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Topic 5 Elements of Research Design

Purpose of study

Study may be exploratory in nature or descriptive, or may be conducted to test hypotheses .

Exploratory study
Undertaken when not much is known about the situation, or no information is available. Extensive preliminary work needs to be done to gain familiarity with the phenomena in the situation and understand what is occurring. Under taken to better comprehend nature of the problem. Exploratory study are also necessary when some facts are known, but more information is needed for developing a viable theoretical framework.

Exploratory study
Can be done through: Interviewing individuals Focus groups Internet Other secondary and primary sources

Descriptive study
Undertaken in order to ascertain and be able to describe the characteristics of the variables of interest in a situation. Goal of descriptive study, hence, is to offer the researcher a profile or describe relevant aspect of the phenomena of interest from individual, organization, industry-oriented, or other perspective

Descriptive study
Descriptive study present data in a meaningful form thus help to
1. Understand characteristics of group in a given situation 2. Think systematically about the aspects in a given situation 3. Offers ideas for further probe and research 4. Help make certain simple decisions

Descriptive study
A CEO may be interested in having a description of organizations in the industry that follow the LIFO system. In this case the report might include the locations of the organizations, their production levels, sales, inventory, suppliers and profits.

Descriptive study
A bank manager wants to have a profile of the individuals who have loan payments outstanding for 6 months and more. It would include details of their average age, nature of occupation, full time part time employees etc.

Hypotheses testing
Studies engaged in hypotheses testing usually explain the nature of certain relationships, or establish the difference among groups or the independence of two or more factors in a situation. It explains the variance in the dependent variable or to predict organizational outcomes

Hypotheses testing
A marketing manager wants to know if the sales of the company will increase if he doubles the advertisement money. Here the manager would like to know the nature of relationship that can be established between advertisement and sales.


Case study analysis

Involve in-depth, contextual analyses of matters relating to similar situation in other organizations. Case study that are qualitative in nature are useful in applying solutions to current problems based on past problem-solving experiences. Helps understanding certain phenomena, generating further theories for empirical testing


Causal versus Correlational Investigation

Causal Investigation: Done when it is necessary to establish a definitive cause and effect relationship. e.g. X variable causes variable Y variable. Does smoking cause cancer?


Causal versus Correlational Investigation

Correlational Investigation: When a researcher is interested identifying the main variables associated with a problem. e.g. Are smoking and chewing tobacco associated with cancer?


Extent of Researcher Interference with the study

Minimal Interference Moderate Interference
Excessive Interference


Study Setting
Field Studies: Correctional studies done in organizations. Field Experiments: Studies conducted to establish cause and effect relationships using the same natural environment in which employees normally function. Lab Experiments: Experiments done to establish cause and effect relationships which require the creation of artificial environment.

Unit of Analysis
Individual Dyads Groups Divisions Industry Countries


Cross-sectional V Longitudinal Study

A study can be done in which data are gathered just once, perhaps over a period of days or weeks or moths, in order to answer a research question. Researcher might want to study people or phenomenon at more than one point in time in order to answer the research question.