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Research Methodology

Introducing idea of research in business Research process Problem definition & research proposal

What is business research?

It is defined as the systematic & objective process of gathering, recording & analyzing data for aid in making business decisions

Forms of business research

Market research Operations research Motivational research

Market research
Aims at understanding & examining the market place in which the company operates so that the company can devise effective business policies & marketing strategies

Operations research
Uses mathematical, logical & analytical methods to find optimal solutions to business problems Primarily used for demand forecasting, optimizing production etc

Motivational research
Involves analyzing the reasons & motives behind peoples behaviour Example: employees behaviour, consumer behaviour

Types of Research
Basic Research this attempts to expand the limits of knowledge. It does not directly involve the solution to a particular, pragmatic problem. This is conducted to verify the acceptability of a given theory or to discover more abut a certain concept Applied Research this is conducted when a decision must be made about a specific real life problem.

Use of research in business

The prime value of managerial research is thatIt reduces uncertainty by providing information that improves the decisionmaking process

Stages in a decision making process

Identifying problems or opportunities Diagnosing & assessing problems or opportunities Selecting & implementing a course of action Evaluating the course of action Research is very important at each of these stages

Research to evaluate the course of action

Evaluation research- the formal, objective measurement & appraisal of the extent to which a given activity, project or program has achieved its objectives Performance-monitoring research- research that regularly provides feedback for evaluation & control of business activities Total quality management- a business philosophy that focuses on integrating customer driven quality throughout the organization


Determining when business research should be conducted

Time constraint

Availability of data Is the information yes already on hand inadequate for decision making

Nature of decision Is the decision of considerable strategic or tactical importance yes

Is sufficient time available before a Managerial decision must be made ?

Conduct business research yes

Does value of research information exceed cost of conducting research Benefits vs costs

Continuum of decision making

Complete Certainty Uncertainty Absolute Ambiguity

Business managers face a variety of decision-making situations. Under conditions of complete certainty when future outcomes are predictable, business research may be a waste of time. Under conditions of uncertainty or ambiguity, business research becomes more attractive to decision makers. Business research produces information to reduce uncertainty

Types of Business Research

Exploratory initial research conducted to clarify & define the nature of a problem Descriptive Research designed to describe characteristics of a population or a phenomenon Casual research conducted to identify cause-and-effect relationships among variables when the research problem has already been narrowly defined

Relationship of uncertainty to types of Business Research

Exploratory Research (Ambiguous problem) Descriptive Causal research Research (Aware of (Clearly defined partially defined problem) problem

Examples of Business Problems

Absenteeism is increasing & we dont know why?

What kind of people favour trade protectionism?

Which of the training programs is more effective?

Would people be interested in our new product idea?

What work conditions influence leadership process in an organization?

Did last years product recall have an impact on our companys stock price?
Has the average merger rate for savings & loans increased in the past decade?

Can I predict the value of energy stocks if I know the current dividends & growth rates of dividends? Will buyers purchase more of our product in a new package?

Phases of the Research Process

Formulating conclusions & preparing report Defining problem Defining the New problem Processing & analyzing data

Planning a Research Design

& so on Planning a Sample

Gathering the Data


Problem Discovery and Definition

Problem discovery

Selection of exploratory research technique

Selection of exploratory research technique



Secondary (historical) data

Experience survey

Pilot study

Case study

Data Gathering Data Processing and Analysis

Collection of data (fieldwork) Editing and coding data Data processing

Problem definition (statement of research objectives)

Research Design

Selection of basic research method

Conclusions and Report

Interpretation of findings

Laboratory Field Interview



Secondary Data Study


Flow Chart of Research Process


The formulation of the problem is often more essential than its solution.

Albert Einstein

Problem Definition
The indication of a specific business decision area that will be clarified by answering some research questions.


Defining Problem Results in Clear Cut Research Objectives

Symptom Detection

Analysis of the Situation

Problem Definition Statement of Research Objectives

Exploratory Research (Optional)


The Process of Problem Definition

Ascertain the decision makers objectives Determine unit of analysis

Understand background of the problem

Determine relevant variables

Isolate/identify the problem, not the symptoms

State research questions and objectives


Ascertain the Decision Makers Objectives

Decision makers objectives Managerial goals expressed in measurable terms.


The Iceberg Principle

The principle indicating that the dangerous part of many business problems is neither visible to nor understood by managers.


Understand the Background of the Problem

Exercising judgment Situation analysis - The informal gathering of background information to familiarize researchers or managers with the decision area.


