Research Proposal – Transport Trains in Qatar
‘How train services can benefit Qatar government and its people?’
The aim of this proposed investigation is to critically appraise and evaluate the mechanisms in which train services can benefit Qatar government and its people. The research objectives include: to evaluate the overall advantages of train service for Qatar government and its people; to appraise the comparative disadvantage of train service with other forms of transport for Qatar government and its people; and to critique the overall feasibility of the project and develop qualitative understanding of the perception and expectations from the train service. The research questions include: what are the key benefits of the train services for Qatar government and its people?; and what are the short, medium and long term typologies of benefits that will be achieved by the Qatar government and its people through the use of train services?
The review of the commercial literature has highlighted that Qatar is focused at delivering a huge number of infrastructure development programs, which are needed for the refocusing of the national strategy to diversify the economy from its high dependence on oil and gas to services based sectors like tourism. Drawing upon Rizzo (2014), the country has announced $35 billion worth of railway system development program, which includes the construction of metro system in Doha and a national long-distance rail network within the rest of the country. According to Lowe & Altrairi (2013), the development of the railway network within the country has been seen not only as an important need for hosting the Fifa World Cup in 2022 but also in achieving the National Vision 2030 that has been developed by the government.
The initial research has highlighted that there remains critical gap within the academic and commercial literature regarding the traditional economic advantages and the contemporary comparative disadvantage of railway systems. Due to the fact that the government of Qatar is investing $35 billion in developing the integrated national railway network (Profillidis, 2014), therefore it is important to understand the benefits that will be achieved by the government and people of the country as a result of this mega project.
The aim of this proposed investigation is therefore to critically appraise and evaluate the mechanisms in which train services can benefit Qatar government and its people. In order to achieve this aim, the researcher has developed the following set of specific objectives for the purpose of this investigation:
To evaluate the overall advantages of train service for Qatar government and its people.
To appraise the comparative disadvantage of train service with other forms of transport for Qatar government and its people.
To critique the overall feasibility of the project and develop qualitative understanding of the perception and expectations from the train service
The research has highlighted that it is important for the investigations to develop a set of research questions so that the development of different areas of the research are focused (Kothari, 2011). This is the reason that this proposed investigation has developed the following research questions, which will underpin the overall development of the research:
What are the key benefits of the train services for Qatar government and its people?
What are the short, medium and long term typologies of benefits that will be achieved by the Qatar government and its people through the use of train services?
Globalisation has been an important factor that is shaping the contemporary businesses and their demands for infrastructure to achieve optimum results for the masses. Drawing upon Leigh & Blakely (2013), there has been a high degree of convergence within the global markets regarding the demands and needs of populations, which has also been seen within the development of effective and efficient infrastructure. It has been argued by Lloyd-Jones & Rakodi (2013) that transport is a critical factor that has been linked with the overall economic development within the national, regional and global markets. There has been a high number of empirical evidence that has suggested that the availability of suitable forms of transport have a significant impact on the trends of economic development within national markets and the dispersion of global trends within the populations. On the other hand, it is also noted that the lack of efficient transport links can lead to isolation of the region, which in turn leads to barrier in economic development (Gu et al, 2012).
The development of railway has traditionally been seen as an important element of economic development within Europe and the US. According to Docherty & MacKinnon (2013), railway has been noted as the key source of industrial development and propagation within contemporary developed economies and therefore has been argued to be of important use for the developing economies. It has been argued by Giblin et al (2013) that within a traditional market setting, the railway system brings together the supplier and the buyers, therefore creating an extended marketplace. It is important to note that the use of the transport links like the railway help different areas of the national economies to take leverage from their comparative advantage and therefore attract the buyers for those industries. Based on contemporary service based industries and economies, it has been noted that the efficient transport systems like the railway help provide access to the areas of interests for individuals (Allen, 2013). This can be exemplified with the use of efficient transportation systems in developing tourism industry within developing economies.
Although the economic impact of the development of effective and efficient railway system has been highly documented by academics, practitioners and policymakers alike Roemer (2014), however there has been a decline in its overall usage within developing economies due to the competition from other modes of transport. Drawing upon Knox & Marston (2013), railway systems have a higher cost of development and maintenance in comparison with road and air networks, which in turn has been the reason for its higher comparative pricing for the passengers and cargo. Furthermore, it is also noted that areas of higher affluence have also been noted to have a lower uptake of the railway services (Kline & Moretti, 2013). These reason have led critics to highlight that the resources required for the development of railway systems in contemporary economies outweigh their benefits.
