The focus of the above study is to find out the actions of Saudi Banks to assist in social responsibility and environmental practices. The other key focus is the importance of such actions from the perspective of the banking clients in Saudi. Examination of the current attitudes, applications, trends, and responsibilities can be said to be the principal aims of the study. The research problem can be said to be the trend of how various banks in Saudi Arabia have not been affected by the global financial crisis. The achievement levels of Saudi Arabia have been relatively high, a trend that could not be realized without the enormous support of the Saudi government. The government offers a lot of financial support to Saudi Arabia’s banks to help them in managing the global financial crisis.
The significance of the research can be explained by the fact that the Saudi economy, 2011, provides approximately a fifth of the whole world’s petroleum reserves. This is the reason why this country stands at crossroads in the world’s history today. All this shows that the decisions that Saudi Arabia makes today will significantly affect how the country manages its resources. This will work towards reducing Saudi Arabia’s dependency on petroleum and ensure the diversity of the entire country’s economy. Petroleum (Saudi Arabia, 2011) provides the country with about eighty percent of the area’s revenues, 45 percent of its GPD, and 90 percent of the total export earnings. In Saudi Arabia, about five and a half million foreign employees have been working mostly in the oil and service sectors. In addition, in this period, the government of Saudi Arabia has been attempting to curb the unemployment rate among the citizens (Mertens, 2009, p. 38).
The Saudi kingdom is faced with various serious environmental issues, which means that there is a need to align the educational offerings provided in schools. In this case, it seems clear that the Saudi banking sector can play a crucial role through corporate social responsibility initiatives that the workers can do. It can be realized that there exists a lack of a universal definition of corporate social responsibility. A company’s actions always have an impact on the environment and some companies feel that the company’s social responsibility restricts its profitability. According to the increasingly globalized marketplace, bank consumers have a much greater selection and greater competition in the banking industry. The most notable aspect of company social responsibility initiatives can be said to be the need to value the environment. According to the continuing trends, most of the developing commercial banks have been using corporate social responsibilities to achieve and sustain customer loyalty.
Research Methods to be used in the project
This research will involve various groups of people such as bank officials, bank presidents, and the people who are clients of Saudi Arabian banks. These people can offer substantial data about their take on corporate social responsibilities. The research methods that should be used can be said to be primary and secondary methods. One of the methods that seem to be chosen is a telephone interview. Telephone interviews should be conducted through the phone when interviewing those people who stay miles away. For readily available people, face-to-face interviews will be used where the research will be done face to face. Face-to-face interviews are better than interviews over the phone because one can gauge the thoughts of the interviewee in a better way. Telephone interviews can be used where there exist long geographical distances (Foreman, 1988, p. 72).
The other method of conducting the research can be seen to be the mode of online surveys such that interviews should be conducted through the internet. This one will be more convenient for people with easy internet access and those who feel that an online survey is a convenient method of doing research. Unlike face-to-face and telephone interviews, the use of online surveys will ensure that the interviewee gets enough time to respond to the questions. Another method of research to be used in this project is the use of questionnaires, which will have to be administered to the interviewees. The above methods are the primary research methods that will need to be used to interview these people. The secondary method that should be used to collect information from the interviewees is the use of public university libraries and online research through the internet. The research methods mentioned above seem to be chosen in consideration of the nature of the investigation, scope of inquiry and its scope, available time, financial resources, and the expected degree of accuracy.
Research methodologies to be used in the project research
Two main methodologies should be used in the research project. The two methods are qualitative and quantitative research paradigms. Qualitative research will need to be used to explore the issues, understand the corporate social responsibilities, and answer various questions that may emerge. This method seeks to answer the question ‘why’ but not the ‘how’ of the research topic. Qualitative research does not rely entirely on statistics or numbers; it relies on the analysis of unstructured information. The unstructured information in my case can be said to be the interview scripts, online survey responses, and feedback forms. By using this method, one can gain insight into bankers’ attitudes, concerns, motivations, and behaviors towards corporate social responsibilities. To ease the work of analyzing unstructured information, qualitative research software may be used to assist in managing, shaping, and making sense of the unstructured information. It assists in giving more analysis to the information, identifying themes, and drawing a meaningful conclusion (Kumar, 2005, p. 61).
The quantitative research methodology will also be used to come up with conclusions on the said research project. This method can be said to be the opposite of the qualitative method because it uses statistical and mathematical means to draw research conclusions. In this corporate social responsibility study, the numbers and figures will be drawn from quantitative research methods. The quantitative method will be used to eliminate external factors because the comprehensive answer will result from a statistical analysis of the mathematical data collected. The problem that might arise while using this method is the difficulty and cost of doing quantitative research. The plan to minimize this problem is by carefully planning to ensure that there will be complete randomization and the right designation of control groups. There is a possibility that quantitative research may be difficult since the researcher may not be a statistician, but this can be solved by refinement and retesting in the research design. This may require more time and resources to facilitate that work.
