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1 Lecture 2 Formulating and Specifying the Research Topic Lesson 2 RMB Research Methodology for Business.

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1 1 Lecture 2 Formulating and Specifying the Research Topic Lesson 2 RMB Research Methodology for Business

2 2 Syllabus 1.Introduction to Business & Management Research 2.Formulating & Specifying a Research Topic 3.Preparing a Literature Review 4.Choosing a Research Methodology 5.Collecting Secondary Data 6.Collecting Primary Data I: Sampling Methods 7.Collecting Primary Data II: Observation & Interview Methods 8.Collecting Primary Data III: Survey Methods 9.Analysing Quantitative Data 10.Analysing Qualitative Data 11.Understanding Access & Research Ethics and Writing Up a Dissertation or Research Report Lesson 2

3 3 Formulating & Specifying the Research Topic At the end of the lesson, students will able to understand the basic techniques of Formulating and Specifying the Research Topic: 1.Introduction 2.Formulating the Research Topic 3.Specifying the Research Topic Lesson 2

4 4 Importance of Problem Formulation There are infinite problems in the world to be solved by men (or women) One needs to be realistic about problem-solving and thus there is a need to formulate problems (e.g. How does the brain work?) Problem formulation helps to clarify the means of solving the problem and guide the way to the solution (e.g. Narrow the scope of coverage for a research topic) Skills in problem formulation are difficult to acquire (e.g. Singapore’s managers are known to be good in solving problems, but were frequently criticized for being poor in formulating problems) Lesson 2

5 5 Why Formulate a Problem? The human mind has to first construct forms, independently, before we can find them in things…. ……..the formulation of a research problem is often more essential than its solution………….. ….… Albert Einstein Lesson 2

6 6 What is Problem Formulation? Problem Identification Problem Definition Criteria for Problem Selection Problem Selection Problem Formulation Lesson 2

7 7 Problem Identification Look for symptoms of problems Consult experts in the field of study Perform a literature search for “researchable leads” Seek out for “knowledge gaps” Explore opportunities of improving the methodology employed in existing studies Etc? Lesson 2

8 8 Problem Identification Look for symptoms of problem High Turnover of Employee in XYZ Company Lesson 2

9 9 Problem Identification Consult experts or management in the field of HRM for possible causes Possible causes: - Leadership issue - Compensation system - Team spirit problem - Communication between functional departments - Safety and working environment - Performance appresail system - Career Adancement - Etc. Possible causes: - Leadership issue - Compensation system - Team spirit problem - Communication between functional departments - Safety and working environment - Performance appresail system - Career Adancement - Etc. Lesson 2

10 10 Problem Identification Perform a literature search for “researchable leads” The Impact of Leadership Styles on Employee Turnover Rate Lesson 2

11 11 Problem Identification Seek out for a “knowledge gap” Analysing the factors of different leadership styles and their Effects on Employee Turnover Level Lesson 2

12 12 Problem Identification Improve the methodology of an existing research study A Three-Stage Hierarchical Correlation-Based Methodology for the Study of the factors of high Employee Turnover Lesson 2

13 13 Problem Selection In a world of competing demand(s) for limited resources, problem selection is necessary Out of a number of identified problems, a researcher may have to select a particular problem for study or investigation Normally, not all problems are worth researching (e.g. the findings have little or no practical value) Problem selection requires a set of criteria to help in choosing a problem Lesson 2

14 14 Criteria for Problem Selection 1.Level of researcher’s interest (e.g. Is the research topic able to sustain your personal interest and hence commitment?) 2.Significance and impact of the research (e.g. Does the study score well in terms of research requirements such as originality and knowledge contribution?) 3.Availability of resources and support (e.g. Do you have the necessary resources (i.e. funding for travelling expenses or postage for executing surveys) to embark on the study?) 4.Chance of finding a “feasible” solution (e.g. Are you likely to obtain plausible results within the timeframe allocated for the study) Lesson 2

15 15 Criteria for Problem Selection – Example 1 Problem Title: The Economic Returns of Financial Planning for Married Couples CRITERIA FOR PROBLEM SELECTION LMH Level of researcher’s interest Significance and impact of research Availability of resources and support Chance of finding a “feasible” solution L: Low; M: Medium; H: High Lesson 2

16 16 Criteria for Problem Selection – Example 2 Problem Title: Understanding Corporate Governance Failures in Public Listed Companies CRITERIA FOR PROBLEM SELECTION LMH Level of researcher’s interest Significance and impact of research Availability of resources and support Chance of finding a “feasible” solution L: Low; M: Medium; H: High Lesson 2

17 17 What is a Problem Definition? 1.Overall Purpose 2.Motivation 3.Scope 4.Outcome Problem definition helps one to clearly define the research topic so that dedicated efforts may be better focused on relevant aspects that matter. Problem definition covers the following areas: Lesson 2

18 18 Problem Definition Lesson 2

19 19 Problem Definition Overall Purpose The objectives, goals and aims associated with conducting the research study Lesson 2

20 20 Problem Definition Motivation The reasons and underlying rationale behind the intention to solve the research problem Lesson 2

21 21 Problem Definition Scope The extent, span and scale of the “anticipated solution” to the research problem under study Lesson 2

