Table of Contents
Table of Appendices
Table of Figures
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.2 Defining sustainability and its history
2.3 Value and perception of sustainability
2.4 Restaurants impact on the environment and consumer awareness and concern
2.5 Consumers’ attitudes and behavioural choices regarding sustainable restaurants and their influencing factors
Chapter 3: Methodology
3.2 Research paradigm
3.3 Research methods
3.4 Sampling and data collection
3.5 Ethical consideration
3.7 Reliability and validity
Chapter 4: Findings
4.2 Value and perception of sustainability
4.3 Restaurants impact on the environment and consumer awareness and concern
4.4 Consumers’ attitudes and behavioural choices regarding sustainable restaurants and their influencing factors
Chapter 5: Conclusion and Recommendations
5.2 Summary and discussion of findings
5.3 Further research
This paper considers the values and perceptions of diners’ in relation to the concept of sustainability and presents an analysis of impact on their decisionmaking process when eating out at restaurants. From the literature review it appears that the context of sustainability has evolved gradually throughout human history; however only a few studies have been conducted with regards to diners’ choice towards sustainable restaurants despite recent studies suggesting that more consumers are avoiding goods that leave a large footprint on the environment. The aim of this dissertation is therefore to discuss in critical terms whether a restaurant’s “green” practice impacts on customers’ behavioural intentions and to analyse if consumers’ attitude to dining out has changed towards a more responsible approach in the restaurant environment. A survey of 417 restaurant diners from three casual and three fine dining restaurants within Greater London and seven interviews with relevant industry stakeholders revealed relevant information on the topic under discussion leading to an indication of whether diners really care or not about a restaurant’s sustainable practice; this also included an investigation of whether customers are aware of the environmental issues related to the restaurant industry and if they are concerned about it. Those diners that expressed concern were asked to indicate which environmental issues they are most interested in. Lastly, this research examined the factors that influence consumers towards a more sustainable commitment. A range of recommendations are provided based on the findings from the literature review and primary data. Ultimately, this dissertation offers a basis for future discussion on how the restaurant industry could encourage its diners to take a more responsible approach.
This research study has been the biggest academic challenge encountered whilst studying for my Bachelor Degree. Unfortunately it is not possible to thank all people that have contributed to this research project, however I would like to express my sincerely gratitude and appreciation to all participants, who have made a big contribution to this research.
This dissertation would not have been accomplished without the support, assistance and patience of the following people:
Initially, I would like to express my special appreciation to my research supervisor Linda Waghorn. Without her wisdom and knowledge this research project would not be as carefully thought through. Her comments and feedback allowed me to think critically and to grow as a researcher and her advice and encouragement have been priceless. I would also like to thank the members of the Higher Education team for their support and guidance in the past three years.
A big thank you goes to my family and friends, who have encouraged me throughout the years and have never lost faith in me.
Table of Appendices
Appendix A: Dissertation proposal
Appendix B: Interview consent form
Appendix C: Interview questions
Appendix D: Face-to-face interviews
Appendix E: Interviews via email
Appendix F: Online survey
Table of Figures
Figure A: Illustrating the triangulation
Chapter 1: Introduction
Restaurants form part of one of the leading commercial sectors in the world, the Hospitality and Tourism industry. As such, it has been identified as a significant contributor to the UK economy providing jobs to thousands of people. Although its influence to the UK economy is pronounced, it still contributes to environmental issues such as climate change and food waste. As a result increasingly more restaurants are changing their businesses into a more sustainable practice (SRA, 2013a).
The sustainability concept has been around in some form since the earliest civilisations. Humans in ancient times were already valuing the environment (Javonavić, 2012). Nevertheless, the word sustainable develops from the Latin term “sustinere” which means “to sustain, support, maintain and preserve” (Grober, 2012, p.19). Since its inception the concept has advanced progressively throughout human history, incorporating additional values. As such, there are numerous interpretations of sustainability, this is because for each individual the concept has a different value (Sidiropoulos, 2013; Robinson, 2004). Even so, the most common description used by people originated since the beginning of the 1970s, when professionals recognised that humankind’s activities were challenging the environment. “Our Common Future” created by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in 1987, defined sustainability as a “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Sloan et al., 2009, p.3). Many know this statement as the “Brundtland Report”, named after Gro Harlem Brundtland, who at the time was the chairwoman of this committee and Norway’s head of parliament.
