Research Methods for Business

Company Research Paper Abstract

Thousands of workers use public transportation to reach their workplaces. The public transportation system in Dubai is one of the most developed in the world. Public Transport Agency assumes full responsibility for managing all aspects of public transportation in the city while also taking part in various marketing projects intended to promote the popularity of bus transport in Dubai (PTA 2012). The Agency is primarily concerned with planning public transportation networks in ways that promote and facilitate local and international business development. Enforcement and franchising also constitute the most essential aspects of the Agency's work. However, like any business organization in Dubai, Public Transport Agency is not secured from the negative influences of the public transportation environment.


Analysis of the Public Transport Agency in Dubai

The main objective of this research was to explore the perceptions of agency employees about public transportation and the ways, in which the use of public transport in Dubai impacts employee satisfaction and workplace performance. The importance of this research was justified by the need to better understand the main factors impacting employee performance in the workplace. The following hypotheses were tested:

  1. Dubai workers are mostly satisfied with the quality of public transportation in the city.
  2. Dubai workers will willingly replace their cars with public transport in the presence of relevant incentives.
  3. Dubai workers who face difficulties with public transportation also experience stress and cannot successfully cope with their workplace obligations.

In this study, qualitative descriptive research methods were used. The data were collected through qualitative face-to-face or technology-mediated (Skype) interviews with the employees of the Public Transport Agency in Dubai. Official permission was gained to interview workers, and informed consent was provided by all study respondents. Each interview took approximately 30 minutes. All data were tape-recorded and transcribed. The results confirmed the hypothesis that most workers were satisfied with the quality of public transport.

However, they also recognized that in case of any public transport difficulties, their workplace performance considerably deteriorated. The second hypothesis was not supported: most respondents were still willing to keep their cars and use them to get to work. These results suggest that public transportation improvements could help organizations improve the quality of their employee performance. At the same time, city authorities must consider the development of relevant alternatives to motivate Dubai workers to use public transport instead of cars.

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Company Research Paper Problem

The problem of public transportation is facing all large cities across the world. However, Dubai differs greatly from other cities in the sense that its public transportation options remain quite limited. "The difference between Dubai and other cities is that they all have alternative modes of public transport, which include trams, an efficient bus network, trains, bicycle lanes, metro systems, and ample walkways. Sydney even has an extremely functional ferry service" (Egbert 2007). Not surprisingly, many Dubai workers using public transport are assumed to experience problems and stresses that inevitably reflect in the quality of their workplace performance.

The latter is one of the major issues facing present-day businesses. Organizations seek to optimize their performance by all means, and productive workers usually entail reduce operational costs, improved workplace safety, reduced risks of injuries, and greater motivation to function beyond one's capacity (Australian Industry Group 2012). Unfortunately, in their analysis of workplace performance factors, organizations rarely go beyond their premises. However, it happens that employee performance is impacted by many factors, and problems with public transportation and stresses experienced by employees on their way to the office may become a serious obstacle in achieving workplace objectives.

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Company Research Paper Literature Review

Given the qualitative nature of this research, this review of the literature was also limited to mostly qualitative studies. This study was designed to explore employee perceptions of public transportation stresses and their perceived impacts on performance in the workplace. As a result, earlier studies of public transportation and individual attitudes towards public transport were used as the basis for performing this analysis. It should be noted that it is not the first time researchers are interested in public attitudes towards various modes of transport. In 2010, Rebecca Webb published the results of the study, in which public attitudes towards transport modes in Plymouth had been explored. Webb (2010) sought to meet three essential objectives:

  • to analyze the way the public perceived various transportation modes;
  • to evaluate the impacts of various transportation modes on the public;
  • to consider the incentives that could make the public change their transport choices.

The researcher found that, despite the growing satisfaction with public transportation, there was still enough room for further improvements (Webb 2010). Webb (2010) also discovered that making users replace their cars for public transport could only be possible in the presence of strong disincentives for personal vehicle use. For instance, Fujii, Garling, and Kitamura (2001) suggested that frequent freeway closures could make vehicle drivers switch to public transport and accept its feasibility and reliability.

