they're directly responsible for the workers.So those were my two target participant groupsfor the research.[Did you offer participants any incentives to take part?]So when you're doing industry researchand your sample is business people,

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: you don't tend to offer incentives as we wouldfor, say, consumer focus groups or consumer interviews.So I didn't need to offer an incentive.But I still needed to achieve buy-in and willingnessto participate.So what I offered was that I couldshare some of the general researchresults, which could be useful to the target respondents.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: [How did you communicate the purpose of the researchto your participants?]So in terms of explaining the researchstudy to the participants, I had to take more of a broaderapproach because industry participants are perhaps notso interested in the theoretical academic underpinning

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: for the study, but they're more interested in termsof the practicalities and how it may help them.So I had to learn how to communicatethe aim of my research to a non-academic audience.[What ethical considerations were there in your researchproject?]

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: I had to convince the target respondents that Iwas an academic researcher.So I came from a position of neutrality,and I wasn't interested in exposing potential sweatshopconditions to the media, and I wasn't coming at itfrom a negative assumption.So I was coming at it from quite a neutral position.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: And that was important for them to buy into my researchproject, as well, because, of course,they wouldn't want somebody to come in who was then goingto make a story and sell it to the pressand potentially harm their reputation.So that was quite a concern becauseof the topic of the research.So when interviewing human participants,there are ethical issues that we have to address

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: in terms of research ethics.So the main ethical issues would be confidentiality, anonymity,and also informed consent.So the people that I collected the data fromhad to agree to the data being collected.They had to know exactly what it was going to be used forand how it would be treated afterwards.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: So I told all of my respondents that I was notlooking to identify them or their companiesand that all the information theygave me would be kept confidential,and I wouldn't share it with either other companiesor other people.But, of course, I wanted to use the data--in this case, for my PhD thesis--and I also wanted to use it in the future for writing research

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: papers and so on.But in terms of them being personally identifiable,then I assured them that that wouldn't happen.So they were happy for anonymous confidential datato be collected.Often academic institutions will have their own research ethicsapproval process.The candidate may have to fill in documents,

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: which are then submitted to institutional review boards.They'll give permission for the project to go ahead.And this is also relevant if you're thenthinking about publishing your work because oftenthe actual academic journal will askthat this process has been fulfilledbefore the research took place.So it's really important to consider research ethics

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: and also to make sure that somebody reviews those.[How did you collect your data?]So my data collection method was face-to-face, semi-structuredinterviews.So the interview topic guide was fairly broad,

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: and that was based on the literature.But then I had to formulate the questionsso that it would be understandable and answerableby a non-academic audience.But they was semi-structured in the sensethat there was also scope for the intervieweeto bring up other things and perhaps for the conversationto go slightly off topic to then enable the richness of the data

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: to be collected.So I had a topic guide, but sometimes other thingscame up as well, which I found that hadn't come outof the literature review.I wanted to do face-to-face interviews rather thantelephone or email because I feltthat I would get richer information from havingthat human-to-human contact.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: And I also wanted to conduct the interviews on the factorypremises rather than, say, in my officeor in a cafe because then I want to triangulate with whatthe interviewees were telling me with observational researchas well-- so actually, what is happening in the factory,what kind of other signals can you

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: pick up on that you can then triangulatewith what you're being told from the interviewees.So in terms of the actual questions,it was really important to ensurethe questions were all open rather than closed to enablethe interviewee to give full, lengthy responses ratherthan just yes-no type answers.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: And then that also enables a very rich data set.So because I chose Sri Lanka where Englishis the main language of business,I didn't have any translation issues to overcome.But it may be that that's somethingto think about when choosing a location for a case study.So how can you actually get the data,and do you need to speak the language

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: or do you need a translator?But in this case, all of the interviewswere conducted in English, so therewas that there was no need for that.I used an audio recorder to record the interviewsbecause then I wanted to transcribe them word for word,which would form my data that I would then go on to analyze.Fortunately, all of my interviewees

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: agreed to that because I think if you're just taking notes,you're not going to capture everything,and it's quite difficult to have sufficient data that'sjust based on note taking.So ideally, recording the interviewsenables transcriptions then to be written up later.So for the observational research, I took photos--

