3. Data collection and methodology Introduction This chapter discusses the methodology utilized to test the hypotheses developed in the previous chapter. In the following section we explain our sampling procedure, how we collected the data and from whom. Details relating to the operationalization of the concepts used to test the hypotheses are then provided. Particular attention is given to assessing the quality of the data. The generalizability of the findings and the validity and reliability of measures and constructs used are carefully considered. An overview of the background characteristics of the sample of firms (and their owners) is then provided. Finally, concluding comments are presented. Sample, Data Collection and Respondents The sampling frame was constructed by obtaining sampling quotas by four broad industrial categories (agriculture, forestry and fishing, production, construction and services) and the 11 Government Official Regions from summary tables detailing the population of businesses registered for Value Added Tax in Great Britain in 1999 (Office for National Statistics 1999). After excluding non-independent businesses, industry and standard region sampling proportions were identified for a stratified random sample of independent private businesses. A stratified random sample of 4324 independent firms was drawn from a cleaned list of business names provided by Dun and Bradstreet. A structured questionnaire was mailed during September 2000 to a single key respondent in each of the selected businesses based on two criteria: (a) possession of sufficient knowledge, and (b) adequate level of involvement with regard to the issues under investigation (Campbell 1955). Thus, the key...
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