An Introduction Business Research Methods

the purpose of research is to provide knowledge regarding the organization, the market, the economy, or another area of uncertainty.

Some questions BR answers are“Will the environment for long-term financing be better two years from now?” “What kind of training is necessary for production employees?” “What is the reason for the company’s high employee turnover?” “How can I monitor my retail sales and retail trade activities

Business Research
The application of the scientific method in searching for the truth about business phenomena. These activities include defining business opportunities and problems, generating & evaluating ideas, monitoring performance, and understanding the business process.

Human Resource Finance


Decision Making
Business Research is designed to facilitate the
managerial decision-making process for all aspects of the business: finance, marketing, human resources, and so on. Business research is an essential tool for management in virtually all problem-solving and decision-making activities.

and as such it is not aimed at solving a particular pragmatic problem. .Applied & Basic Business Research • Applied business research is conducted to address a specific business decision for a specific firm or organization. • Basic business research attempts to expand the limits of knowledge in general.

Market Oriented .Production-oriented describes a firm that prioritizes efficiency and effectiveness of the production processes in making decisions Product-oriented describes a firm that prioritizes decision making in a way that emphasizes technical Process superiority in the Oriented product Marketing-oriented Describes a firm in which all decisions are made with a conscious awareness of their effect on the customer.

Decision Making Certainty Un-certainty Ambiguity .

Information, Data, and Intelligence
Information- is data formatted (structured) to support decision making or define the relationship between two facts. Data- are simply facts or recorded measures of certain phenomena (things or events).

Information, Data, and Intelligence
Business intelligence is the subset of data and information that actually has some explanatory power enabling effective managerial decisions to be made

The Characteristics of Valuable Information
Not all data are valuable to decision makers. Useful data become information and help a business manager make decisions. Useful data can also become intelligence. Four characteristics help determine how useful data may be:

• • • •

Relevance Quality Timeliness & Completeness

High-quality data represent reality faithfully. Information Completeness.Relevance-The characteristics of data reflecting how pertinent these particular facts are to the situation at hand. Timeliness-Means that the data are current enough to still be relevant. .refers to having the right amount of information. Data Quality-The degree to which data represent the true situation.


Research Concepts and Constructs A concept or construct is a generalized idea about a class of objects. attributes. . or processes that has been given a name. an abstraction of reality that is the basic unit for Theory development. occurrences .

Latent Construct A concept that is not directly observable or measurable. but can be estimated through proxy measures .


Research Propositions and Hypotheses Propositions Statements explaining the logical linkage among certain concepts by asserting a universal connection between concepts .

Research Propositions and Hypotheses contd… Hypotheses Formal statement of an unproven proposition that is empirically testable .

In other words. it should be written in a manner that can be supported or shown to be wrong through an empirical test Empirical testing means that something has been examined against reality using data . when one states a hypothesis.A hypothesis is a proposition that is empirically testable.


Inductive Reasoning The logical process of establishing a general proposition on the basis of observation of particular facts.Deductive Reasoning The logical process of deriving a conclusion about a specific instance based on a known general premise or something known to be true. .

for analyzing empirical evidence. and for predicting events yet unknown in an attempt to confirm or disprove prior conceptions While there is not complete consensus concerning exact procedures for the scientific method.The Scientific Method • A set of prescribed procedures for establishing and connecting theoretical statements about events. seven operations may be viewed as the steps involved in the application of the scientific method: .

The Scientific Method •Formulation of concepts and propositions •Statement of hypotheses contd… •Assessment of relevant existing knowledge of a phenomenon •Design of research to test the hypotheses •Acquisition of meaningful empirical data •Analysis and evaluation of data •Proposal of an explanation of the phenomenon and statement of new problems raised by the research .

Name the Process . . honks the horn to see if the battery works.Assignment A motorcycle mechanic . Is he informally conducting a true scientific experiment. .

. management may be totally unaware of a business problem. In more Ambiguous circumstances.Types of Business Research Business research is undertaken to reduce uncertainty and focus decision making.

