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Business Research Process

William G. Zikmund

Uncertainty Influences the Type Of Research

Types Of Business Research


1.

Exploratory Research

Exploratory research is conducted to clarify ambiguous


problems and define the nature of a problem

Exploratory research is a means for acquiring a deeper


and hence more useful understanding of a business or
management problem.

Exploratory research does not intend to answer research


questions conclusively, rather, it is a preliminary step
towards undertaking more elaborate and conclusive
research like causal or descriptive research.

Analyzes the dimensions of the research problem and set


the stage for subsequent research and priorities.
For instance personnel manager often conduct this
research - What are current important issues of employee
concern or what are the possible explanations for
decreasing employee motivation?

Exploratory research usually provides qualitative data, not quantitative


data.
Exploratory research is used to select the best possible alternatives
given the existence of constraints such as budget limitations
For example -To determine whether consumers
would be interested in purchasing un-refrigerated, shelf-stable yoghurt
Exploratory research can help generate new, previously unthought of
ideas.
For example - Employees suggest convenient ways of
increasing factory production or propose new products and services
E.g. determining whether employee needs on-site child care
service.
E.g. determining whether a new product should be introduced.
E.g. why employees are leaving the organization.

Types Of Business Research


2. Descriptive Research

The main goal of this type of research is to describe the data


and characteristics about the population being studied .
It seeks to determine the answers to who, what, when,
where, and how questions.
It is based on some previous understanding of the nature of
the research problem.
Accuracy is of paramount importance in descriptive research.
Usually conducted by Bureau of statistics. (e.g. population
census)
E.g a fast food shop conducting a survey to describe its
customers.
E.g. to find out what age group is buying a particular brand of
soft drink.
E.g. whether a companys market share differs between
geographical regions.
E.g. to discover how many competitors a company has in
their marketplace.

Types Of Business Research


3. Causal Research
It is conducted to identify cause and effect relationships
between variables.
While conducting the research, researcher must be
knowledgeable about the research subject.
Usually exploratory and descriptive research precede
cause and effect studies.
E.g. relationship between price and perceived quality of
product.
E.g. relationship between a new package and an increase
in sales.
For example, if a clothing company currently sells blue
denim jeans, causal research can measure the impact of
the company changing the product design to the color
white.

The formulation of the problem is


often more essential than its
solution
Albert Einstein

Problem Discovery And Definition


First and probably most important step of
research.
Too often neglected research stage leading to
costly errors.
Provides direction for the investigation.
Discovery problem before defining it.
A problem well defined is a problem half solved.

Problem Discovery And Definition


Sometimes the problem identified is only the symptom!
Differentiating symptoms from problems is not an easy task and
often requires extensive exploratory research and the gathering of
background information.
Symptoms can be confusing. We have a problem we are
losing money.
Losing money is a result (symptom) of the
problem (issue that needs to be determined and
corrected. For example - that problem could be
changes in cost structure or sales decline or inefficiency
of employees)

Problem Discovery And Definition


In situations where background information is available related
to why a certain problem has happened in the past, in such a
case, managers can play an important role in helping researchers
to define the problem (by exercising managerial judgment)
In case of events where past information is inadequate /
unavailable, this involves informal gathering of background
information often through Exploratory Research to define the
situation or problem.

Exploratory Research Techniques


Exploratory research is needed when there is inadequacy in
problem definition.
A) Secondary data (historical data)
Secondary Data: Analysis of already existing data and
literature on a similar problem field can yield clues and
interesting background information on the problem field under
study.
Literature survey of published articles and books
Databases (e.g., www.bbs.gov.bd )
E.g. a bank wanting set up new ATM machine, could go through
published materials to search for area which would be
attractive for users.

B) Pilot study
Pilot Studies A small-scale research project which uses
sampling without the normally rigorous scientific standards to
generate primary data.
The primary data generated from pilot studies are collected
from specific groups (e.g. employees, consumers, students,
voters) and not from experts or from a case situation
Major components of pilot studies are:
1) Focus group interviews
2) Projective techniques and
3) Depth interview

B) Pilot Study
1) Focus Groups Interviews:
This is a free-flowing interview
usually, and supervised over by one or two moderator or
interviewer.

B) Pilot Study:

2) Projective Techniques

Projective Techniques The purpose of this is to discover an


individuals attitudes, motivations and ways of responding.
Common projective techniques include:

Word association tests


Sentence completion method

Sentence Completion
I like ______________________
At home ___________________
The best ___________________
When I was younger _________
The future _________________
I need _____________________

Tools and Techniques of Exploratory Research


3) Depth Interview Intensive and
interesting questioning of a research
subject in an open, unstructured and
candid atmosphere on a specific topic in
a face-to-face interview.

