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Living Entity Limited's Research Project on Ethical Food Market Expansion

Project Phases and Assessment

A plethora of press articles has motivated the Board of Living Entity Limited to consider an expansion in the ethical food market.

Consider the following recent article: 

“London, Greater London , uk, / -- According to the new market research report ‘Ethical Food Global Market Report 2021: COVID 19 Growth And Change’ published by The Business Research Company, the ethical food market is expected to reach $684.83 billion in 2023 at CAGR of 6.43%. Increasing concern about the environment is expected to contribute to higher demand for ethical food.”

Founded in 1855, Living Entity Limited has grown from a single market stall to a multi-national, multi-channel supermarket. Living Entity Limited sells high-quality principally food products across 125 stores in Asia-Pacific region. Growth in environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting has motivated the CEO in considering the limiting of consumer products that result in potential environment degradation and poor societal image. Animal-free food products are appearing in specialised supermarkets and Living Entity Limited is deliberating on whether to move to ethically produced products to meet the needs of the more ‘ethical consumer’.

Accordingly, the CEO of Living Entity Limited is considering focusing the company on sustainable products but is concerned about the impact the change in focus will have on the firm’s bottom line. The CEO is aware that some investors are questioning the viability of this proposed strategy as they do not yet see a significant increase in revenue. They question the existence of a viable target market of ‘ethical consumers’.

The company has hired you as a consultant to conduct some research and deliver a series of recommendations. They wish to find out more about this target market of ‘ethical consumers'. To justify the intended business strategy, they want to know if people who say they are concerned about the ethics of consumption, actually turn these concerns into purchasing decisions. They also want to find out more about the viability of, and strategies for, increasing this target market.

You will need to present substantial evidence using primary and secondary research to back up your claims and recommendations, as the results from your research may impact the direction of Living Entity Limited in the future.

You are to complete a research project in response to the brief above.  The project is made up of six phases. You will be placed in small groups in the first class or via an online allocation, and you will work with this group on the project throughout the teaching period.

Phase 1: Problem Discovery and Definition

It is essential to read the information included in this handbook carefully.

•Phase 1: Problem discovery and definition (group work)

•Phase 2: Review the literature (group assessment)

•Phase 3: Planning the research design (group assessment)

•Phase 4: Data gathering (group work)

•Phase 5: Data processing and analysis (group work)

•Phase 6: Drawing conclusions and preparing report (group assessment)

For this phase, you will define Living Entity Limited’s management dilemma and the scope and direction of your research.

For this phase, you will need to:

Complete a preliminary exploration of the broad topic of the project, as defined by the consultancy project brief, familiarising yourself with terms and concepts.

Draft a working title, a research aim, research objectives and research questions, based on the project brief and your preliminary exploration of the topic. This will be facilitated in class/online.

For this phase, you will complete a systematic literature review as an exploratory research technique. The systematic literature review is your first assignment.

The main purpose of the literature review is to determine what has already been written about your topic. Reviewing the literature is an important part of the research process. If we are to research a topic systematically, we need to build upon what others have already learned. We need to know the current state of knowledge, critically engage with the literature and identify gaps in knowledge in order shed light on the management dilemma being faced by the client.

You will use this assignment to help you to design your research project and to analyse and interpret your data later in the unit. If you are unsure of what you should be focusing on regarding topic, you should read through the information in the previous sections again. You have been given a consultancy brief, and you should use this to direct your engagement with the literature.

A systematic literature review is a particular style of a literature review. The systematic review process, as the name suggests, is methodical in nature, with the reviewer following a prescribed set of steps to search the literature and identify relevant material for review. These steps are made explicit in the write-up of the review. Due to limitations regarding time and scope, for this assessment, the systematic review process has been simplified. The steps that you need to complete are outlined below.

Learning activities designed to address the purpose and importance of the literature review should be referred to when completing this section of the project. A marking guide for the systematic review is also available on LMS and in this document.

Phase 2: Review the Literature

Conducting your systematic literature search and writing your systematic literature review

It is crucial that your search process is systematic and replicable and that your review includes all the elements specified in these instructions.

Read the following publication for an example of a systematic literature review. Pay particular attention to how the sections which outline the approach followed (pp. 135-7) and the themes found in the literature (pp. 140-4) are written. Remember that your systematic review will be a simplified and much shortened version of a complete review such as this.

Read, watch and complete any readings, videos or learning activities that have been provided to help you to complete your systematic literature review.

Develop a list of search terms (including different combinations of words) to use when completing your systematic search for literature. Make sure to keep a record of the searches you complete once you begin looking for literature to include. Remember that this process needs to be systematic and replicable.