. She is interested in converting her hobby into a profitable business venture and hits on the idea of establishing an indoor softball and baseball training facility and instructional entrepreneur may have a personal interest in softball and baseball.Example 1.

she is not sure of the best location.However. Some preliminary research is necessary to gain insights into the nature of such a situation. Even if there is sufficient demand. . the demand for such a business is unknown. actual services offered. desired hours of operation. and so forth.

How should the organization’s executive team address this problem? . and current employees. Awareness of this problem could be based on input from human resource managers. The problem could be contributing to difficulties in recruiting new organization may face a problem regarding health care benefits for their employees.Example 2. recruiters.

Types of Business Research contd… Business research can be classified on the basis of either technique or purpose. • Exploratory • Descriptive • Causal .

Usually exploratory research is a first step.Exploratory Research Conducted to clarify ambiguous situations or discover ideas that may be potential business opportunities. conducted with the expectation that additional research will be needed to provide more conclusive evidence. .

carry out instructions. . Making a functional robot that can move around. and even carry on a conversation isn’t really a problem. perform basic functions. Sony and Honda have each been instrumental in developing robot technology.Exploratory research is particularly useful in new product development.

such as the ability to walk on two legs. .What Sony and Honda have to research is what business opportunities may exist based on robot technology. Exploratory research allowing consumers to interact with robots suggests that consumers are more engaged when the robot has human qualities.

consumers do seem entertained by a walking. In addition. and identifying characteristics that may be important to consumers. talking. dancing robot These initial insights have allowed each company to form more specific research questions focusing on the relative value of a robot as an entertainment device or as a security guard. .Researchers noticed that people will actually talk to the robot (which can understand basic oral commands) more when it has human qualities.

people. groups.Descriptive Research Descriptive Research is to describe characteristics of objects. It tries to “paint a picture” of a given situation by addressing who. what. or environments. where. organizations. and how questions Unlike exploratory research. descriptive studies are conducted after the researcher has gained a firm grasp of the situation being studied . when.

Descriptive research often helps describe market segments Accuracy is critically important in descriptive research. If a descriptive study incorrectly estimates a university’s demand for its MBA offering by even a few students.every month the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) conducts descriptive research in the form of the Current Population Survey. it can mean the difference between the program sustaining itself or being a drain on already scarce resources .

exploratory research builds the foundation for descriptive research. it means it brings it about or makes it happen. When something causes an effect.Causal Research Causal research seeks to identify cause andeffect relationships. which usually establishes the basis for causal research . The effect is the outcome. Rain causes grass to get wet. Rain is the cause and wet grass is the effect.

A causal inference is just such a conclusion A causal inference can only be supported when very specific evidence exists.How will implementing a new employee training program change job performance? It attempts to establish that when we do one thing. Three critical pieces of causal evidence are: 1. another thing will follow. Concomitant Variance 3. Non spurious Association . Temporal Sequence 2.

Temporal Sequence One of three criteria for causality. deals with the time order of events—the cause must occur before the effect. Having an appropriate causal order of events. . the CEO change must occur before the change in stock values. or temporal sequence If a change in the CEO causes a change in stock prices.

then the vacation policy cannot possibly be responsible for a change in employee satisfaction .Concomitant Variation Concomitant variation occurs when two events “co-vary” or “correlate.” meaning they vary Systematically. when a change in the cause occurs. a change in the outcome also is observed if a retail store never changes its employees’ vacation policy.

A spurious association is one that is not true. rather than due to some other variable. . positive correlation between ice cream purchases and murder rates-as ice cream purchases increase.Non spurious Association Non spurious association means any co-variation between a cause and an effect is true. so do murder rates. that is. there is a strong. When ice cream sales decline. murder rates also drop. both may be influenced by a third variable.

causal research should do all of the following: 1. Establish the appropriate causal order or sequence of events 2.In summary. Measure the concomitant variation between the presumed cause and the presumed effect 3. Examine the possibility of spuriousness by considering the presence of alternative plausible causal factors .

the claim is false.Degrees Of Causality Absolute causality the cause is necessary and sufficient to bring about the effect.” Is this true in an absolute sense? If we find only one smoker who does not eventually get cancer. . A warning label used on cigarette packages claims “smoking causes cancer.

. the cause can bring about the effect. We know there are other medical factors that contribute to cancer. This is a weaker causal inference.Degrees Of Causality Conditional causality A cause is necessary but not sufficient to bring about an effect. If other conditions are right. One way to think about conditional causality is that the cause can bring about the effect. but it cannot do so alone.

