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Unit 8 Mandatory Unit

Objectives In this chapter you will learn about the following: What makes a good research project The types of research The research process The implications of research for your personal development The requirements of HND Unit 8

HND research project

Types of research project

Timings

Project management skills

Attributes of a good research

Knowledge, skills and understanding

Assessment criteria

Research process

Introduction to the research project

Analysis of the learning outcomes

Purpose Scope

of the project Volume What you have to do The project proposal

Purpose of Research Project unit: To introduce you to the techniques and methods of research, so you gain an understanding of research methods To enable you to produce a project report based on your own independent research into an area of professional business practice. The area you choose should be something that interest you and that will add to your professional development

The project should: be on an area of professional business practice build on knowledge, skills and understanding of other units

The aim for about 5,000 words That volume would enable you to produce a well structured project report including: Results analysis Conclusion and recommendation

The assessment of the Project will be in 2 clearly distinct parts: The project proposal The project itself

The proposal should be about 1,500 words in length. The purpose is to help you to ensure that you have adequately thought through the research topic and the process produce research The criteria for assessment of proposal: Ability of working title to the represent the project subject matter Clarity of research questions and objectives The extent to which the proposed project is linked to fully referenced academic literature Clarity of discussion

When

should I do the project? How long will it take?

You might refer to make a start when you have a strong level of academic knowledge and business awareness This will: Provide you with a platform on which to build a good Project Help you in selecting, refining topic and analyzing data

The time to finish a Project depends on : The topic chosen: its complexity and the challenges you may fact in accessing information The extend to which you are still engaged in other parts of HND The type of research you are undertaking

For HND, the Project often takes 4 months

Introduction Role

of the learning outcomes Prepare a research proposal relating to a specified area of business Conduct research using primary and secondary sources of information Carry out the Research Project into a specified area of business Overview analysis of data Present and evaluate the findings with regard to the initial proposal

You should be able to: Prepare a research proposal relating to a specified area of business Conduct research using primary and secondary sources of information Carry out the Research Project into a specified area of business Present and evaluate the findings with regard to the initial proposal

Learning outcomes have been provided to: Establish what you should achieve from the unit Provide you with a working framework which should help you to structure and complete your Project effectively You need to know and understand: the approach to management research the potential strategies adopted available research methods

The research proposal will provide the foundations of Research Project, so it must be carefully thought out and planned The requirement of learning outcomes is intended to encourage you to concentrate on specifics right from the outset

2 principle approaches to research Deductive approach: You would begin by developing a theory and then proceed to gather data to test theory This is used in the nature sciences such as physics or chemistry A key characteristic: the importance of indentifying and verifying the cause and effect relationship between 2 or more variables

Inductive approach: You carry out data collection and analysis and then develop a theory on the basis of the work you did. The theory follows the data In business and management oriented research, the inductive approach is based on the way people involved perceptive and feel the problem

A key part of the planning phase of your Project will be to develop a suitable research strategy that will help you to complete your research successfully within the organization A plan is likely to involve: Clear objective Statement of data sources Identification of constraints It is important that you are able to articulate your choices, both in writing in the proposal and Project itself, to explain and justify your approach

Ethical considerations are of fundamental importance in management research, relate to: The way you portray your role to the research population The way you interpret and use the research findings If you are carrying out research within an org, you may well be operating at the managementemployee interface. You will need to be careful : careful not to play management and employees off against each other Remember to maintain your fairness and objectivity Avoid leading people on

Analysis is the process of breaking down data and classifying its component parts (Saunders et al.,2003) Synthesis is the process of arranging and assembling various elements to make a new statement or plan or conclusion- a unique communication (Rowntree, 1987) 2 typical types of analysis : quantitative and qualitative analysis

Quantitative analysis numerical analysis: Operationalisation: this entails setting up a measurement scale, eg ranking an attribute between 1 and 10 with 1 for poor, 10 for excellent Measurement: this relates to the actual data collection itself, eg respondent are asked to assess what they thought about Lotteria service Analysis: breaking the collected data down to approach parts