In view of these environmental issues, since 2009 the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), a nonprofit organisation, has offered restaurants within the UK their support in changing their business strategies to meet best practice. The SRA categorises these sustainable issues related to the restaurant sector into three groups “sourcing, environment and society” (SRA, 2013b, online).
Although, various articles have been published in relation to the sustainable concept within the Hospitality and Tourism industry generally (Sirakaya-Turk et al., 2013; Sloan et al., 2013), only a little research has been conducted of whether a restaurant’s sustainable practice influences or not consumers’ choice when eating out at restaurants. The researcher has therefore chosen to investigate this lack of knowledge further in this dissertation in order to provide new findings on the topic, as she believes that for restaurateurs to reinforce their “green” image they have to understand diners’ value for sustainable restaurants.
For the purpose of this dissertation only casual and fine dining restaurants within Greater London have been researched. In essence, casual restaurants are also known as informal establishments where prices are moderate compared with fine dining restaurants. The main difference between casual and quick service or better known as fast food outlets is that these restaurants offer table service, resulting in diners spending more time and money at the restaurant. On the other hand, there are fine dining restaurants, which offer premium quality products and exceptional, attentive services in a formal atmosphere. These establishments usually provide diners with a memorable and unique dining experience (Super Pages, 2014).
The overall aim of this dissertation is to discuss in critical terms whether a restaurant’s “green” practice has an impact on customers’ behavioural intentions and to analyse if consumers’ attitude to dining out has changed towards a more sustainable approach. In order to address the aim and answering the research question the following objectives were considered (Appendix A): Firstly, to explore the broad concept of sustainability by defining its meaning and to critically discuss relevant theories on the topic within the restaurant industry. Secondly, to understand diners’ perceptions, motivation and behaviour towards sustainable restaurants. Thirdly, to compare, contrast and critically evaluate the findings from primary and secondary data and to identify consumers’ value for sustainable restaurants. And lastly, to reach a conclusion and present a list of recommendations based on the results from primary and secondary research in order for restaurants to encourage its diners to take a more responsible attitude towards sustainability.
This dissertation is arranged into five chapters, which are summarised below:
Chapter 1 is the opening chapter, which introduces the dissertation by defining its background and by identifying the aim and objectives of this research project, and lastly by providing a summary of the various chapters.
Chapter 2 presents a critical review of the already existing literature with regards to the extensive concept. This includes defining sustainability and its history, analysing values and perception of the concept and acknowledging the environmental issues related to the restaurant sector. It continues by assessing whether diners are aware of these problems and examines the sustainability issues that they are mostly concerned about. The chapter concludes by analysing whether a restaurant’s “green” approach impacts diners’ choices and explores the influencing factors towards sustainability.
Chapter 3 presents the applied research methodology for this dissertation by offering an overview of different philosophies and methods and justifying its choice. Additionally, it reflects on it sample size and collection of primary data and acknowledges its ethical issues and limitations encountered in order to guarantee a reliable and valid research.
Chapter 4 critically analyses the findings from primary data and compares and contrasts them to the literature review. This includes an analysis of diners’ values and perceptions of the concept, an investigation on consumers’ awareness and concerns about sustainability issues related to the restaurant industry and finally an examination of customers’ attitudes and behavioural intention towards sustainable restaurants and their influencing factors.
Chapter 5 is the closing chapter, which reviews and summarises the entire dissertation. It provides a conclusion and a range of recommendations based on the primary and secondary research. Ultimately, it offers suggestions on how to conduct this research in future if it were to be carried out again.
Ultimately, the researcher decided to print this dissertation on recycled paper in order to demonstrate that by changing little things a big contribution towards the environment can be made.