Research methodology has been conceptualised as the overall mechanism adopted by the investigators to achieve the research aim and objectives of the investigation (Blumberg et al, 2011). The review of the literature has highlighted the effectiveness and efficiency of the research methodology has a direct correlation with the overall quality of the findings of the investigation. It is also noted by Bryman & Bell (2011) that the research methodology development though seems a trivial task, however has complex underlying aspects that should be understood. Furthermore, it has been argued that the lack of experience in developing research methodologies can lead to errors therefore resulting in sub-quality outcomes. This is the reason that it is recommended by the commentators that the inexperienced researchers should make use of the standardised models and frameworks to develop optimal research methodology strategies that are likely to result in effective and efficient outcomes for the particular scope of the investigation. The researcher has therefore selected the “research onion” framework Saunders et al (2011) for the purpose of developing the research methodology for this investigation. The framework has been summarised with the help of the following illustration:
Figure: “Research Onion” Framework (Saunders et al, 2011)
The review of the literature has highlighted that the use of the “research onion” provides the investigators within a step-by-step method to the development of an effective and efficient research strategy that is capable to achieve the results within the confines of quality, time and resources of the investigation (Bryman & Bell, 2011). The following aspects of the current investigation have been developed in the light of the “research onion” framework:
Research Philosophy: The overall epistemological underpinnings of the investigation have been noted to be used within this first layer of the “research onion”. It should be noted that the aim of this investigation is to critically appraise and evaluate the benefits of train services for Qatar government and its people, which highlights the importance of the contextual information of the research investigation. The review of the aim and objectives of the investigation has pointed out that the role of macro and micro business environment prevalent in Qatar has been noted as important factors that have implications on the outcomes of this investigation. Drawing upon Saunders et al (2011), due to the overall complexity of the topic under investigation, it is aligned with the interpretivism research philosophy. According to Bryman & Bell (2011), complex phenomenon are reduced to law like generalisations by positivist research philosophy, which is the reason that such a philosophy has not been used for the complicated and subjective area of train services benefits analysis.
Research Approach: The choice of intrepretivism within research philosophy has been noted to have significant implications on the choices made by the investigators in the following “onion rings”. The review of the research questions that have been developed for this proposed investigation has highlighted the overall depth and breadth of data required. Drawing upon Quinlan (2011), exploratory investigations have a high degree of alignment with the inductive research approach, which has been found to be suitable for this proposed research.
Research Strategy: The adoption of interpretvism research philosophy and inductive research approach has been noted to be at the heart of the development of this proposed research strategy. Drawing upon Saunders et al (2011), multi-method research strategy is likely to help the current investigation in two core ways: (a) it will help achieve diversity of objectives of this investigation; and (b) it will help minimise method bias associated with the particular data collection methodologies. The proposed multi-method data collection strategy is summarised as follows:
Semi-structured interviews: It is proposed that semi-structured interviews with government officials are undertaken so that significant qualitative data can be gathered regarding the underlying benefits that were considered during the feasibility studies of the railway system development in Qatar. Drawing upon Quinlan (2011), high level managers and regulators are more likely to be convinced to become part of the face-to-face interviews as compared to surveys due to the interactive nature of the medium. The review of the literature has highlighted that the most widely used typologies of semi-structured interviews are: (a) structured interviews; and (b) semi-structured interviews. According to Bryman & Bell (2011), the difference between the two is the overall level of control exerted by the investigator on the flow of information and data collection from the respondents. It is noted that the structured interviews have a higher degree of control and moderation by using stricter questions that are focused in their approach. However, the semi-structured interviews has the flexibility to incorporate discussion and therefore divert the discussion towards the topics that emerge during the course of the interview. Due to the fact that the proposed investigation is exploratory in nature, therefore the researcher has selected semi-structured interviews as the research method for the collection of qualitative data from the key decision makers. Based on the works of Saunders et al (2011), it is therefore argued that key themes should be generated in the light of popular literature, which should then be used to develop open ended questions for discussion within the interview. It is important for the investigator to encourage the respondents to talk about the topics that they believe have a higher relevance than the ones that are pre-conceived by the researcher. The overall scope of the investigation surrounding the railway system in Qatar and its implications on the government of the country highlights that the target population are the key government officials and their teams that have been involved in campaigning for and against its development. Furthermore, due to the overall time limitation of the study, the researcher has selected three government officials that have shown positive support for the development and three that have shown negative support for the development. The researcher has already gained agreement with at least 1 potential respondent from each camp and therefore is likely to achieve the inclusion of the arguments for and against the benefits of the railway system for Qatar government. It is expected that the interviews will either be conducted face-to-face or over the phone depending upon the time and situation of the government officials, which will be transcribed for further analysis.