Epistemology Philosophy Research component
Research is a process of ‘knowing’ or ‘extending knowledge’. In this sense, the philosophy that deals with knowledge and knowledge is referred to as epistemology. This branch of philosophy recognizes four different sources of knowledge. In this research project about corporate social responsibility, the four sources of knowledge have been applied extensively. The first mode of knowledge to be used can be said to be intuitive knowledge. This refers to the feelings, beliefs, and intuition that led to the beginning of the research. I felt that various organizations had an impact on the environment as a whole. Most people feel that only the industries affect the environment, but I believe that even banks and other service institutions have a great impact on the environment. By narrowing down to how corporate responsibility can be used, I can then assess the situation through extensive research. The other branch of epistemology philosophy is authoritative knowledge that can be defined as information acquired from books, people, and supreme beings. Its validity depends entirely on the strength of the said sources (Bryman & Bell, 2007, p. 65).
In this research, the information will be received from people, public libraries, and online research. The people participating in the research seem to be those concerned with the banking industry to acquire excellent information. Logical knowledge will also be used to reason from the accepted knowledge to the new knowledge. In the case of corporate social responsibility, logical knowledge will be used to reason from the findings to the conclusion. The other branch of knowledge that will be used during the research is empirical knowledge. This knowledge will assist in engaging in processes that will lead to research findings. The demonstrations and objective facts that form the basis of empirical knowledge must be determined through research methods such as surveys or observations (Byron, 2001, p. 62).
Ontology Philosophy Research component
Ontology is a term that originated from philosophy and deals with the crucial nature of what is being studied. Deductive reasoning may be used to work from the general issues to the specific issues that are being studied. Deductive reasoning is also referred to as the top-down approach since it works from the top to bottom. The other mode of reasoning is referred to as inductive reasoning, and it is the opposite of deductive reasoning. In this method, the researcher moves from the specific issues to the generalized theories. This is also referred to as the bottom-up approach. In the case of corporate social responsibility research, the best approach will be inductive reasoning where the research will start by detecting patterns and regularities. From that point, the hypothesis is formulated and explored while developing the general conclusions about the social responsibilities of the corporate world in Saudi Arabia. These patterns will have been drawn from the data collected from the bank officials and banking clients. After developing a theory, it will then be narrowed down to a more specific hypothesis that can be tested through surveys and confirmation of the original ideas and theories (Newman, 1998, p. 54).
Ethical Dimensions of the Corporate Social Responsibilities Research
Privacy of Persons Participating in the research
Privacy remains an extremely crucial aspect of ethics in research. The laws that govern human subject research require that research should protect the privacy of subjects. Privacy denotes people’s control of access to their personal, physical, and cultural resources/actions. The concept of privacy depends on the ethnic, cultural, and age differences of the subjects involved in research. Privacy matters should be evaluated from the beginning of the research to the publication of the research results. Researchers should seek to anticipate potential threats to the privacy of human subjects in research. This can be done through the removal of direct identifiers, the use of random responses, and any other statistical solutions that would solve the problem of privacy. Throughout the research, necessary measures must be followed to ensure the secure collection, storage, maintenance, or destruction of sensitive data/records (Biel, 2008, p. 78).
Private information derived from the research participants should be treated as such by researchers, even when such data has no direct legal protection. This obligation must apply to all members of research organizations that include interviewers, clerical staff, and coders. This is because they have access to this sensitive information. This should be the responsibility of research administrators to give instructions to the staff members about privacy and ensure that all rules of privacy are followed. An individual should be allowed to either consent or decline to be interviewed during research.
An investigator should research consenting human subjects. Researchers should take the right steps to get informed consent and avoid any invasion of privacy. Special attention should be put on individuals who have less power as compared to the researcher (they could be illiterate, minors, or under judicial supervision). The privacy should be considered in the way that the researcher identifies and contacts participants. Also, the venue and people available during the interview should be considered. The nature of the requested data and access to a minimum amount of information should be taken into account (Shaw, 2010, p. 37).
Confidentiality of data collected from banking institutions
Banks usually deal with very sensitive information and when doing research, it must be noted that the confidential information given to the interviewer should be treated as such. In this research, the confidentiality of information will be highly respected. Research participants will be free to choose the information they will feel comfortable to reveal, how much they will reveal and under which circumstances they should reveal. To ensure this aspect of ethical research is followed, some measures will be taken into account, before the research is started, during the research process, and after the research is concluded. The first step will be to discuss at length the limits of confidentiality in the research. The participants (banking presidents, banking officials, and banking customers) will be given enough information about how the data collected will be used. They will also be explained to how the case materials such as the survey questionnaires and the voice recording of the telephone interviews. After explaining these issues, the participants will be free to consent or decline the offer of being interviewed during the survey (Israel & Hay, 2006, p. 73).