As summarised above the main focus of this chapter was to introduce the dissertation by offering a brief background of the concept of sustainability and by providing justification for this research project. Its aim and objectives were acknowledged and each chapter was briefly introduced. The next chapter will present a critical review of relevant theories on the topic within the restaurant industry.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
The previous chapter presented an overview of the dissertation topic by identifying its aim and objectives and by introducing the various chapters. This section will offer a critical review of the existing literature with regards to the chosen topic.
This chapter will begin by exploring the extensive concept of sustainability by defining its origin, development and meaning. It will also investigate the relevant theories on the subject within the restaurant industry. This includes the acceleration in growth of the restaurant sector and how this enhances the UK economy, while also assessing the consequences that such rapid growth may have on the environment. This study examines whether diners are aware of these effects and identifies the sustainable issues that they are most interested in. Finally, this chapter looks at whether a restaurant’s “green” approach impacts diners’ choices and explores the factors that might influence consumer attitudes towards sustainability.
2.2 Defining sustainability and its history
The literature on sustainability is both full of breadth and depth, with regards to its origin, development and definition, as today, there are many interpretations associated with the terminology (Stojanovic and Farmer, 2013). The focus of this section is therefore to critically analyse how the concept has evolved since its inception.
According to Yachkaschi and Yachkaschi (2012) the foremost religions have always valued the preservation of natural resources such as forest, land and animals. Javonavić (2012) similarly claims that, as early as the Mesopotamians, Greeks and Romans were already raising concerns about environmental problems such as the infertility of the soil, which was due to high amounts of salinity, and the shortage of natural supplies. Nonetheless, the term derives from the Latin word “sustinere” and means to “sustain, support, maintain and preserve” (Grober, 2012, p.19). Whereas, later in Medieval time Georgius Agricola, a German scientist and engineer, drew attention to the moral and environmental features of mining (Javonavić, 2012).
Waas et al. (2011) and Grober (2007) contradict the above authors, because they strongly believe that the term originated during the period of the Enlightenment within Europe. Hanns Carl von Carlowitz, a German officer of the Kingdom of Saxony, was one of the first to call attention to the scarcity of their wood stock and therefore presented a solution to this in his work entitled “Sylvicultura oeconomica” in 1713. His theory was known as the “Forstliche Nachhaltigkeit” which, translated from German, means “sustainable forests”, aiming to preserve resources for future generations (Grober, 2007, p.3). Since then this theory has become progressively popular amongst experts in Europe. Another person who contributed to the development of sustainability studies was the English economist William Stanley Jevons. In his work named “The Coal Question” he raised main concerns about the supply of natural resources during the time of the Industrial Revolution (Missemer, 2012, p.97).
By contrast, studies by Quental et al. (2011) and Reid (2005) suggest that sustainability only arose progressively since the end of World War II. The concept emerged due to the depletion of natural resources; this was mainly due to the rapid growth in both the economy and the population and resulted in negative impacts on the planet. Even so, this theory focused mainly on the financial growth and economic development, whereas at the beginning of the 1970s this perception changed. Increasingly the term incorporated more objectives to its definition and by the end of the 1980s its goals were diverse concepts of development, ecological protection and social problems (Du Pisani, 2006).
Sloan et al. (2009) argues that the word “sustainability” has evolved since the 1970s when experts recognised that humankinds activities had negative effects on the globe. In 1972 the United Nations (UN) organised a conference on “Human Environment” in Stockholm in order to propose an action plan on how to protect and reinforce the environment (Jabbour et al., 2012, p.5). Benckendorff and LundDurlacher (2013, p.8) emphasise that this convention together with the 1980 World Conservation Strategy of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) formed the basis of the report “Our Commune Future” created by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in 1987. Many know this statement as the “Brundtland Report”, named after Gro Harlem Brundtland, who at the time was the chairwoman of this committee and Norway’s head of parliament. This team of professionals defined sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Sloan et al., 2009, p.3).
2.3 Value and perception of sustainability
From the research conducted it appears that the context of sustainability has changed throughout human history. Progressively the term acquired more meanings to its definition. The purpose of the following paragraphs is to analyse different values and perceptions of the concept.
