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Section - 2

Dimensions of Research;
Theory and Research
Learning Objectives

 At the end of this chapter you should be able to:

 understand the four dimensions of research:

 audience for and use of research

 purpose of research
 time dimension in research and
 data collection and analysis techniques.

 distinction between applied and basic research, or the primary

audience for and use of research (chapter 1).

 identify more specific purpose of doing research, or the specif

ic goals of the study.
Learning Objectives
 identify how time is incorporated into the study design.

 identify the specific data collection techniques used in res


 how four dimensions (1- audience for and use of research; 2-

purpose of research; 3- time, 4- data collection techniques and a
nalysis) simplify decision making about any research study.

 For example: when moving from a broad topic to a focused resear

ch question to the design of a specific study.

 Awareness of the dimensions of research help you to understa

nd the research reports that you read in scholarly journals.
Dimensions of Research

 As we have discussed in previous session, before we start our resea

rch study, as a researcher we must have to decide a specific type o
r domain of research. For example:

 to advance our general knowledge or to understand fundamental n

ature of business or social reality (basic research).

 to solve a specific problem (s) or to apply and tailor knowledge to

address a specific practical problem (s) (applied research).

 As a researcher we must have to understand each type or domain an

d the dimensions (components) of research which help us to make a
decision about research.

 An understanding of research dimensions will also help us to make a

decision, when we are moving from a broad topic to a focused resear
ch question to the design of a specific study.
Dimensions of Research
 The dimensions of research in business and management are:

1. Audience and Use of Research

 Basic

o Applied
 Evaluation
 Action
 Social Impact

2. Purpose of Research
 Explore
 Describe
 Explain
Dimensions of Research
3. Time Dimension in Research
 Cross sectional

 Longitudinal
 Time Series
 Panel
 Cohort

 Case Study

4. Data Collection and Analysis Techniques

 Quantitative Data
 Experiment
 Survey

 Non-reactive (content analysis, secondary analysis, existing stat


 Qualitative Data
 Field (ethnography, participant observation)
 Historical - comparative
1. Audience and Use of Research

 To turn around who consumes the findings and who use them or cr
itical consumer of research studies.

 In the context of business and management some use research


 who seek an understanding of the fundamentals or advance

general knowledge in any specific discipline (s) (Basic resea

 who want to apply and tailor (adapt) knowledge to address

a specific practical issue (e.g., to answer a policy question
or solve any business process problem) (Applied Research).
1. Audience and Use of Research
Basic research - designed to advance fundamental knowledge about th
e social world and how it works and/or build/test theoretical explanati

The scientific community (academics and students) is its primary audie

nce (conduct and consume most of the basic research).

• focuses on refuting or supporting theories and provide foundati

ons for knowledge.
• For example - what makes things happen, why social relatio
ns are a certain way, and why society changes.

• a source of new scientific ideas and ways of thinking.

• a source of most of the tools – methods – theories – ideas that

applied researchers use.

Breakthroughs in understanding and significant advances in knowledge u

sually comes from basic research.
1. Audience and Use of Research
 Applied Research: designed to offer practical solution to a concret
e problem or address the immediate and specific needs of practitio

 The primary audience for and consumer of applied research find

ings are practitioners decision makers such as managers, commit
tees, and officials.

 Results may be available to only a small number of decision mak

ers or practitioners.

 Immediate implications to address specific concerns or problems

1. Audience and Use of Research
 Types of Applied Research - there are three major types of a
pplied research. These are:

 1- Evaluation, 2- Action, and 3- Social impact assessment

1. Evaluation Research - in which one tries to determine how well a p

rogram or policy is working or reaching its goals and objectives.

 It is widely used type of applied research in bureaucratic orga

nizations (e.g., businesses, schools, hospital, government, NGO
’s) to find out:

 weather a program, or a new way of doing something is effective,

 marketing campaign, a policy, and so forth effective – in words, “
Does it Work?”

 Audience and usage of evaluation research is practitioners (policy

or program) or decision makers (determine the outcome of interes
1. Audience and Use of Research
Types of Applied Research (contd:)

2. Action Research – involves the researcher taking on an active

role in the research and its findings may lead to recommend
ations of future actions.

 Action research produces both an outcome and actions.

 No definitive approach to action research, the general conse

nsus among researchers is:

 It usually consists of a group of people (researchers)

and participant are: managers, employees, and consul

 Moreover, action research projects traditionally involves spiralin

g cycles of action and research (Lewin, 1946).

