Business research involves collecting the needed data for an organization to be progressive. Organizations apply suitable forms of market research to evaluate the state of their well-being. The analysis may involve product research and market situation. Business research is fundamental in helping managers to make key decisions. According to Cooper and Schindler (2011), business research is shaped by the activities going on in the actual world of business. This paper aims at equipping readers with an appreciation of how business research is done and what the entire process entails.
For a long time, business organizations have developed the tradition of researching the invention of technology, which heightened the state of business competition. Both emerging and existing organizations rely on business research in different fields including innovation, customer behavior, globalization, and business sustainability among others. With time, both the tools and processes required in business research have evolved leading to highly sophisticated and reliable methodologies towards appropriate managerial decision-making. The background of any research work entails an overview of what has been done in the field.
A problem does not necessarily mean that the present situation is misunderstood. On the contrary, it indicates an underlying need to close the existing gaps. In business organizations, these gaps exist between the actual and the preferred ideal state. The essence of identifying the problem is to come up with elaborate research objectives. The problem in business research entails identifying better data collection processes and tools, which are required to minimize risk in a key decision-making process. The main influences on business research include ontological, epistemological, practical considerations, theory, and values.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of business research varies according to the current needs and goals of an organization. Since the purpose of any business is to stay relevant and survive in the market, it can be concluded that the main purpose of business research is to gain information and ensure competitive advantage. Apart from the information that managers have about decision-making, business research is needed to support and improve the managers’ business intelligence. For instance, businesses adopt research to mark differences from their competitors in many perspectives. It might offer critical information about consumer purchasing habits or data to new businesses seeking ideas on how to begin and sustain operations. If the business research aims at answering the questions, who, what, where, when, and how, then the research is descriptive. A descriptive study on the consumers’ purchasing trends would measure how often, when products are bought, and by whom. If the research entails learning why something happens, then the research is causal explanatory in the sense that researchers seek to explore connections between variables (Krishnaswamy & Satyaprasad, 2010).
Significance of the problem
Business research is inevitable for any organization seeking to stay relevant. Therefore, the magnitude of the current problem facing a business identity determines the type of research methodology to be used in gathering data. Researchers need to be strategic in choosing the methodology to direct them to deliver concrete and call-to-action insights (Davis, Golicic & Boerstler, 2011). For instance, a firm may be experiencing challenges in attracting customers. In this case, decision-makers may have to adopt the qualitative research method since it is a good approach to engaging consumers directly in a bid to learn their attitudes about certain products. Problems with the customers’ satisfaction are significant issues for any business, thus primary research surveys to measure customer satisfaction and ensure that the customer demands are being attended to with the current services and goods.
Theory in business is utilized in various ways, but mostly it provides the meaning of the observed phenomenon or explains a certain scenario; for instance, why women in leadership are paid lower salaries as compared to men serving in similar positions. One of the supporting theories is the grounded theory. This theory relates to qualitative inquiry since it explains preexisting social behaviors. This theory involves the people and the issues intended to be solved in the business. The second is the incentive theory or the motivation theory. Strong and clear objectives should back any business research. Successful communication between the researcher and the participants requires the participants to be provided with information to understand their role and feel motivated to execute their duties. The researcher has to establish motivation by creating rapport.
Business research, like any other research task, is a sequential process incorporating various articulated steps. Nonetheless, research might not necessarily go through the defined steps sequentially since some may omit, circumvent, or recycle. Despite these variations, the essence of the sequence is significant for the development of a study and maintaining the study in order as it matures. The process may involve the identification of the research problem, followed by the process of proposing research, formulating the research design, data gathering and preparation, data analysis and interpretation, and finally reporting the results. During the analysis of the way forward, the researcher employs his/her understanding of basic theoretical concepts to help the managers in coming up with a research question that suits the current problem. At this point, the objective of the business research study is identified and then examined for viability towards solving the problems. The study might include more than one question. Failing to identify the research question clearly may be detrimental since it might lead to weak or unreliable findings (Kriauciunas, Parmigiani & Rivera-Santos, 2011). In the process of finding a remedy, time and money are wasted yet an alternative may not be attainable.