Despite numerous efforts to determine the meaning of sustainability, only little change has followed from its frequently used description in the Brundtland report in 1987 (Anderson et al., 2012). This statement is debated by White (2013), who believes that there are more than 2,000 different definitions of sustainability, as more than 20,000 articles have been published between 1974 and 2010 with regards to the topic. Sidiropoulos (2013) and Robinson (2004) similarly believe that every individual has a different interpretation of the concept. This is because for each person the term has a different value. This assertion is contested by Kho (2014), who suggests that consumers mainly interpret the word sustainability as “environmentally friendly”. However, the word means more than just that.
There is an inconsistency in this argument, as according to Sloan et al. (2009) the Brundtland report is the most universally used term. However, there are experts that contradict their opinion as they believe that “Our Common Future” is too vague in its definition (Kates et al., 2005). According to Kates et al. (2005) the term “development” is not appropriate, since something that is supposed to “sustain” can hardly be said to “progress”. Additionally, Voinov and Farley (2007) argued that the terminology should be more precise in defining a specific time frame. This is primarily due to the fact that it could help to measure precisely the outcomes of a sustainable approach, as something that is not measurable is impossible to improve.
Daly (2007, cited in Norgaard, 2008) opposes their opinion, as he believes that the vague definition of “sustainable development” is not necessarily wrong, as it allowed a number of other experts to evolve their interpretation. As for instance the statement defined in “Carrying for the Earth: A Strategy for sustainable living” by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) changed its attention from mankind’s responsibility toward future descendants to the present balance of the globe’s natural systems, which is described as “improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems” (Sloan et al., 2009, p.3).
Since then, numerous associations have tried to develop their interpretation by adding additional values. The UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro additionally developed economic, educational and socio-cultural features through the implementation of Agenda 21 (Dresner, 2002), which is defined by Waas et al. (2011, p.1642) as “the global action plan for sustainable development”. The UN arranged three further meetings (UN, 2013; Hens and Nath, 2003), however, by many these congresses failed to acknowledge their objectives, as they generally only revoked the targets set in the Agenda 21 (Quental et al., 2011) and they failed to fully accomplish the significance of environmental and social issues. It emerges that fundamental issues were avoided, especially those related to political and financial arrangements (Söderbaum, 2013).
It is certainly true to state that despite the numerous action plans implemented by different institutions and the repeated warnings expressed by the world’s best scientists in their IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports about the devastating consequences of humankind’s activities, politicians only showed minor concerns and reactions (BBC, 2013). Even so, it is not only a governmental responsibility to action; it is an obligation of all industries, populations, and future generations (Quental et al., 2011), as at present the earth system is challenged by its survival (Javonavić, 2012).
Restaurants are a major contributor to these issues, as they are part of one of the biggest sectors in the world, the hospitality industry (Sloan et al. 2013). In the UK, the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), a nonprofit company, has been trying since 2009 to help restaurants to become more responsible. Its chairman Raymond Blanc (cited in SRA, 2013b, online) defined a sustainable restaurant as “a business managing not only the financial but also the social and environmental impacts of its operations. By taking sustainable action, restaurants can make a huge difference on issues such as climate change, animal welfare and food waste.” There are three main categories that the SRA has identified as defining sustainability, “sourcing, environment and society” (SRA, 2013b, online).
In order for restaurateurs to improve their sustainable practice they have to understand their consumers’ value of the context. Consequently, one of the objectives to be addressed in the primary research is to understand the nature of diners’ value and perception of sustainability.
2.4 Restaurants impact on the environment and consumer awareness and concern.
The restaurant industry is part of one of the largest sectors in the UK: Hospitality and Tourism. In 2011 the sector contributed £40.6 billion gross value added (GVA) to the British economy and employed one in every 14 occupations (People 1st, 2013). As per 2011 the restaurant industry employed 709,700 people and it generated approximately a gross added value (GVA) of £12.061 million (People 1st, 2013). Drew (2014) indicates that the UK restaurant sector will increasingly boost the economy in years to come; this is proven by the fact that people eat out more than before, as it’s part of their lifestyle. Although the restaurant sector has a positive impact on the UK economy and it offers jobs to thousands of people, there is considerable proof to indicate that the restaurant industry has alarming impacts on the planet. Interestingly, there is no evidence that contradicts this assertion. A significant number of studies have been included in this section to demonstrate its negative effects on the environment.
