Conducting Research in a Third World Country
13 Dec 2018

Written by: Alannah Griffin 

Case Study: Conducting In-person Research in Vietnam 

Ever thought about conducting market research in a third world country? This is not the easiest undertaking, and often, in order to do so, you need to think outside the box.

It takes a lot of effort, analysis, and critical thinking to curate any methodology. However, imagine trying to figure out how to research the threat of technology for motorbike taxi drivers in Vietnam.

In Vietnam, the primary mode of transport in cities is by motorbike. A common occupation for men is to be a motorbike taxi driver/xe ôm driver. A lot of xe ôm drivers’ livelihoods are now under threat with the onset of modern technology. Apps that use location intelligence are emerging and providing more cost-efficient, safer, and quicker rides for customers. In this day and age, on-demand service is a high priority for customers. The use of GPS and location intelligence is forcing traditional xe ôm drivers out of the market.

There are many different ways to conduct this research. When taking all of the variables into account for this particular research study, the methodology that was decided on consisted of qualitative methods in order to provide an in-depth assessment.

The three qualitative research methods selected were:

  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Informal conversational interviews, and
  • Participant observation

The key finding for xe ôm drivers was that if they want to continue in the profession of motorbike taxi drivers, they must partner with the companies who have developed Apps using location intelligence. If they do not do so, they will not satisfy customers, threatening their income source, and may be left behind.

What are common watch outs when conducting this type of research?

Having your interview guide well prepared and your target sample precisely defined before entering the field is essential to obtain the best and most accurate results.

Cultural issues. A researcher needs to be prepared for situations where interviewees may be reserved towards them as a researcher due to the cross-cultural setting and their potential lack of trust.

Language barrier. All interviewees who participated in the research discussed above were interviewed through Vietnamese. Therefore it was essential to have an interpreter to overcome the communication barrier during the qualitative research. The quality of the interpretation has an effect on the research results. Therefore it is vital to ensure that the interpreter is qualified and vetted for the assignment at hand.

Reasons Why Working with a Professional Will be Helpful

Research can be extremely time-consuming, especially with a large sample size. Often, when conducting research in a third world country, there are variables present that are beyond your control. This is where a market research firm becomes a valuable asset with the knowledge and expertise to overcome these barriers.

Guide/Survey writing is a challenging task – if your company wishes to undertake surveys or interviews, you will need an experienced researcher to aid you in this writing process.
Market researchers have the experience to know how many interviews would be necessary to achieve data saturation. It is vital that you have guidance from a professional to get the recommended sample sizes for your study.

Market researchers identify key findings, themes, and conclusions. Their expertise in cleaning, analyzing, and ultimately making sense of data in order to produce more accurate, actionable results, and tell a story with the findings is invaluable.