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Business Research Process Design

Business Research Process Design

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this chapter, you will be able to: Understand the steps in conducting research Understand the types of research Learn the purposes and methods of conducting exploratory research Learn about descriptive research and the types of descriptive research Have a preliminary idea about causal research Establish a difference between exploratory research, descriptive research, and causal research
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Business Research Process Design

Introduction
Research is all about finding something, the absence of which may distort our ability to take informed decisions (Nwokah et al., 2009). The ability to take an informed decision is generated through a systematic study that is conducted through various interrelated stages. All the steps in a research are interrelated and no independent activity is launched without considering the decisions on the previous stages. One has to really understand that, from problem identification to presentation of findings, every step is interlinked and interrelated.
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Business Research Process Design

Business Research Process Design



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A research design is the detailed blueprint used to guide a research study towards its objective. A good research is conducted using 10 steps:
1. 2. Problem or opportunity identification Decision maker and business researcher meeting to discuss the problem and opportunity dimensions 3. Defining the management problem and subsequently the research problem 4. Formal research proposal and introducing the dimensions of the problem 5. Approaches to research 6. Field work and data collection 7. Data preparation and data entry 8. Performing data analysis 9. Interpretation of result and presentation of findings 10. Management decision and its implementation.
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Figure 2.1: Business research process design

Business Research Process Design

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Step 1: Problem or Opportunity Identification



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The process of business research starts with the problem or opportunity identification. Actually, the management of the company identifies the problem or opportunity in the organization or in the environment. The management can identify the symptoms or the effects of the problem, but to understand the reasons of the problems, a systematic research has to be adopted. This required research should either be executed by a business research firm or a business researcher.

Business Research Process Design

The decision maker contacts the business research firm and then discusses the problem or opportunity with the business researcher. The researcher can only suggest solution to a problem, but the actual decision is taken by the decision maker.

Business Research Process Design

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Step 2: Decision Maker and Business Researcher Meeting to Discuss the Problem or Opportunity Dimensions

Step 3: Defining the Management Problem and Subsequently the Research Problem
The management problem is concerned with the decision maker and is action oriented in nature. For example, the management problem offers a psychological pricing to enhance the quantum of sales. This management problem focuses on the symptoms. Research problem is somewhat information oriented and focuses mainly on the causes and not on the symptoms. This is to determine the consumers opinion on psychological pricing and to estimate their purchase behaviour for the psychological price being offered.
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Business Research Process Design

Step 4: Formal Research Proposal and Introducing the Dimensions to the Problem
Now, the researcher prepares a formal proposal of the research and develops the approaches to the research problem. The first part is to develop a theoretical model to quantify an attitude. For example, to estimate the buying intentions for a particular product, first, the researcher has to prepare a theoretical model to measure an attitude like buying intentions.
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Business Research Process Design

Figure 2.2 : Theoretical model to measure the buying intention


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Framing Hypotheses
Hypothesis 1: Brand image has a significant liner impact on the buying intention. Hypothesis 2: Brand awareness has a significant liner impact on the buying intention. Hypothesis 3: Price has a significant liner impact on the buying intention. Hypothesis 4: Availability has a significant liner impact on the buying intention. Hypothesis 5: After-sales services has a significant liner impact on the buying intention.

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Hypothesis 6: All the five factors in combination have a significant linear impact on the buying intention.

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The researcher can also test the combined impact of these five variables on the buying intention. The proposed multiple regression model will be

Step 5: Approaches to Research


The research approach is formulated is the next step. In the light of the type of data, questions are framed and scientifically placed in the questionnaire. This chapter is based on the research design formulation, Chapter 3 deals with measurement and scaling, Chapter 4 with the aspects of the questionnaire design in detail, and as a next step, a sample size is determined and a sampling technique is selected in Chapter 5.

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Types of Research

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All researches can be broadly classified into three groups: exploratory research, descriptive research, and causal research. These three methods differ in terms of different aspects of conducting the research.

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Figure 2.3: Classification of different types of research


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Exploratory Research

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As the name indicates, exploratory research is mainly used to explore the insight of the general research problem. This is used for the following purposes:
A. Obtaining Background Information B. Research Problem Formulation or Defining it More Precisely C. Identifying and Defining the Key Research Variables D. Developing Hypotheses

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Figure 2.4: The refined theoretical model to measure the buying intentions (obtaining inputs from exploratory research)
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Methods of Conducting Exploratory Research


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Secondary Data Analysis

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The secondary data are not only used for problem understanding and exploration but are also used to develop an understanding about the research findings. Chapter 6 exclusively deals with this topic.

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Expert Survey

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To get the authentic information about the problem, the researchers sometimes consult the experts of the concerned field. These experts provide authentic and relevant information useful for the research, which otherwise is difficult to obtain.

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Focus Group Interviews

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The focus group interview is a qualitative research technique in which a trained moderator leads a small group of participants to an unstructured discussion about the topic of interest.

