Chapter 3 The Research Process: The broad problem area and defining the problem statement

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Business & Mgmt

Published on February 22, 2014

Author: NardiinObada



Chapter 3 The Research Process: The broad problem area and defining the problem statement

The Research Process: The broad problem area and defining the problem statement CHAPTER 3

Chapter Objectives 1. Discuss how problem areas can be identified. 2. State research problems clearly and precisely. 3. Explain how primary and secondary data help the researcher to develop a problem statement. 4. Develop relevant and comprehensive bibliographies for any research topic. 5. Write a literature review on any given topic. 6. Develop a research proposal.

Broad Problem Area • 1. The broad problem area refers to the entire situation where one sees a possible need for research and problem solving. Such issues might pertain to: Problems currently existing in an organizational setting that need to be solved. →

Broad Problem Area 2. 3. 4. Areas that a manager believes needs to be improved in the organization. A conceptual or theoretical issue that needs to be tightened up for the basic researcher to understand certain phenomena. Some research questions that a basic researcher wants to answer empirically.

Examples of Broad Problem Areas that Could be Observed at the Work Place • Training programs are perhaps not as effective as anticipated. • The sales volume of a product is not picking up. • Inventory control is not effective • Some members in organization are not advancing in their careers. • The introduction of flexible work hours has created more problems than it has solved in many companies.

Preliminary Data Collection • The nature of data to be gathered could be classified under three headings: 1. Background information of the organization (the contextual factors). 2. Prevailing knowledge on the topic (relevant findings from previous research).

Preliminary Data Collection • The background details of the company can be obtained from available published records, the web site of the company. • Company policies, procedures, and rules can be obtained from the organization’s records and documents. • Data gathered through such existing sources are called secondary data.

Preliminary Data Collection • Secondary data, are data that already exist and do not have to be collected by the researcher. • Some secondary sources of data are statistical bulletins, government publications, information published or unpublished and available from either within or outside the organization, library records, data available from previous research, online data, web sites, and the Internet.

Preliminary Data Collection • Other types of information such as the perceptions and attitudes of employees are best obtained by talking to them; by observing events, people, and objects; or by administering questionnaires to individuals. • Such data gathered for research from the actual site of occurrence of events are called primary data.

Prevailing knowledge on the topic • A literature review should help the researcher to identify and highlight the important variables that are related to the problem.

Literature Survey • Literature survey is the documentation of a comprehensive review of the published and unpublished work from secondary sources of data in the areas of specific interest to the researcher.

Literature Survey library • The is a rich storage base for secondary data through books, journals, newspapers, magazines, conference proceedings, doctoral dissertations, master’s theses, government publications, and financial marketing, and other reports.

Literature Survey computerized databases • The is now readily available and accessible, which makes the literature search much easier, and can be done without entering the portals of a library building.

Reasons for the Literature Survey 1. 2. 3. Helps to find the important variables that are likely to influence the problem situation are not left out of the study. Helps the development of the theoretical framework and hypotheses for testing. The problem statement can be made with precision and clarity.

Reasons for the Literature Survey 4. 5. 6. Testability and replicability of the findings of the current research are enhanced. One does not run the risk of wasting efforts on trying to rediscover something that is already known. The problem investigated is perceived by the scientific community as relevant and significant.

Conducting the Literature Survey • The literature review needs to be done on the specific issues of concern to the researcher and the factors identified during the interview process. • The first step in this process involves identifying the various published and unpublished materials that are available on the topics of interest, and gaining access to these.

Conducting the Literature Survey second step • The is gathering the relevant information either by going through the necessary materials in a library or by getting access to online sources. • The third step is writing up the literature review.

Data Sources • Textbooks • Academic and professional journals • Theses: phD theses and Master theses. • Conference proceedings • Unpublished manuscripts • Reports • Newspapers • The internet

Searching for literature • 1. There are three forms of databases: The bibliographic databases, which display only the bibliographic citations, that is, the name of the author, the title of the article (book), source of publication, year, volume, and page numbers.

