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Summary Research Methods for Business - Chapter 1, 2


Business Research
Summary business research 1

Chapter 1 introduction to research


What is research?
Research is the process of finding solutions to a problem after a thorough study and analysis of the
situational factors.

Business research
Can be described as a systematic and organized effort to investigate a specific problem encouraged in
the work setting, which need a solution. It comprises a series of steps that are designed and executed
with the goal of finding answers to the issues that are concern to the manager in the work environment.
Ordinal-number 1 The first step is to know where the problem areas exist in the organization, and to
identify the problems that need to be studied and resolved.
Ordinal-number 2 Steps can be taken to determine the factors that are associated with the problem,
gather information and analyze the data
Ordinal-number 3 Solve it by taken the necessary correctives measures.
This entire process is called research.
The expected end results would be discovery that helps the manager to deal with the problem situation.

Definition of business research


Research provides the necessary information that guides managers to make informed decisions to
successfully deal with problems. The information provided could be the result of a careful analysis of data
gathered first-hand or data that are already available. These data can be quantitative data (in form of
numbers as generally gathered through structured questions) or qualitative (data in the form of words as
generated from the broad answers to questions in interviews, or from responses to open-ended questions in a
questionnaire, or through observation, or from already available information gathered from various sources
such as internet).

Research and the manager


In business, research is usually primarily conducted to resolve problematic issues or interrelated among,
the areas of accounting, finance management and marketing.
(Common researched topical areas in business examples page 4 and 5 research methods for business
chapter 1)
Not only are the issues within any subarea related to many factors within that particular system, but
they must also be investigated in the context of the external environment facing the business. These have
to be scrutinized as well to assess their impact, if any, on the problem being researched.

Types of business research: applied and basic


Research can be undertaken for two different purposes:
- Applied research: solve a current problem faced by the manager in the work setting,
demanding a timely solution. Research done with the intention of applying the results of to the
findings to solve specific problems currently being experienced in an organization.
- Basic, fundamental, pure research: generate a body of knowledge by trying to comprehend how
certain problems that occur in organizations can be solved. Research done chiefly to make a
contribution to existing knowledge. The primary purpose of conducting this research is to
generate more knowledge of certain phenomena and problems that occur in several organizations
and industries with a view to finding solutions, the knowledge is often applied later for solving
organizational problems
The main distinction between applied and basic business research is that the former is specifically aimed as
solving a currently experienced problem within a specific organization, whereas the latter has the broader
objective of generating knowledge and understanding of phenomena and problems that occur in various
organizational settings.
Managers and research
Being knowledgeable about research and research methods helps professional managers to:
1. Identify and effectively solve minor problems in the work setting
2. Know how to discriminate good from bad research
3. Appreciate and be constantly aware of the multiple influences and multiple effects to
factors impinging on a situation
4. Take calculated risks in decisions making, knowing full well the probabilities associated with
the different possible outcomes.
5. Prevent possible vested interests from exercising their influence in a situation
6. Relate to hired researchers and consultants more effectively
7. Combine experience with scientific knowledge while making decisions

The manager and the consultant-researcher


Managers do often need to engage a consultant to study some of the more complex, time-consuming
problems that they encounter. So it is important to be knowledgeable about how to effectively interact with
the consultant, what the manager-consultant relationship should be, and the advantage and disadvantages
of internal versus external consultants.

The manager-researcher relationship


The manager has to inform the researchers what types of information may be provided to them and, more
importantly, which of their records will not be made available for them. Managers who are very
knowledgeable about research can more easily foresee what information the researchers might require, and
if certain trade secrets. If they know the constraints right from the beginning, the researchers might be able
to identify alternate ways of tackling the problems and to design the research in such a way as to provide the
needed answers.
The manager should also make sure that there is congruence in the value systems for management and the
consultants.
While hiring researchers or consultants the manager should make sure that:
1. The roles and expectations of both parties made explicit
2. Relevant philosophies and value systems of the organization are clearly stated and constrains, if
any, are communicated
3. A good rapport is established with the researches and between the researches and the employees
in the organization, enabling the full cooperation of the latter.

