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O „ Defining the problem: problem definition is based upon the problem that is being faced by
the decision maker For example a decision problem could whether to start a new service
The corresponding research problem maybe to assess whether the service would be found
acceptable by the intended users The problem should be stated in a general manner,
without making it too vague or too specific
2 „ efining a research problem: In this stage the problem is crystallised through:
-„ Brainstorming (as a creativity technique)
-„ eview of relevant literature (one of the most important initial steps) Any new
idea to someone may not be new at all, someone else may have already thought
of it, even though only through a certain extent

The researcher has to diagnose the problem in a border perspective and also at
various research hierarchal levels

While refining or redefining a problem one may consider the following questions/issues:

-„ Management
-„ esearch
-„ Investigative
-„ Measurement
a )„ Management Questions/Issues: The management dilemma gets translated into
management questions For example, the management dilemma could be declining sales in
retail outlet Then the management questions that could be asked will be:
-„ Why are the profits declining?
-„ What should be done to improve the sales?
-„ What should be done to improve the customer satisfaction?
-„ What should be done to increase the footfall in the retail outlet?

These questions are usually general in nature In the above example, question ͞what should
be done to improve sales?͟ can further be divided into:

-„ How to improve efficiencies to reduce cost?


-„ How to increase sales to increase profit?

Management questions give directions to the research These are useful in exploring the
system to find the root cause of the problem

b )„ esearch Questions/Issues: After having a clear understanding of the management


questions, a researcher tries to translate these management questions into research
questions Management questions generally explore all the possibilities of the problem
under consideration Out of all the several management questions, only a few are selected
by the researcher for further analysis There should be a certain level of understanding
between the management and the researcher before selecting the research questions for
further investigation
esearch questions are more specific than management questions The selected
management questions are examined in-depth for further investigation

In the above example for the management question ͞How to increase the efficiency for
reducing the costs͟, the research questions could be:

-„ How can we reduce employee cost without affecting the output?


-„ Can we reduce the logistics costs without affecting the functions of retail outlet?
-„ How can we reduce the infrastructure cost?
c )„ Investigative questions:
These questions disclose specific information that is useful to answer the research question
Further, these questions need to be satisfactorily answered to arrive at conclusion and lead
to selecting appropriate research design
In the above example, the research question, ͞How can we reduce employee cost without
affecting the output?͟ can be divided into specific investigation questions such as:
-„ How to have appropriate balance of permanent and temporary employees to
improve efficiencies?
-„ How to improve output of the employees without paying overtime/bonus, etc?
-„ What is the best compensation policy that can be implemented?

These questions are the building blocks towards the hypothesis development

d )„ Measurement Questions/Issues: These questions allow the researcher to collect specific


information required for the research study For each investigative question, the
measurement questions are asked These questions from the building blocks for designing
the questionnaire
For the above example, the measurement questions could be:
-„ How to measure efficiency of employees?
-„ How to measure the output of employee?
-„ How o measure productivity?
-„ What information about the employees is required?
Management
Delima

Management Management
Question O Question 2

esearch Research Research Research


Question O O Question O 2 Question 2 O Question 2 2

Investigative Investigative Investigative Investigative


Question O O O Question O O 2 Question 2 2 O Question 2 2 2

Measurment Measutment
Question O O O O Question 2 2 2 O

Measutment Measutment
Question O O O 2 Question 2 2 2 2

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Objectives of esearch

The objectives of research are different for different individuals and organizations The following
objectives which encompass most of the researches are listed

-„ To seek insigh into an observed phenomena and explain its logic and reasoning
of happening For example, declining profitabitity
-„ To help the mankind in solving the problems faced frok time to time and make
life more comfortablke and entertaining For example, telecommunication and
e-ticketing
-„ To explore the possibility and methodology of doing things which have not been
done so far but are usefiul for mankind in general and an entity in particular
-„ To continuously improve the effectiveness of the present systems and
procedures in any field For example, compensation, recruitment and retention
policies
-„ Test or challenge existing belies, notions etc which have not been empirically
proven so far, with flux of time and therefore need o be tested again for
relevance in the changed context For example, relationship between
intelligence and creativity
-„ Explore into new areas that might have become relevant or even might become
relevant in the near suture For eple alternative sources of energy to reduce the
carbon emissions
-„ Analyse the past data for discovering trends, patterns and relationships For
example business prices of stock, oil etc
-„ To expand the sphere of knowledge and increase the horizon of vision However
incidentially this simultaneously increases the realization of ignorance

Variables

A business research study invariably involves the study of characterstics of an individual / item / unit
/ entity, etc These characteristics are represented by variables As the name suggests, a variable
changes for different individual/item at the same time (eg income of individuals for a given year,
prices of stocks on a day) or for the same individual or item at different time

