introduction - applied research methods- WEEK 1 (3)(3)

Applied Business Research Methods ULMS515


Module Information
? 15 credit module ? Semester 1, Weeks 1-6 ? Lecture and seminar (group allocation is fixed) ? Mandatory for MSc Management, MSc HRM, MSc

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Consumer Marketing, MSc International Business, MSc Entrepreneurship Handbook for information Assignment – writing a research proposal Core reading – Business Research methods – Blumberg, B. Module Leader – Dr. Dilani Jayawarna,, Rm FE7, Chatham Building

Lecture Week 1 Introduction to the module and the module assignment. The nature of academic and applied research, the research process, finding a suitable research area, framing a question. Types of data and data collection strategies – qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods: the difference and the choice Quantitative Research: population and sampling; sampling and sampling related errors; questionnaire surveys: types of questions, unit of measurements; introduction to data analysis; quantitative data analysis techniques; data presentation Quantitative Research: data analysis and interpretation: graphical presentation, descriptive statistics, chi-squares, correlation, simple regression Use of secondary data: advantages and disadvantages, data sources and accessing secondary data Qualitative Research: designing qualitative research; generating qualitative data Writing up and presenting quantitative/qualitative data. Mixed methods in research. Summing-up: developing a research proposal, ethical issues in research Seminar Available information sources at the University of Liverpool, conducting a literature review and Database search Database search, critiquing methodological approaches in academic articles Questionnaire design and data coding workshop

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Quantitative data analysis workshop

Week 5 Week 6

Planning a qualitative study, qualitative data collection and analysis Assessment briefing

Research Skills
? Why do this? ? History – students struggle in their dissertation/business analysis project ? Its difficult – it’s a higher level skill ? You need practice – “practice makes perfect” ? Its a valuable skill – companies won’t ask you to write a dissertation but they might ask you to find out about X and report back in order that a decision can be made. Its important that you can do this in a thorough, rigorous and transparent way.

Research Skills
? What does it cover?
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Defining realistic, focussed, business oriented, interesting research questions Finding out what other research has already been undertaken, what we know and what can inform your own research. Finding relevant models/frameworks that you can use to analyse your data. Working out a sensible method to answer your research questions using established approaches adapted to your particular context Planning your research project Collecting data in a consistent, ethical, accurate way to accurately represent the situation you are investigating Analysing the data to extract answers to your questions using an objective and consistent approach Writing up your findings so they are easy to follow (not a novel) and inform decisions and future research

What is research?
? Research is the process of finding solutions

to a problem after a thorough study and analysis of the situational factors.
? RE – to return, go back to something again

and again ? SEARCH – looking for new ways of doing things

What is research?
? A systematic study - follows a method ? Data is collected systematically ? Data is interpreted systematically ? Clear purpose to investigate and find things out
? Should be: ? Justified in terms of existing research ? Repeatable – verifiable ? Defensible – using established methods, unbiased, open to scrutiny ? Informed by previous research

Conducting Research Film /clips/662

What is Business Research?

? Managers in organizations constantly engage

themselves in studying and analyzing issues and hence are involved in some form of research activity as they make decisions at the workplace.
? Decision making is merely a process of choosing

from among alternative solutions to resolve a problem and research helps to generate viable alternatives for effective decision making.

Business Research

? Business research can be described as a systematic

and organized effort to investigate a specific problem encountered in the work setting, that needs a solution. ? Business research comprises a series of steps designed and executed, with the goal of finding answers to the issues that are of concern to the manager in the work environment.

What is Business Research?

? Sometimes managers make good decisions and the

problem gets solved. ? Sometimes managers make poor decisions and the problem persists. ? The difference between making good decisions and poor decisions, lies in how managers go about the decision-making process.

Conducting Business Research


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Identify where exactly the problem lies and identify as clearly and specifically as possible the problems that need to be studied and resolved – identify the research question. Correctly recognize the relevant factors in the situation needing investigation – setting clear objectives. Decide what types of information are to be gathered and how – research design. Take actions to collect most reliable and valid information – data collection. Make the best use of the information so collected and draw appropriate conclusions to make the right decisions – data analysis and interpretation. Implement the results of this process to solve the problem - decision making.

