Business School 1 Dr Mark N K Saunders BA MSc PGCE PhD MCIPD Head of Research and Reader in Research Methods Consultancy: ICI, Housing Corporation, Friends.
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Business School 1 Dr Mark N K Saunders BA MSc PGCE PhD MCIPD Head of Research and Reader in Research Methods Consultancy: ICI, Housing Corporation, Friends First Finance, Worcestershire County Council, Learning and skills Council, NHS, Business Boffins Research Interests: Human Resource Aspects of the Management of ChangeHuman Resource Aspects of the Management of Change Research MethodsResearch Methods Click to edit Master title style Click to edit Master subtitle style Formulating and clarifying your dissertation topic and the research proposal Professor Mark NK Saunders
Mark NK Saunders 2 Business School A bit about me
Mark NK Saunders 3 Business School Learning outcomes By the end of this session, you should be able to… generate ideas that will help in the choice of a suitable research topic identify the attributes of a good research topic turn research ideas into research problems, which have clear research question(s) and objectives evaluate proposals to ensure they are clear and concise and meet assessment criteria write a proposal that that gives an authoritative account of the research you intend to undertake
Mark NK Saunders 4 Business School The purpose and focus of management research What do you understand by the term “research”? How does Business and Management Research differ? Why?
Mark NK Saunders 5 Business School the dual nature of business and management research Knowledge in other disciplines Beware: research may not even be backfitted into underpinning academic theory Developed from: Tranfield and Starkey (1998) Business and Management practice Is knowledge of use? Business and Management knowledge Is knowledge well founded? Practice-led research (ideas inform theory) Beware: findings may have little sympathy or relevance to practice Theory-led research (theory informs practice)
Mark NK Saunders 6 Business School Importance of rigour and relevance Relevance to practice Rigour of method Populist Populist: insufficient rigour/incorrect, ill conceived/conducted studies, populist books, inadequate refereeing Puerile Puerile: low practical relevance, insufficient rigour/ incorrect, ill conceived/ conducted studies Pedantic Pedantic: fastidious design and sophisticated analysis but relevance limited (myopic) Pragmatic Pragmatic: rigour in method and relevant to organisations Developed from: Anderson et al. (2001)
Mark NK Saunders 7 Business School Basic and applied research: purpose and context Basic researchApplied research Purpose expand knowledge generate universal principles relating process to outcomes findings of value to society Purpose improve understanding solution to problem knowledge limited to problem findings of practical relevance Context undertaken in variety of settings objectives negotiated with originator tight timescales Context undertaken in universities choice of topic and objectives determined by researcher flexible timescales
Mark NK Saunders 8 Business School Purpose: descriptive and/or explanatory I kept six honest serving-men, (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When, And How and Where and Who. Rudyard Kipling (1902) Just So Stories What, When, Where, Who, How: descriptive or distributive statements (often first stage in explanation) Also descriptive-explanatory Why: explantory Can also use: to what extent…
Mark NK Saunders 9 Business School descriptive and explanatory questions How many customers are satisfied by each of the services provided? What has been the annual profit after tax of company Y over the past 10 years? Where do the people who applied for job vacancies live? Descriptive What is the relationship (if any) between the service provided and customer satisfaction? How has the annual profit after tax of company Y changed over the past 10 years? What is the relationship (if any) between where people live and the job vacancies they apply for? Descriptive / Explanatory Why does customer satisfaction differ between the services provided? Why has the annual profit after tax of company Y changed over the past 10 years? Why do people from different areas apply for different job vacancies? Explanatory
Mark NK Saunders 10 Business School Your dissertation topic? Describe what your research is about State the question you intend to answer through your research Have some idea regarding the academic literature to which it relates Outline your proposed research topic briefly and clearly to the rest of your group… By the end of this process, any group member should be able to…
Mark NK Saunders 11 Business School Developing your research question Research question Capability Appropriateness Sources Source: C. Wang’s PowerPoint slides
Mark NK Saunders 12 Business School Capability: is it feasible? Capability Are you really fascinated by it? Do you have/ can you develop necessary skills? Is it achievable within timeframe? Is it achievable within resources? Are you sure about gaining access to data
Mark NK Saunders 13 Business School Appropriateness: is it worthwhile? Appropriateness Will it meet assessment criteria? Does it have a clear link to academic theory? Can you state your research question / objectives clearly? Will it provide fresh insights? Does it relate to the idea from your organisation? Are the outcomes symmetrical? Does it match your career goals?
