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Professor Ruth Boaden Manchester Business School

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1 Professor Ruth Boaden Manchester Business School
What is research? Professor Ruth Boaden Manchester Business School

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

3 useful? 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 …
Tools and techniques (methods) Data/evidence

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

7 Views of the world … and research approaches
The facts are definitely out there Truth depends on your viewpoint 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

8 The questions, the method and the data
Answer WHAT? and HOW MUCH? questions Tools include SURVEYS and EXPERIMENTS Data is mainly NUMBERS Findings are about MEASURE 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 …
They tell you what they think you want to know Trust Bias Ethics Politics 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 Qualities of a good researcher
communication skills intellectual skills independence perseverance motivation IT skills organisational skills

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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