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Course Code: CP-206 Author: Dr. B.S. Bodla Subject: Research Methodology Vetter: Prof. M.S. Turan Lesson No.: 1 INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODOLOGY STRUCTURE 1.0 Objective 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Scope of Business Research 1.3 Business Research Defined 1.4 Basic Research and Applied Research 1.5 Managerial Value of Business Research 1.6 When is Business Research Needed? 1.7 Major Topics for Research in Business 1.8 Internal Versus External Consultants/Researchers 1.9 Business Research in a Global Activity 1.10 Research Method versus Methodology 1.11 Ethics and Business Research 1.12 Summary 1.13 Keywords 1.14 Self Assessment Questions 1.15 References/Suggested Readings 1.0 OBJECTIVES After reading this lesson you should be able to- • Describe what research is and how is it defined; • Distinguish between applied and basic research; • Explain why managers should know about research; • Discuss what managers should and should not do in order to interact most effectively with researchers; • Discuss what research means to you and describe how you, as manager, might apply the knowledge gained about research; and • Discuss advantages and disadvantages of internal and external researchers. 1.1 INTRODUCTION Just close your eyes for a minute and utter the word research to yourself. What kinds of images does this word conjure up for you? Do you visualize a lab with scientists at work Bunsen burners and test tubes, or an Einstein-like character writing dissertations on some complex subject, or someone collecting data to study the impact of a newly introduced day-care system on the morale of employees? Most certainly, all these image do represent different aspects of research. Research is simply the process of finding solutions to a problem after a thorough study and analysis of the situational factors. Managers in organizations constantly engage themselves in studying and analyzing issues and hence are involved in some form of research activity as they make decisions at the workplace. As is well known, sometimes managers make good decisions and the problem gets solved, sometimes they make poor decisions and the problem persists, and on occasions they make such colossal blunders that the organization gets stuck in the mire. The difference between making good decision and committing blunders lies in how managers go about the decision-making process. In other words, good decision making fetches a “yes” answer to the following questions: Do managers identify where exactly the problem lies, do they correctly recognize the relevant factors in the situation needing investigation, do they know what types of information are to be gathered and how, do they know how to make use of the information so collected and draw appropriate conclusions to make the right decisions, and finally, do they know how to implement the results of this process to solve the problem? 2 This is the essence of research and to be a successful manager it is important for you to know how to go about making the right decisions by being knowledgeable about the various steps involved in finding solutions to problematic issues. This is what this book is all about. 1.2 SCOPE OF BUSINESS RESEARCH The scope of business research is limited by one’s definition of “business”. Certainly research in the production, finance, marketing, or management areas of a for-profit corporation is within the scope of business research. A broader definition of business, however, includes not-for-profit organizations, such as the American Heart Association, the Sac Diego Zoo, and the Boston Pops Orchestra, Each of these organizations exists to satisfy social needs, and they require business skills to produce and distribute the services that people want. Business research may be conducted by organizations that are not business organizations. The reserve bank of India, for example, performs many functions that are similar, if not identical, to those of business organizations. Reserve bank economists may use research techniques for evaluative purposes much the same way as managers at Reliance or Ford. The term business research is utilized because all its techniques are applicable to business settings. Business research covers a wide range of phenomena. For managers the purpose of research is to fulfill their need for knowledge of the organization, the market, the economy, or another area of uncertainty. A financial manager may ask, “Will the environment for long-term financing be better two years from now?” A personnel manager may ask, “What kind of training is necessary for production employees?” or “What is the reason for the company’s high turnover?” A marketing manager may ask, “How can I monitor my sales in retail trade activities?” 