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The Nature of Research

The Research Topic
Topic 1

Research Methods in Business

Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
1.1 Identify and describe the characteristics of evidence based practice.
1.2 Recognize various forms of alternative sources of knowledge (logic, tradition, and
authority) and identify when decisions and opinions are being influenced by these
1.3 Describe why scientific knowledge is preferable to alternative sources of
knowledge when making social work practice decisions.
1.4 Define the types of knowledge derived from scientific research (descriptive,
predictive, and prescriptive), and identify which type or types are being sought in a
given research study.
1.5 Differentiate research studies based on the study’s general purpose or goal (basic
versus applied research).
1.6 Distinguish between qualitative and quantitative research methods, and describe
at least the basic characteristics of each.
Ancient History of Human Decision-making

• “In the beginning, there was God…”

– Priests
– Oracles
– Sacred scriptures
• The spirits
– Shamans, mediums
• Emperor/ King/ Leader
– Hub and wheel leadership
Start of “Scientific” Decision-making
• 1512 - Copernicus - Earth revolves around the sun
• 1540’s - DaVinci - anatomy drawings from
• 1560’s - Galileo - proves Copernicus’s “heresy”
• 1641 - Descartes - Reason is superior to
experience as a way of gaining knowledge
• “The Scientific Method”
• Read “A Brief History of Decision Making,” l.
Buchanan & A. Coleman, Harvard Business
Review, January, 2006
Scientific Method
Reading: Who can define
The nature of research

‘Something that people undertake in order to find things out

in a systematic way, thereby increasing their knowledge’
Saunders et al. (2009)


• Data are collected systematically

• Data are interpreted systematically

• There is a clear purpose to find things out

What are the general types of
What are some of the features of
research in business and
Features of business and management research

• Managers draw on knowledge from other disciplines

• Getting access to managers for research is difficult.

Managers are more likely to allow access if they see
commercial or personal advantage

• Managers now tend to be as educated as the researchers

• Managers require research to have some practical


Easterby-Smith et al. (2008)

What are some of the other
disciplines and research on which
managers draw?
What are some of the differences
between basic and applied
Basic and Applied Research
• Basic research is research that is designed to
contribute to our general professional body of
• Applied research is designed to produce
knowledge that is immediately applicable to
our practice.
Features of business and management
Basic and applied research

authors’ experience; Easterby-Smith et al. (2008); Hedrick et al. (1993)
Figure 1.1 Basic and applied research

What are the stages in the research

6 Simple stages of the research process

1. Formulating and clarifying a topic

2. Reviewing the literature

3. Designing the research

4. Collecting data

5. Analysing data

6. Writing up
Based on Figure 1.2: Saunders et al. (2009)

Copyright © 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

publishing as Prentice Hall
4 Broad Steps in Research Process

1 Establish Need Figure out what to
2 Define Problem research
3 Research Objectives

4 Determine Design
5 Identify Information Sources Design the way to do
6 Decide Data Collection Method the research
7 Design Questionnaire
8 Determine Sample Plan & Size
Gather data from respondents
9 Collect Data

10 Analyze Data Generate findings and

11 Write and Present Report interpret them
Copyright © 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.
publishing as Prentice Hall
Quantitative Research
• Quantitative research methods are used to
provide accurate measurement of variables
and identify possible relationships between
the variables.
• Relies on the use of “logical positivism” for
building knowledge.
• Stresses the use of deductive logic to arrive at
Steps in the Quantitative Process
(1 of 2)

• Problem identification
• Research question formulation
• Literature review
• Construction of hypotheses or refinement of
research questions
• Design and planning
Steps in the Quantitative Process
(2 of 2)

• Data collection
• Sorting and analysis of data
• Specification of research findings
• Interpretation of research findings
• Dissemination of research findings
• Use of findings by the social worker
Qualitative Research
• Qualitative research seeks to understand
human experiences from the perspective of
those who experience them.
• Emphasizes words like subjective, relative, or
• Relies on inductive logic instead of deductive
Steps in the Qualitative Process
• Collection of a wide range of data.
• Observation of patterns in the data.
• Formulation of tentative explanations.
• Development of theories (and sometimes,
Quantitative versus Qualitative
Research Debate
• It is now generally agreed that both
quantitative and qualitative methods are
necessary to truly understand a problem.
• Neither type of research is inherently superior
to the other.
• Research studies are often hybrids, containing
aspects of both quantitative and qualitative
What are some of the factors you
need to consider when planning a
research study?
Factors to consider