Internal versus external consultants/researchers


Internal consultants/researchers
Some organizations have their own consulting or research department, which might be called the
management service department, the organization and methods department, R&D (research and
development department). This department serves ad the internal consultant to subunits of the organization
that face certain problems and seek help. The manager often has to decide whether to use internal of external
researchers.

Advantages of internal consultants/researchers


1. The internal team stands a better chance of being readily accepted by the employees in the
subunit of the organization where research needs to be done.
2. The team requires much less time to understand the structure, the philosophy and climate, and
the functioning work system in the organization.
3. They are available t implement their recommendations after their research findings have been
accepted. This is very important because any “bugs” in the implementation of the recommendations
may be removed with their help. They are also available to evaluate the effectiveness of the
changes, and to consider further changes if and when necessary.
4. The internal team might cost considerably less than an external team for the department
enlisting help in problem solving, because they will need less time to understand the system due to
their continuous involvement with various units of the organization for problems of low
complexity, the internal team would be ideal.
Disadvantages of internal consultants/researchers
1. In view of their long tenure as internal consultants, the internal team may quite possibly fall into a
stereotype way of looking at the organization and its problems. They are a handicap when
weighty issues and complex problems are to be investigated
2. There is scope for certain powerful coalitions in the organization to influence the internal team
to conceal, distort, or misrepresent certain facts.
3. There is also a possibility that even the most highly qualified internal research teams are not
perceived as “experts” by the staff and management, and hence their recommendations may not
get the consideration and attention they deserve.
4. Certain organizational biases of the internal research team, might, in some instances, make
the findings less objective and consequently less scientific.

External consultants/researchers
Advantages of external consultants/researchers
1. The external team can draw on a wealth of experience from having worked with different types of
organizations that have had the same similar problems. This wide range of experience enables
them to think both divergently and convergent rather than hurry to an instant solution on the basis
of the apparent facts in the situation. They are able to ponder over alternative ways of looking at
the problem because of their extensive problem-solving experience in various other organizational
setups. Having viewed the situation from several possible angles and perspectives and focus on the
specific feasible solutions.
2. The external teams might have more knowledge of current sophisticated problem solving models
though their periodic training programs, which is a real threat in the consulting area. The
external teams with all the latest problem-solving techniques may vary considerably from one
organization to another.

Disadvantages of external consultants/researches


- The costs
- The considerable time the external team takes to understand the organization. Employees do
not accept them.
- External teams charges fees for their assistance in the implementation and evaluation phrases.

Knowledge about research and managerial effectiveness


Knowledge of research heightens the sensitivity of managers to the innumerable internal and external
factors of a varied nature operating in their work and organization environment.

Ethics and business research


Ethics in business research refers to a code of conduct of expected societal norms of behaviors while
conducting research.
Ethical behavior pervades each step of the research process- data collections, data analyses, reporting and
dissemination of information on the Internet.
Chapter 2 the scientific approach and alternative approaches to investigation
Scientific research focuses on solving problems and pursues a step-by-step logical, organized, and rigorous
method to identify the problems, gather data, analyze them, and draw valid conclusions from them.
Scientific researched is not based on hunches, experience, and intuition, but is purposive and rigorous,
because of the rigorous way it enables all those who are interested in researching and knowing about the
same of similar issue to come up with comparable findings when the data are analyzed. It also helps
researchers to state their findings with accuracy and confidence. Scientific investigation tends to be more
objective than subjective, and help managers to highlight the most critical factors at the workplace that
need specific attention so as to avoid, minimize, or solve problems.

