Research Methods for Business Students Mark Saunders Philip Lewis and Adrian Thornhill Second Edition Chapter 4 by jdd23374

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									    Research Methods for Business Students
    Mark Saunders, Philip Lewis and Adrian Thornhill

                                                  Second Edition

Chapter 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Research Methods for Business Students


                            Dr. Wasim Al-Habil.
Chapter 4
Research Methods for Business

      Key Topics
   To outline the key assumptions of the positivist,
    interpretivist and realist research philosophies.
   To distinguish between two main approaches to
    research: deductive and inductive.
   To identify the main research strategies and explain why
    these should not be thought of as mutually exclusive.
   To explain the benefits of adopting a multi-method
    approach to the conduct of research.
   To explain the concepts of validity and reliability and
    identify the main threats to validity and reliability.
   To understand some of the main ethical issues implied
    by the choice of research strategy.
4.1 Differing approaches to research

    The research process “onion:”

1.   Research philosophy
2.   Research approaches
3.   Research strategies
4.   Time horizons
5.   Data collection methods

    See figure 4.1 in page 83

                 Positivism      Research
        Cross                    Research
            sectional            approaches
secondary data
  observation            study
questionnaires                   Research
                  Grounded       strategies
 Longitudinal       theory
   Action                        Time horizons
                                 Data collection
                 Phenomenology   methods

4.1 Differing approaches to research
    Research philosophy:

1.   Positivism: The stance of the natural scientist

2.   Interpretivism: The role of the interpretivist to
     seek to understand the subjective reality of those
     that they study in order to make sense of and
     understand their motives, actions and intentions.

3.   Realism: Based on the belief that a reality exists.
     It is independent of human thoughts and beliefs.

  Positivism (Logical Positivism)

• Positivists attempt to mirror the methods of the natural
and physical scientists.

• Through observing reality you can produce laws of the social
world which can be generalised from one context to another
e.g Laws of Supply and Demand in Positive Economics.


• Your role is to be an objective analyst, collecting data and
interpreting it in a value free way.

• You are detached, neither affect nor are affected by the
subject of your research.

• Emphasise the quantifiable, the observable, and replication
(the ability to repeat research)

Phenomenology emphasises..

• That the world is too complex to be reduced to a series of
law-like generalisations.

• the uniqueness of people, and circumstances
 and the constant nature of change.

• details matter - in an attempt to dig into deeper
layers of reality.

• subjective reality matters.

Could be used to study –

• Organisational culture layer by layer – the visual symbols
 the mission statement, and the hidden world of taken
 for granted assumptions which influence thinking, feeling
 perceptions in the workplace.


Finding ‘the reality working behind the reality’ may be
too challenging for some!
 Research approaches

The research process ‘onion’

                               Research approaches

 Choosing a research approach

A deductive approach?

You develop a theory and design a strategy to test hypotheses.
A close ally to the philosophy of positivism.
A scientific approach.

An inductive approach?

You collect data and develop a theory as a result
of your data analysis
A close ally to the philosophy of phenomenology.
4.1 Differing approaches to research

    Choosing a research approach:
    Deduction: testing theory:

1.   Deducing a hypothesis from theory.
2.   Expressing the hypothesis in operational terms.
3.   Testing this operational hypothesis.
4.   Examining the specific outcome of the inquiry.
5.   If necessary, modifying the theory in the light of
     the findings.

                    Deduction: testing theory

                                            X does occur -
                                           theory supported

If theory is true        X will occur           Test X

                                           X does not occur -
                                           theory challenged

                                                              15 14
A hypothesis states that there is a relationship
between two concepts and specifies the
direction of that relationship.

 Age                        Gross annual

                                              16 15
    Key terms explained

The elements in the boxes are called concepts.

The lines between the boxes are called relationships.

Theories are composed of concepts linked by


A positive sign shows a positive relationship, e.g.
(hours of study rises, exam grades rise)

A negative sign shows a negative relationship, e.g.
(Price of houses rises, demand falls)

                                                      19 17

A variable is a characteristic which has more than one
category or value. e.g. ‘Age’

The effect is called a dependent variable (Y);
The assumed cause is called an independent
variable (X)

An intervening variable (Z) is the means by which
X affects Y……..

 Education   job   income

   X         Z     Y

4.1 Differing approaches to research

    Choosing a research approach
    Deduction: testing theory
    Several important characteristics:

1.   There is a search to explain causal
     relationships between variables.
2.   Concepts need to be operationalized in a
     way that enables facts to be measured
3.   Generalization.
4.1 Differing approaches to research

   Choosing a research approach
   Induction: building theory.

