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Business research methods: data sources

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2 Business research methods: data sources

3 Module Learning Outcomes
On completion of this module you will be able to: Work independently within an organisation, demonstrating initiative and commitment Review the literature relating to a business issue Analyse valid and reliable evidence to draw sound business conclusions Write a coherent project report communicating a solution or response to the business issue Reflect on your working practices in relation to your Personal Development Plan In this module, we will focus on both the theory and application of the theories and approaches to using business research skills and professional skills to investigate a live business issue. The aim here is to to prepare you for a career in the global business environment as a manager/leader . In order to achieve this goal, we need to understand the aims of business research, the context where our research will take place, and the skills required to work independently and with others to deliver a relevant insight into organisations. Throughout this module, we need to recognise that organisations do not exist in isolation, and that there is a constant interaction and interdependency on the external environment. Most actions will be influenced by their understanding of the combination of individual, group, organisational and environmental factors. The style of these Knowledgecasts will be to introduce and discuss a range of critical factors related to the role and skill set of leaders in the global business environment. From these Knowledgecasts, we will often explore one area in more detail in our seminar. For each Unit, you will be directed to some initial further reading however we expect you to read around the topics to build your own critical evaluation of the topic and develop you own original perspective on the role of training and development in organisations.

4 Module Overview: 303LON and 308LON
Week 6 Unit 1 An Introduction to Workplace and Workbased Projects Unit 2 Business research methods: an introduction Unit 3 Business research methods: data sources Unit 4 Business research methods: questions and active listening Week 7 Unit 5 Business research methods: project management skills Unit 6 Business research methods: using reflection in research Unit 7 Business research methods: writing professional reports Unit 8 Making a successful impact on your Workplace and Workbased project Week 8 Workplace or Independent Research Week 9 Week 10 Unit 9 Project Updates – Individual Presentations Unit 10 Individual Progress Review Unit 11 Unit 12 Module Review It is likely that each class will be made up of students who will be following: 303LON Workplace Project and 308LON Work-based Project A key point to make at this stage is that all students will be investigating a key business issue and developing: Key professional skills Key business research skills Key teamworking skills A key differentiator is how students will be gathering data: All students will be gathering secondary data Workplace students will have the opportunity to gather primary and secondary data available from within an organisation

5 Unit Learning Outcomes
On completion of this unit you will be able to: Formulate research questions from our research topics Investigate the types of information and data to be used in your project Assess the benefits and limitations of types of data in relation to your research In this Unit, we are going to: Formulate research questions from our research topics Investigate the types of information and data to be used in your project Assess the benefits and limitations of types of data in relation to your research The teaching and learning style of each unit will include: Review and feedback of independent or group work outside the seminar Knowledgecast slides to bring to life your reading Seminar discussions and activities to apply key ideas and prepare for independent and group work The learning styles in this module will therefore include: Active participation in group discussions and activities to develop and practice a range of professional business skills Using one-to-one and small group activities to reflect on and develop your understanding of the topics Open and honest sharing of feedback to support your ongoing development of key personal and professional skills Individual reflection on key learning and active development planning

6 Defining Your Research Questions
Employee motivation at work 1. Identify Research Area Reward as a motivator at work 2. Select Aspect of Research Area What types of rewards? Does it motivate? How much motivation? What is the impact of change? How should policies be implemented? 3. Brainstorm Research Questions What reward policies are used by Global Organisations to motivate line managers to manage their teams? Which are the most effective? How should they be implemented? 4. Select Research Question(s) In Unit 2, students in their work groups brainstormed a range of research topics and applied a range of tools to explore one area in more depth. At the beginning of this unit, allocate 45 minutes to allow students to work independently on developing their own research area into a set of draft research questions. Once you have identified your research area, or your ‘burning question’ you need to begin to define your specific research questions. There are 4 stages that researchers typically follow. Factors to consider should include: This can be a long and iterative process The process can benefit from discussions with other colleagues You are likely to go backwards as well as forwards in defining your final research questions Seeking help from experienced colleagues and Tutors can help with this process. Students are likely to be required to submit a Research Proposal which can often be a more formal feedback process on the definition of research questions.

