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Business research methods course: BUS 5032

Lecture 1 Introduction to scientific business and management research

Philibert C. Ndunguru B.A; M.B.A.; Ph.D. Professor of Business Administration and Statistics

Why MBA/MSc?
Desire to join the Club of Scientific Community Fascinated by the scientists expertise in solving puzzles through a research activity Admiring scientists eloquent style of investigating and explaining real world puzzles in their discipline: business, public admin, economics, sociology, politics, law, physics, biology, etc.

Science and scientists

Science as a discipline with its paradigm set of theories, methods of measurement instruments and instrumentation Science as an approach or style of comprehending, investigating and explaining puzzles that engulf mankind Scientists articulate and develop an approach in attempting to account for and accommodate behaviour of relevant aspects of the real world as revealed by results of experimentation

Scientific approach 1/3

Science = logic Logic = rationalism, or that makes sense and is reasonable Rationalism = opinions be logical + formal proof process for verifying stated assertions The opposite of rationalism is existentialism = informal proof process Not all logic is science

Scientific approach 2/3

Logic must be verified by empirical evidence through process of observation Observation = experience, empiricism, able to be verified by sense organs of seeing, touching, feeling, hearing, or smelling Science = logic + observation

Scientific approach 3/3

Empiricism = only material things exist; observed concrete data; The anti-thesis of empiricism is idealism = data based on interpretive ideas e.g., dreams Styles of acquiring knowledge based on rationalism and empiricism (see figure 1-1): Quadrant 1: scientific method Quadrant 2: ???? Quadrant 3: method of authority or dogma Quadrant 4: ????

Styles of acquiring knowledge

Figure 1-1:
empiricism Scientific method



Method of authority/ dogma idealism


Assumptions of Scientific method

Nature is orderly Nature can be understood Knowledge is superior to ignorance Natural phenomenon has a natural cause Nothing is self-evident Knowledge is derived from acquisition of experience that is associated with perceptions and observations

Scientists cardinal problems

Scientific method is about acquiring knowledge: theories, laws, hypotheses, principles, etc Search for invariance (theory-building) Search for explanation of invariance (theory-testing) The search is a continuous and everlasting throughout history of mankind The search generates, accumulates, and expands frontiers of knowledge

Goals in scientific research

Theory-building (by assumptions nature is orderly, and it can be understood) this is the idea of searching for invariance Theory-testing (by assumptions every effect has a cause, nothing is self-evident) this is the outcome of searching explanation of invariance Nominal goal of research is to expand frontiers of knowledge (by assumptions knowledge is superior to ignorance, experience associated with perceptions and observations leads to knowledge)

How scientists do their work

Steps to accomplish goals of the searching: Determining a puzzle to be searched Defining concepts for communicating Setting-up research questions and tentative statements of truth hypotheses or propositions Collecting data Data analysis: validating each statement if not empirically verifiable science is sceptical Present results and findings

Research problem
A puzzle is of a theoretical and/or empirical nature; and is referred to as a research problem. Definition 1-1: A scientific research problem is an observation statement or set of statements that contradicts or is enigmatic in the light of some theory or background knowledge of the time Knowledge gap is implied in the definition above and research activity is meant to fill the gap

Knowledge gap for research

Gap 1 observation statements not adequately described, explained, or predicted by existing theories or laws Gap 2 existence of contradicting theoretical constructs that logically describe, explain or predict the same phenomenon Gap 3 failure of theories to stand up observational tests; failure of theories to predict events

Management research process

Business entity is a conglomeration of GCS, IS, OS defined by a STRUCTURE Management research problems are about a gap in efficiency and effectiveness of a business entity A gap means a problem in form of undesirable effect/impact, or an opportunity for better performance Such problems may be at the GCS, IS, OS, or STRUCTURE levels

GCS problems
Vision Mission Operating philosophy core values Strategy Structure -


IS problems
IS concerned with information and communication without which rational management is impossible Integration: the extent to which MIS is integrated within the organization (trade-off between centralization and decentralization); Neutrality - info is power and there is a struggle to control it: reflecting placement of MIS Note: IS = total; MIS = formal part of the IS


OS problems
OS converts inputs into outputs Decision making Execution, monitoring and evaluation Equipment design Role allocation Estimating capacity Production planning Time management

STRUCTURE problems
Vertical sub-division of tasks: lines of authority versus staff functions Horizontal sub-division of tasks: span of control versus specialization The conflicts together they lead to communication problems


Typology of research
Pure basic tackling theoretical problem Basic objective tackling practical problems: how participation enhances rural development strategies Evaluation assessing some aspect of performance Applied - solving problem by applying existing knowledge: how good governance leads to economic growth or MIS enhancing performance Action management research/consulting

Science, theory and research

Figure 1-2:
Theories and laws Falsifiable hypotheses granted status of theory or law science research New facts and relationships in form of practice derived from research Research problem derived from theories


The learning cycle

The science-theory-research relationship above corroborates Kolbs experiential learning cycle from psychology Concrete experience (practice) in form of observations and reflections form abstract concepts and generalization (theories) which are tested in new situations (research) under concrete experience

Kolbs experiential learning cycle

Figure 1-3:
Concrete experience

Testing implications of concepts in new situations

Observation s and reflections

Formation of abstract concepts and generalization


Research process in perspective 2/2

Theory and practice are the corner points of conceptualizing a research project and for undertaking a scientific research; Logic and Observation guides a scientific research Problem statement; hypotheses, design, measurement, data collection, data analysis, generalizations and conclusions are all linked to theory and practice See Figure 1-4 in the Lectures

Research process in perspective 1/2

problem hypotheses Generalization and conclusions THEORY and PRACTICE Data analysis

Research design

Data collection


Getting a research topic in practice

Current debates in society, profession, discipline, business, etc reflect gaps in knowledge between theory and practice Academic forums, news-media, journals, etc are sources to get current debates Be conversant with theories and current theoretical and methodological debates in your discipline Marketing, finance, accounting, banking, human resources, entrepreneurship, SMEs, internal trade systems, international business, ICT, best practices in business systems, corporate planning, etc