The other important thing for the researcher is to understand the state and federal laws that govern human research. This way, the participants chosen will have met the criteria allowed, and their confidentiality rights will not be violated. During the research, various practical security measures will be used to ensure that the data collected is stored safely in a secure environment. Such areas should have minimal access to avoid breaching the confidentiality of the information. The use of electronic mail and online surveys should be done with caution to ensure that the exchange of information through the internet is done without violating confidentiality laws. Nowadays some people can easily access information on the internet by tapping the traffic during transmission. This will need to be taken into account while administering online surveys during data collection. To avoid such unethical instances, it will be needful to know the ethical obligations and resources that are available to researchers. The most important point to note throughout the process of research is voluntary participation, informed consent, risk of harm, participants’ confidentiality, and anonymity of participants (Bartjan & Jonker, 2010, p. 49).
Issue of Intellectual Property Rights
The other major issue is intellectual property rights. When one conducts research, he comes up with his data and information through primary and secondary sources. After successfully finishing a survey and completing the research, a researcher may need to publish his work. This is where the issue of intellectual rights comes in and must be considered. However, one should not overlook the fact that disputes may come up during publications due to violations of intellectual property rights. In the research to be conducted about corporate social responsibility, various library resources must be used to gather information. In this case, the authors must be recognized in any area that their work should be used in the process of research (Werhane, 2008, p. 52).
Research means that the researcher is expanding knowledge on a known subject, and it is, therefore, appropriate to acquire those ideas and give recognition to the person who originated the idea. In addition, the other crucial point is the ethical obligations of a researcher when it comes to research projects. For example, long after research is completed and the conclusions published, a researcher may find that there exist errors that might change the interpretation of the whole research findings. In such a case, the interview has to honor his ethical obligations and promptly make the necessary corrections, erratum, and retractions. All data must be stored and not destroyed for about five years such that if someone challenges the published work, one can go back to the information (Gregory, 2003, p. 92).
Ethical issues concerning Informed-Consent Rules
The consent process should ensure that all individuals participating in a survey are duly informed about the relevant risks involved, and their participation should be voluntary. As a researcher, one has a mandate to inform the participants of the purpose of research, procedures involved ant the expected period. The interviewee should be aware of the right to decline participation or to withdraw from an ongoing research project after it has already started. In this respect, they should be informed of the consequences of declining or withdrawing from the survey if any. In this research project, the participants will be informed of the necessary issues that they should know and any incentives for participation. The people that will participate in this research are neither minors nor illiterate people. The participants are people who are aware of the happenings of the corporate world, either bank officials or bank clients. The bank officials will not be condemned by the management due to participation in the research. The information that they decide to give will not be passed on to the bank management to avoid negative effects on their employment (Kothari, 2008, p. 82).
Conclusion of the Project based on Philosophical and ethical foundations
This project will bring out very important conclusions based on the analysis of the data collected. The study will bring out the corporate social responsibilities and environmental responsibility, which are usually done by Saudi Arabian banks. The research methods used will be effectively used to bring out the views and data from people involved in the banking industry. These people are such bank officials and people who do the banking in Saudi Arabia. The most effective primary methods of data collection that have been chosen to carry out the study are such as interviews over the telephone, face-to-face interviews, online surveys, and questionnaires. The research methods should be used to perform interviews with the banking officials to gather information on their views about social responsibility in the banking industries. This way, it will be possible to know the role of banks in the aspect of environmental responsibility. Analysis of the results of the literature review and semi-structured interviews will lead to the formulation of the relevant recommendations. These recommendations will be important for foreign and domestic banks in the growing Saudi Arabian banking industry today and in the future. The questions that will be answered by the Saudi banking officials will focus on:
- What are the trends in the decision-makers in Saudi banks of social responsibility?
- What are the applications of social responsibility in Saudi banks? This question should be followed by other sub-questions:
- What is the contribution of Saudi banks in solving the unemployment problem?
- What are the contributions and initiatives of Saudi banks in the education and health sectors?
- Is customer loyalty to banks affected by their contribution to social work?
- What is the prevailing corporate social responsibility role of commercial banks in addressing environmental issues?
The use of both qualitative and quantitative methods of research will ensure highly accurate results from the study. Quantitative data should be analyzed by the use of SPSS Version 11.0 for windows (student version) to develop the required frequencies, means, and standard deviations. Philosophical issues and ethical issues have been considered extensively to ensure that the study will start well, proceed well and end inaccurate conclusions. Research methods, methodologies, epistemology, and ontology should be considered to ensure the best components of research paradigms will be used. The ethical issues that must be considered are confidentiality of data, the privacy of data, intellectual property rights, and the issue of participants’ consent.
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