Qualitative analysis-non numerical analysis Example: The data consists of comments made by participants at a meeting. The analysis entails exploring: What transpired Why people said what they said How the people reacted to it How they felt about what they went on

Validity, reliability and generalisability all relate to the credibility of research findings Validity is concerned with whether the findings are really about what they appear to be about (Saunders et al., 2003) Reliability is a measure of whether one could expect the data to yield the same results on different occasions, or if observed by different observers (Easterby-Smith et al., 2001) Generalisability is external validity, the issue of whether your findings may be equally applicable in other research settings (Saunders et al., 2003)

The writing of the Project is the culmination of the research process You should consider: Planning the structure and content of your Project to facilitate the spinning off of the report Maintaining close contact with you lecturer to ensure that you remain on track to deliver reports in an efficient and effective manner

Introduction The

need for clear vision What the assessor will be looking for Marking

Sharp and Howard (1996) say that As far as possible a clear and unambiguous vision of what will be needed should be sustained throughout the research To keep sight of the overall objectives, you need to develop from the outset, a clear perception of: The characteristics of a good Project The specific requirements of assessment criteria

The Project will probably be marked are: Purpose of the work Approach Contextual evaluation Reasoning and critical thinking Conclusions

Purpose of the work There should be a clear statement of the objectives of the work You also should: Have identified the boundaries of your work Have set a clearly defined context for the work Have justified your choice of subject mater in terms of academic organization importance

Approach to the work You should explain your approach: How facts and opinions were obtained How your data was collected What thought you gave to the issues of validity, reliability and generalisability

Contextual evaluation Evidence that the work you have done is set within the wider context of academic knowledge on the subject: A theoretical framework An evaluation and interpretation of earlier academic work on the subject Proper referencing (Harvard system) Non-academic sources ( journals, newspaper)

Reasoning and critical thinking Your reasoning and critical thinking must be structured and coherent You work must show evidence of: Analysis Evaluation Synthesis Substantiation

Conclusions You must state the implication of your findings and: Discuss their meaning Discuss what you perceive to be the limitations of your findings Discuss the approach adopted Make recommendation linked to work objective

Introduction Jankowicz

s list of the attributes of a successful project

Obviously, you must achieve the objectives laid down for your project by following the specific requirements of the qualification scheme you are pursuing. You should also aim to satisfy widely accepted opinion and changes about the general attributes of a good research. This will improve your work and add to its overall credibility

Jankowicz (200) lists 6 characteristics that apply to project work: Originality Generality Pragmatism Balance Quality of evidence used Ethical issues

Originality It is only required at PhD level but also because two aspects of this quality are relevant to research at lower levels It will add to your professional development. (Contribute something new to the debate on your chosen business area) Must avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is passing off another persons work as ones own, or using it without attributing it.

Generality It is a relevance beyond the situation and setting in which the data were gathered Jankowiczs said: If your conclusions apply to this years account; if your recommendations about employee participation address just one office or one part of a department; then your project is unlikely to be successful. Your project will be acceptable to the extent that its recommendation can be extended to different times, locations, markets, departments and so forth

Pragmatism It is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice. (Wikimedia
Foundation Inc., 2010)

A project is pragmatic if the recommendations and its tones are realistic and practical.