Reeves et al. (2011) showed that 40% of the food consumed in the UK is within restaurants rather than at home. This increase in dining out comes in spite of the economic downturn. These high eating out rates indicate that the restaurant industry contributes to the deterioration of nature, as more restaurants are built. Equally, Chou et al. (2012) and Kasim (2009) reported that the restaurant industry is an important contributor of environmental issues such as deterioration, natural disasters and global warming. Current studies have proven that restaurant businesses in general use huge quantities of reserves such as water, electricity and gas (Wang et al., 2013; Hu et al., 2010; Schubert et al., 2010). Previous research conducted by Hu et al. (2010) reveal that the restaurant sector is one of the least environmentally friendly industries on the planet. The Pacific Gas & Electric’s Food Service Technology Centre (FSTC) also suggest that restaurants are the planet's biggest energy consumer in the trade sector, of which only 20% is not wasted in useless food production and storages. All the rest is misused. Their statistics reported that restaurants consume generally five times more energy per square foot, than any other type of retailer (cited in Horovitz, 2008). Enis (2007, p.34) similarly reported that restaurants waste 80% of their energy in unnecessary activities such as “heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, lighting and refrigeration”. These results are confirmed in one of the articles published by Licata (2008), which reveals that the restaurant operators are using far higher amounts of energy than any other commercial property. Correspondingly, Johnson (2009), Butler (2008) and Carbonara (2007) explain that restaurants are responsible for a large quantity of wasted energy consumption.
The above findings revealed that restaurants are one of the foremost consumers of energy across the entire earth; however, it is also one of the biggest producers of food garbage. The annual survey conducted by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) showed that the UK’s hospitality sector wasted 1.3 billion meals in 2012, corresponding to more than 920,000 tonnes of food garbage, of which 75% could have been eaten. The restaurant sector represented 22% of these figures. However most of the food waste is generated when preparing the food, which corresponds to 45%. The rest is produced from spoilage (21%) and customer plates, which represent 34% (WRAP, 2013). The SRA also indicates that restaurants waste far too much food, resulting in five times more than any UK domestic house (cited in Kühn, 2013).
Energy and food wastages are not the only sustainability issues restaurants are confronted with. Schubert et al. (2010) state that restaurants often consume nonrecyclable and dangerous chemical products. They have inefficient recycle systems in place, they waste many reserves and materials in general and contribute to CO2 emissions through their daily food and products supply chain.
The questions that arise from these alarming consequences are whether people are aware of these detrimental effects or not and if they are concerned. Hu et al. (2010) believe that consumers are becoming more responsible. This is because they have easier access to communication networks, which informs them of the environmental issues.
However, Hu et al. (2010) also make a point that presently, little research has investigated consumer perceptions on environmental issues. Barr (2004) adds that the UK populace is highly concerned about humanity’s impact on the environment. Waste management, traffic congestion and water quality are amongst the main issues they are interested in. According to a survey conducted by the SRA (2013a) in collaboration with Unilever Plc, diners’ concerns towards sustainable issues have increased. The results of this research revealed significant changes between 2009 and 2013. It appears that diners are interested to hear more about a restaurant’s “green” commitment and that they are keen to learn more about both its environmental and social activities. In their report, diners were asked to select the three most important sustainability issues from a list of fourteen. 53% of the questioned consumers seemed mostly concerned about food wastage as well as health and nutritional issues, whilst 46% were predominantly worried about locally sourced products. Conversely, Grinnell-Wright (2012) believes that customers are not willing to forgo some needs and wants, such as eating only seasonal and local products, which suggests that they are indifferent to environmental issues. Even so, it will take time getting them to change their habits.
Still there is little data that proves that diners are aware and concerned about sustainability issues. Consequently, this study will examine this gap further in its primary research.
2.5 Consumers’ attitudes and behavioural choices regarding sustainable
restaurants and their influencing factors
Increasingly more organisations across all sectors are changing their products and processes towards a more environmentally friendly practice. This has also been the case within the restaurant industry, which aims to reduce its negative impacts on the planet, by implementing more socially responsible targets. Most of these firms believe that by applying a sustainable approach they can position themselves in a new niche market, where its target consumers show concern about environmental issues.