There may be multiple causes. causal evidence can be established using the three factors discussed. However.Degrees Of Causality Contributory causality A cause need be neither necessary nor sufficient to bring about an effect. an event can be a contributory cause of something so long as the introduction of the other possible causes does not eliminate the correlation between it and the effect . So.

Experiments An experiment is a carefully controlled study in which the researcher manipulates a proposed cause and observes any corresponding change in the proposed effect. An experimental variable represents the proposed cause and is controlled by the researcher by manipulating it. Manipulation means that the researcher alters the level of the variable in specific increments .

Test-marketing is a frequently used form of business experimentation. A test-market is an experiment that is conducted within actual market conditions. McDonald’s restaurants have a long-standing tradition of test-marketing new product concepts by introducing them at selected stores and monitoring sales and customer feedback. .Experiments An experiment like the one described above may take place in a test-market.

Uncertainty Influences the Type of Research .

The Research Process .

Business research. and it is clearly an oversimplification to state that every research project has exactly the same ordered sequence of activities. . business research often follows a general pattern. like other forms of scientific inquiry. Nevertheless. The stages of the research process overlap continuously. involves a sequence of highly interrelated activities.

The Research Process Steps  Defining the research objectives  Planning a research design  Planning a sample  Collecting the data  Analyzing the data  Formulating the conclusions and preparing the report .


the questionnaire wording will be simpler than if the respondents were college graduates .Forward linkage implies that the earlier stages influence the later stages. The sample selection question affects the wording of questionnaire items. if the research concentrates on respondents with low educational levels. Thus. the research objectives outlined in the first stage affect the sample selection and the way data are collected. For example.

The professional researcher anticipates executives’ needs for information throughout the planning process. If it is known that the data will be collected via email.Backward linkage implies that later steps influence earlier stages of the research process. then the sampling must include those with e-mail access. who will read the research report are looking for specific information. The knowledge that the executives. . particularly during the analysis and reporting.

Alternatives in the Research Process .

the quickest path may be most appropriate.When there are severe time constraints. more options are available and the appropriate path may be quite different . When money and human resources are plentiful.


Alternatively. . they may involve testing the effect of some policy change on employee job satisfaction.Research Objectives Research objectives are the goals to be achieved by conducting research. this process is oriented more toward discovery than confirmation or justification. The objectives may involve exploring the possibilities of entering a new market. Different types of objectives lead to different types of research designs. Managers and researchers alike may not have a clear-cut understanding of the situation at the outset of the research process.

An error or omission in specifying objectives is likely to be a costly mistake that cannot be corrected in later stages of the research process. defining the decision situation must precede the research objectives.” properly defining a problem can be more difficult than actually solving it. Similarly. . Albert Einstein noted that “the formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution.Research Objectives In business research. the adage “a problem well defined is a problem half solved” is worth remembering. Thus.

And Hypotheses . Objectives.Research Design Previous Research Pilot Studies Stating Research Objectives Linking Decision Statements.

the design technique (survey or experiment). A research design provides a framework or plan of action for the research. and the schedule and cost of the research. the sampling methodology. . The researcher also must determine the sources of information.Research Design A research design is a master plan that specifies the methods and procedures for collecting and analyzing the needed information.

In other words. a sample is a subset from a larger population.Sampling Sampling involves any procedure that draws conclusions based on measurements of a portion of the population. If certain statistical procedures are followed. a researcher need not select every item in a population because the results of a good sample should have the same characteristics as the population as a whole .

In this sense. This may involve filling out a questionnaire or interacting with an interviewer. Surveys require direct participation by research respondents. they are obtrusive . research techniques involve many methods of gathering data. or they may be recorded by machines as in the case of scanner data and Web-based surveys.Gathering Data Data gathering is the process of gathering or collecting information. Data may be gathered by human observers or interviewers.

a simple count of motorists driving past a proposed franchising location is one kind of data gathering method . For instance.Gathering Data Unobtrusive methods of data gathering are those in which the subjects do not have to be disturbed for data to be collected. They may even be unaware that research is going on at all.