7 Business Skills: Project Stages
Source: Cameron (2009: 378) Cameron (2009) outlines a set of specific stages that are followed in the production of a research project. It is these stages that you will follow and complete in the delivery of your End of Module Assessments. (The numbers refer to Chapters within the textbook). Key points here include: Each stage requires the use of a set of business skills This is not a linear process, with revisions and redefinitions being made across each stage through the process of learning, analysis and synthesis Requires project management skills to carefully plan, organise, implement, coordinate, control and monitor The selection of the topic will be the focus of Unit 2. Workplace students will be focusing on a business issue facing their work placement organisation. Workbased students should be focusing on an organisation or industry that will help them focus on their next career move

8 Stages of Research – Up to Unit 8
Identify Research Area Formulate Research Questions Create Research Design and Methodology Write Research Proposal Complete Literature Review Collect and Analyse Data Write Up Research Findings In order for managers and leaders to make effective decisions, they need to rely on a broad range of information. In your studies, you will be learning and practicing the skills required to collect, interpret and present this type of critical business information. You can use these same skills in the workplace to influence and lead the decision making process. When approaching a piece of research, there are a number of core stages that new researchers will be typically asked to complete in the design and delivery of their research findings. In our last Unit, we took a high level view at the stages and considered the purpose of business and management research. In this Unit, we begin to look at the stages required to produce your Project Report – starting with identifying your research area to formulate your research interests. In our seminars, we will work through each of the highlighted stages above to get to help you produce your research plan or research proposal. This will take us up to Unit 8, before you move on to your work placement or independent study period.

9 Selecting a Research Topic
What makes good business and management research? The topic is clearly defined Meets the requirements of the marking criteria Uses a variety of techniques to generate research questions Has clear research questions based on relevant literature Incorporates relevant theory Starts with a proposal that: Presents well organised ideas Describes clearly what will be done and why Justifies how the research questions will be answered Based on: Saunders et al (2009) Selecting an area to research can be a daunting task – and there are many pitfalls that we need to be aware of along the way. As we progress through this module, we will be exploring why many students and researchers struggle with producing their research, and how we can overcome these hurdles. Saunders et al (2009) argue that a good starting point for us is to consider how to select a good research topic. Research topics can be selected by many methods and for many reasons. We will explore some of these perspectives or starting points in this unit. These include: Topics which are feasible, worthwhile and relevant Topics which are generated by rational and creative thinking systems Topics which are brainstormed by our own interests or requirements Topics which are driven by theory and models Topics which are identified by external and internal influences on an organisation (PESTEL and SWOT)

10 6 Steps to Refine Research Questions
Research questions should: Be Clear – understandable to you and others Re researchable – relevant data is collectable Relate to established theory and research – base your research question on existing knowledge and show your contribution to knowledge and understanding Linked to each other – supports the development of an argument Have potential to contribute to existing knowledge Be neither too broad or too narrow Source: Bryman & Bell (2007) Once you have selected your research questions, consider this 6 Step Framework to review and refine your research questions. One key skill to develop in this process is to invite and actively receive feedback on your research questions. If you are a new researcher, it is unlikely you will get it right first time. Recording your experience in a learning journal will help you consider the process that went through to define and refine your research questions – a key stage to becoming a reflective practitioner (more about this later).

