Business research is a field of practical study in which a company obtains data and analyzes it in order to better manage the company. Business research can include financial data, consumer feedback, product research and competitive analysis. Executives and managers who use business research methods are able to better understand their company and the position it holds in the market.
Fig. Business Research
HOW TO IMPROVE THE POSITION OF ANY COMPANY?
- Financial Data
Financial data takes qualitative information–such as sales reports, revenues and cost reports–to see what areas make money and what costs money. By reviewing data, managers can find the products, staff and departments that are most efficient and determine areas of unnecessary costs.
- Consumer Feedback
Understanding what the public says about the products and services a company provides is essential to making sure the company is meeting consumer needs. Customer feedback includes case studies, focus groups, customer surveys and questionnaires.
- Product Research
Product research seeks to improve the product to meet the needs of consumers. This may include technological advancements, improved customer service or access to the product through a variety of distribution channels.
- Competitive Analysis
Competitive analysis is when one company compares its products and services to those of another company. This can be done to improve the product, create a niche or determine a more attractive price point to lure customers.
- Industry Data
Using research tools such as the information compiled by Dun & Bradstreet can help a company to understand how the industry as a whole is doing. This can help executives make decisions based on economic factors affecting their industry that are not limited to their own products.
Systematic investigative process employed to increase or revise current knowledge by discovering new facts.
Types of research:-
Applied research “aims at finding a solution for an immediate problem facing a society, or an industrial/business organization. Applied research is considered to be non-systematic inquiry and it is usually launched by a company, agency or an individual in order to address a specific problem.
ex:-Improve agricultural crop production, treat or cure specific disease.
Fg. Basic and Applied research
(2) Basic Research
Basic research, also called pure research or fundamental research, is scientific research aimed to improve scientific theories for improved understanding or prediction of natural or other phenomena.Applied research, in turn, uses scientific theories to develop technology or techniques to intervene and alter natural or other phenomena. Though often driven by curiosity, basic research fuels applied science’s innovations. The two aims are often coordinated in research and development.
Ex:- how did the universe begin?
What are protons , neutron , etc.
(3) Correlational Research
In general, a co-relational study is a quantitative method of research in which you have 2 or more quantitative variables from the same group of participants, & you are trying to determine if there is a relationship (or co-variation) between the 2 variables (that is, a similarity in pattern of scores between the two variables, not a difference between their means). Theoretically, any 2 quantitative variables from the same group of participants can be correlated.
For example:- midterm scores & final exam scores, or midterm scores and number of body piercings!) as long as you have numerical scores on these variables from the same participants; however, it is usually a waste of time to collect & analyze data when there is little reason to think these two variables would be related to each other.
Fig. Correlational Research
(4) Experimental Research
This is an experiment where the re-searcher manipulates one variable, and control/randomizes the rest of the variables. It has a control group, the subjects have been randomly assigned between the groups, and the researcher only tests one effect at a time. It is also important to know what variable(s) you want to test and measure.
Aims of Experimental Research:-
Experiments are conducted to be able to predict phenomenon. Typically, an experiment is constructed to be able to explain some kind of causation. Experimental research is important to society – it helps us to improve our everyday lives.
Fig. Experimental Research
(5) Exploratory Research
Exploratory research is research conducted for a problem that has not been studied more clearly, intended to establish priorities, develop operational definitions and improve the final research design. Exploratory research helps determine the best research design, data-collection method and selection of subjects. It should draw definitive conclusions only with extreme caution. Given its fundamental nature, exploratory research often concludes that a perceived problem does not actually exist.
Exploratory research often relies on techniques such as:-
- Secondary research – such as reviewing available literature and/or data
- Informal qualitative approaches, such as discussions with consumers, employees, management or competitors
- Formal qualitative research through in-depth interviews, focus groups, projective methods, case studies or pilot studies.
Aims of Research
The general aims of research are:-
- Observe and Describe
- Determination of the Causes
Purpose of Research – Why do we conduct research? Why is it necessary?
(6) Ground Theory Research
Grounded theory (GT) is a systematic methodology in the social sciences involving the construction of theory through methodic gathering and analysis of data. Grounded theory is a research methodology which operates inductively, in contrast to the hypothetico-deductive approach. A study using grounded theory is likely to begin with a question, or even just with the collection of qualitative data. As researchers review the data collected, repeated ideas, concepts or elements become apparent, and are tagged with codes, which have been extracted from the data. As more data is collected, and re-reviewed, codes can be grouped into concepts, and then into categories. These categories may become the basis for new theory. Thus, grounded theory is quite different from the traditional model of research, where the researcher chooses an existing theoretical framework, and only then collects data to show how the theory does or does not apply to the phenomenon under study.