For example: see next slide

1. Audience and Use of Research
(contd:) Action Research
1. Audience and Use of Research
Types of Applied Research (contd:)

2. Action Research - in which the primary goals is to facilitate

social or business change or bring about a value-oriented busi
ness or social goals.

 Diagnosing a specific problem in a specific setting and att

empting to solve it.

 Taking action as a result of findings set within long ter

m cyclical process.

 Researchers/practitioners play an active role in designing

the project, collecting data and implementing change.

 It take place in a diverse range of setting, e.g., hospitals

, companies, or schools.

 Observation and interviews are the two methods of data colle

ction most often associated with action research.
1. Audience and Use of Research
 Types of Applied Research (contd:)

3. Social Impact Assessment - applied research that documents t

he likely consequences for various areas of social life if a major n
ew change is introduced into a community or business.

 Its purpose is to estimate the likely consequences of a planne

d change (e.g., community service, social conditions, economic
and business impact, environmental, and health outcomes).

 Such an assessment can be used for planning and making c

hoices among alternative policies.

 For example - to estimate the ability of a local hospit

al to respond to an earthquake; or determine a change
s in housing if a major new highway is built.
2. Purpose of Research

 There are many reasons to do research. Generally, the purpose o

f business and management research can be organized into three
groups based on what the researcher (s) is trying to accomplish:

 Explore new ideas

 Describe any phenomenon

 Explain why something occurs

 Research may have multiple purposes (e.g., both to explore and to

describe), but one purpose is usually dominant.
2. Purpose of Research
1. Exploration:
 Exploratory Research - in which the primary purpose is to e
xamine a little understood issue or phenomenon to develop prel
iminary ideas and move toward refined research question by fo
cusing on the “what” question.

 Purpose:
 Become familiar with the basic facts, setting, and concerns.

 Create a general mental picture of conditions.

 Formulate and focus question to future research.

 Generate new ideas and hypothesis.

 Develop techniques for measuring and locating future data.

 Determine the feasibility of conducting research.

2. Purpose of Research
2. Description:
 Descriptive Research - in which the primary purpose is to “pai
nt a picture” using words or numbers and to present a profile,
a classification of types, or an outline of steps to answer que
stions such as who, when, where, and how (“how did it happen

 More developed idea about the phenomenon or event/fact

and want to describe it. Present picture a of the specific
details of a situation, or relationship.

 Data gathering techniques – surveys, field research, content anal

ysis, and historical – comparative research.
 Provide detailed, highly accurate picture.
 Locate new data that contract past data.
 Create a set of categories and classify types.
 Clarify sequence of steps or stages and document causal proce
 Report on the background or context of situation.
2. Purpose of Research
3. Explanation:

 Explanatory Research - in which the primary purpose is to

explain why events occur and to build, elaborate, extend, or t
est theory.

 The desire to know “why’” to explain is the key purpose.

 It builds on exploratory and descriptive research and goes

on to identify the reason something occurs.
 Purpose:
 Test a theory’s predications or principle.
 Elaborate and enrich a theory’s explanation.
 Extend theory to new issues or topics.
 Support or refute an explanation or predication.
 Link issues or topics with a general principle.
 Determine which of several explanations is best.
3. Time Dimension in Research

 An awareness of the time dimension help you to set an impo

rtant question to be asked in planning your research is:

 Do I want my research to be a “snapshot” (cross-section

al approach or single point in time) taken a particular tim
e? or

 Do I want to be more akin (like) to a “diary” (longitudinal

approach or multi time points) and be a representation o
f events over a given period?

1. Cross-Sectional Research - any research that examines inform

ation on many cases at one point in time. Researcher (s) observe a
t one point in time. Or

 Involves the collection of data from a sample at one point in ti

me. Or
 The study of a particular phenomena at a particular time.
3. Time Dimension in Research
2. Longitudinal Research - examines information from many uni
ts or cases across more than one point in time. For example

 Examine features of people/events or other units at mor

e than one time. Or

 The study of a particular phenomena over an extended p

eriod of time.

 Longitudinal research is the capacity that it has to study ch

ange and development.

 Descriptive and explanatory researchers use longitudinal app

 Next slide examine the type of longitudinal research.
3. Time Dimension in Research
Types of Longitudinal Research:

The following are the main types of longitudinal Research:

1. Time-series Research - longitudinal research in which the same

type of information is collected on group of people or other unit
s/or events across multiple time period.

2. Panel Research - longitudinal research in which the researcher o

bserves exactly the same people, group, or organization across
time periods.