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At present, satisfaction is used as one of the primary measures of quality in the public transportation system. Satisfaction is generally associated with frequency, reliability, information, comfort, driver behavior, as well as cleanliness – all these are fairly regarded as the key factors of user satisfaction in public transport (Fellesson & Friman 2008). Being satisfied with public transport usually means being satisfied with more than one dimension of public transport performance, and many respondents find it difficult to evaluate their attitudes towards public transportation (Fellesson & Friman 2008).

Nevertheless, the research has shown that when the public speaks about public transportation and its quality, the following dimensions are meant: security and safety, reliability of supply, staff behavior, and comfort (Fellesson & Friman 2008). Fellesson and Friman (2008) found considerable disparities in respondents' satisfaction with public transport in nine European cities. However, the most valuable was their conclusion that public transport satisfaction could serve an important "effect" variable, meaning that its impacts on other variables, including workplace performance could be explored.

Surprisingly or not, just a few studies explored the factors influencing public satisfaction with city transport. Cozens et al. (2010) focused specifically on the risks of and actual crimes on the railways in Britain. The researchers discovered that respondents' perceptions of crime risks on the railways were much higher than the objective statistics (Cozens et al. 2010). However, the fear of crime was found to be a significant variable in the study of public transport satisfaction among users. At the same time, Cantwell, Caulfield, and O'Mahony (2009) explored the level of stress experienced by individuals using public transport in the center of Dublin.

The researchers discovered that reliability and crowdedness greatly influenced individual perceptions of public transport and their satisfaction: those who were bound to use crowded and/or unreliable public transport services reported higher levels of stress than those, who preferred long wait-times (Cantwell, Caulfield & O'Mahony 2009). These findings can have profound implications for the analysis of public transport usage and its impacts on job performance in organizations.

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Despite the lack of research in public transport satisfaction, several researchers concluded that such satisfaction could greatly impact individual and public wellbeing. Thompson and Schofield (2007) analyzed the role of public transport performance in driving destination satisfaction in travelers. Surprisingly, the researchers found the perceived performance of public transport to be of minor importance in changing respondents' destination satisfaction. At the same time, Holzer and Stoll (2001) found that difficulties with public transport were directly related to workplace absenteeism which, in turn, could negatively influence employee performance.

Public transportation problems appeared to be one of the major causes of workplace absenteeism, followed by child care and physical health issues (Holzer & Stoll 2001). "If employer location and work schedule are not compatible with the availability of transportation, absenteeism might be a likely outcome" (Holzer & Stoll 2001, p.14). Similar findings were reported by Agyepong et al. (2004), who concluded that difficulties and inconveniences with public transportation were a serious obstacle to hiring and retaining qualified health workers in Ghana. Overall, public transport is considered to be a public health issue (Godlee 1992). Many business and organizational problems could be solved in the presence of an effective public transportation system.

The hypothesis that public transportation stresses are likely to negatively impact employee performance in the organization is based on years of research into the role of employee wellbeing in improving workplace productivity and quality of performance. Harter, Schmidt, and Keyes (2003) reviewed a large body of literature to check the assumption that worker performance and wellbeing were directly related to the dimensions of stress and boredom. Wellbeing should be viewed as a broad and multidimensional concept that is not limited to the workplace. Many employees perceive the stressful conditions of life to be a direct threat to their successes in the workplace, including workplace safety (Haslam, Atkinson, Brown & Haslam 2005).

Certainly, organizations can encourage their workers to change the patterns of public transportation use, but the outcomes of such changes are rather uncertain (Wen, Kite & Rissel 2010; Morrison, Petticrew & Thomson 2003; Frumkin 2002). What is needed is the detailed analysis of the link between public transportation perceptions and quality of workplace performance in Dubai.

