Research methods are very important in any form of research work since they form the basis for which a researcher collects, analyzes, as well as displays data after carrying out a given study. As such, research methods are a necessity when conducting research. However, the types of research methods that one adopts ought to be guided by the research questions and research hypothesis adopted before the start of the actual study. This is important since different research hypotheses and questions require the use of particular research methods for the research to effectively meet its goals and objectives. For this reason, the case study of the Swire Oil and Gas Company serves as presents a typical example of a research study whereby it is important to adopt the right research methods that are in line with the particular research questions and hypothesis. In the study, the primary focus of the research was to establish whether the adoption of the employee development program was having any positive effects as far as the performance of the employees was concerned. As such, the research aimed at assessing the effectiveness of the development program in enhancing employee performance and their subsequent retention within the organization. Tharenou, Donohue, and Copper (2007) point out that formulation of the path that is to be followed throughout the study is an important step during research work. In addition, the instruments to be used during the research are equally important. This paper critically reviews the literature on management research especially on employment development programs and analyzes research methods that are suitable for any research study in management.
Research questions are important aspects of a research study since they help in guiding the research towards achieving the research goals and objectives. This study was based on the following research questions:
- Which are the core skills that have been acquired after the implementation of the employee management development program?
- What is the impact of the acquired skills on the management retention rate and performance?
Hypothesis and variables
The formulation of the research hypothesis is a step that follows the identification of the research questions. The process should be guided by the identified research questions (Hutchison, 2009). The hypothesis refers to a statement outlining the expectations of research. However, to formulate the hypothesis, a lot of consideration was put. As such, for this study, it was important to consider several factors during the hypothesis formulation process. According to Creswell (2013), it is important to identify the variables under study, as well as how the variables relate with each other.
The study was based on two hypotheses: null and alternative. The null hypothesis for the study states that there is no significant relationship between employee development programs and retention rate and performance. On the other hand, the alternative hypothesis for the study states that there is a significant relationship between employee development programs and retention rate and performance.
Creswell (2013) points out that workable research questions are significant in any research study. However, the formulation of the research questions and the hypotheses should put the research aims and objectives into consideration, since it is expected that they help in addressing a given issue relevant to the study. For this reason, a consideration of the research respondents is important because it helps in designing the research questions. Thus, the researcher ought to ensure that there is no complexity or ambiguity in the research question formulation. As well, the researcher should make sure that the research questions formulated are easy to understand to enable the respondents and any other concerned participants to give the right answers during the study. In addition, the formulated research questions should be specific; pointing to a given issue concerning the research. Flick (2009) points out that such specification ensures easy compilation of data, as well as the subsequent data analysis and presentation.
Gatignon (2000) asserts that methods of data collection and presentation are significant in any research. For this reason, the researcher must ensure that the right collection methods are chosen, as well as develop certain instruments to be used in addressing the research questions adopted. According to Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson (2012), the methods of data collection that a given study adopts should be guided by the research questions for the study, as well as the type of responses that are expected from the research participants. This is because a given study may adopt the structured or unstructured type of questions. This explains why choosing the right method of data collection is important. For example, Creswell (2013) asserts that such types of data collection methods such as questionnaires are best suited for the collection of data whereby the given study uses structured research questions. The reason for the use of questionnaires for research using structured research questions is that the questionnaires can be e-mailed to the concerned participants and are suitable since the only requirement on the side of the respondents is to mark the choices that are best suited for the given issue under study. In addition, qualitative data requires the use of unstructured research questions. As such, the use of unstructured research questions, as pointed out by Flick (2009) allows the researcher to be present in the field to collect the required data. The advantage of data collection methods that adopts unstructured questions is that they enable the researcher to get non-verbal cues that the respondents might use in the process of collecting the required data.
From the foregoing, it is evident that data collection methods, research questions, and research hypotheses are significant for any study. As such, the research must consider the issue under study, respondents, as well as the research questions for effective data collection and presentation. For this study, the research questions adopted were unstructured. The rationale behind the choice of the unstructured research questions was that the research aimed at collecting qualitative data, with the involvement of non-numerical data.
Approaches to researching the workplace-based problem
The issue under study is the problem of low rate of employee retention and the cases of low performance on the side of employees. In an organization, the problem can be identified by analyzing the amount of output from the employees. If the output is low, then there is a need for examination of the issue behind the low output among employees. However, to address the work-place based problem, it is important to consider establishing the population under study, the sample size, sample frame, as well as the methods to use. Where necessary, the research can reformulate the research question to fit into a quantitative study. To do this, the researcher may need to adjust the question from an unstructured form to a structured format. This means that the question will be quantified to ensure that the response can be computed for statistical analysis. To have a research question that can be addressed using quantitative-oriented research methodologies, Hutchison (2009) say that one must structure the question to ensure the responses can be given a numerical value
Considering that the right data is required for this study, it will be necessary to carry a sample of the collected data. This is because different types of employees will take part in the study. For example, the respondents include the top managers, mid-managers, and junior employees. The three strata have numerous employees that cannot be surveyed as a whole. This makes it necessary to have a sample (Hutchison, 2009). As such, the random sampling technique will be used to ensure that all groups have a chance of being represented in the study. The sample will be defined in the three categories mentioned above. The major element of the sampling frame will be the managerial position of the respondents. The reason behind this is that sometimes the views of the managers may differ from that of the employees. The managers may want to hide the truth about some factors as a way of protecting the image of the firm. If necessary, demographical factors such as the age of the respondents, gender, race, religion, and level of education may form other important elements, especially in cases where it is believed that they may influence the response of the participants.
During data analysis, it will be suitable to adopt analytical techniques that will help the researcher to achieve the goals and objectives of the study. For this reason, considering that the research aims at collecting qualitative data, an example of a suitable analytical technique is regression analysis. When compared to other techniques such as the ANOVA, regression analysis is best suited for analyzing such types of data in that it ensures data accuracy and precision. However, after the data is collected, there is a need for it to be represented in ways that people can best understand. There are several data displays methods that any research can use. For this reason, it is important to consider a communicative display. As such, in this study, the use of charts and bar graphs would be suitable considering the type of data to be collected. Charts and bar graphs are preferred as opposed to other types of data representation in that they display the information presented well. In addition, the information presented in the form of charts and bar graphs is easy to understand. As such, any reader can understand as well as explain data presented in form of charts and graphs.
Creswell, J. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches. London: Sage Publishers. Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R. & Jackson, P. (2012). Management research. London. Sage Publishers.
Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Los Angeles: Sage Publications
Gatignon, H. (2000). Statistical analysis of management data. New York: Springer.
Hutchison, D. (2009). Designing your sample anciently: clustering effects in education survey. Educational Research, 51(1), 109-126.
Tharenou, P., Donohue, R., & Cooper, B. (2007). Management research methods. New York: Cambridge University Press.