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Business Research Methods

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Business Research Methods - BU2S01

2006/7 Academic Season

Assignment 1

Cut off date: Friday, 15th December 2006

You are required to evaluate the in terms of purposes, audiences and general strengths and weaknesses. The essay will account for 40% of the overall mark. Indicative word count: 1500 words.

Note that you will need to submit your coursework to the Business School reception by 12pm (noon).

"Research - an investigation involving the process of enquiry and discovery used to generate new ideas"

(Hall, Jones, Raffo, 1993, Business Studies, P. 204)

Research is vital in all business environments, and put into practice far more than most people presume.

Every modern day manager uses research with almost any decision he makes within the company (not just when planning to advertise, as many seem to believe). Even when a manager believes that they are acting out of some kind of instinct, or hunch, it will nearly always be based on some kind of prior experience. So all these decision are tracing back to some form of past research.

Although this does not mean that the term research is not over used and/or used in the wrong context. For example Walliman (2001) states that the term 'research' is used incorrectly on a regular basis. Examples he uses that highlight incorrect usage of the term include such situations as, 'collecting facts or information with no clear purpose' (Walliman believes, in order for data to be taken as part of research, it must be aimed towards an objective) and also, 'reassembling and reordering facts or information without interpretation'.

It is important to remember that research aids decision-making, and the results are in no way a decision themselves.

"In practice, most organisations have a continuous programme of research, often stretching back many years, which is designed not solely for advertising purposes, but also to help them run their businesses properly".

(Torin Douglas - 1984)

Types of Research:

The type of research that research that is being performed is most simply defined by the question it is answering. Business research (also called applied research) is best defined as trying "to solve specific, practical questions" (

This is most often performed by companies, when trying to solve a serious and truly important problem. For example, if the manager of a retail store were having problems with the staff attitudes, they would pften take it upon themselves, using their prior experience to solve the problem. But if the manager were worried that they are not reaching goals, and are not performing well next to competitors. They will need to perform a form of deep analysis/research that is tailored to meet the objectives of the question. In this example, it would not be uncommon for an external, professional researcher to be brought in to perform the task. (Although it is important to remember that although this may happen, it does not mean that only primary data is being used. It is very likely that there will be some useful secondary data available to help with the research). This is a perfect example of business research. Of course by knowing the question you want answered, and following it in a systematic sense, it is far easier to choose the best method of research

in order to gain the results you wish for. In this form of research, it is likely that the company will have theory's on variables, that they will be hoping to find out to be either true or false.

From the example above, you should be able to see how business research is an objective, systematic, goal specific form of research. And from this example, it is clear to understand why it is most commonly found in use within a business environment. As it is this research, that often gives management the information they need to run the organisation to its full potential.

The other main form of research is that of academic research (also called fundimental, pure or basic research). Academic research can often have no plan for practical gain, it is often a form of research carried out by a person that has some form of vague knowledge in the other, or some level of interest. It can often be assumed to be a less detailed form of research than business research, but this is not the case, its is simply less answer driven. And can often finish with no clear answer to the question. In this form of research, you are much more likely to find hypothesis waiting to be tested, rather than theories believed to be true/false.

Simply put, business research is used to answer a question, academic research is used to acquire

a body of knowledge. From this definition, it is easy to understand why many pieces of academic research can lead into further business research

. For this reason, the space between these dichotomies is not always a clear one. There can often be a grey area found between. An example of when research could fall into the grey area could be if a business were to conduct continuous research. Companies often use continuous

research on a market, that has been developed specifically to better understand and to overcome market problems as they occur. Now is this academic research? As it is being peformed with no clear objective in mind. Or is it business research? As it is used to answer the companies questions specifically, when they arise. In this circumstance it is often the researchers responsibility to tailor and arrange their findings to coordinate with their needs. It is in this instant that the researcher will be presenting that he has followed through business research or academic research. A clear way to differenciate between the two forms at this stage is simply to ask how the researcher is presenting



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