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Research Basics - 1 Why do you need research skills? In business even if you do not carry out research yourself you will often have to evaluate research carried out by others. The ability to formulate research questions and undertake comprehensive critical literature reviews is essential where investigating new products or service applications. READING Two text books are particularly useful for this topic and research methods in general. M.Saunders, P. Lewis and A.Thornhill (2009) Research Methods for Business Students, 5th edition, Harlow: Pearson Education. ISBN 978-0-273-71686-0 Taylor, S. (2001) Business Statistics, London: Palgrave-McMillan, ISBN 0-333-79445-1. OR a lighter read:- Taylor, S. (2007) Business Statistics: for non mathematicians, 2nd Edition, London: Palgrave-McMillan. ISBN 978-0-230-50646-6 Research process - simplified 1. Formulate/Clarify research topic - Brainstorm etc. 2. Critically review literature - Time consuming but necessary! Reflective/Review 3. Choose research approach/design activity flows - Inductive/Deductive - Extensive/Intensive - Phenomenology/Positivism 4. Address access and ethical issues - Who, Why and When 5. Plan data collection method/s - Interview/Questionnaire/Observation - Sampling/Secondary Data 6. Collect data 7. Analyse data - Quantitative/Qualitative 8. Write the report/Prepare Presentation Planning/Doing activity flows 9. Submit report/Present findings Adapted from: Saunders et al, Research Methods for Business Students, 2003, Fig 2 Step 1 – Formulate/Clarify Research Topic • The Proposal is the foundation of the Project – Good proposals are generally followed by good projects! – Poor proposals are generally followed by even worse projects! – Start by 1. Identifying a topic 2. Defining research questions and/or research objectives 3. Choose the title But Identifying a suitable topic and research question or objective is HARD Typical research project • Title (topic) • Abstract/executive summary • Introduction • Critical literature review • Research aims, questions and objectives • Research strategy & methodology • Key results of research • Analysis / synthesis of findings • Conclusions, recommendations and reflection • Reference list • Appendices 6 Generating and Refining Ideas • Search the literature • Past project titles • Brainstorming • Emerge from personal experience • Examine your own interests, strengths, and background • ‘Working up and narrowing down’ • Discussions with supervisor • Defining research questions from basic idea/topic/problem The success of a research program is strongly influenced by the clarity with which the research questions have been framed and the setting of an appropriate (SMART) objective for the research 7 Identify your topic • “Something on HRM” too broad / unfocussed • “Workforce motivation” still too broad Research Idea • “Performance related pay” better, but still not precise • Possibilities? – “PRP for production line workers: will it motivate improved output and performance?” – “PRP for production line workers: a comparison of employer, management and employee General focus perspectives.” Research idea ‘Job recruitment via the Internet’ 8 Identify your topic General research questions –  How effective is recruitment of new staff via the Internet vs. traditional methods?  Are different kinds of employees recruited more effectively via the Internet?  Is Internet recruitment likely to become more or less effective over time? 9 Define your research questions and / or objectives One topic was: “PRP for production line workers: will it motivate improved output and performance?” Question How can the performance of line workers be measured? Or objective? To identify and assess methods of measuring line worker performance. Question Be precise Why do many managers and line workers oppose PRP? Or objective? To determine the extent of and reasons for opposition to PRP in a production line environment. Need somewhere between 4 and 8 questions or objectives, more would be too much work and less would not be effective. 10 Another Research idea Persuasion and the internet General focusing questions How have persuasive marketing methods changed on the Internet What methods are used and which are effective and why? Persuasion methods and persuasion theory Research question Research objective Why do organisations use online To identify organisations objectives in using methods of persuasion online persuasion methods How do organisations plan and To describe organisations online planning implement online persuasion and implementation methods campaigns To identify the main principles of persuasion What principles of persuasion are To identify how these are used in practice involved and are they effective? To determine the relationship between 11 persuasion theory and practice outcomes Research starts with setting a question to answer (topic) • Typical assignment (uses current knowledge) – Should the UK join the single European currency in the current economic climate? Assess the costs and benefits – Typical response: Synthesise information and ideas , Analyse the consequences, Different conclusions may result from the same question and information • Typical research projects (add new knowledge) – Are small firms actually prepared for the euro? – Do large businesses feel comfortable about entering the Eurozone? – What sources of information are available to SMCs? And do SMCs use them? 12 Research Objectives Adhere to the SMART criteria: Specific – Specific, tightly defined objectives are preferable to vague, wide-ranging objectives Measurable – Where possible formulate research objectives that are measurable Achievable – Your project must be “doable”: completed under constraints of time and finance Realistic – Analyse a narrow topic in depth rather than deal with a broad area descriptively. Temporal – Specify the time spans of your research. E.g., evaluate developments in UK car advertising over the past 5 years rather than over sixty years. 13 Research Proposal The Title must convey succinctly the topic and/or aim of your research Typical Research Proposal would look like: A. Title (topic) B. Introduction, Research objectives and research questions or WHY this study is worthwhile. C. Supporting literature review D. Research strategy/methodology E. Proposed project contents F. Proposed project timescales G. Reference list 14 2. Critically Review Literature • Always and most important • Discussion of relevant theory and examples: – HRM example (Theories of workforce motivation, Studies of PRP in other sectors) • a comprehensive literature review gives the context for the research • There is always relevant literature! • Before beginning research you must show that you are – familiar with the existing literature – using the existing literature – adding to the existing literature – there are no prizes for “reinventing the wheel” • References – It is CRITICAL, if you want your research to be credible, that you reference the reviewed literature 15 accurately Mini case: The impact of direct insurers on the traditional motor insurers (Source Saunders et al, 2003, p.76) • 5 Minute ACTIVITY: List the problems with this extract in terms of its: 1. Content. & 2. Structure Jackson (1995) suggests that businesses must be developed from a customer rather than a product perspective. Lindesfarne (1995) demonstrates that direct selling gives the consumer increased control as it is up to them when and if they wish to respond to adverts or direct mail. MacKenzie (1995) comments that free gifts are useful for getting responses to adverts, which is ultimately what all direct insurers need. Bowen (1995) suggests that this type of company can be split into three equally important parts: marketing, insurance and information technology. Motor insurance is particularly price sensitive because of its compulsory nature and its perception by many to have no real “value” to themselves. Reference List Ian Bowen (1994), Post magazine 2nd July Jackson, D.R. Prudential’s Prudent Parochialism, Direct Marketing, April 26-29 Lindisfarne, I. (1995), Death of a Salesman, Post magazine 15 July 30-31 Rise of the Freebie, Gordon MacKenzie (1995), Post Magazine 2 February 56 Mini case: The impact of direct insurers on the traditional motor insurers (Source Saunders et al, 2003, pp76) Answers to Questions • List the problems with this extract in terms of its Content & Structure – Some of the more obvious answers are • The content is predominantly trade magazines, in particular Post magazine, and there are no references of academic substance • Some of the references have discrepancies (Lindesfarne or Lindisfarne? Bowen 1994 or 1995? Missing page numbers or year of publication, non standard reference list format) • The items are all from 1994-1995. It is likely that there are more recent articles. • There is no real structure or argument in the extract. • The extract is a list of what people have written with no attempt to critically evaluate or juxtapose the ideas