3 1.3 BUSINESS RESEARCH DEFINED The task of business research is to generate accurate information for use in decision making as we say above, the emphasis of business research is on shifting decision makers from intuitive information gathering to systematic and objective investigation. Business research is defined as the systematic and objective process of gathering, recording, and analyzing data for aid in making business decisions. This definition suggests, first, that research information is neither intuitive nor haphazardly gathered. Literally, research (re-search) means to “search again”. It connotes patient study and scientific investigation wherein the researcher takes another, more careful look at data to discover all that can be known about the subject of study. Second, if the information generated or data collected and analyzed are to be accurate, the business researcher must be objective. The need for objectivity was cleverly stated by the nineteenth-century American humorist Artemus Ward, who said, “It ain’t the things we don’t know that gets us in trouble. It’s the things we know that ain’t so”. Thus the role of the researcher is to be detached and impersonal, rather than biased in an attempt to prove preconceived ideas. If bias enters the research process, the value of the data is considerably reduced. A developer who owned a large area of land on which he wished to build a high-prestige shopping center wanted a research report to demonstrate to prospective retailers that there was a large market potential for such a center. Because he conducted his survey exclusively in an elite neighbourhood, not surprisingly his findings showed that a large percentage of respondents wanted a “high-prestige” shopping center. Results of this kind are misleading, of course, and should be disregarded. If the user of such findings discovers how they were obtained, the developer loses credibility. If the user is ignorant of the bias 4 in the design and unaware that the researchers were not impartial, his decision may have consequences more adverse than if he had made it strictly on intuition. The importance of objectivity cannot be overemphasized. Without objectivity, research is valueless. Third, the above definition of business research points out that its objective is to facilitate the managerial decision process for all aspects of business: finance, marketing, personnel, The definition is not problem- solving and decision-making activities, business research generates and provides the necessary information upon which to base decisions. By reducing the uncertainty of decisions, it reduces the risk of making wrong decisions. However, research should be an aid to managerial judgement, not a substitute for it. There is more to management than research. Applying research remains a managerial art. 1.4 BASIC RESEARCH AND APPLIED RESEARCH One reason for conducting research is to develop and evaluate concepts and theories. Basic- or pure-research attempts to expand the limits of knowledge. It does not directly involve the solution to a particular, pragmatic problem, but it had been said, “There is nothing so practical as a good theory.” Although this statement is true in the long run, basic research findings generally cannot be immediately implemented. Basic research is conducted to verify the acceptability of a given theory or to know more about a certain concept. For example, consider this basic research conducted by a university. Academic researchers investigated whether or not an individual’s perception that he or she was doing well on a task would have any influence on future performance. Two nearly identical groups of adults were given ten puzzles to solve. All of the individuals had identical sets of puzzles to solve. After the subjects had given their solutions to the researchers, they were told “how well” they did on the test. All of the 5 persons in the first group were told that they had done well (70 percent correct regardless of the actual percent correct. The members of the other group were told that they had done poorly (30 percent correct). Then both groups were given another set of ten puzzles. The group that had been told they had done well on the first set of puzzles performed better with the second set of puzzles than did the group that had been told they had been relatively unsuccessful with the first puzzle solving. The results of this basic research expand scientific knowledge about theories of general performance behaviour. This study was conducted because the researchers thought the theory being tested was far-reaching and applicable to a broad range of situations and circumstances. Applied research is conducted when a decision must be made about a specific real-life problem. Applied research encompasses those studies undertaken to answer questions about specific problems or to make decisions about a particular course of action or policy. For example, an organization contemplating a paperless office and a networking system for the company’s personal computers may conduct research to learn the amount of time its employees spend at personal computer in an average week. The procedures and techniques utilized by basic and applied researchers do not differ substantially. Both employ the scientific method to answer the questions at hand. Broadly characterized, the scientific method refers to techniques and procedures that help the researcher to know and understand business phenomena. The scientific method requires systematic analysis and logical interpretation of empirical evidence (facts from observation or experimentation) to confirm or disprove prior conceptions. In basic research, first testing these prior conceptions or hypotheses and then making inferences and conclusions about the phenomena leads to the establishment of general laws about the phenomena. 6 Use of the scientific method in applied research assures objectivity in gathering facts and testing creative ideas for alternative business strategies. The essence of research, whether basic or applied, lies in the scientific method, and much of this book deals with scientific methodology. The difference in the techniques of basic and applied research is largely a matter of degree rather than substance. 