 It is more difficult to conduct than time-series research. Tr

acking people over time is often difficult because some peopl
e die or cannot be located.
3. Time Dimension in Research
Types of Longitudinal Research: (contd:)

3. Cohort/group study - longitudinal research in which informati

on about a category of cases or people that shared a common e
xperience at one time period is studied.

 The focus is on the cohort, or category, not on specific indiv


 For example:
 All people born in the same year etc. and do not have to
locate the same people for cohort research.

4. Case study research - is an in-depth examination of an exten

sive amount of information about very few units or cases over a
duration of time.
 Cases can be individuals, groups, organizations, events etc.
4. Data Collection Techniques

 This part of the discussion provides brief overview of the

main data collection techniques. In later sessions, we will
discuss these techniques in detail and learn how to use the

 These techniques can be grouped into two categories:

 Quantitative: collecting data in form of numbers.

 Qualitative: collecting data in the form of words or


 Each technique requires skill, practice, and creativity to m

atch a research question to an appropriate data collection
4. Data Collection Techniques
Quantitative Data Collection Techniques:

1. Experiment research - in which the researcher manipulates con

ditions for some research participants but not others, then comp
ares group responses to see whether it made a difference.

• Conducted in laboratories or in real life and involve small numb

er of respondents with well focused questions.

2. Survey research - in which the systematically asks a large num

ber of people the same questions and then records their answers.

• Use questionnaire or formal interview to gather information on

the backgrounds, behaviors, belief, or attitudes of large numb
er of people.
4. Data Collection Techniques

Quantitative Data Collection Techniques: (contd:)

3. Non-reactive research - in which the people being studied are
not aware of it. For example:
• Examining statistical information or documents, and secondar
y data analysis.

Types of Non-reactive research

1. Content Analysis: in which the content/document of a commu
nication medium is systematically recorded and analyzed. For
Examining the content or information and symbols, contained in
written document.

2. Existing statistic research: in which one re-examination and

statistically analyzed quantitative data that has been gather
ed by government agencies or other organizations.
4. Data Collection Techniques
Qualitative Data Collection Techniques:

1. Field research - in which the researcher directly observes and

records notes on people in a natural setting for extended period
of time or for length of time.

 It begin with loosely formulated ideas or topic. Researcher (

s) select a social group or site, they adopt a social role in th
e setting and being observing.

 Researcher interact in the field setting for a period of time.

 Conduct informal interview and take detailed notes on daily b


 During the observation researcher refine or focus ideas abou

t its significance.

 Re-read the notes and prepare written reports.

4. Data Collection Techniques
Qualitative Data Collection Techniques: (contd:)

2. Historical-comparative research - in which the researcher e

xamines data on events and conditions in the historical past and
/or in different societies.

 Focus on one historical period or several, compare one or mo

re cultures.

 It being with a loosely formulated question, refining and el

aborating on it during the research process.

 Researcher often use a mix of evidence, including existing s

tatistics, documents (e.g., books, diaries, newspapers, pho
tographs and maps), observations, interviews.
This part of the session provides an overview of the dimensions of
business and management research which can be classified in a num
ber of different ways.

For example:

 By its purpose and research techniques etc.

 These dimensions overlap with each other.

 The dimensions of research provide a “road map” through the terr

ain (ground) that is social or business and management research.
How Do Facts Become Theory???
Source: McBurney & White, 2010
How Do Facts Become Theory (contd)
Source: McBurney & White, 2010
Theory and Research
 Theory has an important role in research and is essential ally (hel
per) for the researcher (s).

 A theory is a system used to order concepts into coherent fra

mework of contributing elements and their interrelations.

 Theory (ies) can be developed either inductively or deductively


 Inductive theory building – consists of drawing conclusion f

rom a number of specific instances or cases to form a gen
eral theory.

 Deductive theory building works in reverse – a theory on g

eneral principles, and generalized to specific instance.
Theory and Research
 It is important for researchers to recognize the pervasiveness/oc
currance and value of theory. Theory serves us in many useful wa
ys. It:
 Narrow the range of facts we need to study.

 Suggests which research approaches likely to yield the greates

t meaning.

 Suggests a system for the researcher to impose on data in or

der to classify them in the most meaningful way.

 Summarizes what is known about an object of study, and state

s the uniformities that lie beyond immediate observation.

 Can be used predict any further facts that may be found (Blu
mberg, 2008).
What is Theory?

Theory is a - set of interrelated constructs (concepts), definition

s, and propositions that presents a systematic view of phenomena

by specifying relationship among variables, with the purpose of

explaining and predicting the phenomena” (Kerlinger, 1979, p.6

 On a more simple level, theory is “explanations of how things f

unction or why events occur” (Black, 1993, p.25).