Nevertheless there are big debates going on regarding whether consumers really care about a restaurant’s “green” practice or not, as there is insufficient data available (Schubert et al., 2010). Market research has been conducted with regards to a sustainable approach within the Hospitality and Tourism industry generally (Sirakaya-Turk et al., 2013; Sloan et al., 2013), however only a few studies are related to consumers’ motivation and behavioural intention towards a sustainable practice in the restaurant environment.
The aim of this dissertation is therefore to investigate this lack of knowledge further in its primary research. However, the main focus of this section is to critically discuss consumer attitudes towards sustainable products and services in general, as there is insufficient data available with regards to the restaurant industry.
Tilikidou (2007) and Mohr and Webb (2005) indicate that more buyers are avoiding goods, which harm nature and that customers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products (SRA, 2013a; Laroche et al. 2001). This last statement is contradicted by DiPietro et al. (2013). It is true that diners recommend that restaurants should implement sustainable practices and that their satisfaction is higher when applied, however, consumers are not willing to pay more. On the other hand there are experts (Tilikidou, 2007; Haron et al., 2005; Lee and Moscardo, 2005; Diamantopoulos et al., 2003; Fryxell and Lo, 2003; Laroche et al., 2001) that suggest that consumer knowledge about environmental issues improves their behavioural intentions, so that they lean towards a more responsible commitment. This assertion assumes that education and newly acquired knowledge are factors that influence consumer choices towards a sustainable approach.
Recent studies (Lukman et al., 2013; Zsóka et al., 2013) reveal that environmental education has a meaningful affect on the everyday lives of students and behavioural intention towards sustainable consumption. A number of experts believe that today’s students need to be educated about sustainability issues, as they will be the major contributors on the future state of the planet (Lozano, 2010; Waas et al. 2010; Zilahy and Huisingh, 2009; Wright, 2007; Lozano, 2006). Even so, the above affirmation does not take into consideration that values and the motivation to act are key elements that influence an individual’s course of action (Sirakaya-Turk et al., 2013; Szerényi et al., 2011; Arbuthnott, 2009; Zsóka, 2008; Stern, 2000). Bamberg and Möser (2007) and Kollmuss and Agyyeman (2002) agree that environmental knowledge may increase an individual’s concern and awareness, however this does not necessarily always result in attitude changes. In other words people do not radically change their lifestyles or try to find solutions to these issues.
It appears that educated people are only willing to change minor activities in their lifestyle such as recycling, regulating water and energy consumption or buying and consuming sustainable products. However the majority of them are not willing to give up travelling by car, which seems to be one of the major contributors to climate change (Arbuthnott, 2009; Kagawa, 2007).
In addition to environmental knowledge, motivation and values there are several other factors that encourage pro-environmental action. DiPietro et al. (2013) identified that cultural factors, family, friends and relatives have significant influence on people’s behaviour. In their analysis they demonstrated that families that cook sustainable food at home tend to dine out in “green” restaurants. Similarly, Pfeifer (2009) reported that the cultural background of a person is the driving factor that dictates their eating habits. This can be attributed to the fact that many religions and cultures have specific rules for what followers may or may not eat. They also enforce strict rules around the correct way to prepare their food. Wexler (2006, cited in Rees, 2010, p.17) also infers that the environment that individuals grow up in influences their attitudes unconsciously. In other words their social functions, such as their education, religion, workplace, family and relatives, play a dominant role in their lives. These cultural traditions control both “individual and group behaviour.”
On the other hand there are professionals that consider people’s actions as unsustainable. Rees (2010) for instance, in his study examined the drivers for this behaviour, which were shown to be mainly genetic and influenced by economic and social factors. The last two factors have progressively grown in importance, as Western societies are trapped by the desire to be constantly up to date with the latest technology or material goods, which definitely does not promote a sustainable approach. Even so, Rees (2010) does not argue the fact that Western countries have changed their consumerism towards sustainability; however, he is convinced that all these activities have made barely any improvements on the ecosphere. Furthermore, in his analysis he disagrees with Wexler’s view, as he believes that people’s wellbeing, and therefore their potential to buy goods is mainly influenced by their economic wealth.
