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Chapter 5

Business Research Process (Steps 1-3)


Research Book of VU Research Methods For Business (Uma Sekaran) Internet

The Business Research Process

Observation Broad problem area 1 Preliminary Data Gathering 2 Problem definition 3 4 Theoretical Framework
Variables Identification and labelling

Generation of Hypothesis 5

Scientific Researc h Design Data Collection, analysis & interpretation


Decision Making

Report Presentation

Report Writing


Deduction Research Question Answered?

Broad Problem Area

Examples , A manager could observe the following in the workplace: Training programmes are perhaps are not as effective as were anticipated. The sale volume of a product is not picking up. Minority groups are not making career progress in organizations.

The specific issues that need to be researched within the situation may not be identified at this stage. Such issues might pertain to
1. 2. 3. 4.

Problem currently existing in an organization that needs to be solved Areas that manager thinks need to be improved Conceptual or theoretical frame work to understand some phenomena Answer empirically of some questions or to determine relationships

Broad Problem Area

The broad problem area would be narrowed down to specific issues for investigation after some preliminary data This may take the form of interviews and library research.

Preliminary Data Collection

Nature of data to be collected




The nature of information that would be needed by the researcher for the purpose could be classified under three headings. Background information of the organization (secondary data) Managerial philosophy, company policies, and other structural aspects Perception, attitudes, and behavioral response of the organizational member and client systems (if applicable) - primary data.

1. Background Information on the Organization The origin and history of the company - when it was started, rate of growth, ownership and control and so on.  Size -, in terms of employees, or assets or both.  Location - regional, national or other.  Resource - human and other.  Charter - purpose and ideology  Interdependent relationships with other institutions and the external environment.  Financial position.


Information on Management Philosophy and Structural Factors

Employees role & position at each organizational level. Extent of specialization. Communication channels. Control systems. Coordination & Span of control Reward systems. Workflow systems and the like.


Employees Perception, Attitudes, and Behavioral Responses towards their organization

Workflow interdependence. Rewards provided by the organization such as pay and fringe benefits. Growth opportunities Participation in decision making. Companies tolerance regarding taking time off the job by employees Autonomy Co-workers These factors help researcher to determine employees loyalty, performance, absenteeism, turnover, performance intensions etc.



- Knowledge accumulates.

- We learn from and build on what others have done.


read other peoples research.  They learn, compare, replicate (repeat), or critically analyze the work by others.

Literature Survey

Literature survey is the documentation of a comprehensive review of the published and unpublished work from secondary sources of data The library is a rich storage base for secondary data, and researchers spend several weeks, and sometimes months, going through  Conference proceedings, Books  Master's thesis / dissertations / journals synopsis & abstracts newspapers,  Several government Publications  Financial marketing and other magazines,


Goals of Review of Literature




To demonstrate a familiarity with a body of knowledge and establish credibility. Demonstrates the researchers professional competence, ability, and background. To know the path of prior research and how a current research project is linked to it. To integrate and summarize what is known in an area A good review points out areas where prior studies agree, where they disagree, and where major questions remain unanswered. No reinventing the wheel. No wastage of effort.

4.   5.


To learn from others and stimulate new ideas. Researcher benefits from others efforts. Ready made techniques. Replications to overcome previous limitations. Identification of variables. Important variables that are likely to influence the problem situation are not left out of the study. Helps in developing theoretical framework. Ready made theoretical models for research may be available. Previous studies provide evidence for developing theoretical argumentation for positing the relationship among variables.


Problem statement can be made with precision Review provides clarity of thought about the issue under study.

Conducting the Literature Survey

1. 2. 3.

It can be conducted in three steps. Identifying the relevant sources. Extracting the relevant information. Writing up the literature survey

Conducting the Literature Survey

Identification of the Relevant Sources

Basically there are three forms of text database: Bibliographic database: A bibliographic or library database is a database of bibliographic records. It may be a database containing information about books and other materials held in a library i.e.,
The name of the author, the article, Source of publication, Year Volume, and page numbers

Example of Bibliographies at University Library

ii. Abstract database: it provides abstracts of journals' articles, conference papers (proceedings), etc iii. Full-text database: provides a full text of the article. Thus, entire articles can be retrieved on-line, if necessary.

2. Extracting the relevant information

The following information may be extracted form the preliminary data gathering: 1. Problem 2. Variables 3. Sample 4. Data collection 5. Data analysis 6. Results 7. Conclusion 8. Any other information/comments

Recall chapter 2.Classification Of Research


You may be exploring a new topic or issue in order to learn about it, you began at the beginning to clarify and define the nature of a problem Management may have discovered general problem but research is needed to gain better understanding of problems Exploratory research may be the first stage in a sequence of studies Subsequent research expected
Exploratory research often relies on secondary research such as reviewing available literature and/or data, or qualitative approaches such as informal discussions with consumers, employees, management or competitors, and more formal approaches through in-depth interviews, focus groups, projective methods, case studies or pilot studies.