   It enables you to take a more informed decision about your
    research design.

   It will help you to think about those research approaches
    that will work for you and, crucially, those that will not.

   A knowledge of the different research traditions enables you
    to adapt your research design to cater for constraints.

Induction: building theory

                                                  Sir Francis
  What is the experience of working at            Bacon
  a particular firm?                              1561-1626

  We could interview employees in UNRWA
  to get a feel for the issues and then analyse the data,
  and eventually formulate a theory about job satisfaction.

  With induction – theory follows data.

Induction: building theory

                                                 Sir Francis
  Human beings interpret their world – they   haveBacon
  consciousness.                                 1561-1626

  • They are not unthinking research objects who respond
  like the coffee machine in the corridor to the stimulus
  of cash injections

  • Humans devise alternative explanations to the
  orthodox view – they have their own stories (narratives).

Induction: building theory

                                                  Sir Francis
  Context matters.                                Bacon
  • A small sample may be appropriate.

  • Qualitative methods acceptable.

  • More likely to find out ‘why’ X is happening rather than
  ‘what’ is happening.

4.1 Differing approaches to research

   Choosing a research approach.

   For major differences between
    deductive and inductive approaches
    to research, please see box 4.1 in
    page 89.

 Research strategies

The research process ‘onion’

                               Research strategies

4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

    List:

1.   Experiment
2.   Survey
3.   Case study
4.   Grounded theory
5.   Ethnography
6.   Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies
7.   Exploratory, descriptive and explanatory studies

4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

   Experiment:

   Definition of a theoretical hypothesis.
   Selection of samples of individuals from known
   Allocation of samples to different experimental
   Introduction of planned change on one or more of
    the variables.
   Measurement on a small number of the variables
   Control of other variables.

The experimental design


    Pre-test    Control       Post-test
    Pre-test   group          Post-test

    2.           3.            4.

          The experimental design: stages

1. Allocate subjects to groups using systematic
controls and randomization

2. Measure both groups on dependent variable

3. Introduce independent variable to experimental group

4. Measure both groups again on dependent variable

5.Compare both groups on dependent variable.         30
4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

   Survey:

   The survey strategy is usually associated with the deductive

   They allow the collection of a large amount of data from a sizeable
    population in a highly economical way.

   Using a survey strategy should give you more control over the
    research process.

   The data collected by the survey strategy may not be as wide-
    ranging as those collected by other research strategies.

   The questionnaire is not the only way to collect data.

Research questions appropriate for a

1. Behaviour.
2. Attitudes /Beliefs / Opinions.

3.   Characteristics.

4. Expectations.

5. Self-classification.

6. Knowledge.

                                       10 32
Main advantages of survey

• ability to collect large amounts of data;

• the relatively cheap cost at which these data
   may be collected;

• perceived as authoritative (trustworthy) by some;

4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

   Case study:

   A strategy for doing research which involves an
    empirical investigation of a particular
    contemporary phenomenon within its real life
    context using multiple sources of evidence.

   The data collection methods employed may be
    various. They may include questionnaires,
    interviews, observation, documentary analysis.

4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

   Grounded theory:

   Data collection starts without the formation
    of an initial theoretical framework. Theory
    is developed from data generated by a
    series of observations.

   These data lead to the generation of
    predictions that are then tested in further
    observations which may confirm.
4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

   Ethnography:

   It emanates from the field of anthropology.

   The purpose is to interpret the social world the
    research subjects inhabit in the way in which they
    interpret it.

   Although not a dominant research strategy in
    business, ethnography may be very appropriate.

4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

   Action research:

   The strengths of an action research strategy are a
    focus upon change, the recognition that time
    needs to be devoted to reconnaissance (fact
    finding and analysis), monitoring and evaluation
    and the involvement of employees throughout the

   The action research spiral

   See figure 4.2 in page 95.
                   Time horizons

The research process ‘onion’

                                   Time horizons
4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

   Time horizons:

   We should emphasize here that these time
    perspectives to research design are
    independent of which research strategy
    you are pursing.

4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

   Cross-sectional studies:

   It is probable that your research will be
    cross-sectional, the study of a particular
    phenomenon at a particular time.

