Business Research Methods

Factors considered when choosing a Research Methodology for a Business Problem

On the whole in tackling a business problem, various issues inform the choice of methodology. These include:

Ethical Issues and Dilemmas

The relevance of business ethics to researchers in choice of methodology is insurmountable because ethical issues occur in many areas during the research process. On the whole ethical dilemmas in research methods arise from issues of justice and fairness, and if not well handled then there is the likelihood of conflicts. For instance when a researcher is likely faced with the dilemma of data collection opportunity he/she must be aware of the dangers that lie in there.

The choice of methodology must for example be chosen to abide by deliberate attempt to not violating the rights and the research respondents including disclosure of personal information, or asking research respondents to disclose personal contact information in say a sales research. In such a case, a questionnaire that might be designed by the researcher must be devoid of such unethical issue (Hair et al, 2009).

Population to be studied

The population and its characteristics, to be studied determine the choice of methodology. For instance, in order fully identify the marketing strategies used by an airline company and the issues that regard customer satisfaction, the researcher should ensure that all the stakeholders were fully involved in reaching the best solution possible. These should range from customers, to employees and the management (Hair et al, 2009).

Therefore purposive sampling would ensure cohesiveness in the research conclusions reached and the acceptance and easy implementation of the research finding. This would be important since it gives the researcher a great opportunity for the vital information and findings made from the previous researches to be studied and vital findings used in this research (Joshi, 2005).

Research Objectives

The aim of the research or the problem to be tackled determines choice of methodology. For instance when the focus is to understand the marketplace and customer needs and wants, the process focus must be for the business to identify its business niche. This is achieved through an in-depth study of the market place through carrying out market research. Trends in the market place, factors that influence and affect business operations and other environmental issues are considered.

Understanding the market place and customer wants and need therefore entails conceptualizing factors that influence the manner in which businesses are carried out in the market and the way they relate to the actual needs of the customers (Philip, 2006). This process also involves asking both the existing and the potential customers about their expectations, needs and wants with regards to the business products and services. In such a case direct interviewing among other methods including comparative studies are often chosen (Hair et al, 2009).

Research Methodologies

Appreciative Inquiry (AI)

Appreciative inquiry is seen as a significant breakthrough in the development of organization because of its problem solving outlook. AI is grounded on the assumption that business problems are often the result of individual perceptions. On the whole, AI is a philosophical methodology to strategic planning including a deliberate attempt by an organization to focus on its best times and building a positive mindset aimed at achieving a goal. Appreciative Inquiry is relevant in issues such employee empowerment (Hair et al, 2009).

Case Study

This is a method which involves studying a direct case, or reviewing a case to arrive at an empirical conclusion. Case studies are important in show-casing client’s concerns about a program, just as they are important in the organizing of information ranges and in the analysis of content by way of deliberately searching for various themes inherent in specific sets of data. For instance Baker (2008) observes that cost and differentiation advantages offer a business organization a great competitive advantage.

Competitive advantage is normally attained when a business firm’s profits attains profits that are over and above what is expected in its industry. Similar benefits are attained at same cost thus increasing the profit margins. When such overall case analysis is depicted, a researcher may choose it to justify research scope, methods and findings in market improvement study (Hair et al, 2009).

Focus Groups

Focus Groups as research method is a crucial way of assessing services offered by a business and a way of testing new ideas. On the whole, focus groups are often interviews but that which involves between six to ten people at ago. It is one way of getting valid information because often times it is associated with ‘‘free association’’ (Thompson, 2003).

Questionnaire as a method

This method of data collection involves having a series of designed questions which can be open-ended or closed-ended. The respondents are often times given enough time to reflect on the questions so that they give reliable answers. Questionnaires drafting is done with a clear understanding of the diversity of the people in relation population dynamics and the target goals of the research process (Moloney 2006).

The questions used have different sets of questions that targeted the respondents in different formats. For instance in a company, the open ended questions used enable some of the respondents such as chief information officers, chief executive officers and employees. The closed-ended questions used enables the participants in the company industry, especially those in the marketing and the human resource departments, to an answer from the numerous given number of options (Hair et al, 2009).

Article Review in Ascertaining the Appropriateness of Methodology

In Moloney (2006) articles, Winning Loyalty and Trust: Business’ Best Tools, Practices and Business Techniques, the methodology used is appropriate. On the whole the research is on marketing the airline industry encompassing companies such as the Emirates Airlines. The instrument employed in data collection is on point. In the study, questionnaires were the major instrument of data collection used. Library findings were also used.