11 Problem Definition: Using Literature
Literature Searches Can help you to: Clarify your research question Inform your own research design Set your research in context of existing knowledge and practice – both academic and in practice Literature Reviews A good literature review should be discursive: Thesis – the argument behind the research + Antithesis – the counter argument Synthesis – your conclusions drawn from the literature We have considered the importance of defining the research question and constructing an appropriate research design through which to answer the research question. You will already be familiar with the types of sources used in academic and business reports. Literature reviews should generally be based on secondary sources such as: Academic journals Academic books Conference papers Research reports Professional body research Online databases can be used to find information across many of these sources. Defining your search parameters can help you manage the types of sources that a database may suggest. This could include: subject area, e.g. ‘marketing’ language of search (US or UK ‘English’?) business sector, e.g. manufacturing time frame, e.g. last five years type of literature, e.g. refereed journals only Considerations about the literature that you find in your searches include: The age and reliability of the information gathered The relevance to your own research question What citations are used by the author as a potential lead to new sources of information Make the link back to good note taking: Remember to record the references for any secondary source that you come across This will save you time and effort when you come to draft your research report

12 Designing your Methodology
Decisions to be made in your research design include: The purpose of the study The unit of analysis (population to be studied) Consideration of how much researcher interference The time horizon The type of investigation The setting for the study Source: Sekaran (2000) Sekaran argues that there are 6 types of decisions when designing any research: 1. Purpose of study a. Exploratory – aims to find out more about what it happening, or generating new theoretical insights (inductive research) b. Descriptive – aims to describe the extent to which something exists or happens, specifying any variables and how they may be measured c. Hypothesis testing (deductive) – aims to investigate the relationship between variables Once you have decided on the research question, one of the first decisions to be made is how it will be best answered by an exploratory, descriptive or hypothesis-testing research design. 2. Unit of analysis The level at which the issue will be studied Organisational, group or individual This decision is not always obvious from the initial research question. This may force the researcher to refine the research question or make a judgment/assumption about the most appropriate unit of analysis This decision making process should be recorded to explain the context and rationale for the research 3. Researcher interference The extent to which the researcher will interfere during the normal course of events and therefore influence any findings Positivist research strives to control the effect of the researcher interference Constructivist disputes that inference can be controlled and that they are active participants in the construction of knowledge 4. Time horizon Length of time over which the variables will be studied Most business and management studies collect data at one point in time. This makes it difficult to prove a cause-effect relationship Longitudinal studies allow researchers to monitor the effect of changes in the independent variable on the dependent variable 5. Type of investigation: This is influenced by: The nature of the research The purpose of the research Nature of the variables The population to be studied Access to the sample This may suggest a number of alternative research designs however the key is that there is a logical link to the research question, and that this is clearly described in the final research report 6. Study Setting. Such as: a. Field experiment - studying variables in organisations b. Lab experiments – creating simulated scenarios

13 Research Data: Key Terms
Primary Data Original data directly collected by you Tailored to your own requirements Knowledge of the conditions where data was collected Secondary Data Other researcher’s facts and figures Originally collected for a different purpose Requires critical evaluation of reliability and validity At this stage, it is important to distinguish between 2 key research terms: Primary Data. Data collected at source by the researcher in relation to answering their own research question. This can be gathered by a range of methods such as: direct observation measurement interviews questionnaires Secondary Data. Data which already exists and can be drawn on for your own purposes. This can be gathered by a range of methods such as: Academic journals Academic books Conference papers Research reports Professional body research this may also include newspaper reports, blogs and podcasts When gathering any data in your research activities, you need to be aware of your purpose as well as the limitations of the reliability and validity of the data retrieved. More about this later on in the Knowledgecast.

14 Research Data: Key Terms
Quantitative Data Data as a set of numbers Derived from ‘unarguable’ measures Represents an ‘objective’ reality Qualitative Data Data as words Derived from variety of measures Represents how others interpret the world In our discussion of defining and refining research questions, it is likely that the questions you select will suggest the type of research design and data to be gathered. Qualitative data is concerned with qualities of situations and non-numerical characteristics. Qualitative data could be much more than just words or text. This can include photographs, videos, sound recordings. Quantitative data can be classified as either: discrete: one of a range of distinct values e.g. number of employees continuous: any value within a given range e.g. time or length In some areas of social research, the qualitative-quantitative distinction has led to protracted arguments with the proponents of each arguing the superiority of their kind of data over the other. The quantitative types argue that their data is 'hard', 'rigorous', 'credible', and 'scientific'. The qualitative proponents counter that their data is 'sensitive', 'nuanced', 'detailed', and 'contextual'. However, more recently writers have argued that there is some cross-over between the design and use of each type of data. As a researcher, it is important that you are aware of the advantages and limitations of your choice of data to investigate your research questions.

