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Abstract Comment by Laura Schlater: Guide to highlighted material:Yellow: Leftover comments from Dr. Glenn that may still merit consideration.Green: Dr. Tara’s comments I can take care of.Blue: Dr. Tara’s comments you will need to take care of.The best plan of attack would be for you to take time to carefully consider, research, and address the blue-highlighted feedback, adding material, as needed. I can then check your work on those sections and take care of the green-highlighted material as I am able.

Strategies to Obtain a Working Capital Line of Credit for Small Businesses

by

Solomon Atamaya Comment by James Glenn: Thank you for your submission of this paper. I care about your work and scholarship as much as you do, and appreciate this opportunity to review your document. Please see the comments inserted throughout the submission commenting on the results of your work. In most cases, I have commented on an issue only once or twice, although the same issue may be true throughout the document. My review does not include full Grammarly review, although you should be doing this and making appropriate corrections prior to each submission.In the feedback, please see the inserted edits and comments, use MS Word’s Track Changes function, instructions for which are available here: ASC MS Editing Tools or in this short video on Track Changes. If you need guidance on accepting track changes, please see http://academicguides.waldenu.edu/ASCsoftware/word/trackedchanges or this short video: Track Changes.As you make changes, revisions, additions, and modifications to your doc study development, it is suggested that you maintain and make changes to a master document versus continually modifying a document that is sent around for review and feedback. This will help maintain the integrity of the template functions and formatting.Please see the accompanying rubric for a summary of the feedback. In all future submissions, please complete and submit the DBA Doc Study Rubric along with your draft proposal or doc study for review. Please do not submit any components that do not meet rubric requirements. It is best to submit only that which is ready for my review, and meets rubric, grammar, and APA accuracy requirements.

MS, DeVry University, 2014

BS, Kaplan University, 2012

Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Business Administration

Walden University

August 2020

Abstract

Strategies to Obtain a Working Capital Line of Credit for Small Businesses

by

Solomon Atamaya

MS, DeVry University, 2014

BS, Kaplan University, 2012

Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Business Administration

Walden University

August 2020

Dedication

Acknowledgments

27

Table of Contents

List of Tables iv

List of Figures v

Section 1: Foundation of the Study 1

Background of the Problem 1

Problem Statement 2

Purpose Statement 2

Nature of the Study 3

Research Question 4

Interview Questions 4

Conceptual Framework 4

Operational Definitions 5

Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations 6

Assumptions 6

Limitations 6

Delimitations 7

Significance of the Study 7

Contribution to Effective Practice of Business 8

Contribution to Positive Social Change 8

Review of the Professional and Academic Literature 8

Application to the Applied Business Practice 10

Theory of Discouraged Borrowers 10

Alternative Theories for the Theory of Discouraged Borrowers 14

Small Businesses 16

Small Business Financing 22

Credit Strategies 24

Information Symmetry in the Lending Process 27

Audited Financial Statements 29

The State of the Economy at the Time of This Study 30

Transition 31

Section 2: The Project 33

Purpose Statement 33

Role of the Researcher 33

Participants 35

Research Method 37

Research Design 38

Population and Sampling 39

Ethical Research 41

Data Collection Instruments 42

Data Collection Technique 43

Data Organization Technique 46

Data Analysis 47

Reliability and Validity 48

Reliability 48

Validity 49

Transition and Summary 50

References 53

Appendix A: Informed Consent Form 76

Appendix B: Interview Protocol 79

List of Tables

Table 1 . Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority Programs 23

List of Figures

v

Section 1: Foundation of the Study

Small businesses account for over 50% of all companies in the United States (U.S. Small Business Administration [SBA], 2018b), having a positive effect on gross domestic product (Klimczak, Machowiak, Staniec, & Shachmurove, 2017). Small businesses are an integral part of the economies of both developed and underdeveloped countries (Karadag, 2015); however, small business owners struggle to stay in operation longer than 5 years (SBA, 2018a). In 2013, 406,353 start-up businesses opened; in the same year, however, 46% of businesses closed (SBA, 2018b). The ability of a manager to acquire working capital could affect business continuity and thereby reduce the failure rate (Leroy, Manigart, Meuleman, & Collewaert, 2015). Therefore, all business leaders need to have plans in place to acquire working capital (Lampadarios, 2016). The purpose of this multiple case study, therefore, is to explore strategies that small business owners use to obtain a working capital line of credit for business continuity.

Background of the Problem

In Maryland, more than 500,000 small businesses constitute 97% of businesses and employ more than one million people (SBA, 2018b). In 2014, 4,074 new small businesses started in Maryland in 2014, and in the same year, 3,730 businesses closed, marking a large percentage of failed small businesses in comparison to those opened (SBA, 2018b). External funding is necessary for the sustainability and growth of small businesses (Neagu, 2016). Access to financial resources is essential for business leaders to pay for operating expenses, debts, inventory, and business growth. Accordingly, I will explore effective strategies used by Maryland small business owners to obtain a working capital line of credit for business continuity for 5 years or longer.

Many business leaders attribute business failures to external factors, whereas internal management capabilities and approaches have a significant impact on business sustainability (Eggers & Lin, 2015). Poor management skills and an inability to access finances are the main reasons for business failure (Lee, 2016). Accordingly, it is necessary to explore strategies used by small business owners to obtain a line of working capital for business continuity.

Problem Statement

Insufficient access to funds, including lines of credit, causes 29% of small businesses to fail within the first 5 years of operation (Shabat, 2019). Small business owners encounter challenges in obtaining a working capital line of credit (U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, 2017). The general business problem is that some small business owners are unable to access working capital lines of credit, which threatens business survival through liquidity shortages, lost customers, and falling profitability. The specific business problem is that some small business owners lack strategies to obtain a working capital line of credit for business continuity.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study is to explore strategies that small business owners use to obtain a working capital line of credit for business continuity. The population for the proposed study is small business owners in Maryland who have obtained a working capital line of credit for business continuity. Information gleaned from this study will expand understanding of the economic, social, cultural, and structural issues small businesses face in securing working lines of credit. Among the implications for social change are that small business owners may be able to sustain operations, thus continuing to provide employment opportunities that could increase the standard of living and contribute to the well-being of citizens in the local communities. Another implication for social change is that customers of these businesses will continue to receive the products and services they need, which contributes to their quality of life and the sustainability of their household or business operations.

Nature of the Study

The three types of research methods are qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods (Yin, 2017). In a qualitative study, a researcher explores a phenomenon (Glaser & Strauss, 2017); in comparison, a quantitative researcher statistically measures the relationship between variables (Goertzen, 2017). A researcher uses both qualitative and quantitative approaches in mixed-methods (Yin, 2017). Because the study will not use numerical data to understand the research phenomenon, neither quantitative nor mixed-methods is appropriate; therefore, I will be using qualitative methodology with a case study design.

I considered narrative, ethnographic, phenomenological, and case study designs for this qualitative study. In a narrative design, a researcher obtains individuals’ life stories in a storytelling format (Marshall & Rossman, 2016). The ethnographic design meets the needs for a cultural study of specific groups (Marshall & Rossman, 2016). In a phenomenological study, participants describe their lived experiences of a phenomenon (Hanson, Balmer, & Giardino, 2011). A case study permits the researcher to capture a real-life phenomenon in a specific setting by asking how and why questions (Cronin, 2014). This type of qualitative design is ideal for this case study because the goal is to explore a research phenomenon in a real-life setting by asking how and why questions to identify common factors.

Research Question

What strategies do small business owners use to obtain a working capital line of credit for business continuity?

Interview Questions

1. What strategies did you use to obtain a working capital line of credit?

2. What are the significant challenges you encountered in securing a working capital line of credit?

3. How did you overcome the challenges you encountered in securing a working line of credit?

4. What strategies did you use to develop a successful banking relationship to secure working capital?

5. How, if at all, did you have to modify the initial strategies you used for obtaining a working line of credit?

6. What else could you share that is pertinent to the procedures for obtaining credit for your business?

Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework for this study is the theory of discouraged borrowers (Kon & Storey, 2003). According to this theory, some small business owners are discouraged from applying for bank financing for three primary reasons: asymmetric information, application costs, and market rates (Kon & Storey, 2003). The idea of credit rationing from banks is one component of business owners’ discouragement, which may prevent them from applying for bank loans. The theory of discouraged borrowers is applicable to the proposed study, providing a framework appropriate to explore small business owners seeking to obtain a working capital line of credit for business continuity. The business environment is becoming faster paced because of economic shifts, globalization, and technological breakthroughs (Guillén, Ferrero, & Hoffman, 2014). This rapidly changing environment means business leaders must adjust their behavior in adapting to new information and approaches to acquiring credit (Lichtenstein & Plowman, 2009). The theory of discouraged borrowers (Kon & Storey, 2003) provides a conceptual framework to understand why some small business owners face difficulties in applying for and obtaining a working capital line of credit for business continuity beyond 5 years.

Operational Definitions

Adaptive leadership: Adaptive leadership involves understanding the leadership process, strategizing, and adapting to change across all organizational levels (Reiman, Rollenhagen, Pietikäinen, & Heikkilä, 2015).

Cash flow: Net income plus depreciation, amortization, and depletion equals cash flow (Deakin, 1972).

Small business: A small business is an entity with fewer than 500 employees (SBA, 2018a).

Working capital: Working capital is the operating liquidity of a business, which is the difference between current assets and current liability (Nguyen, Tran, & Nguyen, 2016).

Working capital line of credit: Working capital lines of credit provide flexible cash through short-term financing for business continuity and sustainability (Cowton & San-Jose, 2017).

Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations

Assumptions

Assumptions are beliefs that a researcher cannot verify but presumes to be true (Marshall & Rossman, 2016). In this study, the first assumption is that a qualitative approach with a multiple case study design will be appropriate for answering the research question. The second assumption is that the participants will provide honest responses to questions. If participants withhold information or misrepresent their experiences, my findings will not be accurate. Also, I assume that interviews with five small business owners and reviews of company documents will be sufficient to achieve data saturation, without which I could not have confidence in my results.

Limitations

Limitations stem from methodology and design issues beyond the researcher’s control (Yin, 2017). One limitation is the use of qualitative methodology, as findings are subjective and dependent upon the researcher’s interpretation; accordingly, the risk of researcher bias is another limitation. Because of the small sample size and specific qualification criteria, the transferability of qualitative findings may be limited and thus subject to the reader’s opinions regarding applicability to other populations or situations. Qualitative data analysis is another limitation, as reliability and validity are dependent on the researcher’s determination of all relevant themes and achieving data saturation.

Delimitations

Delimitations are the boundaries set by a researcher as criteria for participation (Theofanidis & Fountouki, 2019). The scope of the proposed study is limited to exploring the phenomenon of strategies small business owners have used to secure a working capital line of credit for business continuity. Delimitations for participation include owners of manufacturing and wholesale small businesses located in Maryland who employ 500 or fewer employees and have been in business longer than 5 years. Outside the scope of the study are owners of newly created, nonregistered businesses not in operation 5 years or longer, not located in Maryland, or employing more than 500 people. There were no delimitations concerning participants’ gender, age, race, or immigration status.

Significance of the Study

Some small businesses fail because of insufficient access to working capital (Liu, 2015). Securing a line of credit may ensure business continuity and growth, resulting in continued and advancement opportunities for employees and a more thriving community. The findings of this study may be of value to businesses in several ways. First, small business owners can learn of the strategies used by other small business owners to successfully obtain a working line of capital, thus ensuring business continuity beyond 5 years. This study may contribute to business practice improvements, as other small business owners may learn from and use these strategies to obtain working capital lines of credit. Contributions to positive social change may come from more small business owners maintaining the operation of their businesses, continuing to employ their workers, and economically benefiting the community.

Contribution to Effective Practice of Business

The results of this study can contribute to business practice in at least two ways. First, small business owners may learn about and acquire credit acquisition strategies that lead to increased business performance in the long term. Individuals considering opening small businesses may also find these results helpful as they create their business plan and forecasts. The research findings may be valuable to small business owners, banking officials, government agencies, and creditors in understanding the strategies small business leaders use to access credit.

Contribution to Positive Social Change

Small business owners play an important role in facilitating the health of the local economy (Brown, 2018). The community can benefit from the results of this study in many ways. Considering that sustainability is a pathway to a significant competitive advantage, small business owners may be willing to participate in new programs in the community and invest more in the well-being of their workforce. The increase of small businesses operating in the community leads to job creation, poverty reduction, and the potential for a higher standard of living among citizens (Shibia & Barako, 2017). Employees’ families also benefit when individuals prosper in a healthy working environment with increased opportunities for employment.

Review of the Professional and Academic Literature

Conducting the literature review on the research topic involved accessing various journals and seminal books through the Walden University Library website. Databases used included ABI/INFORM Complete, ProQuest Central, Emerald Management, Business Source Complete, Academic Research Complete, and SAGE Premier. I also conducted searches through Google Scholar and AOSIS Open Journals. Google Scholar queries provided various interdisciplinary results, including conference proceedings, and AOSIS Open Journals searches returned peer-reviewed scholarly articles from a wide range of academic disciplines. A review of business journals and publications returned information specific to research concerning small businesses and small business owners. Government websites, including the SBA and the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, provided valuable information on credit strategies and programs for small businesses.