Questionnaires: The review of literature has highlighted that the use of questionnaires is an effective mechanism when the population size is large (Saunders et al, 2011). Due to the fact that the current investigation require an understanding of the train service benefits from Qatar people’s perspective, therefore it is important to note that the target population is large. In order to achieve higher levels of participation and representative datasets, the researcher is planning to conduct the survey across a minimum of 100 individuals from a diverse range of socio-economic and demographic profiles within the county. Drawing upon Kothari (2011), due to the large target population, the researcher would use “purposive” sampling technique to select the respondents from the general public to take participation within the study. Due to the fact that data will be collected from a large sample population, it is therefore important to highlight the use of positive and negative impact statements for the railway system and see the overall level of acceptance and rejection of these statements from the general public. It is important to note that these questions will be developed in the light of the arguments that would be recorded from the semi-structured interviews with the officials that are for and against the railway system.
Secondary data collection: It is important to note that the overall contextual environment in terms of macro and micro business has significant implication on the overall benefits of the train service development in Qatar. This is the reason that secondary data collection has been seen as an important data collection strategy for the purpose of this investigation. Drawing upon Saunders et al (2011), the use of secondary data collection has led to three key benefits for this investigation: (a) raised the feasibility of investigation by incorporating diverse data sets to fill the gaps within primary data collection; (b) raised the reliability of the investigation by incorporating triangulation of data; and (c) raised the overall authenticity of the investigation by using a mix of cross-sectional and longitudinal data for the purpose of this investigation.
Data Analysis Strategy: The review of the literature surrounding effective and efficient research investigations have highlighted that the use of academic models and frameworks play an important role in achieving the desired outcomes for the study. According to Saunders et al (2011), it is important to highlight the overall data analysis strategy that is likely to facilitate the achievement of aim and objectives of the study. It is proposed that gap analysis based on the perception of management and customers of the train service should be undertaken using SERVQUAL framework. According to Profillidis (2014), the framework has traditionally been used to analyse the service quality gaps, where a number of different gaps are used to highlight the key areas that should be looked at by the contemporary organisations. However, it is noted that the perception gaps between the management and consumers of the service highlights the key area that has implications on the overall uptake of the new services. If the management i.e. the officials perception of the benefits and cost of the train service in the country would match that of the potential passengers i.e. the general public then it is likely that the project would have no differences between the forecasted usage and real usage. It is therefore proposed that the qualitative expectations from the officials will be matched against the expectations of the general public regarding the train system development in Qatar through the effective and efficient use of SERVQUAL.
Key Limitations of Study: The review of the research methodology literature has pointed out that there are number of limitations that shape the overall authenticity, reliability and feasibility (Kothari, 2011). The overall design of this investigation highlights that the primary data has been collected from a limited number of official sources, while there remains lack of perspective from any third parties and critical pressure groups. Due to the overall nature of the Qatari political scenario, there remains lack of critical NGOs and pressure groups within the country, which is the reason for the lack of inclusion of diversity of perspectives in this investigation. It is therefore recommended that future investigations should use empirical data to support the overall level of reliability of the findings of this investigation.
The focus of this proposed investigation is to understand the overall benefits of the train service for the government and people of Qatar. It has been noted that the government has pledged to invest more than $35 billion in developing the integrated national railway network within the government. It is important to note that the overall usage of railway as a means of transport within developed economies has decreased due to the competition from other forms of transport. It is therefore important to understand the expectation gap between the officials and general public to understand if the forecasted uptake of the service used for feasibility of the project are likely to be achieved in the future.
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