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Research Topic

It is noteworthy that with increasing consumer awareness of environmental safety, sustainable business activities have become a more crucial aspect (Karwowski & Raulinajtys‐Grzybek, 2021). Sustainability is deemed the major reason of concern for many people linked with the supply chain management (SCM) because of its vital prominence to the efficiency of the businesses in all areas of the world. It is true that sustainable logistics pursues sustainable activities through greener transportation; warehousing; and sustainable reverse logistics to drive sustainability in the supply chain (Saeed & Kersten, 2019). It has been found that in the perspective wherein the FMCG industry positively influences the economy, the principle is moving since such companies progressively prioritise sustainability and ecological stewardship in their functions (Liczmańska-Kopcewicz et al., 2019).

In times of worldwide business competition in the FMCG sector, the supply chain trends have established a corporate environment becoming increasingly large and more complex to meet consumer demands. It is found that the main challenge confronted by businesses in this sector is the existence of green activities in their supply chain networks (Sazu & Jahan, 2022). It is asserted that in respect of New Zealand FMCG sectors, the notion of sustainable SCM is poorly investigated and it is very less known how businesses manage their sustainable SCM efficiency (Hariharasudan et al., 2021). The logistics operations are supposed to be vital to be considered from the viewpoint of cost-reduction and ecological sustainability. Also, there have been numerous challenges which are limiting the realisation of sustainable logistics practices. Because of this, the majority of FMCG companies in New Zealand fail to reinforce and refine sustainability practices (Zhu et al., 2022). With regards to the literature studies, it can be said that there are still gaps with respect to research figuring out the advantages and facilitators of adopting sustainable logistics practices in the FMCG sector businesses of New Zealand. Therefore, the current study will meet these gaps by investigating FMCG businesses of New Zealand to identify their sustainable logistics activities and their influence on the sustainability of the company's business. Moreover, this research will demonstrate the types of sustainable logistics activities that are best to implement to achieve business sustainability and particularly reducing the negative influence on the environment. The research question for this study is as follows:

How do FMCG Companies in New Zealand Use Sustainable Logistics Activities in the Supply Chain Strategy to Develop a Sustainable Business Model?

The objectives to fulfill this research question are as follows:

  • To explore drivers of adopting sustainable logistics practices
  • To study the benefits of implementing sustainable logistics activities
  • To determine barriers limiting businesses in the FMCG sector to implement sustainable logistics
  • To recommend businesses to improve their sustainable logistics practices for a competitive edge and sustainability in the market.

Research Framework

For the purpose of this study, the qualitative research framework is chosen as a suitable one. This framework will be able to examine questions like how and why of the research rather than measuring actual figures utilising the quantitative techniques. With this framework, the scholar will be able to meet the research purpose suitably according to the nature of the research question. Furthermore, the qualitative research framework is described as the one which implies to interpret, via words, the actions demonstrated by the study subjects on the basis of specific conditions to know trends for generalisation (Johnson et al., 2020). The motive of this study is to determine how FMCG businesses integrate sustainable logistics practices in their supply chain. As shown previously, there is dearth of studies in this area and a theoretical basis of sustainable SCM is still emerging; henceforth the exploratory aspect of this study makes it pertinent to employ qualitative strategy. This framework choice will allow the scholar to focus on the socially constructed aspect of realism, the close relation between the scholar and what is examined, and the situational limits shaping the inquiry. Also, this will allow the researcher to answer questions stressing how societal experience is developed (Ahmad et al., 2019). It is noteworthy that a qualitative approach is considered when study includes intricacy, setting, and persona and their numerous forces, relations, and blurry events. In these situations, conventional quantitative research techniques become inadequate to serve for the difficulty included to handle and investigate the complex relations between such forces. Therefore, it has been found that whenever a comprehensive, vibrant and contextual elucidation of the event is needed, a qualitative framework might be the most suitable method in the study. The current study topic entails various intricate relations, numerous contexts, and interasociated notions which can be superiorly understood by the use of a qualitative framework (Bauer et al., 2021).

Research Paradigm

The types of research paradigms entail interpretivism; positivism; critical realism; and pragmatism. For this study, the appropriate research paradigm will be interpretivism which follows a humanistic strategy and considers a subjective view of the social realism experienced by social participants. This research will be positioned in the interpretivism philosophy since the perception of sustainable SCM execution in FMCG businesses entails the examination and interpretation of subjective management viewpoints of reality (Ugwu et al., 2021). The motives of this paradigm are to establish more considerable understandings and interpretations of diverse settings and social worlds, and since corporate conditions are intricate and exclusive, interpretivism is greatly appropriate for business study. Particularly, the purpose of this research is to investigate how businesses execute sustainable logistics practices in their supply chain that might need a reflective apprehension of management’s views, experiences, and interpretations of their business’s sustainability strategy. For instance, investigating what opinions management embraces about drivers and challenges of implementing sustainable logistics practices includes subjectivity on part of managers' judgements of how they think such forces (Bogna et al., 2020).