The hallmarks of scientific research


The main distinguishing characteristics of scientific research may be listed as follow:
- Purposiveness
- Precision and confidence:
In all probability, the sample question may not reflect the exact characteristic of the phenomenon we are
trying to study. Measurement errors and other problems are also bound to introduce an element of bias or
error in our findings. However, we would like to design the research in a manner that ensures that our
findings are as close to reality as possible, so that we can place reliance or confidence in the results.
Precision refers to the closeness of the findings to “reality” based on a sample. Precision reflects the degree
or acutance or exactitude of the results on the basis of the sample, to what really exist in the universe.
Confidence refers to the probability that our estimations are correct. The narrower the limits within which
we can estimate the range of our predictions. And the greater the confidents we have in our research results,
the more useful and scientific the findings become. Precisions and confidence are important aspects of
research, which are attained through appropriate scientific sampling design.
- Rigor:
A good theoretical base and a sound methodological design add rigor to a purposive study. Connotes
carefulness, scrupulousness, and the degree of exactitude in research investigations. Rigorous research
involves a good theoretical base and a carefully thought-out methodology. These factors enable the
researcher to collect the right kind of information from an appropriate sample with the minimum degree of
bias, a facilitate suitable analysis of the data gathered.
- Objectivity:
Conclusions should be objective, based on facts of the findings derived from actual data, and not on our own
subjective or emotional values.
- Testability:
Is a property that applies to the hypotheses of a study. A scientific hypothesis must be testable. Non- testable
hypothesis are often vague statements, or they put forward something that cannot be tested experimentally.
Scientific research lends itself to testing logically developed hypotheses to see whether or not the data
support the educated conjectures or hypotheses that are developed after a careful study of the problem
situation.
- Generalizability:
Refers to the scope of applicability of the research findings in one organizational setting to other settings.
Obviously, the wider the range of applicability of the solutions generated by research, the more useful the
research is to the users. The more generalizability of the finding to other organizational settings is enhanced.
The more generalizable the research, the greater its usefulness and value. However, not many research
findings can be generalized to all other settings, situations, or organizations. Most applied research is
generally confined to research within the particular organizations, where the problem arises, and the results,
at the best, are generalizable only to other identical situations and settings.
- Replicability:
Replication demonstrates that our hypotheses have not been supported merely by chance, but are reflective
of the true state of affairs in the population. The results of the tests of hypotheses should be supported again
and yet again when the same type of research is repeated in similar circumstances. Replication is made
possible by detailed description of the design details of the study. The information should create the
possibility to replicate the research.
- Parsimony:
Simplicity in explaining the phenomena or problems that occur, and in generating solutions for the problems,
is always referred to complex research frameworks that consider an unmanageable numbers of factor. Such
an unmanageable number of variables might well be totally beyond the manager’s control to change.
Therefore the achievement of a meaningful and parsimonious, rather than an elaborate and cumbersome,
model for problem solution becomes a critical issue in research.
Economy in research models is achieved when we can build into our research frameworks a lesser number of
variables that explain the variance far more efficiently than a complex set of variables that only marginally
add to the variance explained. Parsimony can be introduced with a good understanding of the problem and
the important factors that influence it.
The hypothetico-deductive method
Scientific research pursues a step-by-step, logical, organized, and rigorous method to find a solution to a
problem. The scientific method was developed in the context of the natural sciences, where it had been the
foundation of many important discoveries. Although there have been numerous objections to this method and
to using it in social and business research, it is still the predominant approach for generation knowledge in
natural, social, and business sciences. The hypothetic deductive method is a typical version of the scientific
method, provides a useful, systematic approach for generation knowledge to solve basic and managerial
problems.