In searching for relevant literature, I gave preference to peer-reviewed articles published between 2015 and 2020 to obtain current information and findings. Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory was a helpful tool to ensure the use of peer-reviewed articles. Keywords and combinations of keywords used for the search included small business, business lending, small business lending, small business financing, credit strategies, bank loans, sources of financing, working capital line of credit, small business and financial constraints, small business continuity, capital structure, information asymmetry and lending process, small businesses and audited financial statements, small business leadership, theory of discouraged borrowers, and small business and discouraged borrower. The literature review search produced 142 sources, 137 (85%) of which were peer-reviewed articles published between 2015 and 2020.

I compared and contrasted the work of different scholars to obtain varied perspectives on the research phenomenon. The first overarching concept, the likelihood of application for and approval of a working capital line of credit, emerged from discussions of the theory of discouraged borrowers in the context of small businesses. The topics of discussion related to the second concept, small businesses, included small business sustainability, small business challenges, and government roles. The concept of small business financing emerged from literature on funding programs, sources of capital, and credit strategies, with a fourth concept identified as information symmetry in the lending process.

Application to the Applied Business Practice

The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study is to explore strategies that small business owners use to obtain a working capital line of credit for business continuity. The review of the literature begins with an in-depth exploration of the conceptual framework of the theory of discouraged borrowers (Kon & Storey, 2003) and how researchers have used it in related studies. Other relevant topics discussed are small business financing, credit strategies, information symmetry in the lending process, and audited financial statements.

Theory of Discouraged Borrowers

The theory of discouraged borrowers emerged in the early 21st century. Levenson and Willard (2000) explored how insufficient credit and credit rationing discouraged small business owners from applying for loans. The majority of discouraged applicants, as Levenson and Willard labeled them, were founders of smaller, less-established businesses. Levenson and Willard examined U.S. small business owners who encountered credit rationing in their quest for external financing. Data drawn from a national survey of businesses in 1987 and 1988—the first years for which direct data were available specific to business owners’ desire for credit—indicated only a small percentage (2.14%) of small business owners had applied for and failed to procure financing, with an additional 2.17% obtaining financing after an initial rejection (Levenson & Willard, 2000). Comparatively, the percentage of small business owners discouraged from applying was 4.22% (Levenson & Willard, 2000).

In 2003, another set of researchers expanded the idea of discouraged credit applicants to create the theory of discouraged borrowers. Kon and Storey (2003) described discouraged borrowers as business owners who, despite needing financing for their operations, do not apply for loans for fear that the bank will reject their application. Kon and Storey adopted the discouraged borrower approach to assess loan application success in response to the extensive literature on credit rationing, collateral, and asymmetry. Business owners feel discouraged from borrowing based on what they perceive are high application costs combined with screening errors and public policies not conducive to small business lending (Kon & Storey, 2003). The greatest degree of borrower discouragement occurs when a bank has inadequate information on the applicant’s business (i.e., information asymmetry) (Kon & Storey, 2003). Thus, small business owners who have not successfully obtained a working capital line of credit might have felt discouraged from even applying.

Han, Fraser, and Storey (2009) explored the theory of discouraged borrowers specific to the factors leading a borrower to become dispirited. Following an analysis of data on financing for U.S. small businesses, the researchers indicated that small business owners with riskier businesses were often less likely to apply for bank financing. Also introduced in Han et al.’s findings was the concept of information asymmetry which generally means that, as bank transparency increased, the owners’ likelihood of applying for financing increased.

Chandler (2010) drew parallels between discouraged borrowers and their relationships with banks. A critical component of the bank–business relationship is information symmetry, something discussed in later studies concerning small business owners’ ability to obtain working capital lines of credit for business sustainability and growth (e.g., Ata, Korpi, Ugurlu, & Sahin, 2015; Caporale & Gil-Alana, 2016; Moro, Fink, & Maresch, 2015; Njeru, Nyangaresi, & Waithaka, 2013; Sahin, Kitao, Cororaton, & Laiu, 2011). Information symmetry refers to transparency in the loan application process about small businesses’ credit history, balance sheets, business plans, and intended use of the financing (Yan, Yu, & Zhao, 2015); thus, information symmetry affects the degree of trust between the parties. Tang, Deng, and Moro (2017) narrowed the theory of discouraged borrowers to look specifically at the component of trust between a business owner and a loan manager and its effect on the business owners’ decision to apply for credit. Findings showed the business owners’ degree of perceived trust with the lending agency strongly influenced their decision to apply for credit (i.e., the lower the trust, the greater the borrower’s discouragement). Despite the connection between trust and increased access to working capital lines of credit, the longevity of the owner–lender relationship had no bearing on borrower discouragement (Tang et al., 2017). An inverse relationship also emerged between the amount of experience held by the small business owner and the subsequent discouragement in borrowing. Business owners with prior entrepreneurial experience had a greater degree of trust in lending institutions and were thus more inclined to apply for credit (Tang et al., 2017). Scholars have conducted extensive research on the difficulties small business owners face to obtain credit and ensure the continuity of their businesses (Freel, Carter, Tagg, & Mason, 2012). Less common, however, are studies of the discouraged borrowers who, rather than risk rejection, choose not to apply for credit. A literature review showed discouraged borrowers outnumbered rejected borrowers by two to one (Freel et al., 2012). Also indicated were four characteristics common among discouraged borrowers of business strategy, industry sector, the business owner’s prior experience, and preexisting banking relationships (Freel et al., 2012). Findings showed that entrepreneurial and firm strategy factors are the primary differentiators between discouraged and rejected small business borrowers. Most likely to be discouraged were owners of smaller or family-owned businesses and those who had previous entrepreneurial experience, offered knowledge-intensive services, or led limited liability partnerships or corporations (Freel et al., 2012). Freel et al. (2012) conducted an extensive study of small business owners’ need for bank financing specific to their discouragement from applying. The researchers used information from a large-scale survey of small business organizations that measured the attitudes and opinions of owners, including whether they had applied for a loan, received a loan, or felt discouraged from applying for a loan in the last 2 years. Freel et al.’s findings are directly applicable to the theoretical framework for the proposed research in that the percentage of small business owners with rejected credit applications was half of the rate of discouraged small business owners who had not applied. Comment by T Ross: This is a really good contrasting statement that helps us understand how you compared the literature and found a gap. Nice!

One component of Cole and Sokolyk’s (2016) study on small business owners who need and receive credit was the theory of discouraged borrowers. The four business groups studied were those without a need for financing, those with a need but who feel discouraged from borrowing, those with a need who apply and are approved, and those with a need who apply and do not receive the funds. Specific to the second category of borrowers, the researchers identified four primary components of discouragement: the smaller size of the business, the profitability of the business, the age of the owner, and any access to additional sources of financing (Cole & Sokolyk, 2016). Findings showed that between 21% and 55% of business owners who had felt discouraged from applying for credit would have received approval. Thus, similar to Freel et al. (2012), Cole and Sokolyk found the likelihood of discouraged borrowers to have received financing to be significantly higher than the likelihood of denial.

Some researchers have focused specifically on small business owners’ characteristics as the chief determinant of borrower discouragement. Singh (2014) studied discouraged borrowers with a focus on gender differences, among other factors. General findings showed that business owners in the goods sector had a greater need for external financing than did those in the retail and wholesale sectors. In addition, primarily female-owned businesses had less need for outside funding. Singh also identified a parallel between reduced borrower discouragement and both relationship banking and 50-50 male–female business ownership. Comment by James Glenn: Which? Cite more than one study—you said researchers plural? Comment by Natalie Casale: You added – Han et al., 2009; Kon & Storey, 2003; Levenson & Willard, 2000However, you did not add any facts in your paragraph. He said at least one more study. Try to provide evidence for one of these studies. If you can do more, great but not necessary. Comment by T Ross: I don’t see where you added the other sources. Did all of the content in this paragraph come from Singh?

Jude and Adamou (2018) suggested the behaviors of small business owners had the greatest influence on their decision to apply for bank loans and working capital lines of credit. In addition to control aversion and overconfidence, the researchers found discouragement to heavily influence whether or not a business owner would apply for bank financing. Bhusal and Wang (2019) attributed borrower discouragement to three determinants: the perceived cost of financing, the small business owner’s history with financing, and the would-be applicant’s fear of facing prejudice. Comment by T Ross: Did they have concerns about you needing to use the MEAL plan? https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/paragraphs/organizationThis needs a main idea, it seems you have the evidence, but are missing the analysis and the link.Ahh, now that I see the next comment below, yes, they do talk about the MEAL plan.

Alternative Theories for the Theory of Discouraged Borrowers Comment by James Glenn: Solomon, very interesting study but you should consider using the meal plan in your writing.You need to use the MEAL plan in your literature review:MEAL PlanM ain idea or topic sentenceE vidence-referencesA nalysis-explainn it in your words L ink-provide a linking sentence to the next paragraph.Thus one paragraph flows smoothly and logically into the next. There is FLOW in your writing. It is easy once you get used to it??Further:Are you using the MEAL plan? Many of your sentences do not seem to follow the topic sentence and I am not sure why that is. MEAL Plan (Main idea, Evidence, Analysis, Link)As discussed in Crafting a Topic Sentence for Each Paragraph and Crafting the Evidence, Analysis, andTransition for Each Paragraph, a clear and effective paragraph should parallel the structure of a clear andEffective essay. The chart below illustrates how the structures of an essay and a paragraph are parallel:Essay ParagraphIntroduction/Thesis Statement Topic Sentence/Main IdeaBody Evidence and AnalysisConclusion Link/Transition to Next ParagraphThe MEAL Plan (Main idea, Evidence, Analysis, and Link) is an effective strategy for constructingParagraphs. The Meal Plan is also an effective strategy for the writer to employ in the review and revision ofEach paragraph. This guide demonstrates how the writer may verify that each component of the MEALPlan is intact or how each component may be effectively revised for each and every paragraph in the body ofThe paper:Main Idea: Just as an effective essay focuses on one main idea (the thesis statement), an effectiveParagraph should also focus on one main idea (the topic sentence). The writer should locate the topicSentence for each paragraph (usually the first sentence) and then, paragraph by paragraph, verify tha

The theory of discouraged borrowers (Kon & Storey, 2003) was the most applicable to the proposed study, with other concepts only peripherally related. The alternative theories for the theory of discouraged borrowers were the credit theory of money and the theory of financial management. Comment by Natalie Casale: You can add why these theories were selected as alternative theories.

Credit theory of money. The earliest published credit theory was Innes’s (1914) credit theory of money. Innes’s assertion was that money was the only capital that mattered, which directly applies to small businesses needing a working capital line of credit. Innes identified a sub theory to explain a business owner’s satisfaction with the lending process and subsequent ability to repay the loan; however, the author did not address factors affecting business owners’ success in achieving loans. Because Innes’s credit theory of money pertained only to the lending and repayment of business loans and not the strategies used to obtain the loan, it was inappropriate for this study. Comment by T Ross: Good! I like this analysis.

Theory of financial management. Ang (1991, 1992) proposed a theory peripherally related to the focus of this study. Applied to small businesses, the theory of financial management (Ang, 1991) centered on business failures due to a lack of financing options. Ang (1991) wavered in theoretical focus, first introducing the loosely termed theory of modern corporate finance, which applied to businesses of any size. Ultimately, Ang (1991, 1992) conceded that identifying a single theory specific to small businesses’ capital structure was not possible. Ang (1992) explored the difficulty faced by small business owners in securing funding for continued operation. After asserting that no single theory of finance fully addressed the unique needs of small businesses, Ang (1992) differentiated between large and small businesses, finding the latter’s success aligned closely with the business owner’s reputation and the relationships with lenders. The theory of financial management related to restricted financing options and organizational failure for businesses of any size. The theory does not apply specifically to small business owners and the strategies used to obtain financing for continued operation, making it inappropriate for this study. Comment by T Ross: I think this was really well done. It’s unique to have two articles by the same author compared against one another. Nicely done.

Small Businesses

Small businesses—defined as companies with fewer than 500 employees (SBA, 2018b)—are essential to the U.S. economy (Klimczak et al., 2017). In 2013, 28 million small businesses accounted for over 99.9% of all businesses in the United States (SBA, 2018b). Small businesses have a positive effect on gross domestic product (Klimczak et al., 2017), driving the economies of both developed and underdeveloped countries (Karadag, 2015). Comment by T Ross: Need link…perhaps something about US small business leaders.

In the United States, many small business leaders struggle to sustain their business longer than 5 years (SBA, 2018a). In 2013, 406,353 start-up businesses appeared and 400,687 others dissolved, showing a narrower gap between the openings and closings of prior years (SBA, 2018b). Businesses fail for many reasons, among them an inability to access capital and manage finances (Lee, 2016). A lack of access to financing and mismanagement of working capital due to poor financial literacy could result in business failure (Karadag, 2015; Lussier & Corman, 2015). Comment by T Ross: Are there any contrasting articles on this topic? Is there a gap that these articles should have covered but did not? How can you link this to the next paragraph?

Small business sustainability. Business leaders heading operations of any size must have strategies in place to remain keep operations sustainable. Relevant to the focus of this study, one key to sustainability is to develop ways to acquire financing for business growth and development (Eggers & Lin, 2015; Leroy et al., 2015). The relationship between management and business partners is a key component of guaranteeing a favorable business return (Fang, Xiaoling, Minue, & Palmatier, 2015). Other means of promoting business continuity include networking (Song, 2015), relationship-building (Fang et al., 2015), cost minimization (Banker, Mashruwala, & Tripathy, 2014), and differentiation (Mathooko & Ogutu, 2015). Building positive relationships with the right individuals and making the correct business decisions often leads to ongoing business sustainability and strategies for leaders to obtain a working capital line of credit and ensure business continuity (Bauman, 2015).

