Week Task 1

Reply to each of the following post in 100 words or
more.Research posted by Rosie Cordova , Apr 10, 2018, 5:15 AM The concept of research may evoke in us thoughts of university scholars conducting their studies unaware of the actual business world. The reality is that research is a tool that must be used by business and human resource practitioners. Research utilization in human resources is limited, in part, by time limitations. HR practitioners need to solve problems using research and a systematic approach of analysis. Examples of how research could improve choices and decisions are research regarding structured interviews, goal-setting for employees, and intelligence testing (Grossman, 2009).Grossman, R. (2009). Closing the gap between research and practice. HR Magazine, 54(11), 31-37. Secondary Data posted by Rosie Cordova , Apr 10, 2018, 5:16 AM Once the decision of conducting a study is done and the research problem is clear, secondary data offer supportive documentation to reveal information already discovered through prior research and documentation to support the need for solving that specific research problem (Ghaurik & Gronhaug, 2005). By following the same steps for formal research and adopting them to meet our needs, HR managers can conduct professional research catered to the needs of the organization.Ghaurik, P. & Gronhaug, K. (2005). Research Methods in business studies: A practical guide (3rd ed.). Harlow, England: Financial Times Prentice Hall.
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CHAPTER 2 Research in business studies
The purpose of this chapter is to explain what we mean by research in business
studies and to discuss differences between systematic research and common sense
or practical problem solving. Different research orientations are also discussed to
illustrate the influence of researchers’ backgrounds and basic beliefs surrounding
the research methods and processes. We believe that research papers or theses at
the Master’s level, when successfully completed, should demonstrate that the
candidate can systematically handle and analyse a problem, arriving at valid
conclusions. In other words, it is a professional training process through which we
can learn to think and work systematically. The advantage of systematic thinking is
that it contributes to accuracy and a more orderly approach and is reliable in
handling research as well as business problems.
Example
A business firm experiences declining sales and – of course – managers and
employees feel frustrated. Through systematic observations and thinking it
becomes clear that the declining sales are caused by a newly introduced substitute.
This results in a systematic effort to develop and introduce a new and improved
product offering.
The increasingly complex nature of business operations and decision making
demands a systematic and thoughtful approach. The importance of research in
business studies, in schools, and in businesses has therefore increased. Practical
problem solving and decision making are (or at least should be) becoming more
and more similar to research. Business and marketing research are common
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activities in medium-sized and larger companies. And most of the decision making
in these companies is based on research. For example, whether a company is
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launching a new product or trying to enter a new market, it has first to undertake
some research to decide which segment to target, whether there will be some
demand for its product (sales forecast) and how to develop a marketing plan for the
new product or new market. All this requires research that has to be undertaken
by the company itself or by a marketing research company that sells its services.
2.1 Why we do research
The basic purpose of research in education is to teach students to work
systematically and for them to learn critically to analyse issues/matters before
believing in them or acting upon them. However, research is essential for
understanding even basic everyday phenomena that need to be handled by
individuals and organizations. If we want to buy a car, we do some research,
finding out which car satisfies our needs/criteria and where it is available; we
compare prices at different dealers, or among different cars that fit into our
criteria, and so on. In the same manner a company has to do research while
making important decisions, whether it is to reorganise its structure or to merge or
take over another company. Businesses are these days doing systematic research to
handle their day-to-day activities (Sekaran, 1992).
Businesses are beginning to develop a strategic monitoring program to identify
and understand competitors’ strengths, weaknesses and overall business
strategies. Any firm can establish a competitor-analysis system that provides
management with essential information about a wide range of strategies that
rivals are likely to pursue. The key is knowing where to gather relevant
information and how to combine separate pieces of data into a coherent profile
of each competing operation.
(Svatko, 1989: 59)
We really cannot take decisions on important issues unless we investigate
(research) more deeply the relevant information, gathering more information on
the particular aspect we are interested in. Then we analyse all this information to
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make a judgement about the right solution to our problem or answer to our
questions. In business studies we normally work with problems faced by managers
and companies. For example: How to enter a particular market? What are the
factors that influence performance in joint venture relationships? What are the
factors that influence the successful launch of a new product? Is advertising
necessary, or how much advertising is necessary to market a certain product?
Would acquiring a particular company fulfil our strategic objectives? And so on.
Without research we cannot answer the above or similar questions. As well as
learning systematic information collection and critical analysis, we need to learn
how things work, through research done by others, and then perhaps use that
knowledge to see whether it is applicable to our problems/situations. Sometimes
we need to make/suggest changes to apply them to our own problems. When this
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process has been done by several researchers, the ideas/theories are tested. Once
theories are properly tested we can even predict the future. We can say with
confidence that in this type of situation/problem, this should be the
solution/answer. The research, therefore, makes our life easier, not only in
business but in general. The research can thus be considered as a process of
problem solving for a specific problem under specific conditions (Kuhn, 1970).