It can be said that consequently, reality might just be perceived from a management viewpoint that obviously means the engagement of their subjective judgement, and interpretations through which they make sense of the setting they are experiencing. It is noteworthy that every business functions in an exclusive setting and hence is impacted by a set of contextual forces while executing its sustainability approaches. In this view, the interpretivist study demonstrates a vibrant and intricate description of how individuals perceive, respond, and feel under some contextually definite conditions. It can be said that the research paradigm is deemed as an extensive umbrella which directs and impacts the choice of a suitable study approach. It is further chosen since it will consider individual choices on the basis of their own experiences and not due to external social influences (Maarouf, 2019)

Data Collection Method

The data gathering techniques entail methods and processes employed for collecting study data. For the purpose of this study, primary as well as secondary data gathering techniques will be used to produce numerous evidence sources. The primary data indicates novel data gathered mainly by the scholar from original sources such as focus group, survey, observation, interview, and more (Sileyew, 2019). The secondary data might be gathered using already accessible sources like annual reports, industry reports, peer-reviewed journals, and more. In this study, the primary qualitative data will be gathered using semi-structured interviews. This is chosen since it will help the scholar to get in-depth views and casual elucidations and implications. The scholar will conduct interviews by using online medium through zoom meetings. Besides, it will enable the researcher to ask open-ended questions from the participants which intend to certify a range of facts which the scholar has already developed. Moreover, the interview questions will diligently be worded so the scholar seems rather simple of the subject to attain new interpretation (Adeoye‐Olatunde, & Olenik, 2021). The scholar will use an interview approach to make an attempt to understand the issues at hand in their own environment. The interview method is mainly helpful for exploratory inquiries since it offers a prospect to reflect on participants’ implicit know-how, beliefs, values, outlooks, and experiences that might not be attained using other data gathering methods. In the current study, the semi-structured interviews will be carried out with higher sustainability and supply chain managers of chosen FMCG organisations. The semi-structured interview method is non-standardized and encompassess a set of questions to be asked in the interview guide. These questions will allow novel themes and theories to evolve from the data that support research outcomes by offering exclusive perspectives, new paths, and interesting contributions (Bearman, 2019). Also, the researcher will use follow-up questions to enlarge the constant discussion, elucidate confusion, and retrieve quality data from the participants to increase a profound understanding of the research topic. To attain precision and simplicity of understanding of the interview questions from the participants’ viewpoints, the current study will use a pilot approach. The piloting approach assists improve data gathering schedules, involving the contents of data and the process followed to gather the data. In the piloting procedure, numerous interview questions will be reworded to refine clarity, some confusing questions will get deleted, and the order of the questions will be modified to preserve a flow of questions (Magaldi & Berler, 2020).
For the purpose of collecting secondary data, the scholar will choose to use peer-reviewed journal articles which might be an exceptional source of qualitative data. Also, the scholar will use the sustainability reports, annual reports, industry reports, and more with respect to chosen FMCG businesses in New Zealand. In this study, multiple data sources will be utilised to improve study quality and rigour (Strijker et al., 2020).

Sampling Technique

It is notable that the size of the sample might be an issue in the qualitative study which uses interviews to gather data. However, the sample size to be used in the interview technique is typically smaller, not selected randomly, and though the outcomes’ representativeness might be examined, this technique drives the acquisition of profound information (Hennink & Kaiser, 2022). Therefore, the sample for this study will be composed of five respondents who will be managers from sustainability and SCM departments of the FMCG companies in New Zealand.

Sampling indicates a set of small people from a large population to carry out the study. The procedure of selecting the participants for the research is termed as sampling. Two types of sampling techniques entail probability and non-probability sampling. For the purpose of this study, the scholar will choose a non-probability sampling method which mainly relies on the scholar’s expertise and is conducted through their observations. (Cornesse et al., 2020). This technique will allow the scholar to give respondents an equal chance of being part of the study. The scholar will choose this technique since it is demanding for him to carry out random probability sampling because of time limitations and cost considerations. Moreover, this technique will allow the scholar to choose few FMCG businesses in New Zealand. Non-probability sampling is chosen since it is a less strict technique and enables for prompter data gathering when time limits apply (Wiśniowski et al., 2020).

More specifically, the participants for this study will be chosen utilising a purposive sampling method. This technique is deemed as the usual approach as per the criteria pertinent to specific research questions. This technique needs careful choice of research respondents. A deliberate choice of cases in respect to their definite attributes facilitates scholars to superiorly understand the study problem and respond to the research questions that ultimately contributes to establishment of sound theory. It is chosen since it might facilitate the scholar to collect qualitative answers that contribute to quality perspectives and more accurate research findings. It further depends on the existence of pertinent people in a population to offer helpful data. It is also useful since it can promptly and effectively lessen the range of probably chosen respondents. Also, there might be nil previous know-how needed for the non-random method (Obilor, 2023).