C) Case Studies
Using information and experiences gained from a similar
problem situation.
D) Experience Surveys Conversation or interviews with
knowledgeable persons and experts, inside or outside the
organization, who have some previous experience with the
problem area in question
If you wish to know the road up the mountain, you
must ask the man who goes back and forth on it.
- Zenrinkusi

State the Research Questions and Research Objectives


After identifying and clarifying the problem, with or without
exploratory research, the researcher should form or make a
formal statement of the problem and the research objectives.
Problem statement will clarify scope of the research project that
is what the researcher hopes to accomplish from the study.
A series of research questions and hypotheses will add clarity to
the statement of the problem.
Problem statements are phrased as questions are interrogative
whereas hypotheses are declarative.

State the Research Questions and Research Objectives


A Hypothesis an unproven proposition or possible solution to a
problem.
Theory also help generate hypothesises.
Hypotheses are statements that can be empirically / realistically
tested.
It test the degree/level of
relationships
difference
effect / impact
E.g. male employees dominates woman employees in the
workplace.

State The Research Questions And Research Objectives


When the research questions and/or hypotheses have been stated,
the research objectives are derived from the problem definition.
Research objectives explain the purpose of the research in
measurable terms and define standards of what the research should
accomplish.
Research objectives must indicate the information needed by a
manager to make a decision .
Research objectives typically use the following terms:
to determine
to compare
to evaluate
Examples:
The goal of this study is to
discover the
understand the cause / effect of the
provide a new interpretation of
understand what makes _____ effective or ineffective

Research Topic: Management needs information concerning the


major competitors.
After discussion with management, the management question
was understood as:
Research Question: Are the major competitors sales increasing?
Research objective: Determine competitors sales for the past
three years.
Data needed:
Identification of competitors
Determine the competitors sales for past three years
Data source:
Industry sales information
Specific companys product sales for three years
external secondary information is needed and refers to
information that has been collected for some other purpose

Management Problem
Setting the selling price for a new product line
Research Questions
What are our costs of production and marketing (COGS)?
What are our pricing objectives and position in the market?
What price does similar types of products sell for?
What is the perceived value of our product in the marketplace?
Research Objectives
To assess the costs involved in producing and selling our
product
To determine corporate objectives and their implications for
pricing
To examine current prices for direct and indirect competition
To determine potential customer reaction to various prices and
their perception of the benefits of owning the product

Research Design / Research Methodology


It is a master plan specifying the methods and
procedures for collecting and analyzing the needed
information.
Under the research design, the researcher needs to
determine:
The source of information
The design technique (survey /experiment etc)
The sampling methodology
The schedule and cost of the research.

Basic Research Methods


a) Surveys: most common method of generating primary
data.
Information gathered through interview
Through Questionnaire
Contact respondents by telephone, by mail or in person.

Survey Methods

Telephone

Personal

In-Home
Traditional
Telephone

Mall
Intercept

Computer-Assisted
Telephone Interviewing

Mail

Electronic

Mail/Fax
Interview
E-Mail
Mail Panel

ComputerAssisted Personal
Interviewing

Internet

Basic Research Methods


b) Experiments: It is conducted under control conditions so that
one or more variable can be changed to see the effect in one or
two other variables or to test a hypothesis. E.g. effect of monetary
reward on productivity, under controlled condition.
It is best for establishing cause and effect
relationship.
Field experiments: e.g. in a super market- to find the
attractiveness of same product with new packaging.
Laboratory experiments are used in basic research to test
theories or concepts.

Basic Research Methods


c) Secondary / Historical data: Exploratory, Descriptive,
Causal all studies uses secondary data.
e.g. predicting future sales on the basis of past sales.
Literature survey
Database

Traditional Internal
Sources of Secondary
Data
Internal data usually
centers on sales or cost
information and includes:
Sales invoices - customer
profiles, sales trends.
Accounts receivable reports profit margins.
Quarterly sales reports dollar and unit sales.
Sales activity reports - sales
and competition.
Other forms - customer
letters/ comment cards, mailorder forms, credit
applications, etc.
Etc, etc,.

External Sources of Secondary Data


Published
Published Data
Data in
in
Periodicals,
Periodicals, Directories,
Directories,
or
or Indices
Indices
Syndicated/
Syndicated/ Commercial
Commercial
Sources
Sources Obtained
Obtained on
on aa
As-Needed
As-Needed Basis
Basis
Technology
Technology -- Driven
Driven
Computer
Computer Sources
Sources
Available
Available On-Line
On-Line

Basic Research Methods


d) Observation:
observation is the systematic process of recording the behavioral
patterns of people, objects and occurrences as they are witnessed
or the compilation of evidence from records of past events.
E.g: number of cars using a gas station every day.
E.g: time required by an employee to perform a task.
Intangible states of mind like attitudes, motivation, opinions are
difficult factor to be observed and recorded.

