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What is research? Professor Ruth Boaden Manchester Business School

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Presentation on theme: "What is research? Professor Ruth Boaden Manchester Business School"— Presentation transcript:

1 What is research? Professor Ruth Boaden Manchester Business School Ruth.Boaden@mbs.ac.uk

2 Richardson et al, 1990, p75 “Research is about illumination. If a person reads something and doesn’t feel any wiser, then why was it done?

3 What is research? A process of inquiry and investigation … Questions Systematic and methodical … so methods matter Increases knowledge … illumination?

4 Do you need research? Intelligence-gathering - the ‘what’ questions Gathering information Audit Evaluation (might be research) Research - the ‘why’ questions Research looks for explanations, relationships, comparisons, predictions, generalizations and theories. It may need to gather information in order to do this, but the emphasis is on "why".

5 Your view of the world matters … View of the world Tools and techniques (methods) Data/evidence

6 Views of the world … Morgan G (1986) “Images of Organisations”

7 Views of the world … and research approaches Scientific focus on measurement: look for general patterns to turn into theories or “laws” typically interested in physical or macro systems rather than people or micro systems Ethnographic focus on culture: Uncover differences in how people see the world and see what shapes these different perceptions typically interested in people, groups or organisations The facts are definitely out there Truth depends on your viewpoint

8 Answer WHAT? and HOW MUCH? questions Tools include SURVEYS and EXPERIMENTS Data is mainly NUMBERS Findings are about MEASURE The questions, the method and the data Answer WHY? and HOW? questions Tools include OBSERVATION and INTERVIEWS Data is mainly WORDS Findings are about MEANING

9 Not all research is “good” … what you find out depends on Context Methods used How data have been analysed and interpreted

10 Be careful if you (the researcher) are involved … Trust Bias Ethics Politics They tell you what they think you want to know Asking the same things to everyone, in the same way Confidentiality? Where is the power? Are you trying to change the organisation in some way as part of the research? This is ACTION RESEARCH – be careful not to go “native”

11 organisational skills perseverance intellectual skills Qualities of a good researcher communication skills independence IT skillsmotivation

12 So does research matter? Is there a question to be answered? Is there a way to answer it? Is there data that can be collected? Are there ways it can be analysed? Will the findings be useful to others? Can you do it? If people feel that research illuminates their understanding and gets into their thinking, then it’s of use


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