Many small business leaders attribute business failures to external factors, despite contradictory evidence that internal management capabilities and approaches have as much, or more to do with business sustainability (Eggers & Lin, 2015). Findings relevant to business owners from a study of existing data on small business owners in the United States and China, Eggers and Lin (2015) identified one sustainability strategy to be exploring avenues to acquire financing for business continuity and growth. Pollack, Coy, Green, and Davis (2015) found that small business owners who assembled a network of stakeholders, such as loan officers at traditional banks, were better prepared for positive sustainability outcomes. The findings of both studies are particularly applicable to my study, which will be an exploration of how small business owners acquire working capital lines of credit for business continuity. Small business owners must who have strategies in place for their organizations to improve their remain sustainability (citation)ble. Comment by T Ross: Avoid must or should statements. What happens when the things that should be done happen?

Small business credit. Small business owners rely on external credit for sustainability. In 2016, 400 small business owners from 12 cities, including Richmond, Maryland, took part in the Small Business Credit interviews administered by the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) of New York (2017). More than 50% of small business leaders reported encountering problems in securing credit for business expansion (FRB of New York, 2017). Challenges encountered by business leaders included maintaining sufficient working capital for paying operating expenses, too much debt, and not enough inventory without the aid of a small business line of credit (FRB of New York, 2017). As such, small business owners need who have a strategy to obtain a line of credit for working capital to may be able to sustain their business. Comment by James Glenn: You should discuss prior to this exactly what working capital management is, and why it is so critical to business operational success. . Comment by T Ross: I don’t see that you added this?

Small business leaders may use personal funds, take out additional loans, make late payments, downsize operations, cut staff, and negotiate with lenders, possibly failing to meet debt obligations (FRB of New York, 2017). Seventy percent of small business owners relied on personal funds to fund working capital needs, whereas those heading larger firms with ready access to capital markets sought external financing. Overall, however, all leaders used retained business earnings as a primary source of funding (FRB of New York, 2017). At the time of the Small Business Credit interviews, more than 70% of businesses held outstanding debt, with 20% owing more than $100,000 (FRB of New York, 2017). Moreover, 34% of companies had increased debt levels from the prior year, with 19% of leaders expecting their debt level to rise the following year (FRB of New York, 2017). Business leaders looking for funds expressed needing to finance for business and operating expansion (FRB of New York, 2017). About 45% of company leaders were seeking to finance; among these, 55% sought $100,000 or less (FRB of New York, 2017). Types of external funds pursued included a line of credit, credit card, equity investment, trade credit, leasing, and factoring, with 86% of leaders applying for business loans or lines of credit (FRB of New York, 2017). Among the applicants who sought financing, 76% received some credit and 40% received the full amount (FRB of New York, 2017). The findings of this study included… Comment by James Glenn: What are the implications of these findings? Analysis?

A past working relationship may be a component of a successful application for financing. In general, small business owners pursued financing through lenders with whom they had a good relationship or from whom they expected to receive approval (Neagu, 2016). The applicants generally looked for loans from banks, credit unions, community development financial institutions, and online lenders (Neagu, 2016), finding the greatest satisfaction with small banks (FRB of New York, 2017).

Means of bank financing are integral to understand as relevant to this study; however, not all small businesses seek financing. Business leaders give many reasons for not seeking funds, including already having enough financing, being debt-averse, and having a low credit score, the latter of which is a strong determinant of obtaining financing (FRB of New York, 2017). About 85% of business leaders relied on the credit score of the owner in securing funding. Leaders of businesses with less than $1 million in annual revenue tend to have lower credit scores (FRB of New York, 2017). Business leaders who failed to acquire financing gave reasons such as high interest rate, unfavorable repayment plan, long approval wait time, complicated process, and lack of transparency, with the latter the primary concern (FRB of New York, 2017). Participants also attributed credit denial to weak business performance, insufficient collateral, too much existing debt, and inadequate credit history. Comment by T Ross: Is this the sole source for all of the reasons that you list? It’s fine if it is, but thought perhaps you might have drawn this from a few sources. Comment by T Ross: You need analysis and link. Were their gaps in the article’s reasoning? Were there other studies that provided support or contrast?

Small businesses and government roles. The government also plays an essential role in lending to SMEs. Many government officials realize access to financing is important to small business sustainability (Moscalu, 2015). External funding is necessary for the sustainability and growth of small businesses, which contribute significantly to economic development (Neagu, 2016). Financing availability is essential for the viability and survival of small businesses (Lussier & Corman, 2015). Small businesses need access to funds to compete in the international market (Osano & Languitone, 2016). However, banks are less likely to lend to small businesses because of high risk and insufficient collateral (Kamguia Wabo, 2015; Kozarevic, Jukan, & Softic, 2015). Comment by T Ross: You have not used this acronym yet so you need to write it out first and then put it in parentheses. Comment by T Ross: Vague. What gov officials? Comment by T Ross: External funding from the government? Unclear. Comment by T Ross: You don’t really talk about the government in this paragraph except at the very beginning. You need more evidence. You have a few sentences about financing and viability but not really specifically about the role of government. You need analysis and a link.

Government involvement can also mitigate financing constraints. To explore the financing challenges unique to small businesses, Brian and Shingirayi (2014) collected data from one-on-one interviews and questionnaire responses. Findings showed that small businesses received insufficient funding from financial institutions, which hampered organizational growth (Brian & Shingirayi, 2014). As a result, Brian and Shingirayi recommended the creation of a government-generated loan guarantee system and a formalized application process for small business owners to obtain funding. In addition, the authors noted steps small business owners should take to improve their chances of securing funding, including maintaining accurate accounting records and networking with other entrepreneurs (Brian & Shingirayi, 2014). Findings are relevant to the current study, as government funding is one way for U.S. small business owners to secure working lines of capital for business continuity. Comment by T Ross: From the government? Comment by T Ross: Link needed.

Strategies in acquiring a line of credit. The strategies small businesses use in acquiring a working capital line of credit is a common topic of recent scholarly inquiry (e.g., Godwin-Opara, 2016; Owusu, 2017; Smith, 2018; Wani, 2018; Wilkinson, 2017). In a multiple case study using resource-based theory as the conceptual framework, Godwin-Opara (2016) interviewed five machine shop owners in Kansas to determine how they sustained business operations for 2 two years or more. Among the four themes identified was the need for accessible external financing. Business owners shared the importance of securing bank loans and lines of credit, which some participants noted to be easier processes with better repayment terms (Godwin-Opara, 2016).

Closely tied to the proposed research were studies by Nguyen (2017) and Smith (2018), each of whom explored strategies small business owners used to secure financing for ongoing business operations. In a study highly relevant to this one, Nguyen interviewed six small business owners in Maryland to determine what strategies they used to overcome the challenges of sustaining business continuity beyond 5 five years. Participants shared strategies such as creating long-term business plans, investing in their employees, remaining out of debt, adapting their approach depending on the market, and carefully accounting for expenditures and cash reserves (Nguyen, 2017). In a similar inquiry, Smith used pecking order theory to explore strategies used by small business owners in the Southeast United States in securing working capital lines of credit for continued operations. From a review of company documents and data analysis from semistructured interviews with six business owners, Smith identified six themes regarding successful strategies the participants used. Instead of bank financing, participants were more likely to have used personal funds, customer revenue streams, bootstrapping, and personal credit (Smith, 2018). You need a linking sentence here to wrap up this paragraph and lead into the next. Comment by James Glenn: What were they? One of the ways to demonstrate subject matter mastery is to discuss/analyze/summarize the findings from the studies you are reviewing. Some other tips below:Select each study from each major theme discussed.2.) Group studies that are similar. 3.) Group studies that are dissimilar4.) Group studies with contrasting points of view.Other suggestions:The articles can be organized by theme, methodology, or chronology. Include an introduction and conclusion. Avoid direct quotations. Just like in an annotated bibliography, you will want to avoid direct quotes. Paraphrasing will also ensure your review of literature is in your authorial voice. 3. Organize by topic or theme rather than by author. Organizing helps demonstrate your synthesis of the material and inhibits you from creating a series of book reports. Use headings. APA encourages the use of headings within longer pieces of text to display a shift in topic and create a visual break for the reader. 5. Use comparative terms. A literature review can be lengthy and dense, so you will want to make your text appealing to your reader. Transitions and comparison terms will allow you to demonstrate where authors agree or disagree on a topic and highlight your interpretation of the literature. Retrieved from Walden University research center, (2017)Roberts (2010) proposes twelve (12) actions in synthesizing a literature review:1.Identify relationships among studies. 2.Compare works. 3.Comment on themes and patterns. 4.Demonstrate evidence of common results with data from multiple sources. 5.Discuss pros and cons of issues. 6.Explain conflicts and contradictions among sources. 7.Identify gaps in the literature, and explain why they Comment by Natalie Casale: You changed this sentence to – Smith identified common strategies used in obtaining working capital. You have the same issue. What are the common strategies?

Identifying the strategies used to secure financing could be less important than defining the characteristics of business leaders who succeed in obtaining working capital lines of credit. Themes from a multiple case study by Wani (2018) were more specific to the owners’ traits than their strategic actions. Wani noted the importance of strong entrepreneurial management and financial planning skills in achieving business continuity, identifying the absence of either skill as a challenge to continuity. Other strengths required of business owners to secure funds for continued operation were developing a capital budgeting strategy, preparing and adapting to change, and assuming responsibility for creating and maintaining accurate and transparent financial records (Wilkinson, 2017).

Scholars have looked beyond bank financing to uncover other means for small business owners to sustain operations beyond 5 years (e.g., Brooks, 2019). Three small business owners participated in face-to-face, semistructured interviews to discuss strategies they used for business continuity (Brooks, 2019). Data analysis indicated five themes, including sufficient start-up funding, access to private lenders, and business owners’ motivation and awareness (Brooks, 2019). Comment by James Glenn: Analysis. Comment by Natalie Casale: MEAL Plan – A for Analysis. That is what is missing. Comment by T Ross: What were the five themes and how do they relate to your topic?

Small Business Financing

The least-researched area of corporate financing is small business financing (Kumar & Rao, 2015). Four major gaps related to the inability of a company to obtain sufficient financing are demand, supply, knowledge (personal characteristics of the owner), and benevolence (reluctance of the financial institution to lend to small businesses; Kumar & Rao, 2015). Following is a discussion of available funding programs, means of obtaining financing, and factors affecting the decision to extend credit.

Funding programs in Maryland. Many commerce incentive loans are available to small businesses in Maryland. The 500,000 small businesses in Maryland constitute 97% of total businesses in the state and employ more than one million people (SBA, 2018b). In 2014, lending institutions issued over $1 billion in loans to small businesses (SBA, 2018b). According to the SBA (2018b), 4,074 new small businesses started in 2014 and 3,730 businesses exited. The Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (Maryland Department of Commerce, n.d.) helps small businesses that do not meet the established loan criteria of financial institutions through a range of funding programs, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority Programs

Type of small business Funding program
Any Forestry Equipment and Working Capital Loan

Maryland Resource-Based Industry Financing Loan

Maryland Vineyard Planting Loan Fund

Rural Businesses Working Capital Fund Loan

Nonprofit Nonprofit, Interest-Free Micro Loan Bridge Loan Account
Military- and veteran-owned Military Personnel and Veteran-Owned Small Business Loan Program
Minority- and women-owned Video Lottery Fund
Manufacturing sector State Small Business Credit Initiatives

The objectives of commerce incentive funds are to help business leaders create jobs, support the local economy, help disadvantaged small businesses, and promote start-up businesses (Maryland Department of Commerce, 2016). Maryland’s incentive-based loans exceeded $90 million in 2016 (Maryland Department of Commerce, 2016). Other means of financial assistance to small businesses in the state are tax credits and grants (Maryland Department of Commerce, 2016). As evidenced by Table 1, small businesses in Maryland have a range of options to secure financing for business continuity; however, not all business owners are aware of these options. With an in-depth exploration of financing sources from governments, banks, and lending programs, this literature review shows funding may be more accessible than previously believed. This qualitative exploration of the experiences of small business leaders in obtaining working lines of capital may indicate the use of such programs.

Credit Strategies

When lenders tighten access to credit because of information asymmetry, small business leaders need a workable strategy to ease loan constraints (Brinckmann & Kim, 2015). Strategically, visionary leaders understand the business needs, identify initiatives, and set directions for business growth (Simon-Moya & Revuelto-Taboada, 2015). The entrepreneurial nature of small business leaders is conditional on an ability to remain innovative by acquiring informed knowledge of an industry, understanding the market needs of products and services for that industry, meeting the needs of customers and shareholders, becoming familiar with competitors, and making accurate financial projections (Brinckmann & Kim, 2015). Therefore, the characteristics, capabilities, and skills of leaders are important to the success of the business (Frid, 2015). Comment by James Glenn: Information asymmetry is only 1 of a myriad of reasons small businesses are denied loans. Comment by James Glenn: They cannot “ease loan constraints” but they can and do negotiate better, less restrictive loan covenants. You should be familiar with these. Please watch the video:A loan covenant is a condition in a commercial loan or bond issue that requires the borrower to fulfill certain conditions or which forbids the borrower from undertaking certain actions, or which possibly restricts certain activities to circumstances when other conditions are met.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qqnblPnYZIhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4SSgxwsyhohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IDBcDF74mw Comment by James Glenn: Sounds good but what does this mean in your words? Analysis? Comment by T Ross: Expand upon visionary leaders ….you kind of drop off about it after this sentence and move into the entrepreneurial nature of small business.