   We recognize that most research projects
    undertaken for academic courses are
    necessarily time constrained.
4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

   Longitudinal studies:

   The main strength of longitudinal research is the
    capacity to study change and development.

   Even with time constraints it is possible to introduce a
    longitudinal element to your research.

Exploratory, descriptive and explanatory

  More strategies…….
                         or Analytical


Goals or Purposes of Research
4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

    Exploratory, descriptive and explanatory studies
    Exploratory:

    Exploratory Study: A valuable means of finding out “what is
     happening; to seek new insights; to ask questions and to
     assess phenomena in a new light”.

    Three principal ways
1.   A search of the literature
2.   Talking to experts in the subjects
3.   Conducting focus group interviews

4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

   Descriptive studies: It is necessary to have
    a clear picture of the phenomena on which
    you wish to collect data prior to the
    collection of the data.

   It portrays a person, situation, or a

4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

   Explanatory studies: The emphasis
    here is on studying a situation or a
    problem in order to explain the
    relationship between variables.

      Research Possibilities Grid
Research           Positivism Interpretivism      Critical Theory           Other
Nature of the   Quantitative    Qualitative       Mixed
data                                              Qual/Quants
Research        Deductive       Inductive
Research        Experiment      Survey            Case Study
Research        Explanatory +   Descriptive       Exploratory
Purposes        Predictive
Time Horizon    Cross Section   Longitudinal
Data            Secondary       Interviews        Questionnaires    Observations
Collection      Data
Some            Grounded        Action Research   Ethnography       Organizational
Research        Theory                                              ”
4.2 The need for a clear research strategy

    Practitioner-researcher
    Researching in your organization or working context.

    Advantages:
1.   Familiarity
2.   knowledge

    Disadvantages:
1.   Ignorance
2.   Status
3.   Time

4.3 Using multi-methods

   There are two major advantages to
    employing multi-methods in the
    same study.

   Different methods can be used for
    different purposes in a study.

   It enables triangulation to take place.
4.4 The credibility of research findings
    Reliability:
    The same results in other occasions, by other researchers, and in
     a transparent way of raw data collection.

           were your work to be replicated by another, would the
            same result be produced?

    Threats to reliability

1.   Participant error (Monday morning and Friday afternoon)
2.   Participant bias (Interviewees may see what they think their
     bosses want them to say)
3.   Observer error (Different approaches to elicit answers or replies)
4.   Observer bias (Different approaches to interpret answers or

4.4 The credibility of research findings
    Validity: Concerned with whether the findings are really about what they appear to be

             Did your approaches, methods and techniques relate to the issues you were
              exploring and the variables you attempted to measure?

    Threats to validity:
1.   History (Research about job satisfaction conducted shortly after an increase in
2.   Testing (Suppose your research included timing the number of sales entered by a
     person on the checkout of supermarket – If the operators felt that the results of the
     inquiry would damage them this could affect the findings.)

3.   Instrumentation (Suppose the operators were told to increase the sales and outcome
     between the times you tested the first and the second group of operators – this could
     affect the outcome.)

4.   Mortality (Participants dropping out of studies: change in the management style
     which affects the results)

5.   Maturation (Other events or factors happen during the time of the research: New
     manager being hired)

6.   Ambiguity about casual direction (A is causing B or B is causing A. Negative attitude
     to performance causes the poor performance ratings or the later causing the first. Or
     ill health and unemployment)                                                          50
4.4 The credibility of research findings
    Generalisability

    Logic leaps and false assumptions:

1.   Identification of the research population( If you make generalisability then
     make sure you are talking about similar populations. E.g. what mapply in
     Bank of Palestine may not apply to Alarabi Bank.)

2.   Data Collection (Be aware of possible political bias in certain newspaper or
     management bias and etc…)

3.   Data interpretation (Why you are using this theory rather than the other
     one which may be equally or more appropriate.)

4.   Development of conclusions (Do my conclusions stand up to the closest
     scrutiny of the members of the scientific/academic community.)

4.5 The ethics of research design

   Need to consider the extent to which you should
    collect data from a research population that is
    unaware of the fact they are the subject of research
    and so have not consented.

4.6 Summary

   Three main philosophical positions in relation to research:
    positivism, interpretivism and realism.

   Two main approaches to research are deductive &. inductive.

   The main research strategies are experiment, survey, case study,
    grounded theory, ethnography and action research.

   Research projects may be cross-sectional or longitudinal.

   Using multi-methods to research with different purposes served
    and that triangulation of results is facilitated.


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