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Business Research Methods Chapter 6: Problem Definition.

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Presentation on theme: "Business Research Methods Chapter 6: Problem Definition."— Presentation transcript:

1 Business Research Methods Chapter 6: Problem Definition

2 Problem discovery Problem definition (statement of research objectives) Secondary (historical) data Experience survey Pilot study Case study Selection of exploratory research technique Selection of basic research method ExperimentSurvey Observation Secondary Data Study LaboratoryFieldInterviewQuestionnaire Selection of exploratory research technique Sampling ProbabilityNonprobability Collection of data (fieldwork) Editing and coding data Data processing Interpretation of findings Report Data Gathering Data Processing and Analysis Conclusions and Report Research Design Problem Discovery and Definition

3 “The formulation of the problem is often more essential than its solution.” Albert Einstein

4 Problem Definition The indication of a specific business decision area that will be clarified by answering some research questions.

5 Statement of Research Objectives Problem Definition Defining Problem Results in Clear Cut Research Objectives Exploratory Research (Optional) Analysis of the Situation Symptom Detection

6 The Process of Problem Definition Ascertain the decision maker’s objectives Understand background of the problem Isolate/identify the problem, not the symptoms Determine unit of analysis Determine relevant variables State research questions and objectives

7 7 Ascertain the Decision Maker’s Objectives Decision makers’ objectives Managerial goals expressed in measurable terms.

8 The Iceberg Principle The principle indicating that the dangerous part of many business problems is neither visible to nor understood by managers.

9 9 Understand the Background of the Problem Exercising judgment Situation analysis - The informal gathering of background information to familiarize researchers or managers with the decision area.

10 10 Isolate and Identify the Problems, Not the Symptoms Symptoms can be confusing

11 Symptoms Can Be Confusing Twenty-year-old neighborhood swimming association: Membership has been declining for years. New water park -residents prefer the expensive water park???? Demographic changes: Children have grown up

12 Problem Definition OrganizationSymptoms Based on Symptom True Problem Twenty-year-old neighborhood swimming association in a major city. Membership has been declining for years. New water park with wave pool and water slides moved into town a few years ago. Neighborhood residents prefer the expensive water park and have negative image of swimming pool. Demographic changes: Children in this 20- year-old neighborhood have grown up. Older residents no longer swim anywhere.

13 TOTI EMUL ESTO What Language Is Written on This Stone Found by Archaeologists?

14 TOTI EMUL ESTO The Language Is English: To Tie Mules To

15 Problem definition Creativity techniques AnalyticalIntuitive Progressive abstractionAssociations/Images Interrogatories (5W’s+H)Wishful thinking Boundary examinations Brain storming Analogy/metaphor Individuals vs. groups

16 Problem definition GAP analysis Unintended situation Normal situation Ideal situation Problem definition Definition of opportunities Disturbing problems Entrepreneurial problems

17 Problem definition Progressive Abstraction Technique 1.Basic description of the problem 2.Gradually moving towards a higher level of abstraction (until a usable definition has been reached) - the problem is automatically extended, new definitions may show up - new definitions can be evaluated regarding applicability - when a higher level of abstraction has been reached, it is often easier to identify solutions 3.The decision maker/analyst is forced into a systematic way of searching for substructures and relationships

18 Problem definition Boundary examination technique 1.Purpose: to restructure the assumptions and to develop new ways of looking at the problem 2.Procedure: describe the problem, as it looks at the moment identify key elements in the definition and examine them to reveal underlying assumptions analyse each assumption and identify its causes and effects redefine the problem based on the deeper understanding of the elements achieved during this process 3.Advantages: provocative definition of the problem reveals limits which are difficult to identify stresses the need of a flexible definition of the problem

19 Problem definition Interrogatories W’s+H (who, what, where, when, why, how) 1.Purpose: To make sure that all aspects of the problem has been considered 2.Procedure: - construct questions for each of the 5 W’s+H - answer the questions - evaluate the proposed answers - if an improvement shows up: is it cost efficient? if so change accordingly Very efficient technique which can be applied in any phases of the problem definition

20 Problem definition Wishful thinking technique 1.Purpose: To isolate the process of defining the problem from non-recognized but irrelevant alternative assumptions 2.Procedure: - formulate questions, targets, situations or a problem - accept that everything is possible - use imagination to formulate statements like: “I would like to..” or “If I could choose…” - examine each statement and apply it as a stimuli - return to reality and formulate statements like: “Even if I can’t do it, then I can…” - repeat the last three steps if needed

21 Problem definition Brain storming 1.Purpose: To generate as many ideas as possible 2. Procedure: - select a problem, which all participants have some knowledge/ experience about - describe the problem in a neutral way - write down all suggestions on a board, so everybody can see them - evaluation must not start until all ideas have been mentioned - try to force more ideas - strive for as many ideas as possible so quality can be extracted from quantity - accept all ideas - even the most absurd - stimulate associations and extensions of generated ideas

22 22 Determine the Unit of Analysis Individuals, households, organizations, etc. In many studies, the family rather than the individual is the appropriate unit of analysis.

23 23 Determine the Relevant Variable Anything that may assume different numerical values

24 Types of Variables Categorical Continuous Dependent Independent

25 Hypothesis An unproven proposition A possible solution to a problem Guess

26 26 State the research questions and research objectives

27 If you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there.

28 Statement of business problem Exploratory research (optional) Statement of business problem Broad research objectives Specific Objective 1 Specific Objective 2 Specific Objective 3 Research Design Results

29 Influences of definition Statement of Problem Exploratory Research (Optional) Broad Research Objectives Specific Objective III Specific Objective I Specific Objective II Research Design Results Feedback

30 The Process of Problem Definition Ascertain the decision maker’s objectives Understand background of the problem Isolate/identify the problem, not the symptoms Determine unit of analysis Determine relevant variables State research questions and objectives

31 Basic Questions - Problem Definition What is the purpose of the study? How much is already known? Is additional background information necessary? What is to be measured? How? Can the data be made available? Should research be conducted? Can a hypothesis be formulated?

32 Basic Questions - Basic Research Design What types of questions need to be answered? Are descriptive or causal findings required? What is the source of the data?

33 Basic Questions - Basic Research Design Can objective answers be obtained by asking people? How quickly is the information needed? How should survey questions be worded? How should experimental manipulations be made?

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