1.5 MANAGERIAL VALUE OF BUSINESS RESEARCH We have argued that research facilitates effective management. At the Ford Motor Company a marketing manager stated, “Research is fundamental to everything we do, so much so that we hardly make any significant decision without the benefit of some kind of market research. The risks are too big.” Managers in other functional areas have similar beliefs about research in their specialties. The prime managerial value of business research is that it reduces uncertainty by providing information that improves the decision-making process. The decision making process associated with the development and implementation of a strategy involves three interrelated stages. 1. Identifying problems or opportunities 2. Selecting and implementing a course of action 3. Evaluating the course of action Business research, by supplying managers with pertinent information, may play an important role by reducing managerial uncertainty in each of these stages. Identifying Problems or Opportunities Before any strategy can be developed, an organization must determine where it wants to go and how it will get there. Business research can help managers plan strategies by determining the nature of 7 situations by identifying the existence of problems or opportunities present in the organization. Business research may be used as a diagnostic activity to provide information about what is occurring within an organization or in its environment. The mere description of some social or economic activity may familiarize managers with organizational and environmental occurrences and help them understand a situation. For example, the description of the dividend history of stocks in an industry may point to an attractive investment opportunity. Information supplied by business research may also indicate problems. For example, employee interviews undertaken to delineate the dimensions of an airline reservation clerk’s job may reveal that reservation clerks emphasize competence in issuing tickets over courtesy and friendliness in customer contact. Once business research indicates a problem, managers may feel that the alternatives are clear enough to make a decision based on experience or intuition, or they may decide that more business research is needed to generate additional information for a better understanding of the situation. Whether an organization recognizes a problem or gains insight into a potential opportunity, an important aspect of business research is its provision of information that identifies or clarifies alternative courses of action. Selecting and implementing a course of action After the alternative courses of action have been identified, business research is often conducted to obtain specific information that will aid in evaluating the alternatives and in selecting the best course of action. For example, suppose a facsimile (fax) machine manufacturer must decide to build a factory either in Japan or in Sough Korea. In such 8 a case, business research can be designed to supply the exact information necessary to determine which course of action is best of the organization. Opportunities may be evaluated through the use of various performance criteria. For example, estimates of market potential allow managers to evaluate the revenue that will be generated by each of the possible opportunities. A good forecast supplied by business researchers is among the most useful pieces of planning information a manager can have. Of course, complete accuracy in forecasting the future is not possible because change is constantly occurring in the business environment. Nevertheless, objective information generated by business research to forecast environmental occurrences may be the foundation for selecting a particular course of action. Clearly, the best plan is likely to result in failure if it is not properly implemented. Business research may be conducted with the people who will be affected by a pending decision to indicate the specific tactics required to implement that course of action. Evaluating course of action After a course of action has been implemented, business research may serve as a tool to inform managers whether planned activities were properly executed and whether they accomplished what they were expected to accomplish. In other words, business research may be conducted to provide feedback for evaluation and control of strategies and tactics. Evaluation research is the formal, objective measurement and appraisal of the extent to which a given action, activity, or program has achieved its objectives. In addition to measuring the extent to which completed programs achieved their objectives or to which continuing 9 programs are presently performing as projected, evaluation research may provide information about the major factor influencing the observed performance levels. In addition to business organization, nonprofit organization, such as agencies of the federal government, frequently conduct evaluation research. It is estimated that every year more than, 1,000 federal evaluation studies are undertaken to systematically assess the effects of public programs. For example, the General Accounting Office has been responsible for measuring outcomes of the Employment Opportunity Act, the Head Start program, and the Job Corps program. Performance-monitoring research is a term used to describe a specific type of evaluation research that regularly, perhaps, routinely, provides feedback for the evaluation and control of recurring business activity. For example, most firms continuously monitor wholesale and retail activity to ensure early detection of sales declines and other anomalies. In the grocery and retail drug industries, sales research may use the universal product