The seven-step process in the hypothetico-deductive method


1. Identify a broad problem area

2. Define the problem statement:


Scientific research starts with a definite aim to purpose. To find solutions for identified problems, a problem
statement that includes the general objective and research should be developed. Gathering initial information
about the factors that are possibly related to the problem will help us to narrow the broad problem area and
to define the problem statement. This could be done by a literature review or by talking to several people in
the work setting, to clients, or to other relevant recourses.
3. Develop hypotheses:
Variables are examined to ascertain their contribution or influence in explaining why the problem occurs and
how it can be solved. The network of associations identified among the variables is then theoretically woven,
together with justification as to why they might influence the problem. For a theorized network of
associations among the variables, certain hypotheses or educated conjectures can be generated. The first
criterion is that the hypothesis must be testable, the second criterion, and one of the central tenets of the
hypothetico-deductive methods, is that a hypothesis must also be falsifiable hypothesis can not be confirmed.
4. Determine measures:
Unless the variables in the theoretical framework are measured in some way, we will not be testing
our hypotheses. To test the hypothesis that unresponsive employees affect customers switching, we
need to operationalize unresponsiveness and customer switching.
5. Data collecti ons:
After we have determined how to measure our variables, data with respect to each variable in the hypothesis
need to be obtained.
6. Data analyses:
The data gathered are statistically analyzed to see if the hypotheses that were generated have been
supported.
7. Interpretati on of data:
Now, we must decide whether our hypotheses are supported or not by interpreting the meaning of the results
of the data analysis. Another inference from this data analysis is that responsiveness of our employees
accounts for 9% of the variance in customer switching based on these deductions, we are able to make
recommendations on how the “customer switching” problem may be solved; we have to train our employees
to be more flexible and communicative. Hypotheses that are not supported our research effort has still been
worthwhile.

Review of the hypothetico-deductive method


Involves the seven steps of identifying a broad problem area, defining the problem statement, hypothesizing,
determining measures, data collection, data analysis, and the interpretation of the results.
In deductive reasoning we start with a general theory and then apply this theory to specific case. Service
quality theory is used to make predictions about relationships between certain variables in our specific
situation. Marketing researchers often deduce the consequences of changes in the marketing mix based on
existing models. Inductive reasoning works in the opposite direction: it is a process where we observe
specific phenomena and on this basis arrive at general conclusions.

Some obstacles to conducting scientific research in the management area


It is not always possible to conduct investigations that are 100% scientific, the results will not be exct and
error-free. This is primarily because of difficulties likely to be encountered in the measurement and collection
of data in the subjective areas of feelings, emotions, attitudes, and perception. This problems occur whenever
we attempt to measure abstract and subjective constructs, or in obtaining representative sample, restricting
the generalizability of the findings.

Alternative approaches to research


We will briefly discuss the most the most important perspectives for contemporary research in business:
- Positi vism:
in a positivism view of the world, science and scientific research is seen as the way to get the truth. They
believe there is an objective truth out there. For them, the world operates with laws of cause and effect that
we can discern if we use the scientific approaches to research. They use deductive reasoning to put forward
theories that they can test by means of a fixed, predetermined research design and objective measures.
- Constructi onism:
Criticizes the positivist belief that there is an objective truth. They hold the opposite view that the world is
fundamentally mental or mentally constructed. They do not search for objective truth. They aim to
understand the rules people use to make sense of the world by investigating what happens in people’s mind
They emphasizes how people construct knowledge; it studies the accounts people give of issues and how
people get to these accounts.
- Criti cal realism:
Between the believe in an external reality with the rejection of the claim that this external reality can be
objectively measured: observation will always be subject to interpretation. They believe that the goal of
research is to progress toward this goals, even though it is impossible to reach it. They also believes that
researchers are inherently biased.
- Pragmati sm:
do not take on particular position on what makes good research. They feel that research on both objective,
observable phenomena and subjective meanings can produce useful knowledge. They describe research as a
process where concepts and meanings are generalizations of our past actions and experiences, and of
interactions we have had with our environment. It views the current truth as tentative and charging over
time. Research results should always be viewed as provisional truths. For them theory is derived from
practice and then applied back to practice to achieve intelligent practice.