For example, concluding a project with a recommendation that a company should immediately relocate its accounting and other administrative functions to an Asian base may be completely unrealistic in the context of the company, its staff, its product and its markets When coming to conclusions, you should use your common sense. Think carefully before recommending a course of action

Balance: One of the key aspects of your work at the start of your project will be choosing and refining your objectives and research question. While doing that, you will start to get a feel for the range of possible outcomes. Obtaining balance in your research project means that the outcomes will be equally valuable whether your expectations are confirmed or negated (Jankowicz, 2000)

Example

Your project involves research into the effect on sales of breakfast cereal companies practice of providing free gifts related to recent film releases. If your research establishes a correlation and can attempt to quantify it, that would be a very interesting and significant finding, of value to both types of company involved. However, if your research indicates that there is no such correlation, or that the link is in fact very weak, that would also be of interest, as it would indicate that a change of policy should be considered

Quality of evidence used: Primary Data are data you have collected yourself, analyzed and interpreted for your own specific purposes. Example results of a questionnaire, designed by you, for the purpose of your research. Secondary Data are data initially collected by other people for their own purposes or yourself for another purpose, but which are also relevant to your current research

You are likely to collect a mixture of primary and secondary data. Primary data are good quality when they are directly relevant to your research objective. Secondary data can be of good quality as long as you bear in mind that they may not give you the whole story, may be biased and may not be directly relevant to you. (Jankowicz, 2000)
Janckowicz (2000) also says that:

The balance between primary and secondary

data can make the difference between a good and a poor project

Ethical issues: Ethics is of fundamental importance in management research. Business research usually involves people and working relationships. From an ethical perspective, you should treat the people involved in your research with respect, tact and diplomacy. From a practical viewpoint, good people handling skills are likely to be reflected in the quality of the data you gather as well as in the efficiency you achieve in completing your research

Topic areas suggestions: Change, transformation and renewal Strategy and structure Conflict within organizations Human resources Organizational cultures Person ability and behavior Interpersonal communication Cultural differences Leadership Negotiation

Introduction Empirical

investigation The empirical testing and development of an existing management model, or the development of a new model The application of theories and concepts to solve a management problem One further classification: pure and applied research Choosing the right type of project

Project can often take 1 of 3 forms: An empirical investigation, based on primary, secondary data, justified and supported by detailed reference to relevant theories and concepts from the literature The empirical testing and development of an existing management model Management problem solving, where practical recommendation arise from the interaction between theories and concepts from the literature and data collected

3 main purposes of conducting research (Saunders et al., 2003): To provide findings that advance knowledge and understanding To address business issues To devise a process for solving management problems

Empirical data is the results of new observations made to check out the assertion (Jankowicz, 2000) If you intend to carry out empirical investigation, your research is likely to be carried into one organization only, focusing on a specific practice Example: An evaluation of the extent to which language training equips managers to better understand foreign business cultures

If you select this type of dissertation, you will be looking to the future rather than reviewing the impact of something in the past You will be contribution in some way to a new development, and moving the existing body of knowledge on the topic forward Example: In the field of HR, you might wish to explore the use of popular management tools such as team working styles questionnaires

The problem could either be very board, affecting an industry or a specific problem facing one organization alone This type of project would: Involve marking a recommendation Probably involve a mixture of primary and secondary data Example: The application of theories and concepts to try to reverse the loss making pattern which has now been established by British Airways, and recommend a change of strategy

Pure research- basic, academic, fundamental research is Research which seeks purely to understand the process and outcomes of business and management (Saunders et al., 2003) The development of theory without an attempt being made to link it practice (Sharp and Howard, 1996) Applied research is directed towards producing results which are of direct relevance to mangers and which form the basic of recommendation upon which they can act. It involve the finings of a solution to a problem

It is better to focus on something that you find interesting to choose and refine your topic You are then likely to find that the title you have devised fits into one of the three categories

Introduction Recommended

process

Hussey and Hussey (1997) suggest that whatever type of research or approach is adopted, there are several fundamental stages in the research process which are common to all scientifically based investigation Saunders et al (2003) state that most research textbooks represent research as a multi-stage process that you must follow to undertake and complete your Research Project

Topic research

Proposal preparation &refinement

The research process

Planning & Administrative set up

Critical literature review

Data collection Data analysis and interpretation

Complete dissertation

20

minutes

Search

for the topic and the company

Then

you can make the title

Proposal Cover sheet Table of contents Research background Statement of problem Research objectives Research questions/hypotheses Research methodology Intended literature Proposed structure of the final research report Action plan and target dates (including monitoring method and possible updates during your research process) Research limitations Research ethics References