Searching for Literature 2. The abstract databases, which in addition provide an abstract or summary of the articles. 3. The full-text databases, which provide the full text of the article.  Databases are also available for obtaining statistics- marketing, financial, and so on.

Searching for Literature • 1. 2. 3. 4. Online search provides the following advantages: Saving enormous amount of time. Are comprehensive in their listing and review of references. The researcher can focus on materials most central to the research efforts. Finding access to references is relatively inexpensive.

Searching for Literature • Accessing the online system and getting a printout of all the published works in the area of interest from the bibliographical index will provide a comprehensive bibliography on the subject, which will form the basis for the next step.

Searching for Literature • From the bibliography on the subject, the researcher should do the followings: A look at the titles of the articles or books will indicate which of these may be important. The abstract of such articles that seem to be relevant will give an idea of the article that need to be looked into in depth. The full text of which can then be printed out.

Searching for Literature take notes • While reading these articles, about the problem that was researched, the design details of the study (such as the sample size and data collection methods), and the ultimate findings of the study. • These notes will facilitates the writing up of the literature review with maximum efficiency.

Writing Up the Literature Review • The documentation of the relevant studies citing the author literature review and the year of the study is called or literature survey. • The literature survey is a clear and logical presentation of the relevant research work done thus far in the area of investigation.

Writing Up the Literature Review • The purpose of the literature survey is: To identify and highlight the important variables. To document the significant findings from earlier research that will serve as the foundation on which the theoretical framework for the current investigation can be built and the hypotheses developed.

 1. 2. Writing Up the Literature Review Such documentation is important to convince the reader that: The researcher is knowledgeable about the problem area. The theoretical framework will be structured on work already done and will add to the solid foundation of exiting knowledge.

Examples of Literature Surveys Organizational effectiveness Organization theorists have defined organizational effectiveness (OE) in various ways. OE has been described in terms of objectives (Georgopolous and Tannenbaum, 1957), goals (Etzioni, 1960), efficiency (Katz and Kahn, 1966), resources acquisition (Yuchtman and Seashore, 1967). As Coutler (2002) remarked, there is little consensus on how to conceptualize, measure, or explain OE.

Examples of Literature Surveys Researchers are now moving away from a single model and are taking contingency approaches to conceptualizing OE (Cameron, 1996; Wernerfelt, 1998; Yetley, 2001). However, they are still limiting themselves to examining the impact of the dominant factors in the organization’s life cycle instead of taking a broader, more dynamic approach (Dahl, 2001, p.25).

What insights can be gained from the above example? 1. 2. The literature review introduces the subject of study. Highlights the problem (that we do not have a good conceptual framework for understanding OE). 3. Summarizes the work done so far on the topic (by reporting the citations in the body of the research by mentioning the family names and the year of publication only).

Defining the Problem Statement • After the literature review, the researcher is in position to narrow down the problem from its original broad base and define the issues of concern more clearly.

What makes a good problem statement?  The problem statement introduces the key problem that is addressed in the research project.  Problem statement is a clear, precise, and short statement of the specific issue that a researcher wishes to investigate.

The three key criteria for problem statement • There are three key criteria to assess the quality of the problem statement: 1. 2. 3. It should be relevant It should be feasible It should be interesting

From an academic perspective, research is relevant if: 1. 2. 3. 4. Nothing is known about the topic. Much is known about the topic, but the knowledge is scattered. Much research on the topic is available, but the results are contradictory. Established relationships do not hold in certain situations.

A problem statement is feasible • If you are able to answer the problem statement within the restrictions of the research project. • These restrictions are possibly related to time and money and the expertise of the researcher (a problem statement may be too difficult to answer). • Thus, it is important that you develop a narrowly defined question that can be investigated with a reasonably amount of time and efforts.

The problem statement is interesting • Because research is a time-consuming process and you will go through many ups and downs before you present a final version of your research report. It is therefore vital that you are interested in the problem statement that you are trying to answer, so you can stay motivated throughout the entire process.