For example, the income of an individual is a quantitative variable, gender is a qualitative variable

In a study, data is generally collected for relevant variables These are classified in five catagories as
follows

i independent variable

ii dependent variable

iii moderating variable

iv intervening variables

v extraneous variables

i„ Independent Variable:
Independent variable, also known as explanatory variable, is a variable which influences or
explains the variation in other v ariables, under consideration, in the study The value of this
variable can be decided or controlled by the researcher This researcher can increase or
decrease the value of independent variable to assess its impact For example, the use of
fertilizers (independent variable) influences the yield of the crop The researcher might
increase the use of fertiliser by a certain amount to evaluate the corresponding increase in
the yield of the crop As anoher example, if a company increases the number of its branches,
it will also increase the business as well as manpower in the company The number of
branches in this study is termed as independent variable Similarly, if the increase in
advertisement leads to increase in sales, then the advertisement expenses in considered as
an independent variable
In the research relating to studying the relationship between two variables, the independent
variable influencing the dependent variable is also called ͚causal͛ (as it causes change in the
dependent variable) or explanatory variable (as it explaines the change in he dependent
variable)
ii „ Dependent Variable: A dependent variable is one which depends on an independent variable
defined ina study For example, ͚expenditure on D͛ could be taken as independent
variable, in pharmaceutical firms, and sales could be termed as dependent variable
Incideltially, the value of dependent variable is not manipulated or controlled in a research
study; it changes due to the change in the independent variable
iii „ Moderating Variable:
In a study involving an independent variable and a dependent variable, a relationship could
be established through a variable However, we may ome across a third variable which is not
an independent variable but forms strong contigen/contextual effect on the relationship oif
the independent and dependent variables
Example, let us consider a relationship between training and performance in an
organization We may consider training as an independent variable and performance as a
dependent variable The variable ͚willingness to learn͛ neither an independent variable not a
dependent variable, but has strong effect on the relationship between training and
performance Those employes who are more willing to learn, will grasp the training
effectigvely and in turn will improve the performance But if the employees are not willing to
learn, even if they are trained, it may not improve their performance In this case, the
willingness to learn becomes the moderating variable
If we want to study the impact of training on performance, we must consider willingness o
learn as moderating variable and conduct experiment, in such a manner than the
moderating variable will not have an adverse effect on the independent,dependent variable
relationship
As another example we may consider that rigorous study by a student has impact on his
marks Here the time spent in studying is an independent variable and marks a dependent
variable
But the grasping power of a student has strong impact on the relationship Two students
having different grasping power may study for the same time, but ay not get the same
marks In this case grasping power become s the moderating variable
i„ Intervening Variables:
In as study involving independent and dependent variables, there could be a variable factor
which might affect the dependent variable, but it can not be directly ovserved or measured
For examples the sales of a retail store might increase which increasing discounts and a
relationship could be established Suppose a scheme is introduced that monthly prizes wil be
given to randomly selected customers, this might increase the sales of a store but it cannot
be measured; only its impact can be ovserved Thus monthly prizes scheme is an intervening
factor If the total amount of prizes offered is indicated and the amount is a variable then
this could be considered as an intervening variable, and one could study its impact
ii „ Extraneous Variables :
Extraneous variable is one that is outside or external to the situation under study and its
impact on the dependent variable is beyond the score pf the study For example, the family
income of students could be taken as extraneous variable while studying performance of
mba students The value of extraneous variable may be controlled to remove its impact For
example if we wish to compare the performance of mba students with commerce and
engineering background, we may include hose studeyts if both streams in the study who
have almost the same financuial background
Another method to deal with the extraneous variables is o select the experimental units in a
random manner so tht the impct of the extraneous variable is neutralized

In addition to the above mentioned variables, there is another variable called control
variable This variable is held constant in order to assess or clarify the relationship
between two other variables Incidentally the controlled variable in design of
experiments has a differene c onnotation It is an alternative term for independent
variable

etric
 ependent
ariable

ne Independent ore than one


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Independent

Some etric  Some


Non-etric All Non etric All metric
etric Independent Independent
non metric
Independent Independent
independent variable

egression
Analysis/Correlation 't' only two options Anacova N-Way Anova ultiple egression
(Simple egression)

Anova ne Way


Single Non Metric
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More than onen


More than one more than one
independent variable ne independent independent variable independent variable
some metric/ some non variable non metric
nonmetric metric
metric

logistic regression Chi Square Chi Square Discriminent Analysis

Propotion

Multuple
Dependent
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Metric Nonmetric
Dependent Dependent

Independent Independent Multiple Logistic


Metric Non-Metric egression

Independent Multiple
Canonical
Some nonmetric All Non metric Discriminent
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Manacova Manova