Example
Through systematic research it was found that serious stomach and digestion
problems were caused by the salmonella bacteria. Research also showed that the
salmonella bacteria did not survive at a temperature of 80°C or higher, resulting in
the practice of heating food to that temperature when suspecting the bacteria.
2.2 Research versus common sense
There is a common belief that research is an academic activity undertaken by
researchers who are not at all familiar with managerial culture and the nature of
problems faced by business managers. At the same time, several studies have
revealed that managers do not know how to use research findings and therefore
cannot utilize the results and conclusions of research (Whitley, 1984; Gill and
Johnson, 1991). In our opinion, research in business studies and managerial
problem solving are not much different from each other. Managers need to have
some knowledge and evaluation capabilities to understand the consequences of
their decisions. In other words, managerial decision making or problem solving, if
done systematically, should lead to better decisions and results than those
decisions made exclusively through intuition or personal likes and dislikes.
Managers must have the capability to analyse their situations and to use
investigative approaches to decision making and problem solving. The systematic
procedures and approaches of advancing knowledge, suggested by the research
process, also serve as a disciplined and systematic procedure for managerial
problem solving.
Example
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In business life firms and their managers experience negative surprises, for
example that customers become dissatisfied and frustrated. An ability to obtain
systematic insights into what causes dissatisfaction and frustration is crucial to
solve the problem and improve.
As a first step, actors in both management and research activities need to decide
what they want to achieve. This is followed by collecting relevant information and
facts that can help in achieving the first objective. The information collected needs
to be analysed and put into a structure that helps to achieve a purpose or initiate
different actions. This process, deciding what to do, collecting
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information, discarding irrelevant information, analysing the relevant information
and arriving at a conclusion/decision in a systematic procedure, is useful for the
cumulative knowledge as well as the personal development of the researcher and
manager alike (Revans, 1971; Gill and Johnson, 2002). Although some scholars
differentiate between academic research and research done by companies, for
practical problem solving, we believe in ‘trans-disciplinarity’ in research, where
boundaries of a single contributing discipline can be crossed. The production of
knowledge is thus not restricted to academic research. It involves academics, policy
makers and managers, and useful knowledge is developed and exploited more
quickly than if a different type of knowledge was developed by different parties
(Gibbons et al., 1994; Tranfield and Starkey, 1998; Bryman and Bell, 2003).
The purposes of doing research are manifold, such as to describe, explain,
understand, foresee, criticize and/or analyse already existing knowledge or
phenomena in social sciences. The job of a researcher is often that of an observer,
and each observation is prone to error; therefore we go out and research to find a
better ‘truth’ or answers to our questions.
Box 2.1 Why do firms (organizations) exist?
It is costly to perform transactions. In a classic article, ‘The nature of the firm’, R.H.
Coase raised the ‘obvious’ question: Why do firms exist? Coase was trained as a
neo-classical economist. In neo-classical economics firms do not exist in highly
competitive markets. Rather, transactions are mediated through markets. Coase
explained the existence of firms as due to ‘frictions’ – or transaction costs. This
insight is useful to understand why firms in some cases use the market to perform
transactions, whereas in other cases they (transactions) are conducted internally.
If the role of a researcher is that of an observer, then what is the difference
between an observer who can draw conclusions with common sense and a
researcher? The difference is that observations made by the researcher should be
systematic, arguable and challengeable. The researcher explains to us how he or
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she collects information, argues for the results obtained and explains their
limitations. In an ideal situation, if anybody else had made observations using the
same methods they would come up with more or less the same results. The role of
the researcher thus becomes very important. When we look and observe, we see
differently depending upon our background and what we know and expect. Two
different people observing the same object may see two different things. It is thus
very important to discuss the object and the observer and biases. For this reason
the observer has to explain and convince the reader of the purpose and methods of
observation.
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Example
Research findings show that employees tend to see problems and solutions from
their position and tasks they are involved in. For example, a marketing person
tends to see marketing problems, a person involved in production sees most
problems as production problems. The main reason is that individual actors are
constrained by their limited cognitive capacity, that is limited capacity to notice,
make sense of, store, retrieve and make use of information (data).
The usefulness of research is often discussed, especially when it comes to things
that seem self-explanatory and common sense. But the very same common sense
and self-explanatory objects/beliefs have proven to be wrong through research.
Common sense and beliefs, influenced by society and culture, provide us with a
non-conscious ideology, and we believe in things without being aware of the
reality. As Bem (1979: 89) said, ‘Only a very unparochial and intellectual fish is
aware that his environment is wet.’ This is further illustrated by the following:
A man and his son are involved in an automobile accident. The man is killed
and the boy, seriously injured, is rushed to the hospital for surgery. The
surgeon takes one look at him and says, ‘I am sorry, but I cannot operate on
this boy. He is my son.’
(Selltiz et al., 1976: 4)
Whenever we tell this story to our students many of them do not understand the
catch. We unconsciously believe that a surgeon is always a man and therefore do
not even consider the thought that the surgeon can be the mother of that boy.