The business strategy to secure a loan begins with a business plan. Many researchers agree that the lack of coherent strategy is the main impediment for small business leaders to access working capital for business growth and sustainability (Kariuki, 2015; Sandada, Pooe, & Dhurup, 2014). One component of a sound business strategy is a formalized business constraint plan, which includes setting goals, defining short- and long-term business objectives, identifying a business process, and utilizing human capital to achieve objectives (Brinckmann & Kim, 2015). In addition, a sound business plan includes strategies to mitigate the risk of capital constraints (Freeland & Keister, 2016). By carefully assessing the company’s current state and future outlook, small business leaders can improve their odds in acquiring the desired funds. Comment by James Glenn: You should discuss doing a SWOT Analysis, and a Porter’s 5 Forces analysis—see videos.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCnlArFuU-E (Porters 5 Forces)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_6AVRGLXGA (SWOT analysis) Comment by T Ross: Yes, I’d discuss it within the context of the first half of the sentence…how they assess the outlook. Then you can discuss how they use the results of that assessment to improve their odds.

Establishing trust with a lending institution often minimizes the collateral requirements in securing a working capital line of credit (Hirsch, Laschewski, & Schoen, 2016). Business leaders may want to have an independent auditor verify the company’s financial reports to establish credibility and demonstrate accountability and stewardship (Hayes, Wallage, & Gortemaker, 2014). Strongly recommended is the use of a professional accounting firm, as auditors must adhere to industry codes of conduct by assessing for and revealing irregularity or inconsistency in the financial reports (Hayes et al., 2014). Loan officers ease the loan acquisition process when small business leaders present financial documents verified by professional auditors (Sette & Gobbi, 2015). The proven track record of successful banking over time builds both trust and relationships with financial institutions (Sette & Gobbi, 2015), which will help small business owners obtain loans to finance their businesses.

Perhaps the most important factor driving the success of a small business in obtaining a working capital line of credit for business continuity is the relationship between business leader and banker. Using a qualitative case study approach with one-on-one semi-structured interviews and a review of archival data was appropriate to measure the success of four New York State small restaurant owners in securing capital funding (Brown, 2016). Similar to the proposed study, Brown (2016) explored financing strategies to sustain small businesses for 5 years or longer. Findings indicated that business owners who maintained a good relationship with financial institutions over an extended period were more successful in acquiring loans (Brown, 2016). Among the best practices for small businesses in obtaining credit were maintaining a bank balance above the minimum requirement, having few overdrafts, and keeping a favorable business transaction history. Comment by T Ross: Good…I like how you brought a similar study in to support the need for your own study.

Various factors contribute to a small business being able to procure funding. Hirsch et al. (2016) examined the relationship between 103 German banks and small business borrowers to determine the likelihood of financing. The researchers administered questionnaires to bank credit risk officers and relationship managers to assess creditability, trust, and lending outcomes. Measurement of dimensions of trust produced findings of a negative association between habituation and interest rate, and a positive association between interorganizational trust and collateral (Hirsch et al., 2016). Following a quantitative analysis of the data with heteroscedasticity-robust Huber-White-Sandwich estimators of variance, Hirsch et al. identified interorganizational trust as the greatest influence on the amount of credit banks would extend, as bank representatives were already familiar with the borrowing history of the business. In addition, the intentional trust of the bank in the business was more important than the relationship between individual bankers and small business owners with regard to positive lending outcomes (Hirsch et al., 2016). The importance of bank–company relationships compared to banker–owner relationships may emerge as a contributing factor to the ability of small business leaders to secure working capital lines of credit for business continuity.

The timing of the loan application also plays an important role in obtaining a line of credit. The economy fluctuates between growth and recession periods (Brown, 2016) during which the gross domestic product, interest rates, consumer spending habits, and unemployment rate vary (Camacho, Dal Bianco, & Martinez-Martin, 2015). Small businesses were more successful in acquiring loans during economic growth periods than in recessions, when obtaining small loans meant having working capital to improve financial situations (Brown, 2016). Findings showed the two participants who sought financing during periods of economic growth were successful, whereas the two who applied for credit during recessions or downward cycles did not receive funding (Brown, 2016). This knowledge may prove relevant in the present study, as the economic conditions may have been favorable at the time participating small business leaders were successful in obtaining financing, thus contributing to credit approval. Comment by James Glenn: Avoid anthropomorphisms. See APA p. 69Avoid anthropomorphisms. See APA p. 69. See APA page 69, section 3.09 to learn more or visit writingcenter.waldenu.edu/documents/scholarly-writing/Anthropomorphisms.pdf Anthropomorphism is defined as giving human characteristics to inanimate objects.“ Incorrect: The research study will investigate: note studies should not have human qualities“ Correct: In this research study, I will investigate xxxxAnthropomorphism (“an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics” [Merriam-Webster, n.d.]) is an example of “undesirable attribution” (APA, 2013, p. 69), and it is one of the most common APA issues that we find in student writing. Essentially, writing with anthropomorphism means that the writer attributes action to objects that cannot take that action.This is a vexing issue. Writers/researchers may often see it in other styles of scholarly writing, so it may well appear in journal articles or books that are not written in APA style. Remember that the “prime objective” of social scientific writing is “clear communication,” according to APA (2013, p. 69). That is why continuity, smoothness and economy of expression, an appropriately formal tone, and precision and clarity are so important and emphasized by the Walden Writing Center.The concern with anthropomorphism is that objects cannot take human-like action. Objects can take some types of action. What is important is that the action (verb) the object does or takes is appropriate for that object.Please correct throughout.This is an anthropomorphism (AP). Research is not capable of considering. Check for and correct anthropomorphisms throughout the document. Please see APA 6th ed. Section 3.09 and refer to http://writingcenter.waldenu.edu/Documents/Scholarly-Writing/Anthropomorphisms.pdf Comment by T Ross: It looks like you fixed this? “findings showed” doesn’t seem like an anthropomorphism to me, and I don’t see the example he uses at the end here about “research is not capable of considering…” But I also don’t see this change on your change matrix chart.

Information Symmetry in the Lending Process

Because U.S. small businesses provide the most opportunities for private employment and new jobs (Frid, Wyman, & Coffey, 2016), access to credit is critical for their sustainability and growth (Neagu, 2016). With $585 billion in outstanding loans to U.S. small businesses in 2013 (SBA, 2018b), traditional banking systems consider multiple factors in making financing decisions. The symmetry of information shared between loan providers and small business owners during the loan process is an important component of financial institutions providing a line of credit to small businesses (Ata et al., 2015). Such information factors into a credit rationing mechanism, in which the credit history, morality, and liquidity of the small business or small business owner contribute to lending decisions (Ata et al., 2015).

Information symmetry in the loan application process is an important part of loan approval. Moro et al. (2015) examined over 800 loan applications of small businesses in Italy to assess the relationships between the information provided to loan managers and the decision to provide short-term credit. Small business–provided information ratings were broken into four groups according to four factors: quantity of information, quality of the information provided by the applicant, timeliness of the applicant providing needed documentation, and completeness of the documentation. Loan managers completed a survey in which they rated the strength of loan applications for all participating small businesses. Additional data came from the financial reports of banks and the quarterly Bank Lending Interview conducted by the Italian Central Bank. Moro et al. found that information symmetry was positively related to loan access from financial institutions; in contrast, each decline in asymmetry increased the amount of short-term credit by 12%.

Information asymmetry limits financial institutions in providing external financing because of a high transaction cost (Njeru et al., 2013). Should bank leaders decide to issue the loan, they will do so at a higher interest rate because of the information asymmetry risk (Caporale & Gil-Alana, 2016); therefore, small business owners need to have a good credit history to secure loans when they need working capital. Small businesses are more vulnerable to market conditions than are large corporations (Sahin et al., 2011). Financial institution lenders like to see the credit history of the small business, characteristics of projects funded by the loan, business plan, bank account statements, balance sheets, credit scores, and collateral to minimize the risk of default (Yan et al., 2015). Comment by James Glenn: Explain why please. Why does information asymmetry limit financial institutions? Comment by T Ross: It appears you have answered this well, and expand upon the point.

Bank leaders are skeptical about lending to small businesses when small business leaders fail to give complete and correct information (i.e., information asymmetry; Ata et al., 2015), something the business owners interviewed in this study may have discovered. Small businesses providing incomplete information on the loan application or not using the funds as designated in the loan contract are moral hazards for banks (Ata et al., 2015). Therefore, Ata et al. suggested financial institutions utilize a credit-rationing mechanism to mitigate risks from information asymmetry. Credit rationing occurs when financial intuitions control the collateral and leverage requirements to reduce the loan default risk (Ata et al., 2015). To explore the concept of credit rationing, Ata et al. (2015) looked at 77 manufacturing firms that applied for a corporate loan in 2013. Logistic regression and discriminant analysis enabled an evaluation of the credit reasoning of lenders, with firms falling into either the credit-rationed and noncredit-rationed category. The findings of the study indicated….<what? As it is relevant to your study?> Based on credit reasoning, banks may charge high interest rates to minimize the risk associated with information asymmetry (Ata et al., 2015). Strong credit history and positive relationships with banks will help small business owners obtain a favorable interest rate on their loans, thus avoiding credit rationing. Because small business owners often invest their own money into the business, both personal and business credit and relationship history are important considerations. The interview questions in this proposed study may uncover experiences with credit rationing, poor credit history, and personal relationships with banks for both the businesses themselves as well as the individuals who own them. Comment by T Ross: You need separate parentheses here. Comment by Natalie Casale: Do not add accordingly Comment by James Glenn: Elaborate. Explain findings in detail.

Audited Financial Statements

Unlike larger, publicly held organizations, small businesses have no requirement to produce audited financial statements (Allee & Yohn, 2009). Providing financial statements when applying for a loan or line of credit is one component of the information symmetry lenders like to see when considering loan requests (Yan et al., 2015). At a minimum, lenders are interested in the balance sheet and profit-and-loss statement of a small business, especially when prepared by a certified auditor (Allee & Yohn, 2009). Providing these formal statements can lead to more credit access, lower interest rates, or both (Allee & Yohn, 2009). In addition, a small business leader who hires an auditor to prepare financial statements has a better awareness of the business and the ability to identify future cash flow or debt problems (Vander Bauwhede, De Meyere, & Van Cauwenberge, 2015). With knowledge about audited financial statements, small business owners are better able to represent their companies when seeking to obtain a working line of credit for business continuity (Vander Bauwhede et al., 2015). Although not directly explored by the research question, I am interested to see what participants in this study have to say about the inclusion of financial statements in their credit applications.

The State of the Economy at the Time of This Study

In the second quarter of 2020, a new economic threat presented in the form of a global pandemic. Although the long-term impact of the COVID-19 epidemic is unknown, early responses are alternately encouraging and disheartening (DePietro, 2020; Dunkelberg, 2020). Positive impacts have included low-interest or interest-free lines of credit, higher lines of credit, waived late fees, and deferred payments (DePietro, 2020). The U.S. government introduced financial assistance in the form of small business loans to pay employees’ salaries while businesses are inoperational, with many of the loans forgivable. However, the $370 billion Paycheck Protection Program ran out of funds after just 14 days (Ransom, 2020, para. 2), with only 20% of applications processed (Dunkelberg, 2020, para. 4). Congress approved the second round of small business loans of $310 billion, 40% of which was still available 2 weeks after launch (Green, 2020, para. 1). The pandemic’s impact on small businesses in 2020 and beyond is unknown (Kukura, 2020). Comment by T Ross: Have there been calls by leaders for congress to pass new PPP legislation? Are there any initial conclusions we can draw from the success or failure of the PPP loans as it relates to your study?

Transition

Over half of all U.S. companies meet the definition of small businesses, employing fewer than 500 employees (SBA, 2018a); however, nearly half of those small businesses fail to operate beyond 5 years (Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, 2016). The specific business problem is that some small business owners lack strategies to obtain a working capital line of credit for business continuity. The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study is to explore strategies that small business owners use to obtain a working capital line of credit for business continuity. Kon and Storey’s (2003) theory of discouraged borrowers serves as the guiding conceptual framework to explore the perceptions of small business owners seeking to apply for working capital lines of credit to ensure business continuity. The literature review in Section 1 pertained to the research topic of small businesses, including opportunities and challenges, types of credit available to small business leaders, information symmetry in the lending process, and credit strategies.

Section 2 includes a detailed analysis of the research method and design, as well as support for why the selected method and design are suitable for the study. Also provided are participant selection, the role of the researcher, and the ethical approach, as well as a discussion of the data collection, data organization, and data analysis approaches. Concluding Section 2 is a discussion of the research reliability and validity. Section 3 will include a presentation of findings, with an assessment against those of previous scholarly studies. I will also discuss how my findings apply to professional practice, the implications of social change, and recommendations for action and further research. Section 3 will conclude with a reflection of my experiences in the DBA program.

Section 2: The Project

Section 2 includes the research method and design, justification of the number of participants, the role of the researcher, and adherence to ethical standards. Section 2 also contains information regarding the data collection, data organization, and data analysis approaches. A discussion regarding actions taken to ensure research reliability and validity will conclude this section.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study is to explore strategies that small business owners use to obtain a working capital line of credit for business continuity. From an overarching population of small business owners in Maryland, I will interview five small business owners who achieved success in obtaining a working capital line of credit for business continuity. The implication for social change is that the findings of this proposed study might help small business owners to access a working capital line of credit to remain sustainable and grow beyond 5 years of operation. Continued business operation will lead to continued employment opportunities, which could increase the standard of living and well-being of citizens in local communities.