Company Research Paper Methods

Qualitative research methods based on descriptions were used in this research. The choice of qualitative methodology was justified by the qualitative nature of the phenomenon to be studied (workers' attitudes and perceptions), and the need to explore the discussed phenomenon in greater detail. Qualitative analyses could provide important primary information about the way organizations would benefit from improving the system of public transportation in Dubai. The benefits of qualitative inquiry and phenomenology, in particular, are numerous.

Basically, phenomenology enables the researcher to study lived experienced in depth (Klenke 2008). "Exploration of the inner world of experience by phenomenology enables researchers to reclaim that part of the human being that has been neglected by positivism or was inaccessible due to methodological constraints" (Klenke 2008, p.223). As a result, qualitative inquiry and phenomenology as a method fit perfectly well in the context and objectives of this research.

For the purpose of this study, qualitative questionnaires were used. The questionnaires became a fast, convenient, and relatively cheap method of collecting primary data. The questions included in the questionnaires were mostly closed in order to facilitate and speed up the process of data collection and analysis. The sample consisted of the employees of the Public Transport Agency in Dubai. Official permission was obtained from the manager to administer the questionnaires. The organization hoped that the results of the study would help them improve employee productivity and performance in the workplace.

All qualitative questionnaires were administered personally, with some of them being filled through Skype. All respondents were provided with detailed information about the goal and expected results of the study. Informed consent forms were signed to avoid ethical dilemmas in data collection and analysis. Each survey was filled within 30 minutes. Oral reactions and responses to the survey questions were tape-recorded. The research respondents had the right to drop out of the study at any moment.

Company Research Paper Analysis

A total of 23 employees agreed to participate in the study, but only 21 questionnaires were administered and returned to the researcher. Two employees refused to provide their responses due to the lack of time. 19 questionnaires were filled during face-to-face contacts, and only 2 of them were administered via Skype. The data were analyzed through coding, and preliminary results were provided to the respondents.

The first hypothesis was that most employees were satisfied with the quality of public transportation in Dubai. This hypothesis was supported since 82% of the respondents shared positive responses regarding the use of public transport in the city. The prevailing majority reported using the buses public transport on a daily basis while supporting the need for more scheduled timing for it. 94% of the respondents agreed that it was not difficult to find a bus stop, and bus stop cabins were comfortable enough to prolong the time of waiting if needed.

Overall, the questionnaire included 10 questions measuring the various dimensions of public transport satisfaction among the respondents. These questions supported the assumptions provided by Fellesson and Friman (2008) regarding the multidimensionality of the satisfaction concept. The findings also supported those of Webb (2010), where the general satisfaction of the public with the quality and availability of public transport was confirmed.

The most interesting was the result that supported the third hypothesis. It was hypothesized that any problems encountered with regard to accessing and using public transportation in Dubai would necessarily reflect in problems with achieving workplace objectives by employees. 94% of respondents agreed that when they used buses, achieving the point of destination was not faster than when they used their cars. Some respondents reported commutation problems, which caused stress and anxiety about not being able to reach an important meeting on time. This is actually why 89% of respondents confessed they would not use a bus before an important meeting.

Those, who faced difficulties with public transport when going to work, also reported being stressed and unproductive in the workplace during the whole day. Satisfaction with public transportation can be regarded as an essential measure of employee wellbeing, which greatly influences their workplace productivity (Haslam et al. 2005; Frumkin 2002; Morrison et al. 2003; Wen, Kite & Rissel 2010). Finally, the second hypothesis that most respondents would be willing to replace their cars with public transport was not supported. 81% of respondents said they would like to keep using their vehicles, even despite traffic difficulties. Although being satisfied with public transport in Dubai, the respondents were not willing to separate from their vehicles.

This finding supports the results of Webb (2010) in the sense that reducing car use is possible only in the presence of strong disincentives. These results suggest that the quality of and satisfaction with public transport cannot serve as a sole effective measure against the growing number of vehicles on Dubai roads. The local authorities must be more creative in designing solutions to reduce the number of cars and, at the same time, minimize the stresses and anxiety facing public transport users and their implications for workplace performance.