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Depth Interviews

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A depth interview is a probing between a highly skilled interviewer and a respondent from the target population to unfold the underlying opinions, motivations, emotions, or feelings of an individual respondent on a topic generally coined by the researcher.

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Case Analysis

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A case study research method actually combines the record analysis and observations from individual and group interviews. The case studies become particularly useful when one needs to understand some particular problem or situation in great depth and when one can identify the cases rich in information.

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Projective Techniques

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Projective technique is achieved by presenting the respondents with ambiguous verbal or visual stimulus materials, such as bubble cartoons, which they need to make sense of by drawing from their own experiences, thoughts, feelings, and imagination before they can offer a response. In the field of business research, the projective techniques are broadly classified as word association, completion task, construction task, and expressive task.

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Classification of Projective Techniques


Word Association: Word Association Word association provides a technique that facilitates the study and shading of attitudes, which cannot be ordinarily uncovered through standard interview methods. In the word association technique, the respondents are required to respond to the presentation of an object by indicating the first word, image, or thought that comes in his or her mind as a response to that object. Completion Task: In a completion task, the respondent is presented with an incomplete sentence, story, argument, or conversation and asked to complete it. In the field of business research, the two widely used completion task techniques are sentence-completion task and storyBusiness Research Process Design completion task.
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Classification of Projective Techniques


Construction Task : Construction task is related to the completion task technique with a little difference. In the construction task technique, the respondent is provided with less initial structure as compared with the completion task where the respondent is provided with an initial structure, and then, he or she completes the task. In the field of business research, third-person questioning and bubble drawing (cartoon testing) are two commonly used construction techniques. Expressive Task: In expressive task technique, the respondents are asked to role-play, act, or paint a specific (mostly desired by the researcher) concept or situation. In the roleplaying technique, the participant is required to act someone elses behaviour in a particular setting.
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Descriptive Research
As evident from the name, descriptive research is conducted to describe the business or market characteristics. The descriptive research mainly answers who, what, when, where, and how kind of questions. It attempts to address who should be surveyed, what, at what time (pre- and post-type of study), from where (household, shopping mall, market, and so on), and how this information should be obtained (method of data collection). It can be further classified into cross-sectional study and longitudinal study.
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Cross-Sectional Study
Cross sectional research design involves the collection of information from a sample of a population at only one point of time. In this study, various segments of the population are sampled so that the relationship among the variables may be investigated by cross tabulation (Zikmund, 2007). Sample surveys are cross-sectional studies in which the samples happen to be a representative of the population. The cross-sectional study generally involves large samples from the population; hence, they are sometimes referred as sample surveys.
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Longitudinal Study

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Longitudinal study involves survey of the same population over a period of time. There is a well-defined difference between a crosssectional study and a longitudinal study. In a longitudinal study, the sample remains the same over a period of time. In a cross-sectional design, a representative sample taken from the population is studied at only one point of time.

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Causal Research

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Causal research is conducted to identify the causeand-effect relationship between two or more business (or decision) variables. Many business decisions are based on the causal relationship between the variables of interest. As discussed, the descriptive research is able to answer who, what, when, where, and how kind of questions but not the why part of the question. The causal research is designed to address the why part of the question.

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Table 2.2: A relative comparison of exploratory research, descriptive research, and conclusive research
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Step 6: Field Work and Data Collection

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Chapter 6 is exclusively based on secondary data sources. The researcher has to also decide whether he or she has to go for a survey or has to adopt the observation methods and decide whether the research will be based on the field data collection or it will be a laboratory experiment. Chapter 7 is based on survey and observation techniques, Chapter 8 introduces the various dimensions of experimentation, and Chapter 9 focuses on field work and data preparation process.

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Step 7: Data Preparation and Data Entry



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After field work, the collected data are in raw format. Before performing data analysis, it is important for a researcher to structure the data. There is a specific scientific procedure to deal with the missing data and other problems related to the data-collection process. Chapter 9 details all these aspects of data preparation.

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Step 8: Data Analysis


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After feeding the data in the spreadsheet, data analysis is launched. Chapters 10 to 18 present various sophisticated statistical analytical techniques to execute the data analysis exercise. These include univariate statistical analysis, bivariate statistical analysis, and multivariate statistical analysis.

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Step 9: Interpretation of Result and Presentation of Findings


It has been already discussed that after applying data analysis techniques, a statistical result is obtained. There is need to interpret the result and present the non-statistical findings derived from the statistical result. A meaningful interpretation of the result is a skilful activity and is an important aspect of research. The researcher has to determine whether the result of the study is in line with the existing literature.
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Step 10: Management Decision and Its Implementation


As the last step of conducting a research programme, the findings are conveyed to the decision maker after consultation with the research programmer. The decision maker analyses the findings and takes an appropriate decision in the light of the statistical findings presented by the researcher. This is not a formal part of the research process. Here, it is included as a step of the research process, because it is the decision maker who will ultimately take the decision and is the managerial implication of the research programme.
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