Scientific research often challenges these non-conscious ideologies and beliefs by
scrutinizing them. Challenging old beliefs, turning things upside down and creating
new beliefs is not always comfortable. For example, in a number of somewhat
conservative states, it is not allowed to include Darwin’s evolution theory in the
school curriculum, as it challenges the belief promoted by religion about the
creation of mankind. Research corrects our misbeliefs, generates new concepts and
broadens our perspectives and perceptions. This is particularly true because
research does all that which is often beyond common sense – while common sense
considers most things as given. The fundamental difference here is, as mentioned
earlier, that research involves systematic methods. The conclusions drawn from
research lead to new theories and beliefs. The purpose, however, and we hope
everybody can agree, is to improve social life. In business research, the purpose is
to understand how and why things happen. The research corrects our misbeliefs
and provides new perspectives. At times it can be uncomfortable, as illustrated by
the following example:
A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public
lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and
how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called
a galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got
up and said, ‘What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate
supported on the
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back of a giant tortoise.’ The scientist gave a superior smile before replying,
and asked ‘What is the tortoise standing on?’ ‘You are very clever, young man,
very clever,’ said the lady, ‘But it’s turtles all the way down.’
(Hawkins, 1988: 1)
The above discussion makes it clear that the difference between a scientific
observation and a layperson’s observation is that scientific research is done
systematically and is based on logic and not beliefs: therefore, we stress a logical
relationship between cause and effect. Most students in business studies get
confused by the terminology used in books on traditional research methods.
Although the language and the scientific approach is somewhat different from
common sense, it is not strange or difficult to comprehend. In fact, quite the
contrary, as, when understood, it seems logical and natural. As Whitehead (1911:
10) stated, common sense is not the right start for research: ‘Its sole criterion for
judgement is that the new ideas shall look like the old ones.’ It therefore prepares
us for new realities.
According to one idea, science is a systematic and controlled extension of common
sense, as common sense is a series of concepts and conceptual schemes satisfactory
for the practical uses of mankind (Conant, 1951: 32–3). Others believe that these
concepts and conceptual schemes can be misleading in modern times. For example,
it was self-evident common sense for many in the last century to use punishment
as a basic tool of pedagogy. It has however been proved that this old view of
‘common sense’ may be quite wrong as rewards seem more effective in aiding
learning (Kerlinger, 1964: 4). According to this belief, science and common sense
differ in several ways (ibid.):
1. The first difference is that laypersons use ‘concepts’ and ‘theories’ loosely. They
often accept explanations that fit easily with their beliefs and values, for
example that illness is due to sinfulness. Scientists, on the other hand,
systematically build up theories and test them for internal as well as external
consistency. Moreover, they believe that the concepts they are using are
human-made terms that may or may not exhibit a close relation to reality.
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2. Laypersons often select theories and test hypotheses, but their evidence comes
from their own hypotheses. They believe in their evidence as it fits their
assumptions. Scientists, on the other hand, test their assumptions and
hypotheses systematically and tend to be more careful in their selection.
3. Laypersons do not bother to control their explanations of observed
phenomena. They do not try to control external influences, and they accept
those assumptions that are consistent with their preconceived biases. They do
not try to relate different phenomena. Scientists, on the other hand, are
constantly looking for relations among different phenomena. They
systematically try to study and control these relations.
4. Finally, laypersons often believe in ‘metaphysical explanations’, such as ‘some
people are poor because God wants them to be poor’. Scientists, on the other
hand, do not accept metaphysical explanations. They are concerned with
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things that can be observed and studied. In other words, research is concerned
with studying things that can be observed and tested. If things can be tested,
they can be falsified. For example, a person may believe that drinking coffee in
the night keeps one awake. This assumption (assertion) can be tested.
Assuming that people tend to be equally awake whether they drink coffee
during the night or not, the stated belief is wrong (cf. section 11.1).
2.3 Different research orientations
The research process and the research method used are influenced by the
researcher’s background when it comes to research orientation. A particular
research orientation prescribes the relationship between methods, data, theories
and values of the researcher. Social knowledge builds one upon another. Scientific
observations provide new theories, correcting, modifying, extending, clarifying the
older and existing ones. Most methodology books describe ‘originality’ or ‘original
contribution to knowledge’ as a basic condition for a scientific study. Although the
demand for originality is perhaps the most controversial, its importance and
meaning should not be misunderstood. Students normally believe that topics used
by others in their theses should not be studied, because by doing so they would lose
originality. We believe ‘originality’ describes studies that create a new dimension
to already existing knowledge. It implies that there is some novel twist, fresh
perspective, new hypothesis or assumption or new and innovative methods of
handling an existing topic/knowledge that makes the study a distinctive
contribution. In business studies, it is equally possible or perhaps more useful to
direct research projects towards more sharply delineated tasks.
The researchers do not preach or ask whether the social activity observed is good
or bad; they just analyse, present and explain it. …
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