Chapter background information, questionnaires involving both qualitative and quantitative

Chapter 1 identified the
primary research questions to be answered in the study. The first objective is
to identify the factors that contribute to the sources of complexity found
within each dimension and discuss the issues associated with the management of
those factors. As noted in Chapter 2, the literature review is conducted in
order to answer this question and serves as the basis for the beginning of the
research methodology. The subsequent research questions adhere to the following
protocol.

The first step in defining
the type of methodology used to conduct the research is to identify the overall
structure of the research needs and objectives. The second part of the research
questions is to determine how to score complex projects based on each dimension
and provide a process for allocating resources for effective management
practices. Based on this objective, a three step approach is used as outlined
by Creswell’s Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed
Method’s Approaches. This reference displays multiple research options for
each step of defining the overall research process and the applicable
approaches and methods are shown in Figure.

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Figure 3.1 – Research
Approach and Methodology (interpreted from Creswell 2003)

 

Out of the four options
available for the first step in the research process, the pragmatic approach is
the best alternative for this research. The purpose of the research is to apply
the results to determine multiple solutions that are based on current issues
with the management of complex projects. In order to satisfy this objective,
the research is conducted using real-world practice oriented
data from construction and academic professionals leading to the implementation
of pragmatic knowledge claims as shown in Figure 3.1.

The second step in designing
the overall research approach is to determine the most suitable strategy for
the research. Since the point of the study is to encompass complexity
throughout all phases of a project, qualitative case studies are needed to
comprehensively determine all aspects contributing to the management of
complexity in transportation projects. Based on the case studies providing
background information, questionnaires involving both qualitative and
quantitative data are used that gather information during the same interview
session leading to the use of a concurrent mixed method strategy for this step
of the research as illustrated in Figure 3.1.

The last step in identifying
the research approach is to combine the previous steps into a comprehensive
approach. Using the pragmatic approach, background case studies that compile
both textual and numerical information, the mixed method approach is the
appropriate methodology for conducting this type of research as displayed in
Figure 3.1.

Based on the overall research
process, a protocol has been developed for conducting the research on complex
transportation projects as shown in Figure 3.2. As mentioned earlier, the first
step in the research methodology is to conduct a literature review in order to
establish the factors and issues within each dimension that contribute to the
management of complexity. This portion of the research is presented in the
previous sections, but is discussed here as a starting point for the process of
the research.

In order to compare and
evaluate the dimensions against each other, numerical scoring is deemed the
most appropriate strategy.

 

Figure 3.2 – Research Protocol

 

The understanding of the
complexity for the dimension and can ultimately assign a numerical score for
the specific dimension. The numerical scoring found at the end of each
dimension uses a numerical scale with seven number options with equal incrementation
based on the premise of no more than seven number choices, plus or minus two,
for capacity of processing information. The scale is set on a line so that the
participant is allowed to select a number that is in between the defined scale.
The scale does differ from traditional scales in that zero is not an option due
to the assumption that no project would have zero complexity for any of the
five dimensions.

The case study information
represents the other part of the mixed-method strategy as displayed in the
overall research progression shown in Figure 3.1. Once the case studies are
selected and background research has been found, the interview process becomes
the next step as shown in Figure 3.2. The bulk of the information is gathered
during this stage, making it crucial that the interview is structured and
comprehensive. Interviews are used for this research because of the geographic
distances from the participants. They are also used in lieu of merely sending
the questionnaire to the interviewee and asking for the participant to fill in
the applicable information.

The last step in the research
protocol is data verification. All of the information gathered needs to be
accurate. As mentioned during the creation of the questionnaire, this is conducted
using two different methods. The first is the use of the summary section. This
section allows the researcher to transfer the scores from each dimension and
assists in examining all of the dimensions together. It also assists in
verifying that the provided scoring accurately reflects the intent of the
participant.