Ethical Concerns

Qualitative study procedures can disclose numerous ethical problems, mainly in the area of business and management. While making a research study, ethical considerations play a considerable role which is required to be preserved. It is noteworthy that ethical issues happen at various phases of study and should be carefully and professionally handled by social science scholars. Such considerations are associated with the regulation of moral concerns like respondents’ deception, data security, informed consent, harm to respondents, their confidentiality, and anonymity (Pietilä et al., 2020).

For this study, the respondents will be clearly notified of the terms and conditions of their engagement in the research. The scholar will inform the respondents about vital information through email before every interview process. Moreover, the participants will be requested to sign a consent form to certify their unforced engagement in the research and that their queries and questions will be addressed to their satisfaction. Besides, the consent form will evidently mention the audio and written recording of the interview. The participants will be given the right to opt-out when any of the revelations do not suit their desires. The scholar will also send invitation letters to entire respondents mentioning how respondents’ engagement led to the body of know-how and corporate practice (KANG & Hwang, 2021). The collected qualitative data including demographic information must be secured without external disclosure. Besides, the scholar must predict triggers which respondents might be accounted for, that might cause harm during the interview. The study participants will be treated in an anonymous manner and the business descriptions will be demonstrated as these can’t be appointed out. Only the supervisor and scholar will be accessible to the data and it is stored in a confidential manner by not enabling any unconcerned to access. Last but not the least the current study will be carried out in absence of AI (artificial intelligence) use and avoiding plagiarism by using the suitable referencing guidelines (Hennessy et al., 2022).

Data Analysis

The data analysis section of the study is complex and it may need diverse methods and approaches. The appropriate choice of method and approach for the data analysis is extremely crucial. It is noteworthy that in the qualitative study, data analysis entails a procedure to prepare, transcribe, and organise data for evaluation, succeeded by synthesising data in significant segments and allocating names of such segments. The motive of the data analysis is to be clear of data by extensively inspecting, assessing, demonstrating, and interpreting the data from diverse sources so an optimised apprehension of the study topic might be established. There are various qualitative data analysis techniques such as content analysis; thematic analysis; grounded theory; narrative analysis; and more (Salmona et al., 2019). For this study, thematic analysis will be utilised to analyse the data gathered using semi-structured interviews. It is deemed as the procedure wherein the qualitative data collected from diverse sources which are specified from the data collection stage are classified into themes for simplicity of interpretation and generation of reports. Moreover, the emphasis of this technique must be in recognizing and defining the notions instead of emphasising on the phrases utilised by the respondents (Kiger & Varpio, 2020).

For the purpose of this research, the data will be recorded by making audio as well as written recording of the interviews to be transcribed. It is an appropriate method as it might facilitate the researcher with enormous flexibility to interpret the data and enable the researcher to reach large data sets more simply by sorting them in broad themes. The phases of this analysis might start by reading interview responses texts many times to become confident with them. The use of thematic analysis will allow the researcher to evaluate numerous narratives which possess a mutual emphasis. It further enables comparison and contrasting around the findings and integrates the recognition of themes. This will be used to make a comparison between the review of literature findings and primary data findings. It can be an effective technique to improve efficiency of the thesis study. It can assist the scholar to evaluate the suitable meaning of the data and information (Braun & Clarke, 2021).

Limitations and Weaknesses

There might be some restrictions and weaknesses from outcomes which might be produced in the proposed study. One of the limitations of this study methodology is that the chosen framework is only confined to five FMCG businesses in New Zealand because of which study findings might not be generalised to whole businesses in this sector. This study might not be used to get specific conclusions due to its absence of statistical strength. Another weakness of the selected approach is that the response of respondents is descriptive rather than numerical hence poring over the findings may essentially take supplementary time with respect to inspecting quantitative data. Another major limitation is that the proposed study has limited sample size. Therefore, the findings might not be quantitatively generalizable to a massive population because of the qualitative nature of the study. Moreover, semi-structured interviews are utilised as data collection methods in this research. The usage of such a technique might raise the problem of social desirability biases in management responses. It might be possible that managers might offer a positive perspective regarding the adoption of sustainable logistics in SC in their businesses. It is noteworthy that social desirability biases indicate the tendency of study respondents to exchange their views and opinions in a manner which is perceived positively by scholars. Furthermore, since the preponderance of interviewed businesses are large-scale FMCG businesses, therefore the results light provide less insights into SMSEs (small and medium enterprises) that might probably have diverse outlooks to the implementation of sustainability practices in SCM. Besides, this study involves data gathering restrictions like the interview might be carried out particularly with higher level management of chosen businesses. The stakeholders such as clients, suppliers, and more are not chosen to be interviewed for this research because of resources and time limits. It might impact the overall quality of the findings. While each effort is made to preserve excellence and study rigour in this study, the data analysis is accomplished by a single scholar that can raise issues of study bias.


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