Case 2: Downsizing in the Middle East

Statistics & Research Methodology Fall 2016
Case 2: Downsizing in the Middle East (Due Wednesday October 19, 2016)
As an overseas student, Zaid Kilani chose to research downsizing in his home country in the Middle
East. He was encouraged by his tutor to research downsizing in a non-western context. Zaid decided to investigate how employees perceive the downsizing process. To delimit his research project,
he decided to focus on one downsizing method that is used in downsizing the Civil Service in his
home country. Further, he focused on one aspect of employees’ perception, which was fairness of
the downsizing process.
Zaid undertook his research from a positivistic philosophical stance. He conducted a thorough
review of the literature, stated his research aims, and formed hypotheses that could be tested statistically. The required data were to be collected via self-administered postal questionnaire, which
he wished to send to a sample of the total population of the of 2,800 ex-civil servants.
A list of these ex-civil servants that included their names, ex-employers, and other details were
provided by Civil Service Bureau. Unfortunately, no contact details were available. One possible
way to overcome this obstacle could have been, to contact their previous employers and ask them
for the contact details. However, this was deemed unethical as he would be requesting personal
details. The alternative, which Zaid adopted, was to search for the ex-employees’ names in the
general telephone book, contact them by telephone, ask for their informed consent to participate,
and, if they accepted, ask for their convenient postal address. Zaid realised that a further obstacle
was that as an unknown male, even though he was a researcher, it would not be tolerable for him to
contact female respondents and ask for such information. He therefore assigned a female assistant
to contact female respondents. To facilitate the process of searching for telephone numbers, Zaid
purchased an electronic copy of the general telephone book, enabling searching using a computer.
As Arabic is the first language in Zaid’s home country, it was prudent to translate the questionnaire to Arabic to minimize the possibility of non-response due to language difficulties. To fulfil
this object, he decided to follow Usunier’s (1998) 1
suggestion and used parallel translation. This
involved having several independent translations from English to Arabic, comparing the translated
versions, and subsequently arriving at a final version in Arabic. As Zaid is an Arabic native, he
felt this would help to ensure that the specific meanings included in his questionnaire were fully
rendered in the Arabic version.
To translate the questionnaire by using the parallel-translation technique, two Arabic native translators were appointed. One of the translators had an MBA degree while the other had a Bachelor
degree in Business Administration. Both of them had experience in translation from English to
Arabic and back while working with his home country’s Civil Service. Zaid provided each of the
translators with a copy of the English version of the questionnaire and its covering letter to translate independently into Arabic. Subsequently the translators and Zaid had a meeting to discuss the
translated versions question by question. The Arabic version was prepared after minor differences
between the two translated questionnaires were found and then reconciled. The differences pertained to the expressions ‘job’ and ‘civil servant’. The word ‘job’ has several equivalents, thereby,
the translators and the author agreed on the most appropriate word. In addition, the expression
‘civil servant’ may imply inferiority in Arabic. For this reason, the term ‘civil employee’ was used.
1Usunier, J. C. (1998). International and cross-cultural management research. SAGE Publications Ltd.

For language-gender considerations, two versions of the covering letters were prepared: one to address female respondents and the other to address male respondents. Afterwards, the Arabic version
of questionnaire and its covering letter were piloted.
Title and name of respondent
Address of respondent
Dear respondent name,
Participating in a survey
I am a student in the UK. The topic I am researching is the attitudes of civil servants who
were downsized. I enclose a questionnaire, which asks for your views about the topic.
You are one of a sample of 843 civil servants who were downsized. You were selected randomly
from a list of all the civil servants’ names who were downsized. This list was obtained from the
Civil Service Bureau.
The questionnaire forms a major part of my research, and I would value it highly if you would
agree to participate by filling it in. In giving your views, you will also help to further my
understanding about the downsizing process.
I must emphasise that your participation is entirely voluntary, and it is up to you to decide
whether or not you wish to take part.
Let me assure you that all the information that you provide will be dealt with anonymously
and confidentially, and will only be used for purpose of this study. I will ensure that the data
collected from you and others are stored electronically at the University and are password
protected. It will be kept for a minimum of five years.
Please complete the questionnaire and return it in the enclosed stamped, addressed envelope
by [a date, give them about a week or 10 days].
Should you have any query, please contact me on my mobile 0712 345 678 910, or the daytime
landline 0987 654 321 000.
This research has been reviewed by the University Research Ethics Committee at the University
of Anytown. If you have any concerns about the conduct of this research, please contact the
Chair of the committee on or telephone the Secretary to the committee
on 012345555555.
I am grateful for your kindness, and thank you for your generous help in completing this
questionnaire to help me with my postgraduate research.
Yours faithfully
Student at the University of Anytown
Guiding Questions:
1. What are the possible disadvantages for the way that Zaid used in contacting the respondent?
2. Outline the possible disadvantages of using parallel translation technique?
3. You have been asked to comment on the covering letter that Zaid prepared, what are your
suggestions to improve this covering letter?
Guidelines for solving the case:
Analysis should include these steps:
– Presentation of the facts surrounding the case.
– Identification of the key issues.
– Listing of alternative courses of action that could be taken.
– Evaluation of alternative courses of action.
– Recommendation of the best course of action.
– At last solve the given question according to the above steps.
– Provide the most appropriate answer to the question asked at the end of the case
– Be brief and precise.