In a case where researchers lack a definite idea of the problems to tackle during the study, an explorative study is helpful. Through exploration, researchers are in a position to come up with clear concepts and ideas, identify priorities, and establish a reliable research design. Exploration may also close gaps that might have existed in the research process, for example, if the research problem is not significant as initially thought. Therefore, some aspects might be omitted, thus saving money and time. In addition, most business researches particularly related to the evolution of technology may be so new that a researcher is compelled to conduct preliminary explorations to grasp an idea of the problem encountering the manager. Irrespective of its evident value, researchers, as well as managers, fail to grant exploration the significance it deserves. They tend to justify this aspect by arguing that there is always pressure to give quick answers for organizations to stop doing catch-up business. Fundamentally, exploration saves time and money, and thus it should not be considered.
Qualitative techniques are best to employ when implementing the objectives of exploration. Even though quantitative methods may be applicable, at the exploration stage, quality is a key character to give the actual nature of a thing or situation. For a management researcher, when a qualitative technique is adapted, various models are viable for exploratory investigations. They include secondary data analysis, experience surveys, and focus groups. Secondary, the literature provides knowledge gathered by others, and it is useful because it sheds light on the challenges and opportunities faced upon following or not following a certain process. They offer previous patterns of decisions made in various cases within or outside an organization. Referring to the archives is helpful because at times a researcher may come across similar researches and adapt them to avoid duplication, thus saving time and money. Previous literature may offer useful leads, but researchers must not confine themselves to previous literature since at times it might be outdated, thus omitting the best information.
Experience surveys are necessary because some of the documented information does not capture experiences that happen after the study is published. Therefore, it is essential to interview people to hear their ideas about critical aspects of the study. For instance, surveys help in learning the aspects that have changed, the causes of a change, and the priority areas. Focus groups entail bringing together 6-10 respondents to help brainstorm ideas and observations regarding a certain topic (Lacono, Brown & Holtham, 2009). For instance, a researcher may facilitate a focus group of customers to uncover what has resulted in dissatisfaction with certain products. In addition, a healthcare firm can use focus groups with its staff to discover their preferences on improving patient-caregiver relations.
Proposed research methodology
In business research, several research methodologies are available and viable in different measures. Managers conduct business research to gain a clear understanding of how and why things happen whilst keeping in mind that they should stay focused and competitive. In a case where the manager seeks to understand why or how many times changes occurred, quantitative research methodology is the best option. However, to measure and understand the many meanings that customers attach to their daily experiences about a product or service requires study techniques that dig deep into the customer’s internal perceptions, understandings, and morale. Qualitative research methodology offers such answers in a precise way. In this respect, qualitative research incorporates an array of approaches that seek to describe, translate, and establish the meaning rather than the frequency. With this in-depth meaning of situations, managers can understand different issues like why certain adverts move customers and end up purchasing a particular product while other adverts invite criticism and boycott of the products. With the technology easing the gathering of data via social media, marketing research online, and other groups, the utilization of qualitative research in the business world is expected to become widespread.
The rationale for using qualitative research methodology is that it offers a wider range of advantages when compared to other techniques. First, qualitative is adequate when used alone to address various organizational concerns and it can be used alongside other methodologies like quantitative methods. This flexibility gives the researcher surety when choosing a qualitative approach since it is open to combining with other methods when it cannot tackle situations that arise in the course of the research (Kasapoglu, 2008). In addition, the ability to use more than one method simultaneously or sequentially leads to strong results. Second, it can develop a deeper understanding due to the projective techniques used to probe and motivate the respondents to reveal hidden opinions and experiences about products. Third, qualitative business research is not only necessary but also unavoidable in planning and decision-making because they describe the process (how) and give the meaning (why). Such details are useful in advertising, product innovation plan, understanding brand value, pricing, market share, and trends in consumer decision-making. The fact that qualitative methodology can evolve or adjust during the study is essential because many changes occur in the business world during the lifespan of the research, thus resulting in more updated findings.
Qualitative methodology gathers data for smaller sizes, thus making the process quick and affordable. Due to the manageable sample size, it is easy to develop insights as the research unfolds, hence easing data analysis. Although speed should not be the basic variable for selecting a research methodology, qualitative data is helpful when it comes to a less encompassing decision that requires a quick response. In business, it is all about who acts swiftly, and in this light, a multi-billion project might lose its footing if the competitor responds too fast to changes in the market. In terms of data security, qualitative stands out as the most reliable because most research designs used like focus groups, interviews, and surveys are conducted in secure settings. In contrast, when quantitative research is underway, it easily becomes commonly known to competitors. Even though the data might be beyond reach, the focus of inquiry can be established. For instance, while researching customer purchasing behavior using an experimental quantitative design, a competitor can observe and gather insights as the study unfolds (Davis et al., 2011).