What Can Be Observed


Phenomena

Example

Human behavior or physical


action

Shoppers movement
pattern in a store

Verbal behavior

Statements made by
airline travelers who wait
in line

Expressive behavior

Facial expressions, tone of


voice, and other form of
body language

What Can Be Observed


Phenomena

Example

Spatial relations
and locations

How close visitors at an


art museum stand to paintings

Temporal patterns

How long fast-food customers


wait for their order to be served

Physical objects

What brand name items are


stored in consumers shopping cart.

Verbal and Pictorial


Records

How women are depicted in


print ads

Sampling
Who is to be sampled?
How large a sample?
How will sample units be selected?

Census: Investigation of all individual elements


that make up a population

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Census

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15
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9 8

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List of Units

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17

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Selecting a Sample

Sample: subset of a larger population.


There are two basic sampling techniques:
a) Probability Sampling: Where every member of population
has a known and non-zero chance of selection.
b) Non- Probability Sampling: Where selection is done on the
basis of personal judgement.

Sampling Procedure: Selecting a Sample Design

Non- Probability Sampling: Convenience


Sampling
Also called haphazard or accidental
sampling
The sampling procedure of obtaining the
people or units that are most conveniently
available
E.g people in my class, mall intercepts,
friends, relatives.

Non- Probability Sampling: Judgment Sampling


Also called purposive sampling
Judgment sampling involves choosing objects /
sample that it is believed will give accurate
results
E.g. a research is conducted on toy stores,
selecting three stores purposively from where
accurate results can be found.

Data Gathering Stage


There are many methods of data collection through
interviewing or questionnaire
You may collect data by mail, or telephone or in person.

What is a questionnaire?
An instrument (form) to
collect answers to questions
collect factual data
gathers information or measures

A series of written questions/items in a


fixed, rational order

Types of Questionnaire
Face to face
Telephone
Interviewer
-administrated
By post
E-mail/Internet
Self-administrated

Phrasing Questions
Open-ended questions
Fixed-alternative/Close-ended questions
Most questionnaires include both.

Types of Close-ended or fixed alternative


questions
Single dichotomy or dichotomous-alternative

questions
Are you currently registered in a course at the
University of Lethbridge?
Yes____ No____

Respondent chooses one of two alternatives


(yes/no; )

Open-ended Question

Data Gathering Stage


Main focus should be on error minimization in the data
collection process .
Pretest study, using a small subsample, will help in
determine whether data collection plan for the main study is an
appropriate procedure or not.
Seeks to determine whether respondents have any
difficulty understanding the questionnaire and whether there
are any ambiguous or biased questions.
Tabulation of data from the pretest study, will help determine
whether the questionnaire will meet the objectives of the
research.

Data Processing and Analysis

EDITING

CODING

DATA ENTRY

DATA ANALYSIS

ERROR
CHECKING
AND
VERIFICATION

Editing
The process of checking and adjusting the
data
for omissions
for legibility
for consistency

And readying them for coding and storage

Coding
The process of identifying and assigning a
numerical score or other character symbol
to previously edited data

CODING
I believe that people judge your success by the kind of car
you drive.

Strongly disagree 1
Mildly disagree
2
Neither disagree nor agree
Mildly agree
4
Strongly agree 5

Data Entry

The process of transforming raw data from


the research project to computers for
analysis.

Data Analysis
The transformation of raw data into a form that will make them
easy to understand and interpret.
Data analysis technique will depend on information requirement
from the study.
e.g.: Statistical analysis like frequency distribution,
regression analysis etc.

Conclusions And Report Writing


Report Writing involves - effective
communication of the research findings to help
make business decisions.
Usually includes making recommendations.

Report parts

Prefatory parts

Main body of the report

Appended parts

Prefatory parts
Title page
Letter of
transmittal
Letter of
authorization
Table of contents

Summary
Objectives

Results

Conclusions

Recommendations

Main body of the report


Introduction

Results

Limitations

Area 1

Methodology

Area 2
Final area

Conclusions and
recommendations

Appended parts
Data collection
forms
Detailed
calculations
General tables

Bibliography

DECISIONS TO MAKE IN THE RESEARCH PROCESS

DECISIONS TO MAKE IN THE RESEARCH PROCESS