Role of the Researcher Comment by James Glenn: I will highlight in yellow areas I see missing.2.2 – Role of the ResearcherThe Role of the Researcher is an important part of your proposal and study. The content that you present in this subheading is important because it demonstrates that a) you have done the research that is required, b) that you understand what your role is in the study design, and 3) you understand the limitations and challenges in this type of role, and how any concerns may be mitigated to enhance the reliability and validity of your work.One of the most challenging parts to write in this subheading is about the use of a personal lens primarily because novice researchers (like students) assume that they have no bias in their data collection. However, it is important to remember that a participant’s as well as the researcher’s bias/worldview is present in all social research, both intentionally and unintentionally which is why it is important to address strategies to mitigate bias. To address the concept of a personal lens, remember that in qualitative research, the researcher is the data collection instrument and cannot separate themselves from the research, which brings up special concerns. Remember that the researcher operates among multiple worlds while engaging in research, which include the cultural world of the study participants as well as the world of one’s own perspective. A researcher’s cultural and experiential background will contain biases, values, and ideologies that can affect the interpretation of a study’s findings. Therefore, researcher bias is a concern because the data can reflect the researcher’s personal bias and concerns. It becomes imperative that the interpretation of the phenomena represent that of participants and not of the researcher. Hearing and understanding the perspective of others may be one of the most difficult dilemmas the researcher must address. The better a researcher is able to recognize his/her personal view of the world and to discern the presence of a personal lens, the better one is able to hear and interpret the behavior and reflections of others.How you address and mitigate a personal lens/worldview during your data collection and analysis is important and a key component in the Role of the Researcher subheading. It is important that a novice researcher recognizes their own personal role in the study and mitigates any concerns during data collection. Part of your discussion in this subheading should address how this is demonstrated through using an interview protocol, member checking, transcript validation and review, reaching data saturation, enabling sense making, facilitating epoché, careful construction of interview questions, and other strategies to mitigate the use of one’s personal lens during the data collection process of the study.It would be impossible to remove all bias because you are a human being. Rather, one mitigates bias as best as one can. This is demonstrated via using an interview protocol, member checking, data saturation, and other strategies to mitigate the use of one personal lens during the data collection process of your study. Inadvertently driving participants to predetermined conclusions speaks to the same concepts.

In qualitative studies, a researcher serves as the instrument for data collection (Leedy & Ormrod, 2013). A qualitative researcher is responsible for all stages of the research process, from designing the study and the research questions to collecting, coding, and analyzing data to draw findings (Fink, 2000). At any time interacting with the participants, a researcher listens, gets involved, and shows interest in participants’ opinions (Kumar & Cavallaro, 2017). I will take steps to reduce any personal influence I may have on the findings, including acknowledging and setting aside subjective perceptions and experiences. Additionally, during data analysis in a qualitative study, the researcher identifies and codes themes, finding the meanings that emerge from the dialog with participants (Yin, 2017).

As a 20-year career credit union banker in the department of underwriting small business loans, I have personal experience and expertise on the topic and the research area. To reduce the likelihood of bias, I will continually strive to remain objective, not letting my professional position conflict with my role as a researcher, despite my relationships with banking and business associations and affiliations. I will remain open to all uncovered evidence and mitigate personal bias.

Personal bias is a clear threat to research credibility. Henriques (2014) advocated for the researcher to recognize personal bias and subjectivity to avoid ignoring perceptions or preconceived notions of the problem. Mitigating bias and subjectivity involves the use of bracketing, or epoché, as part of the data collection, interpretation, and presentation process (Moustakas, 1994). As a transcendental approach, the Greek word epoché means to refrain from or set aside preconceptions or judgments of experience, knowledge, beliefs, or meanings, thus ensuring unbiased results (Onwuegbuzie, Leech, Slate, & Sharma, 2012). With my extensive understanding of the phenomenon under study, I must suspend any prejudgment and remain objective to achieve trustworthy findings. Comment by T Ross: Okay, I think you’re going to need to be specific about how you will bracket your biases. Here are some suggestions: —discussing your positionality within the phenomenon, —keeping an audit trail, —having an external review of your interview questions by an expert in the field to determine if they are comprehensive enough to uncover what needs to be uncovered, —checking the codes and themes you arrived at during data analysis against what the literature themes were that you discussed in chapter 2 (they may not be perfectly aligned, but there should be some connection if your interview questions were well-designed and based on the literature)—having an external review by a qualitative researcher and/or expert of how you arrived at the codes that you did, —having an external review by expert in the field of the findings, —and conducting member checks with participants of their transcripts as well as checking with them about the findings you arrived at to get their insight.

Researchers must also adhere to specified ethical guidelines, such as those outlined in the Belmont Report (National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, 1979) and Ethics in Research with Human Participants (Sales & Folkman, 2000) published by the American Psychological Association. As the researcher in this study, I must maintain respect, beneficence, and justice for all participants. In addition, I must keep separate my professional role as a small business lending consultant and researcher role of soliciting small business owners.

SemistructuredSemi structured interviews are an appropriate means of qualitative data collection (Baškarada, 2014; Cronin, 2014; Stake, 1995). Due to the open-ended nature of the interview questions, I will have the opportunity to ask follow-up inquiries, as needed, to uncover all information needed to answer the research question. The use of an interview protocol will guide each interview, ensuring that I am consistent when asking the same interview questions of each participant in the same order. An interview protocol is a uniform way for a researcher to gather comparable data from participants (Devotta et al., 2016). During face-face data collection, a researcher can take notes to document participants’ nonverbal behaviors and make observations not captured by audio recording (Chongo, Chase, Lavoie, Harder, & Mignone, 2018). I will do my best to be neutral and watch my body language to avoid influencing the respondent. Furthermore, I will use bracketing to mitigate my assumptions, preventing them from infringing upon data collection, analysis, and interpretation. I will transcribe all recordings after each interview, subsequently importing files into NVivo software to assist with data manipulation and interpretation. According to Walden University protocol, I will store all digital data and papers for 5 years after this study before destroying them. Comment by T Ross: You need to explain how. See my comment above.

Participants Comment by James Glenn: The requirements are straight forward but often missed in the Participants heading. Consider the explanations in the following table.Rubric Requirement ExplanationDescribes the eligibility criteria for study participants. The participants must meet the eligibility requirement within the scope of the population. Consider the research question: What strategies do department store managers use to motivate their sales associates? If one identified the population as department store managers who have worked in the field for 8-years and have a minimum of 5-years supervising sales associates, one would not be necessarily addressing the requirement. The criteria for the example research question would be department store managers who have successful strategies that they are using to motivate sales associates. The department store manager may have been in the field for 20-years or 1-month-the time in position has nothing to do with the study. Likewise, working with the employees does not mean that the department store manager is using a strategy to motivate the sales associates. Discusses strategies for gaining access to participants. Explain your plan for gaining access to participants. In a quantitative survey, one may use a professional association membership list or other types of list to access participants via email, phone, etc.For a qualitative study, one may also use professional associations, trade affiliations, etc. for gaining access. One may also be using rosters inside the company(ies) and emailing, calling, or visiting in person for a case study. It is vital that you develop a strategy to determine that participants meet the study criteria before inviting participation.Identifies strategies for establishing a working relationship with participants. Once one gains access, one needs to develop a working relationship with the participants. This may be as simple as sending a survey link via email in a quantitative study to how you will cover the informed consent form and set the stage for a qualitative interview (often referencing the interview protocol). The participants must align with the overarching research question. This requirement is a reminder that one must have the correct criteria for selecting the participants and that the criteria must align with the research question-nothing else should be included in the criteria.E. Supports every decision with a minimum of three scholarly peer-reviewed or seminal sources. During planning the study, one will make several decisions. In this heading, there is a decision for the participant criteria, how one will gain access to the participants, and how one will build a working relationship with the participants. Each decision will need a synthesis from a minimum of three scholarly peer-reviewed or seminal sources to support the decision. This means that one may have nine citations for this section. Fortunately, you have an annotated bibliography with peer-reviewed studies where others have made similar decisions as well as seminal sources on methodology.Tip: To represent your sources correctly: Write about what you will do in one sentence and synthesize your sources supporting your decision in a separate sentence.

To be eligible for the proposed study, individuals must be small business owners of a manufacturing and wholesale small business located in Maryland that employs 500 or fewer employees and has been in operation longer than 5 years. In addition, participants must have been successful in obtaining a working line of credit for business continuity. Because of my professional experience as a credit union banker underwriting loans for SMEs, I have contacts with small business owners whom I can ask to take part in my study. The first step in establishing a working relationship with prospective participants is by contacting them by telephone. I will discuss the general purpose of the study, including the participation process and implications for business practice. I will develop a rapport with participants, treating them with respect and offering to answer any questions they may have. Upon the business leaders’ confirmation of interest, I will schedule a brief preliminary meeting at a time and place convenient to the business leader, whether in-person or by telephone, to confirm they meet the criteria for participation. I will supply qualified participants with an informed consent form (see Appendix A), which we will review together. At this point, we will schedule a mutually convenient date, time, and location to meet for the semistructuredsemi structured interview. I anticipate interviews will take place either at the participants’ place of business or in a private conference room at a local library. Comment by T Ross: How will you seek potential participants before you pick up the phone and call them? Will you be sending out an email to all of your contacts you know meet the inclusion criteria and then wait for them to let you know they are interested? Comment by T Ross: How? Comment by T Ross: Check with Walden…they probably won’t allow you to meet face to face at this time, even if your state allows it. Comment by T Ross: Adjust for COVID.

I will continue to call qualified individuals until I obtain five small business owners meeting the appropriate criteria who are willing to participate in my study. When we meet for the interview, I will provide an informed consent form (see Appendix A) to explain the research, present the risks and benefits of being in the study, and outline the expectations and requirements of participants. Included in the consent form is a reminder that participation is voluntary and individuals are free to leave the study at any time without consequence. By signing the informed consent form, the small business owners agree to the terms of participation and give their approval for audio recording the interviews. Comment by T Ross: I would mention something in here about answering any questions they may have about informed consent.

Research Method Comment by James Glenn: This heading is an extension of the Nature of the Study. The first paragraph of the Nature of the Study required a description of and justified the methodology. Here you will extend that discussion by providing more information and additional resources. Be sure to include at least three sources for each decision you make.

The research method and design act as blueprints connecting the elements of research to the process of exploring questions and drawing conclusions (Leedy & Ormrod, 2013). Qualitative researchers seek to describe the experiences of participants as accurately as possible (Baškarada, 2014; Sandelowski, 1997; Yin, 2017) rather than using numbers to describe the phenomena of interest (Landrum & Garza, 2015; White, Oelke, & Friesen, 2012). Qualitative methodology enables a researcher to understand a particular occurrence from the perspective of those who have experienced it (Baškarada, 2014; Sandelowski, 1997; Vaismoradi, Turunen, & Bondas, 2013; Yin, 2017). Exhaustive qualitative research involves exploring the experiences of participants descriptively, through self-awareness or interactive interpretation, to frame a need for change or reform (Walker & Taylor, 2014). The basis of qualitative research is comparing and contrasting views under different realities (Bahari, 2012).

I considered and rejected quantitative and mixed-methods approaches for this study. Researchers use the quantitative method to produce generalizable findings and to test the relationships and differences between variables and constructs (Landrum & Garza, 2015; Parry, Mumford, Bower, & Watts, 2014; Yin, 2017). Quantitative research involves analyzing identified variables to determine a correlation, significance, or relationship, and then testing theories using hypotheses (Antonakis, Bastardoz, Liu, & Schriesheim, 2014; Westerman, 2014). Quantitative researchers focus on analyzing statistical data and may fail to furnish information on the experiences, mindsets, or strategies of participants (Thamhain, 2014). The quantitative method did not align with the purpose of this study; therefore, I rejected the quantitative approach.

A mixed-methods approach enables integrating qualitative and quantitative data in a single study (Petticrew et al., 2013). Researchers using mixed-methods gather distinct contributions from both the qualitative and quantitative research methodologies (Bryman & Bell, 2015; Fetters & Molina-Azorin, 2017; McCusker & Gunaydin, 2015). Because quantitative methodology does not align with the purpose of this study, mixed-methods is also inappropriate. A qualitative approach is the most appropriate to explore in-depth the strategies small business owners use to obtain a line of credit to sustain their business beyond 5 years.

Nature of the Study

Looks like you need a nature of the study section here?