Mark NK Saunders 14 Business School Sources: refining the research question Sources Examine own strengths/ interests Look at past dissertations Search academic literature Search the media Discuss ideas Keep a notebook/ diary of ideas Explore personal preferences using past dissertations Brainstorm ideas Use relevance trees
Mark NK Saunders 15 Business School turning your research question into objectives Objective(s): the goal(s) of your research QuestionObjective Why do organisations use expatriates on overseas assignments? To identify organisations’ objectives for the use of expatriates How do organisations ensure that the relocation of international managers is effective? To establish how organisations define effectiveness with regard to relocation of international managers To identify those factors which impact upon this effectiveness and the reasons why
Mark NK Saunders 16 Business School your dissertation topic – turning research questions into objectives? Take the research question for one person in your group… Using the process discussed turn it into an objective or series of objectives Remember to ensure It starts with the word “To…” All aspects of the question (in the researcher’s mind) are covered If there is time go on to the next group member
Mark NK Saunders 17 Business School your proposal… Title Clearly describes proposed research Aims/Objectives Sets out what you intend to do Context and Academic Background Why worth doing Discusses key academic literature, including justifying relevant theories you intend to use Clear links
Mark NK Saunders 18 Business School your proposal… continued Strategy and Method How sample will be selected and data collected Research design and method informed by research methods literature, context etc Explores access and ethics issues Time scales and Resources Milestones, Gannt charts Estimate of costs and how met References in Business School style Extent fits together and is feasible
Mark NK Saunders 19 Business School title May be different from the title on your outline proposal form Likely to change as your work progresses Should closely mirror the content of your proposal Helpful to phrase as a question – implies direction to be taken
Mark NK Saunders 20 Business School aims/objectives State what your research is going to achieve Can be generated from research questions Will be refined as you read more QuestionObjective Why have organisations introduced team briefing? To identify organisations' reasons for introducing team briefing How can the effectiveness of team briefing schemes be measured? To establish suitable effectiveness criteria for team briefing schemes Has team briefing been effective?To explore the extent to which the effectiveness criteria for team briefing have been met
Mark NK Saunders 21 Business School context and major publications Helpful to think of as why your question needs answering Explain why research is worth the effort (academic and business justification) Clarify terminology where necessary Demonstrate knowledge of key relevant academic literature Show where your proposal fits into this debate Provide prima facie evidence that topic grounded in the academic literature However… not the same as the critical literature review NB: writing this will help further clarify title and objectives
Mark NK Saunders 22 Business School strategy and method… Will be assessed with your aims/objectives What is you research design and method? Is it informed by research methods literature? Where? e.g. single organisation Why using these data? Justification Strategy? e.g. case study, survey or experiment or a combination Method? discuss e.g. sampling, secondary data, questionnaire, observation
Mark NK Saunders 23 Business School strategy and method… continued Analysis? e.g. statistical, qualitative or combination Sources that will be used in collation and/or collection of data must be outlined Should be most effective way of meeting your objectives Justified by reference to the research methods literature Limited detail about how will obtain data needed e.g. Secondary data from organisational records Questionnaire survey of employees
Mark NK Saunders 24 Business School strategy and method… continued How you considered access and ethics issues? Have you proved that you will be able to obtain the data you require? e.g. The organisation has granted you permission to interview employees The secondary data you require are available and accessible
Mark NK Saunders 25 Business School strategy and method… continued Have you considered ethical issues associated with your research and how to address them? e.g. Deception of participants Financial inducements Possible psychological stress Access to confidential information Any other special circumstances
Mark NK Saunders 26 Business School strategy and method… continued Ask yourself… Have you demonstrated you have thought about your research carefully Have you got access to data? Are you acting ethically Will you get a reasonable response? Can you afford ILLs, travel, subsistence etc. How will you analyse your data? Need to be sure that your proposed data can be obtained and will enable you to meet your objectives
Mark NK Saunders 27 Business School time scale and references Are there clear milestones? Are they likely to be achievable? Is sufficient time left for writing and rewriting? Is there sufficient detail? Are the references in the correct format?
Mark NK Saunders 28 Business School Assessing a dissertation proposal For the example Masters’ dissertation proposal Use your notes to produce a group set of comments on the main aspects of the proposal What advice would you give the student to improve his/her dissertation? On the basis of this proposal would you pass or refer this student? Give reasons for your answers