 A set of principles devised to explain phenomena.

 Concepts and construct are the foundation of theories, the theori

es of others and their work are the foundation from which new th
eories or models are launched or developed.
What is Theory?
 We all operate on the basis of theories we hold. Basically theories
are the generalization we make about variables and the relationship
s among them.

 Why these generalizations? - to make decision and predict outcome

s. For example:

 You noticed in midday natural light is dimming, dark clouds are

moving rapidly in from the North, the breeze is freshening and
the air temperature is cooling.

 Would your understanding of the relationship among these varia

ble (your weather theory) lead you to predict that something de
cidedly wet will probably occur in a short time.
What is Theory?
 We all function/operate on the base of theory (ies) we hold.

 We have many theories and use them continually to explain or p

redict what goes on around us.

 To the degree that our theories are sound and fit the situa
tion, then –

We are successful in our explanations and predictions.

Aspects of Theory

 Social or business and management theory has many aspects, w

hich can be divided into five majors ones:

1. Direction of Theorizing - conceiving or hypothesizing - deductive or

inductive (process of creating and developing theory).

2. Level of Analysis - micro and macro.

3. The focus as a substantive/real/actual - formal theory.

4. The form of explanation - causal, structural, or interpretative.

5. The range at which it operate - as an empirical generalization, a m

iddle range theory or framework.

 The combination of these aspects are in frequent use in any ty

pe of research.
1. Direction of Theorizing
(deductive & inductive)
 Researchers approach the building and testing of theory from
two directions.

 Begins with and applies a well known theory (abstract thinking):

 logically connect the ideas in theory to concrete evidence, then test t
he ideas against the evidence. In other words, you are applying theor
y rather than attempting to generate new theory.

 Begins with specific observations of empirical evidence or specific

 seeking to establish generalization about the phenomenon under investi

 In practice researchers are flexible and use both approaches at v

arious points in any research study.
1. Direction of Theorizing
(deductive & inductive) contd:
 Deductive Direction:
 An approach to developing or confirming a theory that begins with ab
stract concepts and theoretical relationships and works toward more
concrete empirical evidence.

 Researcher start with ideas of the social or business world, and then
test his/her thinking against observable empirical evidence.

 The theorizing proceeded (go on or continue) deductively from th

e abstract level logically to more concrete forms of social contac
t and beliefs or attitudes.

 Inductive Direction:
 An approach to developing or confirming a theory that begins with co
ncrete empirical evidence and works toward more abstract concepts a
nd theoretical relationships.

 Researcher begin with a general topic and some vague ideas that he/
she then refine and elaborate into more exact theoretical concepts.
1. Direction of Theorizing
(deductive & inductive) contd:
 In summary, to theorize in an inductive direction researcher (s) begin wi
th observing the empirical world and,

 then reflect on what is taking place, thinking in increasingly mor

e abstract ways, moving towards theoretical concepts and propos

 Researcher (s) begin with a general topic and some vague ideas t
hat he/she then refine and elaborate into more exact theoretica
l concepts.

 On a more simple way, in inductive theorizing researcher (s) build fr

om observations on the ground toward more abstract thinking.

 To theorize in deductive direction researcher (s) with a clearly thought-

out theoretical picture.

 In deductive theorizing researcher (s) move from the ideas toward g

rounded empirical observations.
2. Level of Analysis
(micro and macro)
 Business and management or social reality exist on many levels, from the
micro to macro level.

 Micro level analysis/theorizing - includes short term face-to-face inte

ractions of few individuals in a small-scale setting or small-groups.

 Typically involves few people in direct contact over a short time perio
d in close setting to analyze social or business and management reality

 Macro-level analysis/theorizing - includes large scale events or macro

level of social life (e.g., institutions, major sector of society, entire socie
ty, or world region) and processes that occur over long duration (many yea
rs, multiple decades, or a century or longer).

 Designed to explain events, processes, patterns, and structures that

operate among large social units with direct and indirect contacts over
long time periods.
3. The Focus as a Substantive (for
mal theory)
 Researchers construct, elaborate, and test substantiv
e (real/actual) and formal theories.

 Substantive theory - a type of theory that is spec

ifically tailored (adapted/modified) to a particular
topic area.

 Focus on particular content or topic area in social or

business reality.