Research Design Comment by James Glenn: 2.5 – Research DesignThis section is an extension of the Nature of the Study. The second paragraph of the Nature of the Study required a description of and justified the design. Here you will extend that description by providing more information and additional resources. Be sure to include at least three sources for each decision you make.Data Saturation in Qualitative Study Designs A vital prerequisite for a valid qualitative study is having a plan to ensure data saturation. Data saturation in qualitative research ensures the validity in a qualitative study similar to a statistically valid sample in a quantitative study. See more on data saturation in the Population and Sampling heading below.How to Use Three SourcesSpecifically stating three sources is one way to make it clear to the reviewers that you have mapped to the Rubric. However, what the reviewers are looking for is that students have done the required reading to justify the choice of research design that will best assist collecting data to answer the research question. Rather than list name-date, name-date, name-date repeatedly, one would synthesize the concepts into one cohesive whole supported by sources in a somewhat indirect manner. For example:Case studies are the preferred strategy researchers employ when asking how or what questions (Amerson, 2011; Andrade, 2009; Yin, 2009). These types of studies identify operational links among events over time (Andrade, 2009; Baxter & Jack, 2008; Yin, 2009). Case studies may be exploratory, explanatory, or descriptive and may involve one organization and location or multiple organizations and locations for a comparative case study (Amerson, 2011; Stake, 1995; Yin, 2009). In other words, you are supporting your synthesis with at least three sources. Another way to support your design with a source is: Ethnographic study is unique in that it includes fieldwork where all relevant participants are observed and interviewed informally rather than a specified number as in phenomenology (Fusch, 2001; Wolcott, 2011). Bernard (2012) stated that the number of participants needed for a qualitative study was a number he could not quantify, but that the researcher takes what he can get it. In other words, you support your synthesis in a more direct way. Note that Bernard’s entire work is not within the text, but, rather, one important statement that he did make is and it supports the chosen research design.In both examples, the synthesis demonstrated depth of knowledge that is supported by published peer-reviewed work, which is what reviewers want to see in your work. Moreover, it is a demonstration of your scholarly research abilities. Note, you may use the same source to support more than one decision if applicable.

A case study design enables a researcher to frame one or more cases in real-life settings to holistically and deeply explore a phenomenon holistically and deeply (Marshall & Rossman, 2016; Merriam, 1998; Yin, 2017). The justification for utilizing a case study instead of another design is that the case study allows the researcher to answer the central research question from the perspectives of individuals who have direct experience with the concept of study (cite three sources). A qualitative case study is an optimal approach because I will be exploring a phenomenon in a real-life context.

Other qualitative research designs include ethnography, phenomenology, and narrative (Marshall & Rossman, 2016; Miles, Huberman, & Saldaña, 2014; Onwuegbuzie et al., 2012). Ethnographic researchers explore and analyze a problem contextualized through observations and interviews within a historical and cultural setting (Marshall & Rossman, 2016; Vesa & Vaara, 2014) to understand the values, language, and beliefs of a culture, group, or individual (Marshall & Rossman, 2016; Robinson, 2014). Phenomenology entails participants describing personal lived experiences, perspectives, or knowledge of a problem concretely without abstract generalization (Marshall & Rossman, 2016; Walker, 2012). In essence, phenomenology enables a researcher to explore the essence of participant experience via interview and observation (Kafle, 2013; Marshall & Rossman, 2016). Finally, narrative researchers collect data through observation, documentation, questionnaires, interviews, photos, or artifacts to contextualize participant experience (Marshall & Rossman, 2016; Petty, Thomson, & Stew, 2012). Narrative design creates an opportunity for the researcher to delve deeply into the life experiences of participants and contextualize understanding of the problem under study (Marshall & Rossman, 2016; Venkatesh, Brown, & Bala, 2013). I will not be exploring cultures, seeking concrete descriptions of lived experiences, or contextualizing participant experiences. Accordingly, I rejected ethnography, phenomenology, and narrative designs in favor of the case study approach. I think all of this reads really well. I find all of his comments unrelated to the document I’m reading. I think his comments are from a comment bank and he just adds them to all of the dissertations he reviews to ensure students understand what they are doing. But this reads very clearly to me and well supported.

Population and Sampling Comment by James Glenn: 2.6 – Population and Sampling (Quantitative Only)PopulationStart by describing the population from which the sample will be drawn. Include any pertinent demographic variables (e.g., CEO, senior executive, mid-level manager, sales professional, front-line supervisor, etc.). Refer to pg. 29 (Participant Characteristics) of the APA Manual (American Psychological Association, 2010) for other appropriate characteristics when appropriate.SamplingThe two broad categories of sampling methods are probabilistic sampling (random sampling) and non-probabilistic sampling (non-random sampling) . Identify and defend your sampling method. You must address the strengths and weaknesses of your chosen sampling method. For example, if you will utilize a stratified random technique defend your reason for doing so. Also note why stratified sampling is more appropriate for your research situation than another sampling technique. You will need to refer to the literature pertaining to sampling techniques. Describe and defend the sample size. This is where you discuss conducting a power analysis to determine the appropriate sample size. You will present your power analysis in this component. G*Power3 is an excellent power analysis software tool and can be downloaded at: http://www.gpower.hhu.de/en.html. You will find a user’s manual and short tutorial at the same website. See Appendix B for an example power analysis.Describe the eligibility criteria for inclusion in the study. Discuss any exclusion criteria. Make the eligibility criteria clear, as the results of the study cannot be generalized beyond your targeted population. You need to make it clear as to who can, and who cannot, participate in your study.

Participants in this case study will be five small business owners in Maryland who obtained a working capital line of credit for business continuity beyond 5 years of operation. The two key considerations that guide sampling in qualitative research are appropriateness and adequacy to answer the research questions (O’Reilly & Parker, 2013). Purposive sampling is a nonprobability method allowing researchers to solicit participants based on their knowledge of and experience with the phenomenon under study (Barratt, Ferris, & Lenton, 2015; Petty et al., 2012; Yin, 2017). A purposive sampling approach is the best way to explore the strategies used by small business owners to obtain a working capital line of credit within a changing business environment. Comment by T Ross: Check with Laura but are years written in numbers if they are less than 10?

In qualitative inquiry, the aim is not to acquire a fixed number of participants, but rather to gather enough depth of information as a way to fully describe the phenomenon (O’Reilly & Parker, 2013). Data saturation is a systematic guideline to ensure researchers have collected all data necessary to understand the meaning participants give to their statements. Data saturation is evidence of rigor in qualitative research (Constantinou, Georgiou, & Perdikogianni, 2017). Saturation occurs when continued data collection generates no new information (O’Reilly & Parker, 2013). I will be able to confirm saturation as I code and thematically analyze data from participant interviews and document reviews, finding no new information emerging as I approach the end of data analysis. Comment by T Ross: I think you do a good job of defending a no-required-number for the sample size. Comment by T Ross: Good!

To be eligible for this study, individuals must meet the following selection criteria: (a) own a small manufacturing and wholesale business in Maryland, (b) employ 500 or fewer people, (c) have been in business at least 5 years, and (d) have been successful in obtaining a working line of credit for business continuity. After our initial telephone call to discuss the study and gauge participants’ interest, I will arrange a brief, face-to-face pre-interview to ensure individuals are appropriately qualified for this study. At the conclusion of this meeting, I will supply qualified participants with an informed consent form (see Appendix A), which we will review together. At this point, we will schedule a mutually convenient date, time, and location to meet for the semistructured interview. I anticipate interviews will take place either at the participants’ place of business or in a private conference room at a local library.

Ethical Research Comment by James Glenn: 2.8 – Ethical ResearchEach research study comes with its own set of specific ethical issues. Thus, a rubric cannot address all possible scenarios. Therefore, it will be helpful to review the IRB Application Form before you complete this component to ensure you address any requirements not identified in the rubric or Research Handbook. However, as a minimum, discuss the informed consent process. Include a copy of the informed consent form in an appendix and list the informed consent form in the Table of Contents. Discuss participant procedures for withdrawing from the study. Describe any applicable incentives. Clarify measures for assuring the ethical protection of participants is adequate. Agreement documents are to be listed in the (a) text of the study, (b) appendices and (c) Table of Contents. Include a statement that data will be maintained in a safe place for 5-years to protect rights of participants. Ensure you indicate that the final doctoral manuscript will include the Walden IRB approval number. Ensure the document does not include names or any other identifiable information of individuals or organizations.Each participant in your study must give written consent to take part in the data collection phase of the work. Moreover, as a researcher following the protocols of the Belmont Report, you must ensure that your participants have a full understanding of their part in the study. Finally, you must ensure that participants understand that they may withdraw from your study at any time without penalty, and how to withdraw from the study.It is a good practice to complete the first draft of your IRB application while completing the ethics section as well as Section 2. Consider: (a) writing a sentence about your plan to share a summary of the findings with the study participants, and (b) do not use the term anonymous for qualitative studies if you will be interviewing or knowing whom the participants are. Qualitative researchers can protect the confidentiality but not the anonymity of participants because the researcher will know who the participants are. Depending upon the data collection method, quantitative researchers may be able to protect participants’ anonymity. Comment by T Ross: I think you could just look at other studies from your department and see if there are areas they covered that you did not in this section. However, in looking over it, you are quite thorough. I will say that in the work my clients have done with Walden’s IRB, they are quite thorough. They are very focused on protecting the time of the participants in addition to their confidentiality. I had a client get their IRB application get kicked back by Walden because she said that she would have participants review the transcripts for accuracy, and they said that was too much of a burden for participants to do that. I think that’s crazy, and maybe it was just in the college of education, but it seems unethical to me NOT to ask participants to do that. They also didn’t like that she was going to supply participants with a copy of the dissertation at the end, saying that it would be too much for participants to read through and understand. (again, this is crazy to me) She changed it to say she would supply an executive summary of the dissertation to participants. You may not have that experience. And the IRB committee you have may not feel the same way, but I’m just giving you a heads up. Comment by T Ross:

Informed consent is a necessary component of ethical research to ensure participants are fully aware of what the research entails, their rights to confidentiality and fair treatment, and the fact that participation is voluntary, allowing them to withdraw at any time. Prior to the beginning of each interview, I will again review the informed consent form (see Appendix A) with participants, answering any questions they may have. In addition to giving their signed permission to conduct the interview, participants will also be authorizing the audio recording of the interview. Should they choose to withdraw their participation, individuals may send an e-mail to my Walden University address, as listed on the informed consent form. No reason for the withdrawal is necessary. Upon receipt of such notification, I will immediately shred any material related to the withdrawn participant, as well as delete any audio recordings and remove any collected or analyzed data from consideration. There are no incentives to participate. Comment by T Ross: Participants can also stop participating on the spot, though. I’ve had that happen.

I will adhere to the highest values in academic research regarding the ethical protection of participants. These values include displaying respect, following through on commitments, and strictly complying with protocol and consents to ensure no stress or harm to participants (Rubin & Rubin, 2012). I will adhere to the principles of beneficence, justice, and respect for persons as dictated by the Belmont Report (National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, 1979). Respect for participants is providing transparency in the research process and objectives. During data collection, researchers should avoid relationships that could impair professional performance or harm participants, discuss potential risks and benefits of the research with participants, and share contacts to reach out with further questions (Ellis-Barton, 2016; Mondragon Barrios, Guarneros Garcia, & Jimenez Tapia, 2017). I will maintain the highest ethical standards with particular emphasis on ensuring participants’ protection. Before applying for Walden University Institutional Review Board permission, I will complete the National Institute of Health Protection Human Research Participants course with emphasis on ensuring participants’ protection.

The means of archiving data is another ethical consideration. Data archiving is a process of securing, preserving, and storing research data and resources for a future audit, allowing others to verify findings or advance research (Corti, 2012). I will password-protect and store all data—including signed informed consent forms, electronic records, company documents, handwritten notes, and hard copies of transcripts and findings—on a thumb drive or in a folder, which I will retain in a secure, fireproof vault for 5 years. After this time, I will erase and destroy the files.

Before each interview, I will again assure participants that their identities will remain confidential. I will use alphanumeric codes instead of names on all research data (e.g., P1, P2, etc.), including interview recordings, handwritten notes, transcripts, NVivo files, and research write-ups. I will scrub company names and other identifying information from public or participant-provided documents before review and note-taking. To further protect the identities of participants, no names will appear in the final dissertation.

Data Collection Instruments Comment by James Glenn: The requirements are straight forward but often missed in the Participants heading. Consider the explanations in the following table.Rubric requirement ExplanationIn addition to identifying the student as the primary data collection instrument, identifies the data collection instrument/process (i.e., informal interview, semistructured interviews, phenomenological in-depth interviews, focus groups, company/archival documents, etc.). Rubric requirement has two parts and students sometimes miss one of them, which can lead to a revision request.Identifying that you are the primary data collection instrument.2. Identifying all of the secondary, tertiary, etc. data collection instruments. Although common in ethnographic research, in case studies, students must have a minimum of two data collection methods. B. Clarifies how the student will use the data collection instrument/technique (the process/protocol). Describe how you will use the instrument(s) by providing a brief definition of each instrument and referencing interview or focus group protocols, etc. The focus here should be more on defining and using the instrument. For example, if you are using a specific type of interview, what is the interviewing technique specific to your chosen approach (i.e., unstructured or semistructured interviews). Keep this brief; however, be sure to define the different data collection methods (with scholarly support). In the Data Collection Technique Heading, where you will expand upon the process.Identifies how the student will enhance the reliability and validity of the data collection instrument/process (i.e., member checking, transcript review, pilot test, etc.). Clarify how you will enhance the reliability and validity of the instruments such as using an expert panel to validate interview questions, member checking follow up interviews after semistructured interviews, triangulation of multiple data collection methods (during the data analysis as applicable to the research design), etc.D. Identifies where in appendices the instrument (i.e., interview protocol, focus group protocol, interview questions, etc.) is (are) located. Ensures Table of Contents lists appendices. As applicable, include interview protocols, focus group protocols, direct/participant observation protocols in the appendices.E. Supports every decision with a minimum of three scholarly peer-reviewed or seminal sources. During the study plan, one will make several decisions. In this heading there are several decisions to make and support. Each decision such as the following will need scholarly support:“ Identifying that you are the primary data collection instrument.“ Identifying all of the secondary, tertiary, etc. data collection instruments such as type of interviews, focus groups, company/archival documents, company marketing materials, etc.).“ Identifying how you will use the instruments by providing a brief definition of the instrument and referencing interview or focus group protocols, etc. “ Identifying how you will enhance the reliability and validity of the instruments such as by using member checking follow up interviews after a semistructured interview. Tip to represent your sources correctly: Write about what you will do in one sentence and synthesize your sources supporting your decision in a separate sentence. See the following examples:Academic integrity code of conduct violation (misrepresenting sources) example 1: I will use semistructured to explore the strategies that department store managers use to motive their sales associates (Johnson & Williams, 2013; Rubin & Rubin, 2012; Smith, 2014). Note that the sources did not discuss the student’s study in their publications and the example is a misrepresentation of the sources.Correctly supporting a decision example 1. Cite (2014) used semistructured interviews to determine how sales managers motivate sales associates. Likewise, Cite (2013) found that semistructured interviews were a good approach to learn how department store managers motivate sales clerks. Rubin and Rubin (2012) argued that semistructured interviews are a good way for the researcher to focus on the details that address the research question. Therefore, I will use semistructured to explore the strategies that department store managers use to motivate their sales associates. Note: please be sure to synthesize your sources to support your decisions.Academic integrity code of conduct violation (misrepresenting sources) example 2: I will be the primary data collection instrument in this study (Denzin, 2014; Marshall & Rossman, 2016; Wolcott, 2005). Note that the sources did not discuss the student’s study in their publications and the example is a misrepresentation of the sources.Correctly supporting a decision example 2. I will be the primary data collection instrument in this study. In qualitative research, the researcher is the primary data collection instrument because the researcher hears, sees, and interprets the data (Denzin, 2014; Marshall & Rossman, 2016; Wolcott, 2005). Note: please be sure to synthesize your sources to support your decisions.2.10.d. Identify where in the Appendices the instruments are located.