15 Quantitative Data Analysis
Advantages Larger sample size Supports generalisations Research can be replicated Researcher interference can be avoided Disadvantages Data gathered can be narrow and superficial Findings provide numerical descriptions only Study settings often do not replicate organisational settings Difficult to record how people feel about a subject Question design can lead to structural bias Quantitative methods are ideally suited for finding out who, what, when and where. Advantages: allow for a broader study, involving a greater number of subjects, and enhancing the generalisation of the results can allow for greater objectivity and accuracy of results. Generally, quantitative methods are designed to provide summaries of data that support generalisations about the phenomenon under study. In order to accomplish this, quantitative research usually involves few variables and many cases, and employs prescribed procedures to ensure validity and reliability using standards means that the research can be replicated, and then analysed and compared with similar studies. Kruger (2003) confirms that 'quantitative methods allow us to summarize vast sources of information and facilitate comparisons across categories and over time’ personal bias can be avoided by researchers keeping a 'distance' from participating subjects and employing subjects unknown to them Disadvantages: collect a much narrower and sometimes superficial dataset results are limited as they provide numerical descriptions rather than detailed narrative and generally provide less elaborate accounts of human perception the research is often carried out in an unnatural, artificial environment so that a level of control can be applied to the exercise. This level of control might not normally be in place in the real world yielding laboratory results as opposed to real world results in addition preset answers will not necessarily reflect how people really feel about a subject and in some cases might just be the closest match. the development of standard questions by researchers can lead to 'structural' bias and false representation, where the data actually reflects the view of them instead of the participating subject. From: Based on:

16 Qualitative Data Analysis
Advantages Depth and Detail Creates openness Simulates individual’s experiences Avoids pre-judgments Disadvantages Smaller sample size Less easy to generalise Difficult to make comparisons Dependent on the skills of the researcher Qualitative data provides a rich, detailed picture to be built up about why people act in certain ways, and their feelings about these actions. Advantages: Provides depth and detail : looks deeper than analysing ranks and counts by recording attitudes, feelings and behaviours Creates openness: encouraging people to expand on their responses can open up new topic areas not initially considered Simulates people's individual experiences: a detailed picture can be built up about why people act in certain ways and their feelings about these actions Attempts to avoid pre-judgments: if used alongside quantitative data collection, it can explain why a particular response was given Disadvantages: Usually fewer people studied: collection of qualitative data is generally more time consuming that quantitative data collection and therefore unless time, staff and budget allows it is generally necessary to include a smaller sample size. Less easy to generalise: because fewer people are generally studied it is not possible to generalise results to that of the population. Usually exact numbers are reported rather than percentages. Difficult to make systematic comparisons: for example, if people give widely differing responses that are highly subjective. Dependent on skills of the researcher: particularly in the case of conducting interviews, focus groups and observation. From: Based on:

17 Deficiencies of Data Reliability Same results will be obtained if the research was repeated Do your methods consistently measure respondent’s views? Validity Extent to which the findings accurately represent what is being studied Do your methods measure what you intended to measure? Reliability and validity are important issues in your design, analysis and reflections on the research carried out. These relate to themes already discussed in this unit, in relation to both the need for accuracy in the collection of data and also the ethics of collecting and interpreting data. The extent to which a researcher needs to estimate and manage issues regarding reliability and validity will be dependent on their chosen research design. For example, to estimate the reliability of response to questions in questionnaires or interviews, you can use: 1. Test Re-Test Method Responses to the same questions on different occasions are correlated to provide a reliability index 2. Internal Consistency Method Every item is correlated with every other item across the whole sample to provide a reliability index Both these methods however have limitations: Time to complete the test of reliability Computer resources to work out the correlations It presumes that respondents are consistent in how they respond to questions about beliefs, attitudes and opinions