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: again, with permission.You have to think about the research ethicsof taking photographs as well.But I didn't take photos of people.I just took photos of factory environments.So there was nobody that was personally identifiableon the photographs.And I also had a code book of thingsthat I was specifically looking for--

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: so for example, light, windows.I was also looking at the temperature in the factoryas well.So was it too hot for the workers?Were there health and safety notices around?Was the code of conduct displayedprominently in the factory?And the general kind of layout of the factory--was it tidy, was it messy--

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: which can then suggest reasons for non-compliancewith codes of conduct.[How did you collate and analyse your data?]So after I'd finished collecting the data in terms of conductingthe interviews and recording them,

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: I then sat down and began the processof transcribing the interviews.I found it really beneficial to do this myself rather thanoutsource it to somebody else because thenthat enabled me to really immerse myself in the data,familiarize myself with the data,and kind of prepare myself for the analysisbecause I was then recognizing things

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: that I would then explore furtherin the analysis of the data.I conducted the transcriptions manually myself.So I just sat in a quiet room, listened to the interviewsas much as I could, and then wrote out.And it took hours and hours and hoursto get the exact transcript so it is totally accurate.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: But, again, that's really beneficialbecause it enables the researcherto become very familiar and to really immerse themselvesin the data, which you wouldn't doif you outsourced it and then just gotyour written transcripts back.So then I ended up with a pile of interview transcripts,and I had to then try to make some sense out of them.So I had initial frameworks from my literature review,

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: but I also had scope to include other themes thatemerged from the data.So for example, one of the themes thatemerged from the data was the importanceof culture in that location, which was a big reason whythere was quite a lot of ethical compliance in the factoriesbecause a lot of what the factories were doing they

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: had done before the retailers came with codes of conduct,and it was part of their Buddhist culturein terms of not exploiting people beneath them.So they had those kind of norms already within the businessculture as well, and that was something that hadn't come outof the literature review.But, again, with qualitative data, qualitative research,

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: there is potential for really interesting thingsto come out because of the richness of the method.So in terms of triangulating the data, I had my interviews,and they would be from more than one person in each companyso that I could then triangulate, compare,and contrast and try to build up a richer, more holistic picture

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: of what was happening and also referredto the observational data to see whether thataligns with what the interviewees were telling me.So it's always good to have multiple sources of informationfrom a certain company setting.For my research project, I had a framework or a template that

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: came out of the literature review,and then I use that to formulate the basis for my themes.So I took my transcripts and startedcoding them according to the themes from the literaturereview.But then I also had some emerging themes thatcame out of the data itself.So I did this manually, literallywith highlighter pens, bits of paper,

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: scissors, and so on, and kind of immersed myself in the datato try to understand the picture.But it can also be done using software, such as NVivo.So with qualitative research, youcan end up with a wealth of data,and it's really important to organize thatso that you know what you're doingand you can quickly and easily find the things that you

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: need for your analysis.So I organized my data in terms of the type of factorythat I was studying-- so whether itwas a small factory or a large factory.I also organized it in terms of the participants--so whether it was HR manager or the factory manager.And then that helped me to have an organizedway of structuring the data and then structuring the writeup.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: It took me a long time to analyze the databecause, firstly, I had quite a large data set,and I had to immerse myself in it,and I had to really spend the time in orderto maximize the value of such a rich data set,explore nuances between what different participants weretelling me, and really kind of digdeep to gain that depth of insight which

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: qualitative research methods enables you to do.[What were the findings of your research?]So in terms of the findings, because it was a PhD,I had to make a contribution to knowledge

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: as well as developing some practical implications thatcould help factory managers or the industry in general.So my findings related to how factory managers understoodthese codes of conduct and corporate socialresponsibility, and I found that thatwas very much linked to strategic competitiveadvantage.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: So if they had good working conditions,then the quality and the performance of the workerswas going to be better.So they really understood that having this ethical compliancewas beneficial for the business performance in the long term,and it wasn't just a nice thing to doto look after the workers.In terms of writing up my findings-- so again,

