Table of Content
Chapter 3 - Methodology and Methods
The research was conducted using meta-synthesis as its main methodology and drew on case study methodology for the primary research. Based on the interpretive paradigm makes it suitable for qualitative research (Braun 2019).
The process of meta-synthesis involves several stages, including identifying the research question, searching for, and selecting relevant qualitative studies, appraising the quality of the studies, extracting data from the studies, synthesizing, and analyzing the data, and reporting the findings (Hoon, 2013). Meta synthesis is an evidence-based method of developing new ideas and theories (Scazziota et al., 2023). To gather enough data to fully explore small business coaching, literature related to coaching in general was included along with scholarship that mentioned the International Coaching Federation.
Case study methodology is used to gain a deeper understanding of subjective experiences, through the interpretation of the meanings that individuals attribute to their experiences (Aberdeen, 2013). Primary data from three participants to gain their personal experiences and views were collected through interview methods with the addition of extensive exploration of existing peer reviewed literature.
Part 1 – Primary Data Gathering
Using interviews as my research instrument, I was able to collect, measure and analyze data from participants (Teachers College, IRB 2017). Interviews are where verbal questions are presented to elicit a verbal response from the person being interviewed (DePoy, Elizabeth & N., 2016). The focus on rich individual human perception, experience, and sensemaking serve as the hallmark of qualitative research (Lanka et al. 2021).
Each participant in the study – an ICF credentialled coach, a small business owner, and a representative from the ICF has experienced the topic based on their unique perspective, which considers the “social, cultural, and theoretical contexts” of their experiences (Larkin, Eatough & Osborn, 2011, p. 64). Steps taken to collect and analyze the data as well as the methods taken to derive insights that may inform any recommendations were clearly documented.
Steps for Interviews
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with one participant from each of the targeted groups, signing a consent form ensuring that they both met the criteria and that there were no conflicts of interest. The topic was presented followed by open ended probing questions, lasting one hour in duration. Meetings were held via Zoom Communications, a video conferencing platform, and were recorded using an application called Otter.ai (https://otter.ai/home). Otter is a voice to text transcription software that records and tracks individual participants voice and provides a script of each conversation. Careful consideration was taken to develop interview questions that would allow participants to express their personal views freely and fully on the topic. The interview questions are shared on Appendix 1 – 3.
Part 2 – Meta Synthesis Process
Key words: Small Business, Small Business Owners, Coaching, Coach credentials, International Coaching Federation, Small business coaching.
The method applicable to the research assignment was gathering data for meta-synthesis. Meta synthesis is an evidence-based method of developing new ideas and theories (Scazziota et al., 2023). Using Google Scholar as a starting place, I searched for articles related to the research question, both as single words and phrases and by combining key words. For example, small business coaching and business success, International Coaching Federation, and small business owners. To read the full text of many of the articles, I then went to the Royal Roads University Library where students have greater access than typically granted to an online researcher without an affiliation with an academic institution. I was also provided with a helpful tutorial on finding appropriate material using the Royal Roads University database.
All found documents were saved into a reference management system called Zotero, that helped organize and synthesize the key themes and ideas from the selected sources. As each article was added, I spent the time to evaluate the presented data. I highlighted findings by copying and placing key ideas in the notes section of Zotero and then used the tag feature to ensure I could later easily retrieve what was offered. The Royal Roads Student services department provided valuable tutoring with tips on the use of Zotero. After making my selections and adding them to Zotero, I took time to download the files (if permitted) and saved them as a .pdf on my computer. Looking further, I then searched the reference section of each paper to select additional sources that would deepen my understanding and provide further context on the research question.
Thematic analysis (TA), a foundational method for qualitative analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was the technique chosen to examine, discover, and interpret themes and patterns located in the data collected. Using the theoretical framework of Social Exchange, specifically considering relational exchanges of cost and reward through the lens of small business coaching, brought meaning when observed from multiple perspectives. Braun invites researchers to use TA to capture what is important about the data in relationship to the research question. (Braun & Clarke, 2006)
Transcriptions from the interviews were printed, and then using a unique colour I highlighted statements related to the studies key words including coaching, small business and the ICF. Further, while reading through each interview, I asked myself, ‘why are they telling me this?’ to gain deeper understand and to document underlying ideas, themes, and perceptions from the participants. Reflecting then on the interviews, connections were made to further source and analyze emerging themes from the literature.
During the literature review process, I searched for the current state of knowledge related to my research question, key authors, articles and theories related to the topic, and sought to identify any gaps in the literature (Bhattacherjee, 2012). After categorizing the literature in Zotero using the same keyword groups and taking notes relevant to the research question during data collection, I was able to generate a report from Zotero that compiled my notes for analysis. I then printed the notes and again using colour highlighting of key words to assist in the data analysis process.
Due to the fact of this being a qualitative research project, I was aware that I would not be able to fully “separate myself from the research” (Fusch et al., 2018). I am, by the nature of my work, intimately connected to the research question. As an ICF credentialed coach, a small business owner and someone who teaches other coaches on the topic of small business coaching additional transparency and accountability is needed.
Several strategies were used to mitigate researchers’ biases. The first was to recognize the biases as stated above and design the research in a way so that data could be collected as independent of my perspective as possible. I did this by focusing on the research question and my academic goal of presenting an integral and unbiased paper. The second was to read everything related to the topic that came up in the scholarship based on the keyword search, even if I did not instinctively connect with the authors views. The third was to ask my peer reviewers to specifically provide focused feedback related to biases.
To address ethical considerations for this research project, participants were provided with a consent form that described both the risks and benefits of contributing (TCPS CORE, 2022). The research was conducted in accordance with the Royal Roads University ethical guidelines provided in the Applied Coaching Project Handbook. As a student and novice researcher I am aware of the responsibility to ensure that the social and psychological well-being of research participants would not be adversely affected. To address reliability of the study, I approached the research in a way that could be replicated by providing the steps taken in the methods section of this paper. To ensure validity and trustworthiness of the study, I have adhered to the academic requirements and limitations, in delivering what I set out to do and attest to the results being sound, demonstrating thoughtful reasoning and a persuasive case.