code (UPC) for packages, together with computerized cash registers and electronic scanners at checkout counters, to provide valuable market share information to store and brand managers interested in the retail sales volume of specific product. United Airlines’ Omnibus in-flight surveys provide a good example of performance monitoring research. United routinely selects sample flights and administers questionnaire about in-flight service, food and other aspects of air travel. The Omnibus survey is conducted quarterly to determine who is flying and for what reasons. It enables United to track demographic changes and to monitor customer ratings of its services on a continuing basis, allowing the airline to gather vast amounts of information at low cost. The information relating to customer reaction to services can be compared over time. For example, suppose United 10 decided to change its menu for in-flight meals. The results of the Omnibus survey might indicate that shortly after the menu changed, the customers’ rating of the airline’s food declined. Such information would be extremely valuable, as it would allow management to quickly spot similar trends among passengers in other aspects of air travel, such as airport lounges, gate-line waits, or cabin cleanliness, Thus managerial action to remedy problems could be rapidly taken. When analysis of performance indicated that all is not going as planned, business research may be required to explain why something “went wrong.” Detailed information about specific mistakes or failures is frequently sought. If a general problem area is identified, breaking down industry sales volume and a firm’s sales volume into different geographic areas may provide an explanation of specific problems, and exploring these problems in greater depth may indicate which managerial judgments were erroneous. 1.6 WHEN IS BUSINESS RESEARCH NEEDED? A manager faced with two or more possible courses of action faces the initial decision of whether or not research should be conducted. The determination of the need for research centers on (1) time constraints, (2) the availability of data, (3) the nature of the decision that must be made, and (4) the value of the business research information in relation to its costs. Time constraints Systematically conducting research takes time. In many instances management concludes that because a decision must be made immediately, there will be no time for research. As a consequence, decisions are sometimes made without adequate information or thorough 11 understanding of the situation. Although not ideal, sometimes the urgency of a situation precludes the use of research. Availability of data Frequently managers already possess enough information to make a sound decision without business research. When there is an absence of adequate information, however, research must be considered. Managers must ask themselves, “Will the research provide the information needed to answer the basic questions about this decision?” If the data cannot be made available, research cannot be conducted. For example, prior to 1980 the people’s republic of China had never conducted a population census. Organizations engaged in international business often find that data about business activity or population characteristics, found in abundance when investigating the United States, are nonexistent or sparse when the geographic area of interest is an underdeveloped country. Further, if a potential source of data exists, managers will want to know how much it costs to obtain those data. Nature of the decision The value of business research will depend on the nature of the managerial decision to be made. A routine tactical decision that does not require a substantial investment may not seem to warrant a substantial expenditure for business research. For example, a computer software company must update its operator’s instruction manual when minor product modifications are made. The cost of determining the proper wording for the updated manual is likely to be too high for such a minor decision. The nature of such a decision is not totally independent from the next issue to be considered: the benefits versus the costs of the research. However, in general the more strategically or tactically important the decision, the more likely that research will be conducted. 12 Benefits versus costs Some of the managerial benefits of business research have already been discussed. Of course, conducting research activities to obtain these benefits requires an expenditure; thus there are both costs and benefits in conducting business research. In any decision-making situation, managers must identify alternative courses of action, then weigh the value of each alternative against its cost. It is useful to think of business research as an investment alternative. When deciding whether to make a decision without research or to postpone the decision in order to conduct research, managers should ask: (1) Will the payoff or rate of return be worth the investment? (2) Will the information gained by business research improve the quality of the decision to an extent sufficient to warrant the expenditure? And (3) Is the proposed research expenditure the best use of the available funds? For example, TV Cable Week was not test-marketed before its launch. While the magazine had articles and stories about television personalities and events, its main feature was a channel-by-channel program listing showing the exact programs that a particular subscriber could receive. To produce a “custom” magazine for each individual cable television system in the country required developing a costly computer system. Because development required a substantial expenditure, one that could not be scaled down for research, the conducting of research was judged to be an improper investment. The value of the research information was not positive, because the cost of the information exceeded its benefits. Unfortunately, pricing and distribution problems became so compelling after the magazine was launched that it was a business failure. Nevertheless, the publication’s managers, without the luxury of hindsight, made a reasonable decision not to conduct research. They analyzed the cost of the information (i.e. the cost of business research) relative to the potential benefits. 