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: that was quite a lengthy process.I used tables to enable comparison and contrastingbetween the different types of factoryand the different participants, whether itwas a HR manager or a factory manager,to bring out the richness of the observations.I also used photographs in the writeup, as well.And then to bring out the depth of the data and the richness,

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: I used verbatim quotes from parts of the interviewto support some of the points that Iwas making through my analysis.Qualitative research can be just as valid and rigorousas quantitative surveys, but it's really importantto set up your project to enable that.So it's more than just about convenience sampling or talking

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: to your friends about an issue, but it is, then, importantto think about who your sample is,think about what the research questions are,and ensure that they are properly grounded eitherin a well-done literature review or youhave specific criteria for why you'vechosen that person to interview or that factory to study.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: And therefore, that enables validity and rigorin the final data write-up and the analysis.[Did you face any methodological challenges and how did youovercome them?]In terms of methodological challenges,there were quite a few before I started the project.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: So for example, my choice of locationwas based on the challenge of not being able to gain accessto that type of respondent in the UKbecause UK retailers were very nervous about speakingto people about this.There has been a lot of sweatshop scandalsin the media, so they preferred not to talk about it.So that was my first methodological challenge

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: in terms of having the criteria for the type of contextI wanted to study, but also making surethat the company was willing and I was able to gain accessto then collect the data.My second methodological challengewas when I did my pilot study.So again, for qualitative research,it's really important to do a pilot study

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: because some of the assumptions that you makemay not happen in practice.So doing a pilot can enable you to refine the projectand address any critical issues before you thencollect the main data.So from my pilot study, I found that a lot of my questionswere too theoretical and they weren't actuallyunderstandable by a non-academic audience.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: So reflecting on that enabled me to reformulate and rewordsome of the questions so that the respondentswere able to answer them and give mefull, lengthy explanations for the thingsthat I'd gleaned from the literature review.[Would you do anything differently if you were to redo

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: the project?]In terms of when I've finished the projectand reflecting on what went well and wouldI make any changes to any of the methodological decisions I madeat the outset, I probably wouldn't change anythingsignificantly.But what I learned from doing the projects in the Sri Lankan

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: context was a lot of the findingsthat I got from the data were specificto that cultural and geographic context.So a lot of the issues and the waysthey played out in Sri Lanka was based on the cultural contextthere, the way the industry was structured, and so on.So it may be completely different findings

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: that would come out of a different geographic location,which is also part of the global fashion supply chain,such as India or Bangladesh.[What did you learn from this project?]In terms of learning from the research process from the PhD,

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: I think the main thing that's come out of itis that it's giving me more confidence,because often when you do your PhD,it's the first time you've really taken a really deep diveinto the research process.So piloting is really important.I always do a pilot now because even whenyou've learned a lot more, you can never really predict what's

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: going to happen in practice.So I think it's really important to do that even if you dofeel more confident about the research process.[What recommendations do you have for someone looking to dosimilar research?]In terms of reflecting on how I go about research now,

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: for the PhD, of course, it has to be independent work.So it's just you collecting the data, coding the data,analyzing the data.But going forward in the research that I do now,I always work in a team because thereare benefits to collaborating with others in termsof formulating your research questions,scrutinizing the existing literature, and then also

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: the benefits of multiple coders codingand analyzing the data, which can alsomake it more rigorous and valid and better qualityrather than doing it all yourself.There's lots of resources for qualitative research.There are specific textbooks whichpurely focus on qualitative research and data analysis.

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: There are academic journals which onlypublish qualitative research.So there's lots of places that youcan find out more information.[Denzin, NK, & Lincoln, YS (2005).The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research (5th ed.).Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications.]

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    PATSY PERRY [continued]: [MUSIC PLAYING]


Dr. Patsy Perry, Senior Lecturer in Fashion Marketing at University of Manchester, discusses her qualitative research on sweatshops and fashion supply chain management using case study methods.

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Researching CSR in the Fashion Supply Chain Using Case Study Methods

Dr. Patsy Perry, Senior Lecturer in Fashion Marketing at University of Manchester, discusses her qualitative research on sweatshops and fashion supply chain management using case study methods.

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