Nonetheless, qualitative research has its limitations, but that does not mean other techniques are superior in business research. First, it is limited in scope, and thus data collection covers small representative samples that may not be adequate to represent customers’ experience in the entire market. Such findings can end up misleading the sponsor of the research. If several qualitative studies are conducted in the market to enlarge representation, then the cost and time may be very high. In such a case, combining both qualitative and quantitative techniques is more desirable for large sample sizes. The researcher in qualitative research is highly involved in the process, and thus the study might be vulnerable to bias, as opposed to a quantitative methodology where the researcher has limited influence, which minimizes bias. Pre-tasking or rather an exploration is common in increasing the chances of bias and overlying of previous findings, which in most cases might be updated, thus alleviating the opportunity to gather the best data (Eriksson & Kovalainen, 2008). In addition, consistency is lost since this technique often employs several methods simultaneously or sequentially.
Qualitative research might be influenced by the values of the researcher. Values entail personal feelings or convictions about the study. Such biases can be reflected in the part of the process if not all, beginning with the choice of the research area to findings and conclusions. Even though it is hard to develop value-free research, it is necessary to ensure that personal experiences are avoided as much as possible to avoid unreliability (Hitchcock, Nastasi & Summerville, 2010).
Justification for the choice of methodology
Most other methodologies are less reliable and inconvenient for business research. For example, quantitative methodology, albeit reliable, is highly tasking and costly, hence undesirable for low-risk business research. Managers prefer a process that generates quick results at a minimal cost. Furthermore, surveys conducted via telephone interviews are likely to be misrepresented due to nonresponse and the possibility of terminating the interviews before maturity. Less participant involvement and ease of interview withdrawal are common, particularly for telephone interviews. Participant observation is another way of collecting business research and it offers relatively reliable information. This research design may be applicable in qualitative methodology alongside other designs. However, when used independently, observation is limited by the challenge of waiting for a long period to capture the issue under investigation. The judgment might be wrong since it relies on surface indicators as well as the challenge of quantification of huge records. Business research should not be restricted to a particular methodology or approach. On the contrary, it should remain flexible to options provided they meet the criterion for solving the problem under investigation, whilst keeping in mind that qualitative techniques are readily suitable for a wide array of issues.
Recommendations for future research
Deciding the data collection procedure is the key determinant of the expected kind of findings in any business research. In a bid to ensure that managers have the right information to stay competitive, they should ensure that the process in one way or the other incorporates qualitative techniques. This assertion holds because the data collection plan specifies the details of the study in the essence that it has to answer the questions when, what, who, where, and how. For instance, in a bid to establish who qualifies to participate in the research to determine customer attitude towards a brand will be best known if a qualitative analysis is done. It should be noted that, in business research, qualitative methodology closes the gaps and weaknesses in quantitative methodologies (Lacono et al., 2009). In this respect, a combination of the two can be applied when more clarification is needed. In business research, such a combination can assume four strategies. First, both methodologies can be applied concurrently. Second, qualitative research can be underway, whilst introducing quantitative studies at different times to measure changes in attitudes as the study unfolds. Third, qualitative research can be followed by a quantitative study, and maybe a qualitative analysis may close the process if the clarity is needed. Lastly, a quantitative study can be initiated first followed by a qualitative study. However, whichever strategy is assumed, it should show the ability to deal with the current business problem adequately by first doing exploration to determine the best.
Business research has served as a necessity in the world of business, and this aspect has compelled managers to explore a wide array of methodologies toward finding substantial solutions to their problems. In this study, it has been shown that qualitative methodologies applied in organizational decision-making are facilitated through in-depth interviews, participant observation, as well as exploration. The credibility of a qualitative study is advanced by the fact that it applies skills designed to motivate the respondents to reveal deeply rooted experiences that are easily overlooked by other methods. Since managers research to capture new insights to guide them in the decision-making process of complex scenarios, qualitative research can provide solutions within a short time at reasonable costs. As a rule in a qualitative study, probing should be extended until no new insights are available and this goal is often achieved if several different studies are conducted on a similar topic. Ultimately, after a close look at all the available methodologies, qualitative stands out as the best technique for business research.
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