To reduce the overall cost of the research process, electronic mailing system was utilized in sending the soft copy of the questionnaires to the prospective study sample. In most cases, this was accompanied by a brief introductory letter with request that the questionnaire be complicated in a timely manner as specified. Indeed emailed questionnaires was utilized for administering the questionnaire to far flank sample people in locations which could not be reached in a cost effective manner. This is in line

Steps in Addressing the Problem of Sustainability and SMEs

The following steps are paramount in addressing sustainability issues of SMEs.

Incorporating Environmental Objectives into Business Planning and Budgeting

Firms which have business plans to becoming sustainable must begin incorporating both social and environmental goals in their yearly plans. This ensures that the SMEs are better enabled to evaluate their performance in terms of non-fiscal goals and introduce corrective measures in the business (Gitman and Carl, 2005)

Employ the use of Lifecycle Costing

This entails the evaluation is a business concept where many costs, devoid in the usual financial accounting are incorporated. By definition, Lifecycle costing is the total of both recurring and otherwise expenses of a specified business lifespan, including buying price, operational costs, and installation expenses among others (Gitman and Carl, 2005).

Brief Explanation why it is important to keep research project as simple as possible, given the level of complexity contained in the research topic

There are perhaps two interrelated reasons for this. One is that it ensures quicker understanding of the research findings, conclusions and recommendations all of which are important for decision making. Hair et al (2009) notes that in Businesses, modern managers are suppose to make quicker and best decisions, and this is only possible if research process and findings are made simpler. Research process must therefore be simpler in generating knowledge which is essential in decision making goals.

Reasons why Breaking down a problem into manageable and solvable sub-tasks is a good approach to business research, particularly in the work place.

The reason for breaking problems into sub-problems portends the advantages of rational decision making model. Gitman and Carl (2005) observe that decision making is the process of producing a solution to a recognized problem, including research. The process of decision making according to the Rational Model consists of a structured four step sequence which are one, identification of the problem; two, generation of alternative solutions and; three, selections of a solution and finally, implementation and evaluation of the solution (Gitman and Carl, 2005). While some decisions are relatively simple to make, most managers are irrational and laidback in making obvious decisions with some managers exhibiting harassment to their subordinates. This problem would be solved if the decision making process is segmented.

Importance of Literature Review in Research

Literature review is important for the identification of academic lacuna (gaps) for the purposes of developing informed research questions. While the formulation of research objectives and questions might occur earlier in the research process, the real questions tend to arise from literature review. Out of these the researcher is able to formulate specific questions which are instrumental in specifying the research objectives, research hypotheses to be tested in the research, as well as needs relating to information and determination of the research design.

For instance in a research dealing with marketing in Southwest Airlines for example, literature may generate data that the specific marketing strategies need to put up in order for certain needs to be addressed (Thompson, 2003).

Ranking Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) Research Articles

Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) refers to a model which shows the correlation existing in system design, their imagined usability, the ease of such use and the real behavior exhibited when being used. The chosen articles here include

  1. Davis, F. D. 1989. ‘‘perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology’’, MIS Quarterly, vol. 13, no.3, pp.318-340
  2. Davis, F.D &Ventatesh, V 1996, ‘‘A model of the antecedents of perceived ease of use: Development and Test”. Decision Sciences, vol. 27, no. 3.
  3. Davis, F.D &Ventatesh, V 2000, ’’ A Theoretical Extension of the Technology Acceptance Model: Four Longitudinal Field Studies’’, Management Science, vol. 46 no. 2, pp.186-204.

A broader scrutiny of the above articles shows there consensus in ratifying TAM as providing information that represent the measures which formulate technology as influencing the acceptance by the user( Davis, &Ventatesh, 2000; Davis &Ventatesh,1996; Davis, 1989). However, in ranking David and Vantesh article ‘’ A Theoretical Extension of the Technology Acceptance Model: Four Longitudinal Field Studies ‘’that seems to be echo that it is paramount for forecasting and evaluation as conduit in Information Technology (IT). Its methodology seems to be consistent to the research aims.

Steps Followed to Conclude as (8) above

The steps included, examining literature review relevance to formulation of hypothesis, research design and research specific objectives. The other issue looked into was the relevance of research methods, particularly the instrument of data collection and data analysis methods to its validity to Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). When these were done, a great disparity appeared on the first two studies to warrant a more conclusive reaction and to validate the research hypothesis (Davis, &Ventatesh, 2000; Davis &Ventatesh, 1996).