Data processing generally begins with editing and coding the data . This is part of the data processing and analysis stage.Processing & Analyzing Data Editing And Coding the data must be converted into a format that will answer the manager’s questions. the information content will be mined from the raw data. Here.

legibility. and consistency in classification.Processing & Analyzing Data Editing And Coding Editing involves checking the data collection forms for omissions. for example) before the data are transferred to the computer . The editing process corrects problems such as interviewer errors (an answer recorded on the wrong portion of a questionnaire.

.Processing & Analyzing Data Editing And Coding The rules for interpreting. If computer analysis is to be used. and transferring the data to the data storage media are called codes. the data are entered into the computer and verified. This coding process facilitates computer or hand tabulation. categorizing. recording.

. In its simplest form.Processing & Analyzing Data Data Analysis Data analysis is the application of reasoning to understand the data that have been gathered. analysis may involve determining consistent patterns and summarizing the relevant details revealed in the investigation.

. it’s important that the researcher consider the varying abilities of people to understand the research results. These conclusions should fulfill the deliverables promised in the research proposal.Drawing Conclusions & Preparing a Report The conclusions and report preparation stage consists of interpreting the research results. In addition. and drawing the appropriate conclusions for managerial decisions. describing the implications.

Research Project & Research Program Research ProjectA single study that addresses one or a small number of research objectives Research Program Numerous related studies that come together to address multiple. related research objectives .

Ethics in Business Research .

Ethics in Business Research Ethical questions are philosophical questions. the bases for ethical behavioral intentions. There are several philosophical theories that address how one develops a moral philosophy and how behavior is affected by morals. and opposing moral values . These include theories about cognitive moral development.

just.” and a lack of ethics conforms to the notion of “wrong.” Highly ethical behavior can be characterized as being fair. Generally. good ethics conforms to the notion of “right. .Ethics in Business Research Business ethics is the application of morals to behavior related to the business environment or context. and acceptable. Ethical values can be highly influenced by one’s moral standards.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.Ethics in Business Research Moral standards are principles that reflect beliefs about what is ethical and what is unethical. The Golden Rule. .” is one such ethical principle. they can be thought of as rules distinguishing right from wrong. More simply.

each with different ethical implications. Each individual develops a philosophy or way of thinking that is applied to resolve the dilemmas they face. .Ethics in Business Research An ethical dilemma simply refers to a situation in which one chooses from alternative courses of actions.

. In these cases. or even sending a completed questionnaire by regular mail. informed consent means that the individual understands what the researcher wants him or her to do and consents to the research study.Rights and Obligations of the Research Participant Traditional survey research requires that a respondent voluntarily answer questions in one way or another. responding to an e-mail request. This may involve answering questions on the phone.

no consent is provided since the participant is participating passively. . research participants may not be aware that they are being monitored in some way. a research firm may monitor superstore purchases via an electronic scanner. For instance.Rights and Obligations of the Research Participant In other cases. The ethical responsibilities vary depending on whether participation is active or passive. However.

In return for being truthful. it is generally expected that he or she will provide truthful answers. . the subject has the right to expect confidentiality.Rights and Obligations of the Research Participant When someone willingly consents to participate actively. Honest cooperation is the main obligation of the research participant.

Generally. this view definitely is not universally accepted in the research community.Rights and Obligations of the Research Participant It has been suggested that subjects be informed of their right to be left alone or to break off the interview at any time. interviewing firms practice common courtesy by trying not to interview late in the evening or at other inconvenient times. . However. Researchers should not follow the tendency to “hold on” to busy respondents.

” . Research companies should adhere to the principles of the “do-not-call” policy and should respect consumers’ “Internet privacy.Rights and Obligations of the Research Participant Do-not-call legislation restricts any telemarketing effort from calling consumers who either register with a no-call list in their state or who request not to be called.

Deception In Research Designs & The Right To Be Informed A placebo is a false experimental effect used to create the perception of a true effect. . Every experiment should include a debriefing session in which research subjects are fully informed and provided a chance to ask any questions that they may have about the experiment.

Mixing Sales and Research •Honesty in Presenting Results •Honesty in Reporting Errors .Rights and Obligations of the Researchers •The Purpose Of Research Is Research .