In qualitative studies, a researcher serves as the instrument for data collection (Leedy & Ormrod, 2013). Accordingly, my role as the researcher is that of data collection instrument, gathering information to gain a better understanding of the strategies small business owners use to acquire a working capital line of credit. I will follow an interview protocol (see Appendix B) in conducting face-to-face, one-on-one semistructuredsemi structured interviews with open-ended questions. The use of an interview protocol ensures the researcher asks the same basic questions of all participants (Yin, 2017); open-ended questions provide an opportunity for follow-up questions or probing. The interview protocol in this study contains dialogue guides and standard queries that will be the same for all participants. To increase the reliability of data collection, I will use Yin’s (2017) protocol framework, which includes an overview, data collection procedures, data collection questions, and a guide for the case study report.

I will take steps to further enhance the reliability and validity of the semistructuredsemi structured interviews as data collection instrument. After transcribing interviews, researchers often use transcript review to confirm understanding, allowing participants to review transcripts of their interviews to clarify their answers or provide additional information (Harvey, 2015). Member checking, allowing participants to confirm the accuracy of codes, themes, and study findings, is a quality control technique to enhance the accuracy, credibility, and validity of the data collection instrument and research findings (Cope, 2014; Harper & Cole, 2012; Harvey, 2015). I have elected to conduct member checking in lieu of an intrusive transcript review to enhance the reliability and validity of my study. Comment by T Ross: How will you check the accuracy of the transcripts, though? You cannot just forgo this if participants are not doing it. You might say that you will check the recordings against the completed transcript to ensure accuracy.

Data Collection Technique Comment by James Glenn: 2.11 – Data Collection TechniqueDo not confuse the purpose of this heading with that for the explanation of procedures. You want to discuss the main approach to collecting your data. It is a good idea to restate the research question and then address the data collection process. Depending upon whether you are using a quantitative or qualitative method, you should discuss and support your decision for collecting the data. Quantitative Studies In a quantitative study one would discuss: (a) surveys, (b) structured record reviews to collect data (e.g., sales data, performance records, government databases, etc.), and (d) structured observations. Self-administered questionnaires and structured records are more prevalent with quantitative research. Indicate the process you will use to collect your data. State your rationale for selecting the process (e.g., in terms of strengths and weaknesses, cost, data availability, convenience, etc.). Qualitative Studies Describe the process for collecting the data (i.e., interviews, focus groups, direct or participant observations, and review of company/archival documents, performance indicators, sales reports, business plans, etc.) Provide an abridged interview protocol, focus group protocol, observation protocol, etc., and identify the location of the protocols in an appendix.

Semistructured interviews and document reviews will be the two techniques used for data collection. Face-to-face, one-on-one semistructured interviews will take place at the participants’ place of business or in a private room at a local library, according to their preference. I will begin each interview with a review of the informed consent form (see Appendix A), which I will have participants sign after asking any questions they may have. Six open-ended questions comprise the interview protocol (see Appendix B), by which I will ensure each participant receives and responds to the same questions. The open-ended nature of inquiries allows me to ask any probing or follow-up questions necessary to obtain sufficient information to answer the research question.

I will use conversational language and industry-specific jargon to create a relaxed environment and support follow-up questions. By signing the informed consent form, participants give their permission for me to audio record the interviews. Audio recording and subsequently transcribing interviews verbatim is vastly superior to relying solely on manually documented notes, which may not only be open to interpretation but distract the researcher from paying attention during interview sessions (Oltmann, 2016). Thus, the present study will incorporate audio recording as the best way of ensuring accurate capture of participant responses, supplemented by handwritten nonverbal observations, such as expressions or gestures.

Collecting data from semistructured interviews has both advantages and disadvantages. The use of face-to-face semistructured interviews allows researchers to keep an open mind, enabling concepts and theories to emerge from the data through an inductive approach (Bryman & Bell, 2015). In-person interviews provide an advantage in enabling researchers to witness facial expressions and gestures, which may add meaning to the responses (Babbie, 2015; Brayda & Boyce, 2014; Rubin & Rubin, 2012). The flexibility of semistructured interviews allows a researcher to refocus the questions or prompt for more information, as needed, to obtain quality data sufficient to answer the research question (Baškarada, 2014; Oltmann, 2016). In addition, asking open-ended questions gives participants discretion in how to respond (Rubin & Rubin, 2012).

A disadvantage of semistructured interviews is the potential to miss unexpected or surprising evidence (Baškarada, 2014). An inductive approach to theorizing and conceptualizing allows participants to answer interview questions less explicitly than they would in more structured research (Bryman & Bell, 2015), A researcher must be aware of the common pitfalls that can threaten an effective interview, including misinterpreting or misunderstanding questions and answers (e.g., due to personal prejudices or convictions), asking leading or loaded questions, interjecting comments that could bias the response, listening only to what is easy to understand, and making assumptions based on prior responses (Baškarada, 2014).

Additional data will come from a review of publicly available and participant-provided company documents. I will procure any online or government-filed documents upon securing the individuals’ agreement to participate in the study. During our initial qualifying meeting, I will ask each small business owner for any other documents that are not proprietary or confidential. The only documents I will save and print are those scrubbed of identifying information, including company, owner, and shareholder names. The information gleaned from these documents will allow me to expand upon the data offered by participants in their interviews. Comment by T Ross: Be more specific here…what kind of documents and how are they related to your topic?

Researchers use member checking as a means of improving the trustworthiness of their findings (Cope, 2014; Harper & Cole, 2012; Harvey, 2015), thus affirming the accuracy and credibility of the study (Thomas & Magilvy, 2011). I will schedule a second meeting with all five participants for them to perform member checking, reviewing my preliminary findings and themes for accuracy and completeness. The feedback I receive from them will reaffirm my interpretations or lead me to revisit some of my findings.

Data Organization Technique

Without a case study database, commingling of case study narrative with data interpretations could render inspecting raw data nearly impossible (Yin, 2017). Therefore, I will keep a separate and organized database with a compilation of data, research log, reflective journal, and field documents, which could provide for the inspection of raw data leading to researcher conclusions.

I will import all interview transcripts into NVivo for easy storage and organization. I can use the program to create charts, graphs, word clouds, and other visual aids to assist in managing data and capturing emerging understandings. I will continue to maintain a research log, documenting step by step the processes of the study to provide a detailed audit trail for subsequent replication. I will also keep a reflective journal in which I write down my thoughts, impressions, and opinions; this will allow me to continue to check for personal bias and implement bracketing, as needed.

Maintaining the safety, security, confidentiality, and accessibility of data is the foremost objective in my data storage endeavors (Whitlock, McPeek, Rausher, Rieseberg, & Moore, 2010). All paper and electronic copies of my research, including e-mails, interviews, journals, field notes, audio recordings, and references, will remain securely stored in a fire-, water-, and theft-proof safe for 5 years. In accordance with Walden University guidelines, I will shred and delete all raw data after that period.

Data Analysis Comment by James Glenn: 2.14 – Data Analysis (Qualitative Only) The qualitative data analysis heading is critical for demonstrating doctoral level competence and will help you prepare for Section 3. This heading must be deep yet can be covered in one or two succinct paragraphs. Reviewing the following table’s contents will help you develop and write your data analysis plan.Rubric requirement ExplanationIdentifies the appropriate data analysis process for the research design (i.e., one of the four types of triangulation for case studies; modified van Kaam, van Maanen, etc. for phenomenology). Different qualitative research designs require different data analysis processes. Critically read seminal works and other studies using your research design to be able to demonstrate that you are prepared to conduct a data analysis. For example, case study researchers will use methodological triangulation. Ethnographic researchers will likely use methodological triangulation. Howeve ethnographers may also use data triangulation. B. Provides a logical and sequential process for the data analysis. Students must succinctly describe how they will perform the data analysis. Students must use all the data for the analysis. Often students planning case studies or ethnographic studies discuss the data collection instruments and techniques above, but forget everything but the interview data in the data analysis section. Students should begin their data analysis heading by noting the data from the planned collection methods and how they will use the data analysis process (in either order). For a case study, one would start by discussing how one will use methodological triangulation for the information from the different data collection methods.Details the student’s conceptual plan or software (i.e., NVivo, Atlasti, Ethnograph, Excel, etc.) for coding, mind-mapping, and identifying themes. Or is the key word in this requirement. Explain the classic data analysis method or qualitative software analysis method (how you will do it).Classic Data Analysis MethodFor the classic data analysis method, discuss sorting all of the concepts and ideas on separate sheets of paper into categorized piles-be sure to support your decision. Critically analyze the data using a large physical mind map (i.e., stacks, piles, or clusters of concepts and ideas on a wall or large room floor) for the classic data analysis method.Qualitative Software Analysis MethodFor the qualitative software analysis method, code all of the concepts and ideas (all of the data and not just the interview questions)-be sure to support your decision. Critically analyze the data in a graphical portrayal of categorized and coded concepts and ideas using the qualitative software analysis method. ThemesQuestion the meaning of the reoccurring concepts and ideas to identify the themes. In effect, the compiling phase involves organizing the data in an order, to create a database, while disassembling phases involves dividing the complied data into fragments and labels. The reassembling process involves clustering and categorizing the labels into sequences and groups. The interpretation stage requires creating narratives from the sequences and groups including conclusions.Identifies how the student will focus on the key themes, correlate the key themes with the literature (including new studies published since writing the proposal) and the conceptual framework.This should be a one or two sentence plan on how you will correlate the key themes with recent studies and the theory or conceptual models from your conceptual framework. This will help you prepare for the presentation of findings in Section 3. E. Supports every decision with a minimum of three scholarly peer-reviewed or seminal sources. Critically reading seminal and authoritative work for data analysis in your selected research design is vital at this stage of your doctoral journey. You should have ample sources to support your decisions-there are some suggested readings lists in the Bibliography-Suggested Readings Lists Comment by T Ross: Looks like he wants you to describe how you will use methodological triangulation, specifically.

I will follow Yin’s (2017) five-step data analysis process of (a) collecting the data, (b) separating the data into groups, (c) regrouping the data into themes, (d) assessing the information, and (e) developing conclusions. I will read and reread each transcript, highlighting particularly relevant words or phrases and taking notes when such phrases appear across transcripts; this is a process known as coding (Saldaña, 2015; Suter, 2012; Yin, 2017). Case study data analysis consists of examining, categorizing, tabulating, testing, or otherwise recombining evidence to draw empirically based conclusions (Rademaker, Grace, & Curda, 2012), all of which I will follow with this study.

During analysis, I will divide data into manageable pieces to reconstruct and reflect a view of reality. The initial step will be reading interview transcripts, company documents, observational notes, and any other relevant documents as a means to formulate initial categories, themes, and relationships. I will use Microsoft Word for transcribing, highlighting, and commenting on all transcripts, later transferring passages to NVivo for sorting and coding. Throughout this process, I will conduct journaling, taking notes in the form of memos to record my interpretations of transcribed data.

Pattern matching involves comparing predicted patterns or effects with empirically observed effects, allowing researchers to identify variances or gaps (Baškarada, 2014). As the best analysis method to match and analyze data, pattern matching is the most applicable technique for this case study. When I am confident I have identified all commonalities, I will import them into NVivo for ease in organization and sorting. Qualitative researchers use NVivo software to examine data for insight, coding, thematic analysis, and findings (Robins & Eisen, 2017), presenting results in various formats, including text, images, and mind maps (Woods, Paulus, Atkins, & Macklin, 2016). I will use NVivo 12 for identifying themes and interpreting the results.