18 Gathering Primary Data: Questionnaires
Key considerations when using questionnaires Sample size Cost and ease of administration Types of questions – open and closed questions Use of clear and unambiguous questions Overall design including introduction and instructions Awareness of respondent fatigue Tests for validity and reliability Follow up plan for non-responses A questionnaire is a list of carefully structured questions which have been chosen and tested to elicit reliable responses from a chosen sample. The aim of a questionnaire is to determine what a group of participants think, feel or do. The choice of questions used will be influenced by: The aim of the research The type of analysis required from the responses of participants The access to computer software for coding and analysis In the design of questions, you need to make sure that each respondent will understand the question in the same way, and will respond to the questions in the same way as other respondents. How your questionnaire is presented can both encourage and help a respondent to complete it correctly. This relies on the purpose being apparent and respondents under the context in which they are participating. This can be supported by the use of an introductory letter or an introductory paragraph at the start of the questionnaire. Precise instructions need to be given to ensure that respondents fully complete the questionnaire to indicate their responses. Tips for the use of questions include: All questions should be numbered for ease of analysis Presented in a logical order Using ‘funneling’ from general to specific questions Filter questions so that respondents do not need to complete questions that are not applicable to them Some key issues with using questionnaires include: Managing non-response Requirement to pilot the questionnaire with individuals similar to your sample Cost of distributing your questionnaire. There are now some free survey sites that can support your research such as Survey Managing sample size to be big enough to be representative to support your ability to generalise from the sample to the population.

19 Gathering Primary Data: Interviews
Key considerations when using interviews Access to appropriate sample size Time and resources to complete interviews Style of interview – structured, semi-structured or unstructured Types of questions – open, closed and probing questions Consistency in conduct of interviews Awareness of researcher interference on the participant Use of recordings and transcripts Managing respondent confidentiality An interview is a method of collecting data from participants by asking questions to find out what they think, feel or do. Interviews can be completed by face-to-face, over the phone or using internet technologies, and either with individuals or groups. The aims of an interview include: Understand the basis of an individual’s opinions and beliefs Open discovery to understand the respondent’s ‘world’ Some key issues with using interviews include: The time and cost of organising and running interviews (when a short questionnaire may be more suitable) The access and availability of participants Ensuring confidentiality in the data collection and analysis Consistency in how the questions are constructed, understood and delivered Impact of the interviewer and the context of the interview on the respondent – e.g. body language, bias and respondents wanting to ‘please’ the interviewer Impact of external factors on how the individual feels before attending the interview

20 Business Skills: Project Work
Unit 3 Priority Actions: Confirm your research topic and research questions What knowledge and research exists on this topic? What range of secondary sources can you access? What type of data will you be gathering to answer your research questions? Be ready to present back in Unit 4 Preparation for Unit 4 Submit your Learning Plan to by Unit 4 xxx

21 Knowledgecast Summary
Formulate research questions from our research topics Investigate the types of information and data to be used in your project Assess the benefits and limitations of types of data in relation to your research


23 Business Skills: Project Work
Unit 3 Priority Actions: Confirm your research topic and research questions What knowledge and research exists on this topic? What range of secondary sources can you access? What type of data will you be gathering to answer your research questions? Be ready to present back in Unit 4 Preparation for Unit 4 Submit your Learning Plan to by Unit 4 xxx

24 What are we going to cover next?
In our next Unit, we will: Assess how the use of questioning techniques can be used to gather primary and secondary data in support of a research question Creatively use the keyword search in research databases to identify a broad range of secondary sources in relation to the goals of your research Practice using questioning techniques to build rapport with participants to encourage an open and honest sharing of information In our next Knowledgecast, we will: Assess how the use of questioning techniques can be used to gather primary and secondary data in support of a research question Creatively use the keyword search in research databases to identify a broad range of secondary sources in relation to the goals of your research Practice using questioning techniques to build rapport with participants to encourage an open and honest sharing of information

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