Messages in the Articles

Broadly speaking, all the articles seem to portray Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) as a model which shows the correlation existing in system design, their imagined usability, the ease of such use and the real behavior exhibited when being used. TAM as providing information that represent the measures which formulate technology as influencing the acceptance by the use r( Davis, &Ventatesh, 2000; Davis &Ventatesh,1996; Davis, 1989)

A brief/Summary Literature Review of ERP Implementation Problem

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has been extensively used particularly in the developed world to show-case how global competitiveness can be improved as well as streamlining the process of deployment. However, according to a number of scholars, EPR vendors are today more focused on attempting to go against the existing social, cultural and economic barriers that characterize the developing economies. For these latter countries, the greatest bottlenecks to the process of EPR implementation has to do with, inadequate resources, poor systems of management, as well as inadequate Information Technology expertise. Regardless, however, there seems to be a consensus among researchers that the difference that may influence the implementation of EPR in relation to SMEs remains minimal (Gitman and Carl, 2005)

How the Literature Review above will influence my subsequent investigation

This will affect subsequent investigations in one broad way. One, the hypotheses to be developed will be based on the assumption that the implementation of EPR in countries including the developing world has not been affected grossly by the existing infrastructural barriers, and that the difference in implementation between developing countries and developed ones is not wide. This then affects the research in term of objectives, hypotheses, and research design that would influence the research process. The hypothesis for instance may want to test this validity and the research design must be tweaked to that effect.

The Delphi Method

Delphi method is a research technique which starts with the designing a group of open-ended questions on a particular concept. Once this is done, the questions are distributed to research experts who summarize them, upon which a second set of questions attempting further explore components of consensus and disagreement are the designed and forwarded to the same experts. On the whole, the experts are instrumental in as far as their provision of a wide range of views and perspectives for deeper analysis is concerned. This is thus the aim of distributing the questions to the experts (Hair et al, 2009)

Brief Review of Focus Group approach to data collection and the pivotal role of the researcher/facilitator in ensuring that representative views and beliefs emerge from the session

A focus group refers to a group of interview consisting of 6 to 10 people sharing similar features as well as having interest that cut across. Focus Groups as research a method is important in assessing services offered by a business and a way of testing new ideas. The role of facilitator or researcher in a focus group is that of guiding the group on the basis of predetermined group of issues. Thus he provides a ‘‘safe’’ environment which facilitates free sharing of views and ideas. It is one way of getting valid and more in-depth information relating to attitudes and beliefs because often times it is associated with ‘‘free association.’’ (Collins & Hussey, 2009)

Standard measures for Location/Central tendency and Dispersion/Variation

By definition, Measures of Central tendency refers to the various ways to determine or indicate the central value from a set of values in a given data. Broadly, these include the mean, median and mode. The mean refers to the average of the values in a distribution, while the median is the value of the scale separating the first half of the distribution from the other end. On the other hand, the mode refers to the predominantly emphasized value in a distribution, in other words it is the most repeated value (Bret, 2007).

Measures of position/location refer to the various techniques dividing a group of data into equal proportion. Usually, the process of determining measurement of position requires that the data in evaluated from the lowest to highest value. These include quartiles, deciles, and percentiles. Measures of dispersion on the other hand reflect the degree to which values in a distribution are away from the center. They include range, average deviation, variance and standard deviation (Collins & Hussey, 2009).

The basic steps that are to be taken to conduct a hypothesis test

The steps are as follows: First, the research hypothesis which relates to conventional wisdom is tested. Here the most significant step is to outline null and alternative hypotheses. The significance of this is that in the absence of it or doing the contrary, then the whole process is interfered with. This is more because in particular, the null hypothesis provides the opportunity to fix an attributing factor. Second step involves putting into considerations the statistical assumptions regarding the test. This is so to avoid invalidity of the test. The next stage is determining which of test is contextually appropriate. After this, distribution of the test statistic is derived, followed by computation, then finally accepting or rejecting the null hypothesis.

The importance of establishing the significance level BEFORE calculating test statistics

The significance level establishment is significant because failure to do it before statistical test would render the whole process soiled. Confirmatory data analysis is done using null hypothesis tests, which are tests answering the question with the assumption that the null hypothesis in the gospel truth. Here the researcher must seek to establish if the results from the research experiment has enough information to warrant skepticism on traditional wisdom.