13 1.7 MAJOR TOPICS FOR RESEARCH IN BUSINESS Research is expected to improve the quality of business decisions, but what business-decision topics benefit from research efforts? Exhibit 1.1 lists several major topics for research in business. EXHIBIT 1.1: MAJOR TOPICS FOR RESEARCH IN BUSINESS • General Business, Economic, and corporate Research • Short-range forecasting (up to one year) • Long-range forecasting (over one year) • Studies of business and industry trends • Inflation and pricing studies • Plant and warehouse location studies • Acquisition studies • Export and international studies • Financial and Accounting Research • Forecasts of financial interest-rate trends • Stock, bond, and commodity value predictions • Capital formation alternatives • Research related to mergers and acquisitions • Risk-return trade off studies • Impact of taxes • Portfolio analysis • Research on financial institutions • Expected-rate-of-return studies • Capital asset pricing models • Credit risk management in corporates • Cost analysis • Management and Organizational Behavior Research • Total quality management • Morale and job satisfaction 14 • Leadership styles and their effectiveness • Employee productivity • Organizational effectiveness • Structural studies • Absenteeism and turnover • Organizational communication • Time and motion studies • Physical environment studies • Labor union trends • Sales and Marketing Research • Measurement of market potentials • Market-share analysis • Market segmentation studies • Determination of market characteristics • Sales analysis • Establishment of sales quotas, territories • Distribution-channel studies • New-product concept tests • Test-market studies • Advertising research Buyer-behavior/consumer satisfaction studies • Corporate Responsibility Research • Ecological impact studies • Legal constraints on advertising and promotion studies • Sex, age, and racial discrimination worker-equity studies • Social values and ethics studies. 15 1.8 INTERNAL VERSUS EXTERNAL CONSULTANTS/RESEARCHERS Internal Consultants/Researchers Some organizations have their own consulting or research department, which might be called the Management Services Department, the Organization and Methods Department, R & D (research and development department), or by some other name. This department serves as the internal consultant to subunits of the organization that face certain problems and seek help. Such a unit within the organization, if it exists, would be useful in several ways, and enlisting its help might be advantageous under some circumstances, but not in others. The manager often has to decide whether to use internal or external researchers. To reach a decision, the manager should be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both, and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using either, based on the needs of the situation. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of both the internal and external teams are now discussed. Advantages of Internal Consultants/Researchers There are at least four advantages in engaging an internal team to do the research project: 1. The internal team would stand a better chance of being readily accepted by the employees in the subunit of the organization where research needs to be done. 2. The team would require much less time to understand the structure, the philosophy and climate, and the functioning and work systems of the organization. 3. They would be available for implementing their recommendations after the research findings are accepted. This is very important because any “bugs” in the implementation of the recommendations could be removed 16 with their help. They would also be available for evaluating the effectiveness of the changes, and considering further changes if and when necessary. 4. The internal team might cost considerably less than an external team for the department enlisting help in problem solving, because they will need less time to understand the system due to their continuous involvement with various units of the organization. For problems that are of low complexity, the internal team would be ideal. Disadvantages of internal Consultants/Researchers There are also certain disadvantages to engaging internal research teams for purposes of problem solving. The four most critical ones are: 1. In view of their long tenure as internal consultants, the internal team may quite possibly fall into a stereotyped way of looking at the organization and its problems. This would inhibit any fresh ideas and perspectives that might be needed to correct the problem. This would definitely be a handicap for situations in which weighty issues and complex problems are to be investigated. 2. There is scope for certain powerful coalitions in the organization to influence the internal team to conceal, distort, or misrepresent certain facts. In other words, certain vested interests could dominate, especially in securing a sizable portion of the available scant resources. 