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(Business Research Methods)

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 1

Self-Administered Questionnaires

Printed Questionnaires Electronic Questionnaires

Mail E-Mail

In-Person Drop-Off Internet Website

Inserts Interactive Kiosk


MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 2

Self-Administered Questionnaires
• Self-administered questionnaires are those questionnaires that are filled in
by the respondent independently, i.e. without the direct interaction with an

• There are many ways for distributing self-administered questionnaires, for

example, by mailing or faxing questionnaires to people, by posting them on
websites, by distributing them at certain locations and places (airline flights,
resteraunts, hotels etc.), by including them as inserts in magazines and so

• Researchers who have to interpret self-administered questionnaires have to

be skillful at trying to understand what is being conveyed to them in written
or electronic - rather than verbal - form

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 3

Mail Surveys
• A mail survey is a self-administered questionnaire dispatched to
respondents through the mail

• Mail surveys have several advantages and disadvantages:

– geographic flexibility
– cost
– respondent convenience
– interviewers absence
– standardized questions
– time factor
– length of the questionnaire

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 4

Mail Surveys: Advantages (1)
• Geographic Flexibility – Mail questionnaires can be distributed
over a geographically wide area simultaneously and quickly,
including to respondents who may live in remote or not so cheaply
accessible areas, and respondents who may not be easy to reach
due to extensive comittments, such as executives. Mail
questionaires can also be easily and quickly distributed at meetings
or to employees in an organization, along with basic guidelines for
filling in the questionnaire

• Cost – Mail questionnaires are comparatively cheaper to conduct

than personal interviews and telephone surveys, but can still be
quite costly because of the costs of printing and mailing
questionnaires, and possible follow-up actions

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 5

Mail Surveys: Advantages (2)
• Responent Convenience – Questionnaires can be filled out at the
respondents convenience. The respondent has time to think about his or her
answer which may provide more accurate data and information to the
interviewer than would be possible in the case of personal interviews or
telephone surveys

• Interviewer Absence – Respondents may be willing to disclose sensitive

information in a mail survey which they may not be willing to do if being
interviewed personally

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 6

Mail Surveys: Disadvantages (1)
• Interviewer Absence – Respondents may attach a different subjective
meaning to questionnaires, which are outside the control or influence of the
interviewer who cannot be consulted or queried. Respondents may thus
misunderstand certain questions or aspects of the survey

• Standardized Questions – Misunderstanding of questions on the part of

the respondent can create problems since no interviewer is present to
answer queries or clarify misunderstandings or overcome comprehension

• Time Factor – Mail surveys may be inappropriate if time is very limited and
information is needed quickly. Usually, it can take a few weeks before
completed mail questionnaires are received, follow-up action initiated and
the information analyzed

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 7

Mail Surveys: Disadvantages (2)
• Length of Mail Questionnaire – If the questionnaire is quite long (usually >
6 pages), respondents must give considerable effort and may not be willing
to invest the effort. Sometimes, this reluctance can be overcome by using

• Wrong Respondents – Questionnaires may not be answered by the target

respondents (e.g. senior executives), instead, the task of filling up the
questionnaire is delegated to subordinates

• Social Factors – The response rate is dependent on social and economic

factors such as the education level of the respondent and his or her
economic status. More educated and well-to-do respondents, and those with
more interest in the subject of the survey, tend to reply more to
questionnaires than respondents with lessor education and of lessor
economic means

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 8

Techniques to Increase Mail Survey
Response Rates
There are several techniques which can be used to increase response rates to
mail surveys. Examples:

 Using a stamped return envelope

 Designing and formatting attractive, easy-to-understand and interesting
 Inclusion of a cover letter or personalized letter
 Preliminary notification a few days prior to launching the mail survey
 Monetary incentives
 Follow-up efforts
 Survey sponsorship (nature of organization undertaking the survey)
 Miscellaneous innovative techniques (e.g.: commemorative postage stamps,
colour of questionnaire, mechanics of conducting mail surveys)