Stages of analysis:-
- Codes – Identifying anchors that allow the key points of the data to be gathered
- Concepts – Collections of codes of similar content that allows the data to be grouped
- Categories – Broad groups of similar concepts that are used to generate a theory
- Theory – A collection of categories that detail the subject of the research.
ALL RESEARCH CAN BE CLASSIFIED INTO TWO GROUPS:-
Qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic disciplines, including in the social sciences and natural sciences, but also in non-academic contexts including market research, business, and service demonstrations by non-profits.
Qualitative research is a broad methodological approach that encompasses many research methods. The aim of qualitative research may vary with the disciplinary background, such as a psychologist seeking to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior. Qualitative methods examine the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when, or “who”, and have a strong basis in the field of sociology to understand government and social programs. Qualitative research is popular among political science, social work, and special education and education researchers.
Methods of Qualitative Research:-
Qualitative researchers use their own eyes, ears, and intelligence to collect in-depth perceptions and descriptions of targeted populations, places, and events. Their findings are collected through a variety of methods, and often, a researcher will use at least two or several of the following while conducting a qualitative study.
With direct observation, a researcher studies people as they go about their daily lives without participating or interfering. This type of research is often unknown to those under study, and as such, must be conducted in public settings where people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, a researcher might observe the ways in which strangers interact in public as they gather to watch a street performer.
While many surveys are designed to generate quantitative data, many are also designed with open-ended questions that allow for the generation and analysis of qualitative data. For example, a survey might be used to investigate not just which political candidates voters chose, but why they chose them, in their own words.
In a focus group, a researcher engages a small group of participants in a conversation designed to generate data relevant to the research question. Focus groups can contain anywhere from 5 to 15 participants. Social scientists often use them in studies that examine an event or trend that occurs within a specific community. They are common within market research too.
Researchers conduct in-depth interviews by speaking with participants in a one-on-one setting. Sometimes a researcher approaches the interview with a predetermined list of questions or topics for discussion but allows the conversation to evolve based on how the participant responds. Other times, the researcher has identified certain topics of interest but does not have a formal guide for the conversation, but allows the participant to guide it.
- Oral history
The oral history method is used to create a historical account of an event, group, or community, and typically involves a series of in-depth interviews conducted with one or multiple participants over an extended period of time.
Participant observation: This method is similar to observation, however with this one, the researcher also participates in the action or events in order to not only observe others but to gain first-hand experience in the setting.
- Ethnographic observation
Ethnographic observation is the most intensive and in-depth observational method. Originating in anthropology, with this method, a researcher fully immerses herself into the research setting and lives among the participants as one of them for anywhere from months to years.
In natural sciences and social sciences, quantitative research is the systematic empirical investigation of observable phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and hypotheses pertaining to phenomena. The process of measurement is central to quantitative research because it provides the fundamental connection between empirical observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. Quantitative data is any data that is in numerical form such as statistics, percentages, etc.
Quantitative research is generally made using scientific methods, which can include:-
- The generation of models, theories and hypotheses.
- The development of instruments and methods for measurement.
- Experimental control and manipulation of variables.
- Collection of empirical data.
- Modeling and analysis of data.
PROCESS OF RESEARCH:-
Research involves a systematic process that focuses on being objective and gathering a multitude of information for analysis so that the researcher can come to a conclusion. This process is used in all research and evaluation projects, regardless of the research method (scientific method of inquiry, evaluation research, or action research). The process focuses on testing hunches or ideas in a park and recreation setting through a systematic process. In this process, the study is documented in such a way that another individual can conduct the same study again. This is referred to as replicating the study. Any research done without documenting the study so that others can review the process and results is not an investigation using the scientific research process. The scientific research process is a multiple-step process where the steps are interlinked with the other steps in the process.
Step 1: Identify the Problem
The first step in the process is to identify a problem or develop a research question. The research problem may be something the agency identifies as a problem, some knowledge or information that is needed by the agency, or the desire to identify a recreation trend nationally. In the example in table 2.4, the problem that the agency has identified is childhood obesity, which is a local problem and concern within the community. This serves as the focus of the study.
Step 2: Review the Literature
Now that the problem has been identified, the researcher must learn more about the topic under investigation. To do this, the researcher must review the literature related to the research problem. This step provides foundational knowledge about the problem area. The review of literature also educates the researcher about what studies have been conducted in the past, how these studies were conducted, and the conclusions in the problem area. In the obesity study, the review of literature enables the programmer to discover horrifying statistics related to the long-term effects of childhood obesity in terms of health issues, death rates, and projected medical costs. In addition, the programmer finds several articles and information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that describe the benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day. The information discovered during this step helps the programmer fully understand the magnitude of the problem, recognize the future consequences of obesity, and identify a strategy to combat obesity (i.e., walking).