22 22 Problem Definition Outcome The research deliverables in terms of output arising from conducting the research study Lesson 2

23 23 Problem Definition Lesson 2

24 24 Specifying the Research Topic  Research problems are often complicated in nature and the solutions are therefore correspondingly complex  In most situations, a complicated Research Problem needs to be clearly specified, i.e. requires Problem Specification  Problem specification is an iterative process and may involve three areas:  Problem Refinement  Framing Research Questions  Developing Research Hypotheses Lesson 2

25 25 Problem Specification Problem Refinement Problem Formulation ISD Frame Research Questions Develop Research Hypotheses Lesson 2

26 26 Refining a Research Problem Research Problem Sub- Problem 1 Sub- Problem 1 Sub- Problem 3 Sub- Problem 3 Sub- Problem 2 Sub- Problem 2 Sub- Problem n Sub- Problem n ……... Researchable Problems Lesson 2

27 27 Framing Research Questions “One of the most difficult things to do in science is to ask the right question…. That’s an art.”…... Ahmed Zewail, Nobel Laureate (Chemistry), 1999 Lesson 2 I stumbled on a fascinating rule: “The act of framing a question precisely was the key to understanding”…… Sir Harry Kroto, Nobel Laureate (Chemistry), 1996

28 28 Framing Research Questions - Guidelines 1.Brainstorm critical questions about the Research Problem 2.Frame research questions surrounding the Problem with an objective in mind 3.Move from broad-based and general inquiry to narrow and focused research questions 4.Research questions should aim to describe, explain, clarify, illuminate……so as to address the Research Problem 5.Be aware of the nature of the research output (outcome) arising from the research questions Lesson 2

29 29 Framing Research Questions – Further Guidelines 6.Challenge the current thinking (e.g. theories, concepts and principles) about the Research Problem 7.Stretch the limits (e.g. relevance in different context) of prior ideas about the Problem 8.Revisit the underlying assumptions (e.g. whether these assumptions are overly simplistic and impractical) 9.Deepen the prevailing knowledge in relation to the Research Problem (e.g. move away from purely operational issues to strategic issues) 10.Ensure that all research questions collectively address the Research Problem Lesson 2

30 30 Characteristics of Good Research Questions Interesting Novel Feasible Relevant Ethical Characteristics of A Good Research Question Lesson 2 One of the most important things that a researcher does is to ask a question that is important and that has a chance of being solved…..Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate (Physics), 1997

31 31 Framing Research Questions: Short-listing Steps Group Questions By Theme Group Questions By Type Group Questions By Area ………… Characteristics of Good Questions Framing Research Questions Short-listing Questions Research Questions for Study Lesson 2

32 32 Framing RQs–Example  For example, your research problem is about “The Importance of Electronic Privacy”, possible research questions could be: 1.What privacy risks do the Internet and other recent technological developments create? 2.What are the existing government regulations in relation to protecting electronic privacy? 3.Are existing government regulatory measures for electronic privacy adequate, effective, fair? 4.Should people be concerned about the issue of electronic privacy? Lesson 2

33 33 Developing Research Hypotheses: A Hierarchical Approach Lesson 2

34 34 Hypothesis 1 A Research Question Research Hypotheses: The Development Process Hypothesis 2 Hypothesis 3 Hypothesis n ….. Empirical Testing Lesson 2

35 35 What is a Hypothesis? A hypothesis is an idea, an assumption, or may be even a postulated theory about the behavior of one or more variables in a population (Pelosi, Sandifer & Sekaran 2001). A hypothesis is thus a hunch derived from an informed reading of literature or personal observations or experience, and must be capable of being tested (Nardi 2003). Empirical testing of hypotheses or hypothesis testing is a statistical procedure or technique that involves using sample data collected from respondents to decide on the validity of the hypothesis. Lesson 2

36 36 Developing Research Hypotheses  Well thought-out and focused research questions of a topic normally lead directly into hypotheses  Hypotheses are therefore logical extension of a research question  Each hypothesis must be matched with a specific research question  Hypotheses should give further insights into a research question  Hypotheses are basically specific predictions about the nature and the relationship between variables Lesson 2

37 37 Developing Research Hypotheses  Independent and dependent variables should be identified first before one develops research hypotheses in a study  Each hypothesis may thus be formulated as causal relationships with “if-then” implications  Each hypothesis must be testable by “controlled experiments” in a research study  Variables associated with each hypothesis must be measurable by statistical data and should be validated by the use of appropriate statistical tests (e.g. correlation tests) Lesson 2

38 38 Researching a Problem Problem Identification Problem Definition Criteria for Problem Selection Problem Selection Problem Specification Problem Refinement Frame Research Questions Develop Research Hypotheses Problem Formulation Overall Purpose Motivation Scope Outcome The Guidelines Characteristics of Good Research Questions The Short-listing Steps Hierarchical Approach The Development Process Characteristics Lesson 2

39 39 Group Exercise 2: Conduct this exercise in groups. Identify a Research Topic of your interest. Based on the topic, carry out the following tasks among your group members: (1) Work out the problem definition of your research topic (2) Specify the research topic by framing a list of Research Questions (3) Develop hypotheses based on (2) Lesson 2

40 40 End of Lecture 2 Lesson 2 RMB Research Methodology for Business


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