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 9

Fax Surveys
Fax Survey – A survey in which questionnaires are distributed and/or
returned through fax machines


Reduction in printing and postage costs for the researcher and faster
distribution and return than through mail surveys


Not all respondents have fax machines and some respondents may not
want to return the fax if transmission cost is high due to geographical
distance. As with mail surveys, respondents with more extreme views, who
are interested in the subject of the survey, will be more likely to respond,
thus creating a bias effect

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 10

eMail Surveys
eMail Survey – A survey in which questionnaires are distributed and
returned via eMail. Surveys conducted with eMail are especially suited for
time-sensitive issues


Speed of distribution, lower distribution and processing costs, faster

turnaround time, more flexibility, and less handling of paper questionnaire


Not all respondents have eMail. There may be concerns on the part of the
respondents about confidentiality, the format of eMails can differ
considerably depending on the programmes used and the settings of the
respondents computer (spam management). Moreover, respondents have
different skill levels in handling eMails, especially complicated survey-
related ones
MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 11
Internet Surveys
Internet Survey – An internet survey is a self-administered questionnaire
which is posted on a website. Some major advantages of using the Internet
for Conducting Surveys:

 access to a large (possibly global) audience on 24-hour basis

 Real-time data entry and analysis
 More accurate data capture if properly programmed
 obtaining confidential, anonymous answers quickly and cost-effectively
 No costs for paper, postage, data entry and administrative costs
 Large samples can be larger than with interviews and other types of
self-administered questionnaires
 Questionnaires can include use of appealing multimedia aids including
photographs or drawings of prototypes
 Callbacks are automated (if response incomplete or not given)
 eMail can be used to invite respondents to visit the website, for e.g. to
participate in panels
 Flexible and personalized questioning of respondents
MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 12
Internet Surveys
Some major disadvantages of using the internet for conducting

• Many people in the general population do not have access to the internet
• Different levels of technology may be prevalent (broadband or dial-up
connectivity) which may result in some users not being able to access
information as quick as others
• Hardware deficiencies and/or software incompatability
• Different computer skill levels
• Physical incentives (e.g. inclusion of money) is not possible, only the
promise of a future reward
• Research on internet surveys is small and so are ideas for improving
response rates

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 13

Other Survey Types

Other types of surveys include

Kiosk Surveys, i.e., surveys conducted with the help of computers are
installed in kiosks in different public locations, such as exhibitions and trade
shows, conferences and conventions, museums and so forth. A
disadvantage of using kiosk surveys is that usually computer-literate
persons and those having the time and interest in the survey subject will

Mixed Surveys, i.e., a combination of personal and telephone interviews,

mail, eMail, fax and internet. Mixed surveys have both advantages (e.g.
better screening of respondents) and disadvantages (waning respondent
interest or non-availability)

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 14

 Pretesting is a technique used to improve the quality of questionnaires with
a view to ensuring that respondents understand and do not omit questions
or do not misinterpret instructions given to them for filling out the

 Pretesting involves sending questionnaires to a group of respondents for the

purpose of detecting flaws in the questionnaires design or instructions.
Pretesting can, alternatively, rely on asking other research professionals to
do this assignment or asking the manager or client who commissioned the
research (who should always read the questionnaire to ascertain whether it
suits his or her requirement)

 Problems typically occur in wording questions, problems with lead

questions, and bias due to the question sequence

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 15

Ethical Issues in Survey Research

Ethical Considerations while undertaking survey

research include:

 Avoidance by the researcher of deception and

misinformation and practices that may harm,
humiliate or mislead respondents
 Observing respondents right to privacy and
 Honesty in collecting data
 Objectivity in analysing and interpreting data

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 16

Advantages and Disadvantages of
Typical Survey Methods

 No survey form is perfect. It depends on the nature of

the research problem and objectives of the research, the
information required, the time-frame, budget and other
available resources for the research, and a host of other