Step 3: Clarify the Problem
Many times the initial problem identified in the first step of the process is too large or broad in scope. In step 3 of the process, the researcher clarifies the problem and narrows the scope of the study. This can only be done after the literature has been reviewed. The knowledge gained through the review of literature guides the researcher in clarifying and narrowing the research project. In the example, the programmer has identified childhood obesity as the problem and the purpose of the study. This topic is very broad and could be studied based on genetics, family environment, diet, exercise, self-confidence, leisure activities, or health issues. All of these areas cannot be investigated in a single study; therefore, the problem and purpose of the study must be more clearly defined. The programmer has decided that the purpose of the study is to determine if walking 10,000 steps a day for three days a week will improve the individual’s health. This purpose is more narrowly focused and researchable than the original problem.
Step 4: Clearly Define Terms and Concepts
Terms and concepts are words or phrases used in the purpose statement of the study or the description of the study. These items need to be specifically defined as they apply to the study. Terms or concepts often have different definitions depending on who is reading the study. To minimize confusion about what the terms and phrases mean, the researcher must specifically define them for the study. In the obesity study, the concept of “individual’s health” can be defined in hundreds of ways, such as physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health. For this study, the individual’s health is defined as physical health. The concept of physical health may also be defined and measured in many ways. In this case, the programmer decides to more narrowly define “individual health” to refer to the areas of weight, percentage of body fat, and cholesterol. By defining the terms or concepts more narrowly, the scope of the study is more manageable for the programmer, making it easier to collect the necessary data for the study. This also makes the concepts more understandable to the reader.
Step 5: Define the Population
Research projects can focus on a specific group of people, facilities, park development, employee evaluations, programs, financial status, marketing efforts, or the integration of technology into the operations. For example, if a researcher wants to examine a specific group of people in the community, the study could examine a specific age group, males or females, people living in a specific geographic area, or a specific ethnic group. Literally thousands of options are available to the researcher to specifically identify the group to study. The research problem and the purpose of the study assist the researcher in identifying the group to involve in the study. In research terms, the group to involve in the study is always called the population. Defining the population assists the researcher in several ways. First, it narrows the scope of the study from a very large population to one that is manageable. Second, the population identifies the group that the researcher’s efforts will be focused on within the study. This helps ensure that the researcher stays on the right path during the study. Finally, by defining the population, the researcher identifies the group that the results will apply to at the conclusion of the study. In the example in table 2.4, the programmer has identified the population of the study as children ages 10 to 12 years. This narrower population makes the study more manageable in terms of time and resources.
Step 6: Develop the Instrumentation Plan
The plan for the study is referred to as the instrumentation plan. The instrumentation plan serves as the road map for the entire study, specifying who will participate in the study; how, when, and where data will be collected; and the content of the program. This plan is composed of numerous decisions and considerations that are addressed in chapter 8 of this text. In the obesity study, the researcher has decided to have the children participate in a walking program for six months. The group of participants is called the sample, which is a smaller group selected from the population specified for the study. The study cannot possibly include every 10- to 12-year-old child in the community, so a smaller group is used to represent the population. The researcher develops the plan for the walking program, indicating what data will be collected, when and how the data will be collected, who will collect the data, and how the data will be analyzed. The instrumentation plan specifies all the steps that must be completed for the study. This ensures that the programmer has carefully thought through all these decisions and that she provides a step-by-step plan to be followed in the study.
Step 7: Collect Data
Once the instrumentation plan is completed, the actual study begins with the collection of data. The collection of data is a critical step in providing the information needed to answer the research question. Every study includes the collection of some type of data—whether it is from the literature or from subjects—to answer the research question. Data can be collected in the form of words on a survey, with a questionnaire, through observations, or from the literature. In the obesity study, the programmers will be collecting data on the defined variables: weight, percentage of body fat, cholesterol levels, and the number of days the person walked a total of 10,000 steps during the class.
The researcher collects these data at the first session and at the last session of the program. These two sets of data are necessary to determine the effect of the walking program on weight, body fat, and cholesterol level. Once the data are collected on the variables, the researcher is ready to move to the final step of the process, which is the data analysis.
Step 8: Analyze the Data
All the time, effort, and resources dedicated to steps 1 through 7 of the research process culminate in this final step. The researcher finally has data to analyze so that the research question can be answered. In the instrumentation plan, the researcher specified how the data will be analyzed. The researcher now analyzes the data according to the plan. The results of this analysis are then reviewed and summarized in a manner directly related to the research questions. In the obesity study, the researcher compares the measurements of weight, percentage of body fat, and cholesterol that were taken at the first meeting of the subjects to the measurements of the same variables at the final program session. These two sets of data will be analyzed to determine if there was a difference between the first measurement and the second measurement for each individual in the program. Then, the data will be analyzed to determine if the differences are statistically significant. If the differences are statistically significant, the study validates the theory that was the focus of the study. The results of the study also provide valuable information about one strategy to combat childhood obesity in the community.