Isolate and Identify the Problems, Not the Symptoms

Symptoms can be confusing


Symptoms Can Be Confusing

Twenty-year-old neighborhood swimming association: Membership has been declining for years. New water park -residents prefer the expensive water park???? Demographic changes: Children have grown up

Organization Twenty-year-old neighborhood swimming association in a major city.

Symptoms Membership has been declining for years. New water park with wave pool and water slides moved into town a few years ago.

Problem Definition Based on Symptom Neighborhood residents prefer the expensive water park and have negative image of swimming pool.

True Problem Demographic changes: Children in this 20year-old neighborhood have grown up. Older residents no longer swim anywhere.


What Language Is Written on This Stone Found by Archaeologists?



The Language Is English: To Tie Mules To



Problem definition
Creativity techniques
Analytical Intuitive

Progressive abstraction Interrogatories (5Ws+H) Boundary examinations

Associations/Images Wishful thinking Brain storming Analogy/metaphor

Individuals vs. groups


Problem definition
GAP analysis
Unintended situation Normal situation Ideal situation

Problem definition

Definition of opportunities

Disturbing problems Entrepreneurial problems


Problem definition Progressive Abstraction Technique

1. Basic description of the problem 2. Gradually moving towards a higher level of abstraction (until a usable definition has been reached) - the problem is automatically extended, new definitions may show up - new definitions can be evaluated regarding applicability - when a higher level of abstraction has been reached, it is often easier to identify solutions 3. The decision maker/analyst is forced into a systematic way of searching for substructures and relationships

Problem definition

Boundary examination technique

1. Purpose: to restructure the assumptions and to develop new
ways of looking at the problem 2. Procedure: describe the problem, as it looks at the moment identify key elements in the definition and examine them to reveal underlying assumptions analyse each assumption and identify its causes and effects redefine the problem based on the deeper understanding of the elements achieved during this process 3. Advantages: provocative definition of the problem reveals limits which are difficult to identify stresses the need of a flexible definition of the problem


Problem definition Interrogatories Ws+H (who, what, where, when, why, how)
1. Purpose: To make sure that all aspects of the problem has been considered
2. Procedure:
construct questions for each of the 5 Ws+H answer the questions evaluate the proposed answers if an improvement shows up: is it cost efficient? if so change accordingly

Very efficient technique which can be applied in any phases of the problem definition

Problem definition

Wishful thinking technique

1. Purpose: To isolate the process of defining the problem from non-recognized but irrelevant alternative assumptions 2. Procedure:
- formulate questions, targets, situations or a problem - accept that everything is possible - use imagination to formulate statements like: I would like to.. or If I could choose - examine each statement and apply it as a stimuli - return to reality and formulate statements like: Even if I cant do it, then I can - repeat the last three steps if needed


Problem definition
Brain storming
1. Purpose: To generate as many ideas as possible 2. Procedure: - select a problem, which all participants have some knowledge/ experience about - describe the problem in a neutral way - write down all suggestions on a board, so everybody can see them - evaluation must not start until all ideas have been mentioned - try to force more ideas - strive for as many ideas as possible so quality can be extracted from quantity - accept all ideas - even the most absurd - stimulate associations and extensions of generated ideas

Determine the Unit of Analysis

Individuals, households, organizations, etc. In many studies, the family rather than the individual is the appropriate unit of analysis.


Determine the Relevant Variable

Anything that may assume different numerical values


Types of Variables
Categorical Continuous Dependent Independent


An unproven proposition A possible solution to a problem Guess


State the research questions and research objectives


If you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there.


Broad research objectives

Statement of business problem

Exploratory research (optional)

Specific Objective 1

Specific Objective 2

Specific Objective 3

Research Design



Influences of definition
Specific Objective I Broad Research Objectives

Statement of Problem Exploratory Research (Optional)

Specific Objective II

Research Design


Specific Objective III


The Process of Problem Definition

Ascertain the decision makers objectives Determine unit of analysis

Understand background of the problem

Determine relevant variables

Isolate/identify the problem, not the symptoms

State research questions and objectives


Basic Questions Problem Definition

What is the purpose of the study? How much is already known? Is additional background information necessary? What is to be measured? How? Can the data be made available? Should research be conducted? Can a hypothesis be formulated?


Basic Questions Basic Research Design

What types of questions need to be answered? Are descriptive or causal findings required? What is the source of the data?


Basic Questions Basic Research Design

Can objective answers be obtained by asking people? How quickly is the information needed? How should survey questions be worded? How should experimental manipulations be made?