 For a comparative tabulation of the respective

advantages and disadvantages of the various methods
for conducting surveys, see William G. Zikmund,
Business Research Methods, 7.ed., p. 228.
MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 17
Scientific Observation
 Scientific Observation is the systematic process of recording the
behavioural patterns of people, objects, and occurrences as they are

 In observation, there is no direct interaction with respondents – no

communication or questioning takes place while data is collected

 A major advantage of observation (over surveys) is that the data collected is

done at the time the actual behaviour or situation takes place, and it is not
subject to distortions, inaccuracies and respondent biases and so forth.

 A major limitation of observation is that many cognitive phenomona such as

attitudes, motivations, expectations, intentions and preferences cannot be
observed. Also, observation usually is of short-duration as observation over
longer periods is tedious and expensive

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 18

Observable Phenomena
There are 7 types of observable phenomona:

 Human behaviour or action (e.g.: movement patterns of workers in a

factory or consumers in a shopping mall)
 Verbal behaviour (e.g.: statements made by shoppers waiting in the
 Expressive behaviour (e.g.: body language, facial expressions and tone of
 Spatial relations (e.g.: proximity of the offices of corporate executives to
the office of the CEO)
 Temporal patterns (e.g.: duration it takes an employee to perform a task)
 Physical objects (e.g.: how much paper is recycled in an office)
 Verbal or pictorial records (e.g.: how many graphics and sketches appear
in an appliance instruction manual)

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 19

Means of Observation
There are two ways for observing people,
objects, events and other phenomona:

– Human Observation – Human observers are used

when the behaviour or situation to be recorded is
complex and not easily predictable in advance of the

– Mechanical Observation - Mechanical Observation is

used when the behaviour or situation to be recorded
is routine, repetitive or programmatic

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 20

Visible and Hidden Observation
Visible Observation – This occurs when the observer‘s presence is
visible to the research subject

Visible Observation has the advantage that the research subject is

aware of his or her participation in the research and can choose to
terminate it if desired; the disadvantage lies in that the subject may
adapt his or her behaviour and that the data collected may
consequently not be accurate

Hidden Observation – This occurs when the observer‘s presence

is not visible to the research subject

Hidden Observation has the advantage that the subject‘s consent is

not required and that because the subject is unaware of being
observed, he or she will not adapt the behaviour accordingly; the
disadvantage lies in the violation of the subject‘s privacy

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 21

Direct Observation
 Direct observation is an attempt by the researcher to observe and record
what naturally occurs without creating any artificial situation

 Direct observation can yield many types of data more accurately than
through questioning (e.g. respondents being interviewed might not be able
to indicate how much time they spend performing individual tasks but direct
observation can determine this quite straightforwardly)

 Direct observation is often the only feasible or economic option for collecting
data (e.g. collecting data on market prices for specific products or
determining where the majority of a supermarket‘s customers come from
based on their car registration numbers)

 Direct observation also has shortcomings. „Observer Bias“, for instance,

may arise from the element of subjectivity brought into play by observers
and false attributions about the subject‘s educational background and
economic status, failure to record all the relevant data and misinterpretation
of the data (facial expressions are wrongly interpreted, spatial proximity has
another reason etc.)
MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 22
Scientifically Contrived Observation

 Scientifically contrived observation is about observing subject‘s in

an artificial environment created by the observer for the purpose of
collecting data. Examples:

– A researcher posing as a passenger on an airline may complain about

the quality of lunch to the air hostess in order to record her reaction

– A researcher posing as a shopper asks about a product in the local

supermarket in order to evaluate the performance of the sales person

 Contrived observation has its advantages. One major disadvantage,

though, is that it is – or can be – seen as a means of entrapment
and putting subjects‘ in a difficult or embarrassing situation

MBA III (Research Methodology) Course Instructor: Dr. Aurangzeb Z. Khan 23