CONCEPT OF RESEARCH & NATURE OF BUSINESS RESEARCH
Following the completion of this unit you should be able to:
- Appreciate the nature of the research.
- Understand the nature of business and management research.
- Analyze and evaluate the research process.
- Examine techniques to formulate a project topic.
- Analyze the components required to make a project proposal DEFINITION OF RESEARCH Research according to the English Oxford Dictionary can be defined in the following ways:
- The act of searching, closely or carefully for or after a specified thing’.
- An investigation directed to the discovery of some fact by careful study of a subject.
- The investigation, inquiry into things [or the] habitude or carrying out such investigation’. ‘Research is seeking through methodical processes to add to one’s own body of knowledge and to that of others, by the discovery of nontrivial facts and insights.’ Whatever definition you choose to adopt, it is a term that is used in common day language in a variety of situations. However, regardless of how it is used, or interpreted, research in the strictest sense, implies that there is a systematic means of solving problems as characterized by Figure 1.1.
- Systematic – the process of problem-solving is based upon an identification of a problem, the design of the research setting to test the problem, the collection of data which, upon analysis allows for evaluation of the problem.
- Logical – examination of the systematic procedures allows you to make conclusions.
- Empirical – data collection forms the basis for decisions to be made.
- Reductive – data is used to establish more general relationships
- Replicable – the research should be designed to enable others to either repeat the research or to be able to undertake future research based on the original results. THE PURPOSE OF RESEARCH There are numerous purposes for carrying out research, the most typical being to:
- Review knowledge which already exists.
- Describe a situation or problem.
- Physically construct something useful.
- Test theories.
- Resolve controversial issues.
- Improve practice.
- To effect change. The ways in which these purposes can be applied will, of course, vary but the usual approaches that you are likely to consider are summarized in Figure 1.2
- INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH PHILOSOPHIES – IMPORTANCE AND RELEVANCE When undertaking research of this nature, it is important to consider different research paradigms and matters of ontology and epistemology. Since these parameters describe perceptions, beliefs, assumptions, and the nature of reality and truth (knowledge of that reality), they can influence the way in which the research is undertaken, from design through to conclusions, and it is, therefore, important to understand and discuss these aspects in order that approaches congruent to the nature and aims of the particular inquiry are adopted, and to ensure that researcher biases are understood, exposed, and minimized. Whilst James and Vinnicombe (2002) caution that we all have inherent preferences that are likely to shape our research designs, Blaikie (2000) describes these aspects as part of a series of choices that the researcher must consider and he shows the
alignment that must connect these choices back to the original Research Problem. If this is not achieved, methods incompatible with the researcher’s stance may be adopted, with the result that the final work will be undermined through lack of coherence. Blaikie (1993) argues that these aspects are highly relevant to Social Science since the humanistic element introduces a component of ‘free will’ that adds a complexity beyond that seen in the natural sciences and others, such as Hatch and Cunliffe (2006) draw attention to the fact that different paradigms ‘encourage researchers to study phenomena in different ways, going on to describe a number of organizational phenomena from three different perspectives, thus highlighting how different kinds of knowledge may be derived through observing the same phenomena from different philosophical perspectives. As well as stimulating debate, Denzin and Lincoln (2003) and Kvale (1996) highlight how these different positions can result in much tension amongst academics.