This chapter describes the research methodology of the study whose main focus was to investigate the country’s recycling industry that is an emerging economic sector. Philosophical assumptions that informed the study are presented as well. Research methodology focuses on data collection and analysis procedures used in order to address the research problem as Walter, 2013; Cresswell, 2009 and Mouton 1996) emphasized.
3.2 Research paradigms
Research is usually guided by certain beliefs as highlighted by (Saunders, 2013). These are known as research paradigms. These are considered as the starting point of any research. Despite the fact, they are often taken for granted. The search for reality is therefore influenced by a set of assumptions that the research may have. The term paradigm was first used by Thomas Kuhn in his 1972 whist referring to overall theoretical research framework (Saunders, 2013). Positivism and interpretive are considered to be the broad frameworks of paradigms in which research is conducted, (Ngulube, 2015) cited in Matangira, (2016).
The positivist paradigm is mainly associated with natural sciences (Neuman, 2014) whose emphasis is on scientific methods. The main assumption of this paradigm is that the nature of reality can be observed through scientific (measurements and testing) and statistical analysis methods. Reality is considered to be ‘out there’, independent of human consciousness; is objective, rests on order, is governed by strict natural and unchangeable laws, and can be realised through experience (Sarantakos, 2005).
Despite its relevance, positivism paradigm has been criticized. This gave birth to constructivism or interpretivism ideologies. Interpretivism is concerned with text interpretation and understanding of social life (Neuman, 2014; Sarantakos, 2005). The fundamental assumption of this paradigm is that social reality depends on people’s views and interpretations. The same idea is supported by Saunders, 2013). The world in social phenomena has different meanings. As a result, different researches can have different conclusions for one observation. There are three assumptions in research: ontological, epistemological and methodological.
3.3 The Ontological Orientation of the Research
Ontology is concerned with the nature of reality (Neuman, 2014). There are different assumptions to see the world as outside individual. From a realist point of view, knowledge development is based on careful observation and measurement of the objective reality that exists out there (Neuman 2014; Creswell (2009)’. Reality is considered independently of humans and their interpretations. The nominalist on the other hand, is subjective based on human influences and interpretations.The world in social phenomena has different meanings. As a result, different researches can have different conclusions for one observation.
Nominalist assumptions informed this study. In order to have an in depth understanding of the nature of recycling industry in Namibia, the researcher relied on views of different actors of the industry who were identified, namely local authorities, government ministries and recycling companies.