Begin to search for literature using your search terms and the following inclusion and exclusion criteria below. Download all articles which seem relevant and store these in a folder on your computer (refer to the flowchart on page 137 of the Riebe et al. (2017) article for an example of the literature search and selection process).

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

a)Limit your search to the database ProQuest – available via the Library website.

b)Limit your search to articles published between 2018 and 2020. If you cannot find relevant literature within this timeframe, you should expand your search backwards by one year at a time.

c)Articles must be empirical, peer-reviewed and written in English. 

Scan the article titles and abstracts and discard those articles you deem irrelevant or unsuitable for your review.

Read the remaining articles and exclude any additional articles that you find to be irrelevant or unsuitable for your review. Your final review should include at least ten articles in total.

Take extensive notes and prepare a summary table of the articles you have decided to include. See Table 1 on page 138 of Riebe et al. (2017) as an example. In addition to the categories included by Riebe et al. (2017), include columns for results/findings, argument and any other information you think will be useful. Information in the summary table should be paraphrased wherever possible, with any direct quotes indicated with quotation marks and page numbers. Use the Chicago style for referencing where necessary.  
Note that this step will take time, so make sure to get started as soon as possible. If done well, a good summary table and notes will be invaluable when you are writing up your review, and later in the teaching period when you are analysing your data and writing the final report. 

Systematic Literature Review

You are now ready to write up your systematic literature review. Use your summary table to help you to write up a critical analysis of the articles you have chosen.

Your systematic literature review must contain the following:

A succinct introduction which includes your project aim, objectives and research questions and outlines the purpose and focus of the review.

A clear description of the search process used to conduct your systematic review. Your search process should be clear and replicable. If appropriate, use diagrams to illustrate your search process.

This section should be organised by themes (see Riebe et al. 2017 to see how this should be written). This should make up most of your word count. Do not discuss each article individually (this is not an annotated bibliography) but rather synthesise the literature by comparing and contrasting the different articles, critically assessing their content, interpreting meaning and implications and drawing conclusions. A literature review is more than just description.

Implications and Conclusion

A succinct conclusion which identifies gaps in the literature.

A table containing information about the peer-reviewed papers that you include in your review. This can be placed in the appendix or in your review. The summary table is not included in your word count.

See LMS for the Marking Guide for Systematic Literature Review.

With the support of your instructor, you will work with your group to design your mixed methods research project and choose a methodology and develop research tools to use to collect data. This phase is your second assignment and Part 1 of the Consultancy Research Project assessment.

1500 words (plus research tools)

There are two main elements to complete and submit for this assessment:

a) Research design including explanation of methodology using mixed method notation and language (1500 words)

b) Research tools and associated documentation (no word limit)

To complete this assessment, you will need to reflect on what you found out through your literature reviews to re-define your project aim, objectives and research questions to design an achievable project, involving the collection of data through appropriate qualitative (e.g. focus groups) and quantitative data (e.g. survey) collection tools.

In this phase, it is important to consider the limitations and scope of your project. What is achievable regarding data collection in terms of these limitations (e.g. time and what has been specified above? How will you transcribe, enter and organise your data in preparation for analysis? How long will this take?

Your project must:

•Be mixed methods in design

•Collect and use both qualitative and quantitative data

•Use a convenience sample of friends and family (n=10 min)

•Include your project aim, objectives and research questions

•Describe and justify your mixed methods research design, identifying the type of design and describe the mixing, timing and weighting of the study

•Show an understanding of and care for research ethics

•Describe your method, including a description and justification of sampling design and the tools you will use to collect data

•Describe and justify how you will organise and analyse your data

•Provide a discussion of the known and possible limitations

•Be fully referenced. This is important. You should be drawing on the academic literature when describing and justifying your research design 

You must also submit:

•The tools you will use to collect data (e.g. a focus group schedule and a short survey)

•Consent and information documentation for data collection

See LMS for the marking criteria for this assessment.

You are to work with your group to collect data using the tool(s) you developed in the previous phase. You are to do this in your own time, drawing on a convenience sample of friends and family as participants (with their permission).

In your groups, you will organise (transcribe, enter, edit, code, etc.) and analyse the data you have collected.  You may use any software to assist with this process but you are not expected to use anything more sophisticated than word and excel.

For this last phase of the research project, you will work with your group to deliver an oral or video presentation on your findings and recommendations.

See unit and information guide for instructions 

There are two elements to complete and submit for this assessment:

a)15-minute (max) uploaded video presentation

b)A one-page executive summary (400 words)

•Be presented in professional English business language

•Have accompanying visual aids such as PowerPoint slides

•Include an introduction and an outline of the presentation

•Report on your results and analysis

•Discuss your analysis, with clear reference to the literature

•Include recommendations for the client

•Be fully referenced

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