Out of this the one that is found to statistically important is referred to positive result. On the other, an otherwise result (the one which is likely) is then referred to as null result. This means that rejection is made on the basis of posterior probability. This is done in favor of alternative hypothesis. On this basis, hypothesis testing is similar to court room processes (Collins & Hussey, 2009).

Significance level is a trade-off between Type I and Type II errors

This is because with the greatest value of significance level, the hypothesis with greater reliability and fewer errors is established. In other words in when the size is low than the most effective significance level, then the null hypothesis is dropped at the provided significance level. In this case, it becomes the conclusive parameter. This is akin to a guilty person being charged in a court of law because of evidential sufficiency to reject innocence. In this case, it might not necessarily be true as the other side is not tested.

Why alternative approach would be appropriate for tests that are naturally one-sided

This is because such tests are appropriate in dealing with two samples, in a naturally experimental and controlled set experiment. In this, comparing two variables is done in a way that two variables are compared to have two extremes of results. This is important for managerial decision making and massaging of extreme results which may jeopardize performance. When a result is too negatively extreme then it might be de-motivational to employees and even stakeholders (Collins & Hussey, 2009).

A brief description of the correlation coefficient in own words

On the whole, correlation coefficient refers to the evaluation of the strength of the linear relationship that exists between a set of two different variables defined by covariance and standard deviations. Undeniably, correlation coefficient is today a crucial aspect in qualitative research and evaluations. This is because the understanding of relationship within various issues and things, in terms of their ability to change similarly together or otherwise, and issues such as the process of computing co-existential occurrence as well as classification of items or happenings on basis of independent variation, is on the basis of correlation coefficient (Collins & Hussey, 2009)

Spearman coefficient

Spearman’s rank correlation is normally used in the process of discovering the degree of strength of the relationship between two sets of information (values). Spearman’s Rank correlation is usually easily presented in a graph, but mostly, comparison of various sets of data is the use of statistical test. The advantage here is that it shows if the correlation is very important or if it occurs by chance only. Therefore, the understanding is that Spearman’s Rank correlation coefficient is the technique employed to conclude direction as well as strength, whether negative or positive in a variable (Cottrel, 2010).

Overview of Regression: Focus on ‘‘Regression Analysis: Basic Concepts’’ by Allin Cottrell

In the article ‘‘Regression Analysis: Basic Concepts’’ by Allin Cottrell, the issue of regression is well exploited. The model explored is the Linear Model, which supposes that when some variable, y, is related to *driven by) x, then y is described as the dependent variable. X, on the other hand remains the independent variable. The random component, u, is the disturbance error.

Therefore yi equals to coefficinet09 + Coefficient1xi+ui.

The assumption here is that the variables reflect the y-intercept and the gradient of the relationship in a respective manner (Cottrell, 2010).

References

Bret, M 2007, Doing a Successful Research Project Using Qualitative or Quantitative Methods, 1 Ed. London: Wiley and Sons.

Collins, J & Hussey, R 2009, Business Research: A Practical Guide for Undergraduate and Postgradaute Students, 3Rd Edition. Sage, New York.

Cottrel, A 2009, Regression Analysis: Basic Concepts. Harvard Business School. Web.

Davis, FD 1989, ‘‘Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology’’, MIS Quarterly, vol. 13. no. 3, pp.318-340.

Davis, FD & Ventatesh, V 1996, ‘‘A model of the antecedents of perceived ease of use: Development and Test”. Decision Sciences, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 451-481.

Davis, FD &Ventatesh, V 2000, ’’ A Theoretical Extension of the Technology Acceptance Model: Four Longitudinal Field Studies’’, Management Science, vol. 46. no. 2, pp.186-204.

Gitman, LJ & Carl DM 2005, The Future of Business and Possible Strategies: The Core Essentials. Ohio: ISBN 0324320280.

Hair, J, Money, A, Page, J, Samouel, P 2009, Essentials of Business Research Methods. New York, Sharpe.

Joshi, MR 2005, The Business of Marketing at International Levels. Oxford University Press. New Delhi. ISBN 0195681236.

Moloney, X.C 2006, Winning Loyalty and Trust: Business’ Best Tools, Practices and Business Techniques. The AMA Events and Workshop.

Philip, K. 2006, Marketing Strategic Management. The International Edition, (Edn) 11.

Thompson, P 2003, Crafting and the Execution of Business Strategy. A text book reading. 12th Ed. McGraw-Hill, Irvin.