Areas for Business Research

? Entrepreneurship - Financing start-up businesses - Social networks for nascent entrepreneurs - Entrepreneur motivation - Enterprise education - Social enterprises - Entrepreneurial learning - Resourcing new ventures

Research and the Manager

? HRM - Staff turnover - Recruitment and promotion - Strategic HRM - Performance Management - Staff development - Learning

Research and the Manager

? Management: - Employee attitudes and behaviors - Human resources management - The impact of changing demographics on -

management practices Production operations management Strategy formulation Information systems Networks

Research and the Manager

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Marketing: Product image Advertising Sales promotion Product distribution Product packaging Product pricing After-sales service Consumer preferences New product development

Research and the Manager

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International Business: Global logistics Inter-organisational learning/networks Macroeconomic factors for business failure New product development

Research (classification)
? (1) the application of the research study (pure and ? ? ? ? ?

applied research), (2) the data source analyzed (primary and secondary research), (3) the type of information sought (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods research), (4) the presence of data (theoretical and empirical research), and (5) the objectives of the research (descriptive, explanatory, predictive, and exploratory research).

Andrew, Pederson and McEvoy (2011

Types of Business Research

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Research can be undertaken for two different purposes: To solve a current problem faced by the manager in the work setting. Such research is called applied research. To generate a body of knowledge and understanding of phenomena and problems that occur in various organizational settings is called basic research/ fundamental research/ pure research Both types of research follow the same steps of systematic inquiry to arrive at solutions to problems.

Applied research for business
? Purpose ? Improve understanding of a particular business or management problem ? Results in solution to the problem ? New knowledge limited to the problem ? Findings are of practical relevance and value to managers in organizations ? Context ? Undertaken by people based in a variety of settings ? Objectives negotiated with originator ? Tight timescales



? ? ? ? Expand knowledge of processes of business and management Results in universal principles relating to the process and its relationship to outcomes Findings of significance and value to society in general

? ? ? ? Improve understanding of a particular business or management problem Results in solution to the problem New knowledge limited to the problem Findings of practical relevance and value to manager(s) in organization(s) Undertaken by people based ina variety of settings, including organizations and universities, consultancies and publicly sponsored bodies Objectives negotiated with originator Tight timescales

? Undertaken by people based in universities


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Choice of topic and objectives determined by the researcher Flexible timescales

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Adapted from Saunders (2007) 4th Edition

Examples of Applied Research

? Apple’s iPod sales increased by 200% from 2001 to

2008. but the sales decreased by 6% in 2009. What is the reason for this decrease? - The question is: what will Apple do about this problem? ? Should McDonalds add Italian pasta dinners to its menu? ? Should University of Liverpool Sports Centre decrease students membership fee?

Examples of Applied Research

? Xerox is insular and isn’t ready for the increasingly

competitive, high-tech world. Xerox still relies on old-fashioned and slow-selling analog copiers for more than half its revenue and despite its doubledigit growth in digital products and services, its sales rose just 4%.

? In the Xerox situation, it needs to look into the

efficacy of the analog technology used in copiers and examine what should be done to increase efficiency and promote its sales.

Examples of Basic Research

? Basic research in an effort to understand and generate more

knowledge about various aspects of businesses, such as:

- How to improve the effectiveness of information systems.
- How to integrate technology into the overall strategic

objectives of an organization. - How to increase the productivity of the employees. - How to increase the effectiveness of small businesses. These findings later become useful for application in business situations

Types of Research
What are you trying to find out and which approach is the most appropriate? Exploratory study Going into the unknown, finding out what happens in a given situation, or what people think of something. Evaluation Are you trying to ascertain if something is working and how it is working in comparison with the expectations and objectives set out originally? Counting How many people in the organisation use email for dealing with work queries? How many times a day do you use email? In what circumstances do you use it? Testing Are you setting up a hypothesis to test your proposition? For example, “managers in my company get better sales results because they use SAGE software” – how would you test this? Can you prove or disprove that it is true?

Common research terms
? Rigour ? Relies upon transparency and explicitness ? Removal of bias and structure of design

? Reliability ? How reliable is your study and/or your data? ? If the study was repeated would you get the same result?
? Validity ? How accurately does your account represent the phenomenon under investigation? ? Generalisability ? Can you draw conclusions from your study that are relevant to a wider population?

Research process – in theory
Taken from Gill & Johnson, (2002)

This is the hardest bit in many ways and will stop you doing well in the rest of it if you don’t get it sorted out early.

Example of early steps in defining a project

BROAD TOPIC AREA Job recruitment via the Internet

PLACE THE TOPIC IN CONTEXT How effective is it recruiting via the Internet in comparison with traditional recruitment methods?

RESEARCH QUESTIONS What are traditional methods? How do these differ from Internet recruitment? In what way is the organisation seeking to gain from Internet recruitment?

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES Define and outline traditional methods used for recruitment. Identify key areas where these differ from Internet recruitment. Identify criteria for measuring the effectiveness of Internet recruitment?

Module Assignment
? Research Proposal – 3000 words ? Title ? Overview ? Aims and objectives ? Background/Review of the Literature ? Research design/methodology ? Ethical considerations ? A statement of possible outcomes ? References ? Planning your research



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