3. There is also a possibility that even the most highly qualified internal research teams are not perceived as “experts” by the staff and management, and hence their recommendations do not get the consideration and attention they deserve. 17 4. Certain organizational biases of the internal research team might in some instances make the finding less objective and consequently less scientific. External Consultants/Researchers The disadvantages of the internal research teams turn out to be the advantage of the external teams, and the former’s advantages work out to be the disadvantages of the latter. However, the specific advantages and disadvantages of the external teams may be highlighted. Advantages of External Consultants The advantages of the external team are: 1. The external team can draw on a wealth of experience from having worked with different types of organizations that have had the same of similar types of problems. This wide range of experience would enable them to think both divergently and convergently rather than hurry to an instant solution on the basis of the apparent facts in the situation. They would be able to ponder over several alternative ways of looking at the problem because of their extensive problem-solving experiences in various other organizational setups. Having viewed the situation from several possible angles and perspective (divergently), they could critically assess each of these, discard the less viable option and alternatives, and focus on specific feasible solutions (think convergently). 2. The external teams, especially those from established research and consulting firms, might have more knowledge of current sophisticated problem-solving models through their periodic training programs, which the teams within the organization may not have access to. Because knowledge obsolescence is a real threat in the consulting area, external research institutions ensure that their members are current 18 on the latest innovations through periodic organized training programs. The extent to which internal team members are kept abreast of the latest problem-solving techniques may vary considerably from one organization to another. Disadvantages of external consultants The major disadvantages in hiring an external research team are as follows: 1. The cost of hiring an external research team is usually high and is the main deterrent, unless the problems are very critical. 2. In addition to the considerable time the external team takes to understand the organization to be researched, they seldom get a warm welcome, nor are readily accepted by employees. Departments and individuals likely to be affected by the research study may perceive the study team as a threat and resist them. Therefore, soliciting employees’ help and enlisting their cooperation in the study is a little more difficult and time-consuming for the external researchers than for the internal teams. 3. The external team also charges additional fees for their assistance in the implementation and evaluation phases. Keeping in mind these advantages and disadvantages of the internal and external research teams, the manager who desires research services has to weigh the pros and cons of engaging either before making a decision. If the problem is a complex one, or if there are likely to be vested interests, or if the very existence of the organization is at stake because of one or more serious problems, it would be advisable to engage external researchers despite the increased costs involved. However, if the problems that arise are fairly simple, if time is of the essence in solving 19 moderately complex problems, or if there is a system wise need to establish procedures and policies of a fairly routine nature, the internal team would probably be the better option. Knowledge of research methods and appreciation of the comparative advantages and disadvantages of the external and internal teams help managers to make decisions on how to approach problems and determine whether internal or external researchers will be the appropriate choice to investigate and solve the problem. 1.9 BUSINESS RESEARCH IN A GLOBAL ACTIVITY Business today operates globally. Business research, like all business activity, has become increasingly global. Some companies have extensive international business research operations. Upjohn conducts business research in 160 different countries. Companies that conduct business in foreign lands must understand the particular nature of those markets and determine whether they require customized business strategies. For example, although the 14 nations of the European Community not share a single market, business research shows that they do not share identical tastes for many consumer products. Business researchers have learned that there is no such thing as a typical European consumer or worker; the nations of the European Community are divided by language, religion, climate, and centuries of tradition. For example, Scantel Research, a British firm that advises companies on color preferences, found inexplicable differences in the way Europeans take their medicine. The French prefer to pop purple pills, while the English and Dutch wish for white ones. Consumers in all three countries dislike bright red capsules, which are big sellers in the United States. This example illustrates that companies that do business in Europe must learn whether they need to adapt to local customs and habits. 20

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