Throughout history money has formed and distorted individuals and the lives of entire societies more than any cultural aspect. The reason being that without financial capital people were and still are struggling to survive. However money is associated with materialistic wealth, which as mentioned earlier, does not always promote an environmentally friendly attitude. The alarming fact is that populations are growing faster than natural resources are, as seen in the case of India and China. These countries are changing towards a more industrialised lifestyle and their economic growth is having a tremendous impact on nature, as their activities are even less environmentally friendly than that of Western societies (Rees, 2010).
The primary focus of this chapter was to critically discuss and evaluate secondary data in relation to the specific research topic.
There is a vast amount of literature, as the term has advanced throughout human history, resulting in different interpretations, because naturally, people hold contrasting opinions with regards to the context. The chapter continued by discussing the environmental impacts restaurants have on the planet and examined the sustainability issues consumers are mostly interested in. Interestingly, it appeared that people seem to be aware and concerned about these effects, however their intentions may differ from their actions and behaviour.
The chapter concluded by investigating consumers’ behavioural intention towards sustainable products and services in general, and their influencing factors.
From the research it is evident that an industry as large as the restaurant sector, has to adopt initiatives in order to reduce its negative impacts on the globe. In order for restaurateurs to reinforce their green image, they have to understand diners’ perceptions and values of the concept; consumers’ awareness and concerns about the environmental issues and ultimately, customer motivation and behavioural intentions regarding sustainable restaurants. This gap in the literature will be addressed in the primary research.
The next chapter will discuss the philosophical stance used in this dissertation in order to answer the research question and its objectives. Additionally, it will justify why these methods have been used and finally it will consider the ethical issues, limitations, reliability and validity encountered during the research process.
Chapter 3: Methodology
The previous chapter, which Saunders et al. (2012) state is a critical review of the existing literature, identified a gap of knowledge where further research is needed. This will be addressed in the primary research.
The primary focus of this chapter is to justify the research paradigm and the various methods used, to answer the research question and address its objectives. This entailed an interpretative approach, which was accomplished through both quantitative and qualitative methods. Furthermore, this chapter explains how the sample size and data collection has been carefully considered according to the research guidelines. It continues by acknowledging the ethical issues encountered and finally explains the research limitations, levels of reliability as well as its validity.
Before proceeding any further, it is essential to understand the nature of research. Saunders et al. (2012, p.5) define research as “something that people undertake in order to find things out in a systematic way, thereby increasing their knowledge”. Secondary research, which refers to data collected from books, journals, websites and other relevant sources, formed the basis of the literature review (Webster and Watson, 2002). This was accomplished before initiating any primary research, which refers to data collected “first-hand” rather than based on existing knowledge. Its purpose is to discover something new, which has not yet been fully acknowledged. In other words it is necessary to answer the research question and its objectives (Driscoll, cited in Lowe and Zemliansky, 2011).
3.2 Research paradigm
Brotherton (2008) suggests that there are two distinctive research paradigms that have the ability to shape a research project; positivism or interpretivism. Although there are several ways to approach research and various methods that can be implemented (Phoenix et al., 2013), the main focus of this section is to provide a brief overview of these two research paradigms and to present a clear justification for the research approach adopted.
The positivist approach emphasises establishing law-like generalisations about the natural world like those observed and measured by scientists (Gill and Johnson, 2010). A positivist research explains only phenomena that can be confirmed with credible data, including the use of existing literature to develop hypotheses. As such, interpretations or similar outcomes are not considered to be valid, as theories need to be observed or measured. According to Phoenix et al. (2013) this approach does not claim to understand how individuals interpret the world. The researcher decided not to choose a positivist research paradigm, because this approach would be unsuitable and difficult to understand, interpret or justify diners behavioural intentions and attitudes.
- Quote paper
- Laura Favretto (Author), 2014, The Responsible Diner. Do Consumers really care about a restaurant's sustainable practice?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/282494