Examples of broad problem areas that a manager could observe at the workplace: • Training programs are not as effective as anticipated. • The sales volume of a product is not picking up. • Minority group members are not advancing in their careers. • The newly installed information system is not being used by the managers for whom it was primarily designed. • The introduction of flexible work hours has created more problems than it has solved in many companies.

Examples of Well-Defined Problem Statements • To what extent do the structure of the organization and type of information systems installed account for the variance in the perceived effectiveness of managerial decision making? • To what extent has the new advertising campaign been successful in creating the high-quality, customer-centered corporate image that it was intended to produce? • How has the new packaging affected the sales of the product? • What are the effects of downsizing on the long-range growth patterns of companies?

Examples of Well-Defined Problem Statements • • 

Format for Referencing Relevant Articles At least three modes of referencing are followed in business research. These are based on the format provided on the publication manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) (2001), the Chicago Manual of Style (1993), and the Turabian Style (1996).

Format for Referencing Relevant Articles • Each of these manuals specifies how books, journals, newspapers, dissertations, and other materials are to be referenced in manuscripts. • In this course, we will follow the APA format for referencing books, journals, newspaper articles, dissertations, and so on.

Specimen Format for Citing Different Types of References Book by a single author • Leshin, C.B. (1997). Management on the World Wide Web. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Book by more than one author • Cornett, M., Wiley, B.J., and Sankar, S. (1998). The pleasures of nurturing. London: McMunster Publishing.

Specimen Format for Citing Different Types of References More than one book by the same author in the same year • Roy, A. (1998a). Trade theory. New York: McMillian Publishing Enterprises. • Roy, A. (1998b). Traditional Trade. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bamar.

Specimen Format for Citing Different Types of References Journal Article • Barry, H. (1996). Cross-cultural research with matched pairs of societies. Journal of Social Psychology, 79, 25-33. • Jeanquart, S., & Peluchette, J. (1997). Diversity in the workforce and management models, Journal of Social Work Studies, 43, 72-85.

Specimen Format for Citing Different Types of References Conference proceedings Publication • Yeshwant, M. (1998). Revised thinking on Indian philosophy and religion. In S. Pennathur (Ed.), Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Religion, (pp. 100-107). Bihar, India: Bihar University.

Specimen Format for Citing Different Types of References Doctoral/Master Dissertations • Kiren, R.S. (1997). Medical advances and quality of life. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Omaha State University.

Specimen Format for Citing Different Types of References Paper Presentation at Conference • Bajaj, L. S. (1996, March 13). Practical tips for efficient work management. Paper presented at the annual meeting of Enterpreneurs, San Jose, CA.

Specimen Format for Citing Different Types of References Unpublished Manuscript • Pringle, P. S. (1991). Training and development in the 90s'. Unpublished manuscript, Southern Illinois University, Diamondale, IL.

Specimen Format for Citing Different Types of References Newspaper Article • The new GM pact. ( 1998, July 28). Concord Tribune, p.1. Referencing Electronic Sources • Author, I. (1998). Technology and immediacy of information [On-line] Available

Examples of the Referencing In the Literature Review Section: • When a work is authored by two individuals, always cite both names every time the reference occurs in the text. • When a work has more than two authors but fewer than six authors, cite all authors the first time the reference occurs, and subsequently include only the surname of the first author followed by "et al." as the example in the next slide:

Examples of the Referencing In the Literature Review Section: • Sekaran, U., Martin, T., Trafton, N., and Osborn, R.N., (1980) found…….(first citation). • Sekaran et al. (1980) found…… ….(subsequent citation).

Examples of the Referencing In the Literature Review Section: • When a work is authored by six or more individuals, cite only the surname of the first author followed by et al. and the year for the first and subsequent citations. • Join the names in a multiple-author citation in running text by the word and. In parenthetical material, in tables, and in the reference list, join the names by an ampersand (&). Examples are in next slide

Examples of the Referencing In the Literature Review Section: • As Tucker and Snell (1989) pointed • As has been pointed out (Tucker & 1989),……. out….. Snell,

Examples of the Referencing In the Literature Review Section: • When a work's author is designated as "Anonymous", cite in text, the word Anonymous followed by a comma and the date: (Anonymous, 1979). In the reference list, an anonymous work is alphabetized by the word Anonymous.