Topic research: This is a key step in your Project as it will determine what you will be doing over the period of your Project A key element of this stage will in effect be involved in assessing the feasibility of alternative topics Proposal preparation and refinement Once you selected a project topic, you would like to pursue, then comes the tasks of writing your proposal and getting it approved

Planning and administrative set up: Having had your proposal approved, you will be able to do the research work To improve the chance of completing Research Project successfully and efficiently, you should: logistics for completion Negotiate necessary access Set up administrative system Establish milestones and timetable Prepare personal financial plans Set up physical work space arrangements

Critical literature review: Saunders et al. (2003) explain that a critical review will form the foundation on which your research is built Gill and Johnson (1997) suggest that whatever its scale, any Research Project will necessitate reading about what has been written on the subject and collating it in a critical review that demonstrates some awareness of the current state of knowledge on the subject, its limitations and how the proposed research aims to add to what is known

Data collection Robson (2000) states that collecting data is about using selected methods of investigation. Doing it properly means using theses methods in a systematic, professional fashion Data can be collected in a variety of ways, in different settings and from different sources (Sekran, 2000)

Data analysis: Saunders et al. (2003) highlight the importance of considering the validity and reliability of data you use According to Hussey and Hussey (1997) the tools of analysis you use will depend on whether you have collected quantitative or qualitative data Research Project writing-up: Hussey and Hussey (1997) provide sensible guidance that you should start writing up your research in draft as soon as you start the early stages of your project, and continue to do so until it is completed

Introduction Personal

qualities Personal skills Management skills

Completing your project successfully and being please with the outcome requires you to exercise a number of skills (Luck, 1999) Research requires a number of qualities and skills, some of which you already have, others you will need to develop during the course of your research (Hussey and Hussey, 1997)

Personal quality

Role

This is the most fundamental of all the qualities. It involves being aware of your strengths and weaknesses. It can be Self-awareness described as being able to see yourself as others may see you
Motivation This is a key ingredient in what goes to make a successful dissertation. You need to analyze what it is that drives you

You will need to analyze data on information you encounter during your research with a critical mind. You need to Analytical mind possess a frame of mind that likes to analyze things down into component parts Creativity Independence Flexibility Emotional maturity Creativity can influence all the various processes of completing your Research Project, from the initial search for a topic to the ultimate writing up of your findings It will very much a matter of it being down to you to drive your own success You may need to be ready to amend your planning as the Project progress, if need be You will need to keep a level head and press on, remembering the ultimate your goal

Personal skill

Role

This is a key skill and affects your relationship with all the people involved in your research. This includes asking Active listening expansive questions, periodic recapping to confirm understanding and assuring you make proper notes
Communication

A fundamental life skill which is important in all aspects of business work. Good communication skills will help you to conduct effective research

You are likely to need the co-operation of people who do not report to you. You will need to be able to persuade Persuasion and and influence people at all levels of an org, and outside of influencing any org. From an ethical viewpoint, it is important that you don not pressurize people into what you would like them to do Problem solving Relationship building This involves being open minded, generating alternative solution and evaluation these objectively You will need to find enough common ground and handle your contacts with skill to ensure your work progresses smoothly

Management skills Interviewing

Role

This will be important if you are carrying out a survey. However, there will be other situations when you will need interviewing skills in obtaining information
This is a vital skill and will have a pervasive impact throughout your Project You will need to control your activities on an overall basic. You also need to manage your contacts with the people who will be involved n your research This is another key skill that features on personal appraisal processes. Good skills in working with other people will contribute to a more efficient and effective research effort Your Project may have tight deadlines, so managing your time property is imperative Business research is seldom conducted in an academic vacuum. You will need to understand the impact of you findings on the org sponsoring your

Negotiation Project management

Team working

Time management
Change management