Goals of Exploratory Research: 1. Become familiar with the basic facts, setting, and concerns; 2. Develop well grounded picture of the situation; 3. Develop tentative theories, generate new ideas, conjectures, or hypotheses; 4. Determine the feasibility of conducting the study; 5. Formulate questions and refine issues for more systematic inquiry; and 6. Develop techniques and a sense of direction for future research.

Categories of Exploratory Research


Experience Surveys Secondary Data Analysis Case Studies Pilot Studies

Experience Surveys An exploratory research technique in which individuals who are knowledgeable about a particular research problem are surveyed Secondary Data Analysis Data that have been previously collected for same purpose other then problem at hand (Books, periodicals, government sources, internet, media)

a. b. c.

Case Study Method Intensely investigates one or A few situations similar to the problem. Investigate in depth. Analyzing the similar situations already occurred. Pilot Study The use of small-scale diverse research techniques that involves sampling but doesn't apply rigorous standards. It includes Focus group InterviewProjective TechniquesIn-depth InterviewRecall chapter 2.Classification Of Research


Exploratory research cannot take the place of quantitative, conclusive research. If it is used to make decisions then it can lead to incorrect & misleading results. Most of exploratory research information are qualitative and interpretation of findings is typically judgment.

Writing up the Literature Review

The documentation of the relevant studies citing the author and the year of the study is called literature review or literature survey.

The literature survey is a clear and logical presentation of the research work done thus for in the area of investigation.

The purpose of literature survey is to identify and highlight the important variables, and to document the significant findings from earlier research that will serve as the foundation on which the subsequent theoretical framework for the current investigation can based and the hypothesis developed.

Writing the Review A literature review requires planning and good, clear writing, which requires lot of rewriting. How does a good review look like? The author should communicate a reviews purpose to the reader by its organization. The wrong way to write a review is to list a series of research reports with a summary of the findings of each. The right way to write a review is to organize common findings or arguments together. A well accepted approach is to address the most important ideas first, to logically link statements or findings, and to note discrepancies or weaknesses in the present.


Copying and pasting text from internet Using photographs, video or audio without permission or acknowledgement Using anothers work and claiming it as your own even with permission Using your own work without properly citing it! Quoting a source without using quotation marks-even if you do cite it Citing sources you didnt use Getting a research paper, story, poem, or article off the Internet

Is it Plagiarism?
You read:
"Students are studying about one-third as much as faculty say they ought to, to do well," said George D. Kuh, director of the survey and a professor of higher education at Indiana University at Bloomington.
From: Young, Jeffrey R. Homework? What Homework? Chronicle of Higher Education, 49 (15).12/6/2002

Yes! You must credit your source if you paraphrase text.

You write:
Most students spend about one-third as much time studying as faculty say they should.

Is it Plagiarism?
You read:
"Students are studying about one-third as much as faculty say they ought to, to do well," said George D. Kuh, director of the survey and a professor of higher education at Indiana University at Bloomington.
From: Young, Jeffrey R. Homework? What Homework? Chronicle of Higher Education, 49 (15).12/6/2002

No. As long as you have included the Young article in your reference list, you have properly cited your source.

You write:
According to George D. Kuh, Indiana University at Bloomington, students study about one-third of the time that is expected by faculty. (Young, 2002)

Getting Started

What is a Citation? References and citations in text are the formal methods of acknowledging the use of a creators work.

An In-Text Citation? Direct citations and quotations are acknowledged in the body of a research assignment. (Right in the sentence or paragraph)

Citation, References and Acknowledgement

Theres nothing wrong with using someone elses words, as long as you quote them and create a citation (note or reference) to the source.
 Citations in text identify the source of quotations or a personal communication used in research like this (authors last name, publication date, and page number). 1
2 3

Purpose 1. Whether paraphrasing or quoting an author directly, the source must be credited. 2. Citations enable the reader to locate the source of the quotation in References.

3. Problem Definition

From broad to specific concern After having preliminary data gathering , the researcher is in a position to narrow down the problem from its original broad base and define the issue clearly. Present problem statement in clear and precise manner. Problem could be An existing business problem identified by the Manager Scope for future improvement Areas needing conceptual clarity Curiosity (Interest) of the researcher

Problem Definition

A problem could simply indicate an interest in an issue where finding the right answers might help to improve an existing situation. A clear, precise and brief statement of the question or issue that is to be investigated with the goal of finding an answer or solution.

Examples of well defined problems

*What network system is best suited for Unilever Brothers Pakistan Ltd? *What are the specific factors to be considered in crating a data warehouse for a manufacturing company? *Does the income statement in the balance sheet elicit the same kinds of reader reactions toward the company as the cash flow statement? *Does better automation lead to greater asset investment for dollar of output? *Does international expansion result in an increase in the firms value. *What are the effects of downsizing on the long range growth pattern of companies? *What are the components of quality of life? *Effects of IMF lending upon Pakistan. *Effects of T&D in increasing employees contribution. *How has the new packaging affected the sales of the product