Company Research Paper Limitations

One of the main limitations of this work is the small sample of respondents. It is due to the size of the sample that the findings of this business research may lack credibility, transferability, and generalizability. The sample was limited to the workers of one organization, meaning that it is not representative of the total population of Dubai. One should remember that the population of Dubai is extremely diverse, and one sample of organization employees will hardly reflect the diversity of attitudes to public transport and the possible impacts of public transport stresses on employee performance. Future performance is needed to explore the relationship between public transport use and workplace productivity in a broader context.

Another serious limitation is that all employees participating in the study work in a public transportation organization in Dubai. Consequently, their responses as to their attitudes to public transportation may be false and biased. It is possible to assume that PTA workers will not be willing to express their dissatisfaction with public transport, fearing that it will cause the loss of jobs or other penalties. These problems are further exacerbated by the fact that all questionnaires were administered in person and during face-to-face contact with the researcher.

As a result, questions of anonymity and confidentiality remain open. It is not difficult to see that some respondents may have the fear of sharing their perceptions of stress and workplace performance openly. Although all data collected during the study are kept secured and will be deleted, once the research is completed, the lack of absolute anonymity may render the results as non-credible. The study will have to be replicated, using another method of inquiry; for example, anonymous surveys or questionnaires with open-ended questions administered via email could be used to make the respondents frank and open in their answers.

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Company Research Paper Conclusion

The main conclusion is that while most respondents are satisfied with the quality of public transport, the implications of public transport stress for businesses can be far-reaching. Many organizations perceive job satisfaction as a one-dimensional concept that does not stretch beyond the workplace context. However, this study suggests that the factors influencing employee performance in organizations grow from beyond the workplace area, rendering the strategies intended to improve employees' work-life balance as a relevant measure of improved productivity in the workplace. The stresses facing employees when they use public transport to extend and influence their performance during the working day. For this reason, organizations must become particularly attentive to the problems of public transport.

No less surprising is the finding that despite all odds, most employees are still willing to use their vehicles as the primary mode of transportation. They feel free and independent when they use their cars. Apparently, being satisfied with public transport is not enough to make everyone use it; strong disincentives for car use could help reduce the traffic congestion in Dubai.

Company Research Paper Recommendations

Given that the sample came from the Public Transportation Agency in Dubai, the results have direct implications for the organization. The fact that most employees express satisfaction with the quality of public transportation means that the organization has been quite effective in achieving its organizational objectives. At the same time, employees report stresses when using public transport and confess that these stresses negatively influence their workplace performance implies the need to explore the nature of these stresses in greater detail. Furthermore, the organization must consider the incentives and disincentives that could help reduce the number of vehicles and increase the use of public transport in Dubai. Overall, organizations must consider public transport as an important dimension of job satisfaction and employee performance in the workplace.

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Company Research Paper Summary

Thousands of workers use public transport in Dubai. Public Transportation Agency (PTA) assumes full responsibility for managing public transportation systems in the city. Nevertheless, many problems continue to persist, greatly influencing employees' capability to reach their workplace on time. The main objective of this research was to analyze agency employees' perceptions of the public transportation system in Dubai, as well as the impacts of their attitudes on perceived productivity and performance in the workplace.

The results of the literature review suggest that the existing knowledge of satisfaction with public transportation and its impacts on employee performance is incomplete. However, satisfaction remains the central measure of quality in relation to public transport. For the purpose of this research, qualitative methods were used. The qualitative inquiry was expected to provide a deeper understanding of the phenomenon in question.

From the sample of 21 participants, the prevailing majority reported absolute satisfaction with the quality of public transport in Dubai. However, the respondents also confirmed the damaging impacts of public bus stresses on the quality of their work. Most respondents refused from replacing their cars with public transport.

The results of this study point to the relevance of external factors of employee productivity and performance. Organizations must become more attentive to the things that impact their workers from the outside of their immediate workplace context. At the same time, greater disincentives for car use have to be provided, in order to help businesses solve the problems of traffic congestion.

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