Examples of the Referencing In the Literature Review Section: • When the same author has several works published in the same year, cite them in the same order as they occur in the reference list, with the in press citations coming last. For example: • Research on the mental health of dualcareer family members (Sekaran, 1985a, 1985b, 1985c, 1999, in press) indicates…

Examples of the Referencing In the Literature Review Section: • When more than one author has to be cited in the text, these should be in the alphabetical order of the first author's surname, and the citations should be separated by semicolons as the example below: • In the job design literature (Aldag & Brief, 1976; Alderfer, 1977; Beatty, 1982; Jeanquart, 1998),…

Quotations in Text • Quotations should be given exactly as they appear in the source. The original wording, punctuation, spelling, and italics must be preserved.

Quotations in Text • The citation of the source of a direct quotation should always include the page number(s) as well as reference

Quotations in Text • Use three ellipsis points (…) to indicate that you have omitted material from the original source.

Quotations in the Text If the quotation is of more than 40 words, set in a freestanding style starting on a new line and indenting the left margin a further five spaces. Example: • In trying to differentiate dual-earner and dual –career families, Sekaran (1986) states: Various terms are used to refer to dual-earner families: dual-worker families, two-paycheck families, dual-income families, two-job families, and so on. Spouses in dual-earner families may both hold jobs, or one of the partners may hold a job while the other pursues a career…

Quotations in the Text • If you intend publishing an article in which you have quoted extensively from the copyrighted work, it is important to seek written permission from the owner of the copyright.

The research proposal contains the following: • Key elements: • • • • • Purpose of the study Specific problem to be investigated. Scope of the study Relevance of the study Research design: • Sampling design • Data collection methods • Data analysis • Time frame • Budget • Selected Bibliography

Example • While Chrysler’s minivans, pickups, and sports utilities take a big share at the truck market, its cars trail behind those of General Motors, Ford, Honda, and Toyota. Quality problems include, among other things water leaks and defective parts ( Business Week, No.10, 2007).

Example-cont. 1. Identify the broad problem area. 2. Define the problem? 3. Explain how you would proceed further.

Answers 1. The broad problem is that the Chrysler cars are lagging in market share. 2. The problem statement: How can the market share of Chrysler cars be improved?

answers 3. It is best to interview the users of GM, Ford, Honda, and Toyota car users and obtain from them their reaction – both positive and negative- to the cars they use, and why they prefer them. • Similar reactions from the users of Chrysler cars should also be gathered. One should proceed further based on the analysis of these responses.

Nial Bolger The Effect of Research on Productivity. Management Journal Vol.69 No.5, 2006 -

Daniel A. Girdano George S. Everly Dorothy E. Dusek Controlling Productivity Applied Economics Vol.2, no.1, 2001 -

Jordan Investment Board Investing in Jordan

Bolger, 2006

Girdano et. al, 2001 Jordan Investment Board, 2000

• -

• 1.Bolger, Nial (2006). The Effect of Research on Productivity. Management Journal, 69(5): 20-35. 2.Girdano, Daniel A.; George S. Everly; and Dorothy E. Dusek (2001). Controlling Productivity, Applied Economics, 2(1): 15-30. 3. Jordan Investment Board (2000). Investing in Jordan.

Practice projects • Do the project assigned below, following the step-by-step process outlined: 1. Compile a bibliography on any one of the following topics, or any other topic of interest to you: a. service quality b. product development c. open-market operations d. information systems

Practice projects 2. 3. 4. From this bibliography, select 10 references that include books, periodicals, and newspaper items. Based on these 10 articles, write a literature review using the citation forms as described in our lectures. Formulate a problem statement.

Visit the following websites • Intel • Microsoft write a paragraph on each of these companies.

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