• The impact of your personal feelings and beliefs

• Access to data

• Time

• Validity and reliability of the data

• Ethical issues

• Cost
What is the one best way to
undertake research?
“there is no one best way for
undertaking all research”

Saunders et al. (2009)

Why are Research Methods Important Tools for
• Understanding human behavior
• Creating new knowledge

Dr. Shawn Best

Why are Research Methods Important Tools for
• Understanding human behavior
• Creating new knowledge
• Scientific Goals of Research
– Describing behavior
– Explaining Behavior
– Predicting Behavior
– Controlling Behavior

Special Topics in Business (BUSI404): Dr. Shawn

Alternate Knowledge Source: Logic
• Some beliefs are self-evident and logical.
• Some beliefs just make sense.
• Unfortunately, logic can lead us to some
beliefs that are just plain wrong.
• Logic and common sense have led to some
costly errors:
– Scared Straight
– Dare program
Alternate Knowledge Source: Tradition
• Some beliefs are accepted in our culture, and
are generally not questioned or challenged.
• Unfortunately, traditional beliefs may promote
stereotypes and thus continue the oppression
of some members of our society.
Alternate Knowledge Source: Authority
• Other knowledge is gained through deference
to authority figures.
• This could be physicians, politicians,
administrators in our agencies, or professors.
• Unfortunately, people in authority are also
subject to bias and limited experience.
Faulty Knowledge Promotes
• Logic, tradition, and authority can affect our
judgment, cause us to draw erroneous
conclusions, and promote faulty stereotypes
and generalizations about people.
• There is often a wide disparity between what
is generally believed to be true and what
research has revealed.
Misuse of Research Data
• Research has the potential to dispel myths
and stereotypes derived from less trustworthy
sources of knowledge.
• But research can also be used to lend
credence to myths and stereotypes.
• Research findings should be presented in a
complete and unbiased way or it has the
potential to mislead its readers.
Scientific Method
• Science is empirical.
• Science strives for objectivity.
• Science produces provisional knowledge.
• Science employs a public way of knowing.
• Science employs certain rules, procedures and
Acquiring Knowledge
• Tenacity: “It has always been that way.”
• Intuition: “It feels true.”
• Authority: “The boss says it is true.”
• Rationalism: “It makes sense logically.”
• Empiricism: “I observed it to be true.”
• Science: A combination of rationalism and
Methods of Acquiring Knowledge
• Intuition – knowing without reasoning
– used in forming some hypotheses (hunches)
– problem – no mechanism for separating accurate
from inaccurate knowledge
• Authority – facts stated from a respected
– can be used in the design phase of a study
– can be used when interpreting the data
– problem – authority can be wrong
Methods of Acquiring Knowledge
• Rationalism – knowledge from reasoning
– used to derive hypotheses
– used to identify outcomes that would indicate the
truth or falsity of the hypotheses
– Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
– potential problem – relying solely on rationalism
can lead two people to reach different conclusions
– Insufficient by itself
Methods of Acquiring Knowledge
• Empiricism – knowledge from experience
– observation used to collect data in science
– facts that concur with experience are accepted and those
that do not are rejected
– John Locke (1632-1704) tabula rasa
– David Hume (1711-1776)
– potential problem is researcher bias
– must be conducted under controlled conditions
– systematic strategies must be used to reduce researcher
bias and maximize objectivity
What are some of the techniques
used for helping you to generate
research ideas?
Describe them.
Generating research ideas

Useful Techniques

Rational thinking Creative thinking

Searching the literature Scanning the media

Brainstorming Relevance Trees

Exploring past projects Discussion

Keeping an ideas notebook

Attributes of a good research topic (1)
Capability: is it feasible?

• Are you fascinated by the topic?

• Do you have the necessary research skills?

• Can you complete the project in the time available?

• Will the research still be current when you finish?

• Do you have sufficient financial and other resources?

• Will you be able to gain access to data?

• Must consider time, expense, ethical and other issues to determine

if conducting the study is possible and practical
Special Topics in Business (BUSI404): Dr. Shawn
Question & Answer Time
Saunders, M. N. K., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2016). Research
methods for business students. Harlow, Essex, England : Pearson
Education Limited
Yegidis, B. L., Weinbach, R. W., & Myers, L. L. (2018). Research
methods for social workers. New York : Pearson