Triangulation in data analysis entails seeking common findings among multiple data sources, which is another means to enhance the trustworthiness of qualitative findings (Azulai & Rankin, 2012; Yin, 2017). In addition to company document review and member checking, I will corroborate the interview data and themes with multiple data sources, including prior literature reviewed for this study or published in the interim. Comment by T Ross: Discuss methodological triangulation for case studies here. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23316537/#:~:text=Background%3A%20Methodological%20triangulation%20involves%20using,enhanced%20understanding%20of%20studied%20phenomena.

Reliability and Validity Comment by James Glenn: A key difference from quantitative research is the reliability and validity headings. The analogous criteria for qualitative studies are dependability, credibility, transferability, and confirmability. These criteria are not measurable and need to be established using qualitative methods such as member checking [Marshall and Rossman (2016) provide a good definition.] and triangulation (Data triangulation, investigator triangulation, theoretical triangulation, and methodological triangulation). See Norman Denzin’s work on triangulation). Please review more detailed information on qualitative validity at: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/qualval.php ReliabilityReliability refers to how one will address dependability. Some of the ways to enhance the dependability of the study are member checking of data interpretation, transcript review, pilot test, expert validation of the interview questions, interview protocol, focus group protocol, direct or participant observation protocol, etc. Reaching data saturation will help assure the dependability of the findings. See the seminal literature on reliability bring in a minimum of three scholarly sources to support every decision. ValidityQualitative study validity refers to the credibility, transferability, and confirmability of the findings. Reaching data saturation will help assure the credibility, transferability, and confirmability of the findings. Please see seminal work on qualitative validity to ensure that you have a valid study. Support every decision with a minimum of three scholarly peer-reviewed or seminal sources.Credibility. One can enhance credibility by member checking of the data interpretation, participant transcript review, triangulation, interview protocol, focus group protocol, direct or participant observation protocol, etc. Demonstrating qualitative credibility ensures the reviewers that one is addressing the findings from the perspective of the participants. Confirmability. One can enhance the confirmability by ensuring that the results can be confirmed or supported by others. Probing during interviews and follow up member checking interviews, questioning from different perspectives, triangulation, etc. are techniques one may use to enhance the confirmability. Transferability. Be sure to demonstrate how you will enable others to determine the transferability of the findings (i.e., meticulously adhering to the data collection and analysis techniques for the research design, using interview protocol, focus group protocol, direct or participant observation protocol, reaching data saturation, etc.). In contrast to quantitative studies where the researcher generalizes the findings, qualitative researchers do not generalize and do not state that the findings are transferable.

Reliability and validity are critical to quantitative scientific rigor, ensuring researchers meet the highest standards of academic research (Noble & Smith, 2015). Both validity and reliability are components of trustworthiness (Miles et al., 2014). Reliability and validity are necessary for a quality study (Leung, 2015).

Reliability

In a qualitative case study, dependability is the equivalent of quantitative reliability; in other words, if later researchers repeat the study using the same procedures, they will find the same results (Baškarada, 2014; Guba, 1981; Yin, 2017). To enable replication, I will maintain a detailed audit trail of study processes, which is one way researchers achieve dependability. According to Korstjens and Moser (2018), dependability means that results derived from participants’ experiences and information and not researcher bias; to this end, I will practice bracketing and journaling. I will use two additional means of establishing dependability, member checking and data triangulation. Comment by T Ross: I don’t think you can practice bracketing. Bracketing is list of things you can do to mitigate biases.

Validity

Validity in research involves accuracy and the trustworthiness of data collection, analysis, and interpretation of the findings (Dennis, 2018). To ensure validity, qualitative researchers use techniques such as credibility, transferability, and confirmability (Morse, 2015). Another technique to ensure credibility is data saturation (Birt, Scott, Cavers, Campbell, & Walter, 2016), which occurs when participant-provided information is exhaustive enough such that no more themes emerge. I will take the following steps to ensure the validity of my findings.

Credibility. One component of accurate qualitative findings is credibility (Yin, 2017). Credibility refers to the level of objectivity and impartiality of research findings (Bradshaw, Atkinson, & Doody, 2017), meaning they accurately reflect participants’ opinions and perspectives (Colorafi & Evans, 2016). I am responsible for taking steps to maintain the rigor of research and enhance study credibility, which I may gain through prolonged engagement with participants. Additional ways I will ensure this study’s credibility will be member checking and data triangulation.

Transferability. Transferability is the extent to which a study’s findings are applicable to other contexts or settings (Pozzebon, Rodriguez, & Petrini, 2014). As the researcher, I will take steps to boost the transferability of findings. One means of improving transferability is maintaining in-depth, detailed documentation of the steps undertaken in the study, from the initial recruitment to the presentation of findings (Merriam, 1998; Morse, 2015); with this audit trail, I will enable a future scholar to determine the applicability of my results to a similar population or situation. Comment by T Ross: Yes, but you also can enhance transferability by using thick, rich description that Lincoln and Guba (1985) write about. When we highlight the context of the environment, the context of the participants experiences and lives, then we give readers of our study the ability to determine what is transferable to their own context.

Confirmability. Another component of research quality, confirmability is the truthfulness and correctness of a study’s findings with the absence of researcher bias (Elo et al., 2014; Nowell, Norris, White, & Moules, 2017; Yin, 2017). I will follow procedures to ensure the accuracy of data and use triangulation to support findings from the interviews with multiple sources of data, including field notes, company document reviews, and observations. I will maintain an audit trail, providing a solid methodological reference for other researchers to assess confirmability. I will also practice reflexivity and bracketing by maintaining a diary to ensure findings reflect the perceptions of participants and not my own.

Data saturation. Saturation occurs when continued data analysis reveals the same recurring themes with no new ideas emerging at some point during coding (Constantinou et al., 2017; O’Reilly & Parker, 2013). Failure to reach data saturation calls into question the quality, reliability, and validity of the research (Nelson & Squires, 2017). I anticipate that five participants will be sufficient to achieve data saturation. I will be able to confirm saturation as I code and thematically analyze data from participant interviews and document reviews. I expect that, before I complete coding all five transcripts, I will reach a point when no new themes are emerging.

Transition and Summary

The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study is to explore strategies that small business owners use to obtain a working capital line of credit for business continuity. The implication for social change is that identification of the success factors may enable more small businesses to obtain financing, thus enabling them to continue business operation for 5 years or longer. Further, ensuring business continuity means more individuals will remain employed, thus contributing to the local economy.

As the researcher, I will serve as the data collection instrument, conducting one-on-one semistructured interviews and reviewing company documents. I will implement bracketing to minimize the risk of bias. I will adhere to ethical guidelines in research to protect participants’ rights and maintain confidentiality through the use of alphanumeric identifiers instead of names. A critical step of data analysis is ensuring the reliability and validity of data; accordingly, I will take steps to increase the dependability, credibility, transferability, and confirmability of my study.

Criteria met by the five participants in this study are owning a manufacturing and wholesale small business in Maryland, employing 500 or fewer people, being in business at least 5 years, and succeeding in obtaining a working line of credit for business continuity. Collected data will come from one-on-one semistructured interviews and company document reviews. Data analysis will begin with coding, conducting multiple reads of the material as I highlight common words and phrases. I will next import files, notes, and preliminary codes into NVivo for ease in organization, identifying themes common across interviews. Member checking will be a means to confirm my initial findings.

Section 3 will present an analysis of data in accordance with the method and design. Next, I will provide data and study findings in the context of the conceptual framework. The section will include an overview of the study and the findings with interpretations, reflections, and conclusions applicable to professional business practices. In Section 3, I will also present the application to professional practice, implications for social change, recommendations for action, and suggestions for further research. I will conclude Section 3 by reflecting on my experiences in the DBA program.

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Appendix A: Informed Consent Form

You are invited to take part in a research study about how small business owners in Maryland have been successful in acquiring a working capital line of credit to sustain their businesses beyond 5 years. The researcher is inviting owners of manufacturing and wholesale small businesses located in Maryland who employ 500 or fewer employees and have been in business longer than 5 years to be in the study. This form is part of a process called “informed consent” to allow you to understand this study before deciding whether to take part.

This study is being conducted by a researcher named Solomon Atamaya, who is a doctoral student at Walden University. You might already know the researcher as a credit union banker in the department of underwriting small business loans, but this study is separate from that role.

Background Information:

The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study is to explore the strategies that small business owners use to obtain a working capital line of credit for business continuity. Information from this study will expand understanding of the economic, social, cultural, and structural issues small businesses face in securing working lines of credit. Among the implications for social change are that more small business owners may be able to sustain operations, thus continuing to provide employment opportunities that could increase the standard of living and contribute to the well-being of citizens in the local communities.

Procedures:

If you agree to be in this study, you will be asked to:

· take part in a face-to-face, pre-interview meeting;

· participate in a 1-hour, face-to-face interview; and

· review a copy of my preliminary findings to confirm the accuracy of my analysis.

Here are some sample questions:

· What strategies did you use to obtain a working capital line of credit?

· What are the significant challenges you encountered in securing a working capital line of credit?

· How did you overcome the challenges you encountered in securing a working line of credit?

Voluntary Nature of the Study:

This study is voluntary. You are free to accept or turn down the invitation. No one at Walden University will treat you differently if you decide not to be in the study. If you decide to be in the study now, you can still change your mind later. You may stop at any time.

Risks and Benefits of Being in the Study:

Being in this type of study involves some risk of the minor discomforts that can be encountered in daily life, such as those from recalling memories and events. Minor risks may include fatigue, stress, or becoming upset. Being in this study would not pose a risk to your safety or well-being.

You will receive no direct benefits in participating; however, information you provide may help other small business owners in securing working lines of credit for business continuity. As a result, continued employment opportunities could increase the standard of living and improve the well-being of citizens in local communities. The research findings may be also be valuable to banking officials, government agencies, and creditors in understanding the challenges small business leaders face while trying to access credit.

Payment:

There is no payment for participating in this study.

Privacy:

Reports coming out of this study will not share the identities of individual participants. Details that might identify participants, such as the location of the study, also will not be shared. The researcher will not use your personal information for any purpose outside of this research project. Data will be kept secure on a password-protected thumb drive or folder retained in a secure, fireproof vault. Your confidentiality is assured, as no participant or company names will be used on any study material outside of this form; instead, I will use alphanumeric identifiers instead of names. Data will be kept secure for a period of at least 5 years, as required by the university.

Contacts and Questions:

You may ask any questions you have now. Or if you have questions later, you may contact the researcher via e-mail at satamaya@waldenu.edu. If you want to talk privately about your rights as a participant, you can call the Research Participant Advocate at my university at 612-312-1210. Walden University’s approval number for this study is IRB will enter approval number here and it expires on IRB will enter expiration date.

The researcher will give you a copy of this form to keep.

Obtaining Your Consent

If you feel you understand the study well enough to make a decision about it, please indicate your consent by signing below.

Printed Name of Participant
Date of consent
Participant’s Signature
Researcher’s Signature

Permission to Audio Record

I would like your permission to audio record our interview. This will best enable me to accurately capture your words and meaning. If you do not wish to be audio recorded, you may still participate in the study.

If you consent to audio recording, please sign here:

Appendix B: Interview Protocol

Interview Protocol
What you will do What you will say—script
Introduce the interview and set the stage—often over a meal or coffee Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to meet with me today; I know you are very busy. I have scheduled our interview for 1 hour; however, it may take less time depending on the extent of our discussion. I have six prepared questions for you, all of which will allow you to provide answers in as much depth as you like. I may also ask follow-up questions to explore further some of your experiences or perspectives.

If at any time you become uncomfortable with a question or topic or wish to take a break, please just let me know. Do you have any questions before we begin? Great. I will now start the audio recorder.

· Watch for nonverbal queues

· Paraphrase as needed

· Ask follow-up probing questions to get more in-depth

1. What strategies did you use in obtaining a working capital line of credit?
2. What are the significant challenges you encountered in securing a working capital line of credit?
3. How did you overcome the challenges you encountered in securing a working line of credit?
4. What strategies did you use in developing successful banking relationships to secure working capital?
5. How, if at all, did you have to modify the initial strategies you used for obtaining a working line of credit?

6. What else could you share that is pertinent to the procedures for obtaining credit for your business?
Wrap up interview thanking participant Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I greatly appreciated hearing about your experiences in obtaining a working capital line of credit. Your experiences will be valuable for other small business owners who find themselves in need of finances for business continuity.
Schedule follow-up member checking interview I anticipate analyzing all data and identifying preliminary themes within 3 to 4 weeks. Can we schedule some time next month so you can review my findings and provide your informed opinions and feedback?

Follow–up Member Checking Interview Protocol
Introduce follow-up interview and set the stage Thank you again for the generous allowance of your time for this process. As I mentioned when we last met, this meeting is an opportunity for you to review my preliminary findings and provide your informed opinions and feedback. I will again audio record our conversation to ensure I do not miss anything. Do you have any questions before we begin? Great; let’s get started.
Share a copy of the succinct synthesis for each individual question

Bring in probing questions related to other information that you may have found—note the information must be related so that you are probing and adhering to the IRB approval.

Walk through each question, read the interpretation and ask:

Did I miss anything? Or, What would you like to add?

Script XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
1. What strategies did you use in obtaining a working capital line of credit?
2. What are the significant challenges you encountered in securing a working capital line of credit?
3. How did you overcome the challenges you encountered in securing a working line of credit?
4. What strategies did you use in developing successful banking relationships to secure working capital?
5. How, if at all, did you have to modify the initial strategies you used for obtaining a working line of credit?
6. What else could you share that is pertinent to the procedures for obtaining credit for your business?