 For example: it might be family relations or racial

-ethnic relations or delinquent (illegal) behavior an
d attitude of employees or managers.
3. The Focus as a Substantive (for
mal theory) (contd:)
Formal theory - a type of theory that is general and ap
plies across many specific topic areas.

 Focuses on general processes or structures that operate acro

ss multiple topic areas.

 For example: a formal theory might be about forming a

social identity, engaging in conflict, or exercising power
within the organization.

 Formal theories help researchers recognize and explain si

milar features that operate across several divergent topic
4. The Form of Explanation (causal,
structural, interpretative)
 A theory’s primary purpose is to explain and make somet
hing clear or describes something in a way that show/illu
strate it and makes it understandable.

 For example: a good Professor “explains” in the ordinary


 Researchers focus on theoretical explanation:

“a logical argument or “story” that tells why somethin
g takes a specific form or occurs, and does so by ref
erring to more general rules/ideas and abstract/princi

 These are researchers’ theoretical argument or connection a

mong concepts.
 (for further see next slides)
4. The Form of Explanation (causal, s
tructural, interpretative) (contd:)
 The following are the three major forms of theoretical e
xplanation that social or business and management resear
chers uses:

1. Causal
2. Structural/organize
3. Interpretative

 Each explains, or answers, the question of why

things occur, by making connections to general
principles, but they do so in different ways.
4. The Form of Explanation (causal, str
uctural, interpretative) (contd:)
1. Causal Explanation: a type of theoretical explanation about
why events occur and how things work expressed in terms
of causes and effects, or as one factor producing certain
results. For example:
 Poverty causes crime or A causes B, B causes C, and s
o on.

 Researchers try to be more precise and exact when discu

ssing causal relations.

 Three things are required to establish causality:

 Temporal (sequential) order
 Association
 Elimination of alternatives
4. The Form of Explanation (causal, s
tructural, interpretative) (contd:)
1. Causal Explanation: (contd:)

 Temporal order condition: means that a cause must come before

an effect.

 This assumption establishes the direction of causality: from t

he cause toward the effect.

 Causal relations are unidirectional, operating in a single direct

ion from the cause to the effect. Most studies examine unidi
rectional relations.

 Association: the co-occurrence of two events, characteristics, o

r factors such that when one happen/is present, the other one is
likely to happen/be present as well.

 Eliminate alternatives: measuring possible alternative causes.

 This is common in survey research and is called controlling fo
r another variables.
4. The Form of Explanation (causal,
structural, interpretative) (contd:)
2. Structural explanation - a type of theoretical explanation
about why events occur and how things work expressed by o
utlining an overall structure and emphasizing locations, inter-
dependences, distances, or relations among positions in that

 Three major theories that use a structural explanation a

re: sequential theories, network theories, and functional
theories. (beyond our discussion)

3. Interpretative explanation - a type of theoretical explana

tion about why events occur and how things work expressed i
n terms of the socially constructed meanings and subjective

 The purpose is to foster understanding and discover the

meaning of an event or practice by placing it within a spe
cific social context.
5. The Range at which Theory Operate (as a
n empirical generalization, a middle range
theory or framework)
Range of Theorizing (Narrow and Broader)

 Theoretical (hypothetical/speculative/notional) statements also

vary by range. At one extreme is the empirical generalization (
practical overview) and on the other extreme is the middle-ra
nge-theory (broader theoretical range and use more abstract c
oncepts in a formal theory).

 Empirical Generalization: a narrow, quasi (seemingly/not really/a

lmost)-theoretical statement that expresses empirical patterns
or describe empirical regularities using concepts that are not ve
ry abstract.

 It is a narrow statement that mostly relies on concrete con

cepts and fit into a substantive theory.

 It is low level descriptive statement about a relationship bel

ieved to operate empirically.
5. The Range at which Theory Operate (as a
n empirical generalization, a middle range
theory or framework)
Range of Theorizing (Narrow and Broader)

 Middle-range-theory: social theory between general (br

oad-spectrum) frameworks and empirical generalization, that h
as limited abstraction/construct and is in the form of empirica
lly verifiable statements capable of being connected to observ
able phenomena.

 It has a broader theoretical range and uses more abstract co

ncepts in a substantive or formal theory.

 Theoretical framework: a very general theoretical system wit

h assumptions, concepts, and specific social theories.
 The dichotomy (division into two) between theory a
nd research is an artificial one.

 The value of theory and its necessity for conducti

ng good research should be clear.

 Researchers who proceed without theory rarely co

nduct top-quality research.

 In this session we have thoroughly discussed the di

mensions of research and necessity of theory for
quality of research.