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You are required to evaluate the in terms of purposes, audiences and general strengths and weaknesses. The essay will account for 40% of the overall mark. Indicative word count: 1500 words.
Note that you will need to submit your coursework to the Business School reception by 12pm (noon).
“Research – an investigation involving the process of enquiry and discovery used to generate new ideas”
(Hall, Jones, Raffo, 1993, Business Studies, P. 204)
Research is vital in all business environments, and put into practice far more than most people presume.
Every modern day manager uses research with almost any decision he makes within the company (not just when planning to advertise, as many seem to believe). Even when a manager believes that they are acting out of some kind of instinct, or hunch, it will nearly always be based on some kind of prior experience. So all these decision are tracing back to some form of past research.
Although this does not mean that the term research is not over used and/or used in the wrong context. For example Walliman (2001) states that the term ‘research’ is used incorrectly on a regular basis. Examples he uses that highlight incorrect usage of the term include such situations as, ‘collecting facts or information with no clear purpose’ (Walliman believes, in order for data to be taken as part of research, it must be aimed towards an objective) and also, ‘reassembling and reordering facts or information without interpretation’.
It is important to remember that research aids decision-making, and the results are in no way a decision themselves.
“In practice, most organisations have a continuous programme of research, often stretching back many years, which is designed not solely for advertising purposes, but also to help them run their businesses properly”.
(Torin Douglas – 1984)
Types of Research:
The type of research that research that is being performed is most simply defined by the question it is answering. Business research (also called applied research) is best defined as trying “to solve specific, practical questions” (www.wikipedia.com).
This is most often performed by companies, when trying to solve a serious and truly important problem. For example, if the manager of a retail store were having problems with the staff attitudes, they would pften take it upon themselves, using their prior experience to solve the problem. But if the manager were worried that they are not reaching goals, and are not performing well next to competitors. They will need to perform a form of deep analysis/research that is tailored to meet the objectives of the question. In this example, it would not be uncommon for an external, professional researcher to be brought in to perform the task. (Although it is important to remember that although this may happen, it does not mean that only primary data is being used. It is very likely that there will be some useful secondary data available to help with the research). This is a perfect example of business research. Of course by knowing the question you want answered, and following it in a systematic sense, it is far easier to choose the best method of research
in order to gain the results you wish for. In this form of research, it is likely that the company will have theory’s on variables, that they will be hoping to find out to be either true or false.
From the example above, you should be able to see how business research is an objective, systematic, goal specific form of research. And from this example, it is clear to understand why it is most commonly found in use within a business environment. As it is this research, that often gives management the information they need to run the organisation to its full potential.
The other main form of research is that of academic research (also called fundimental, pure or basic research). Academic research can often have no plan for practical gain, it is often a form of research carried out by a person that has some form of vague knowledge in the other, or some level of interest. It can often be assumed to be a less detailed form of research than business research, but this is not the case, its is simply less answer driven. And can often finish with no clear answer to the question. In this form of research, you are much more likely to find hypothesis waiting to be tested, rather than theories believed to be true/false.
Simply put, business research is used to answer a question, academic research is used to acquire
a body of knowledge. From this definition, it is easy to understand why many pieces of academic research can lead into further business research
. For this reason, the space between these dichotomies is not always a clear one. There can often be a grey area found between. An example of when research could fall into the grey area could be if a business were to conduct continuous research. Companies often use continuous
research on a market, that has been developed specifically to better understand and to overcome market problems as they occur. Now is this academic research? As it is being peformed with no clear objective in mind. Or is it business research? As it is used to answer the companies questions specifically, when they arise. In this circumstance it is often the researchers responsibility to tailor and arrange their findings to coordinate with their needs. It is in this instant that the researcher will be presenting that he has followed through business research or academic research. A clear way to differenciate between the two forms at this stage is simply to ask how the researcher is presenting they came to their conclusion. If the researcher believes that through a clear systematic approach they have reasonable evidence to support their statement, its is likely that the research has been part of a systematic approach. If on the otherhand, the research has looked at all possibilities and is presenting the information gathered as their own personal conclusion, then this is most likely to be academic
research. So I believe the paragraph above falls in line with my original statement, that ‘The type of research that research that is being performed is most simply defined by the question it is answering’.
All business research has a purpose, so it will be based around a very clear question that it is aiming to answer in its results. There is a comprehensible purpose to this form of research, and will normally have some form of benefit to the company. Academic research on the other hand, is not always as apparent in its meaning. The person conducting the research topic will normally have some form of interest in the area, but in order to gain cooperation in the research (for example, from financial backing), they must be able to explain why their research is of value. This is harder to explain, than a business researchers plan. As the business researcher will often know all the who’s, what’s, when’s, why’s and how’s of their topic. This is why it is important that when conducting an academic study, the person conducting knows the area in question. It is normally best if they review literature on the area before conducting the work. This will help reduce the chances of repeating work previously researched, helps when tuning the hypothesis, helps to build previous knowledge, and can often help with the starting blocks of the task. This review could come from the internet, published books, journals, even past pieces of research that have been made public.
Although I have spoken about how clear business research follows its subject, but just because they know what they want answered, does not mean they will ask the right questions. So it could be that this background research, if performed correctly, makes the academic research rival the accuracy of the business research.
So it is obvious that both forms of research have there own strengths and weaknesses. The main ones being that business research has the advantage of knowing what it wants from the research, but that does not mean they will ask the right questions to get it, which means the data may be inaccurate. Where as on the other hand the academic research is not clear on what it wishes to gain from the research, as it has no purpose, but this may get them the chance to perform prior research, and give them a hint in how to perform their own.
Unfortunately it would be unfair for me to say which for a research is better, as I’ve said multiple times throughout this piece of work, it all depends on the question being asked.
References:
Books:
Hall, D., Jones, R. & Raffo, C. Chambers, I. Ed (1993). Business studies. Causeway Press
Brassington, F. & Pettitt, S. (2005). Essentials of marketing. Prentice Hall
Smith, P R. & Taylor J (2004). Marketing communications – An integrated approach. 4th ed. Kogan Page
Sekaran, U. (2000). Research methods for business: A skill-building approach, 3rd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2003). Research methods for business students, 3rd ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited
Preece, R. (1994) Starting research: An introduction to academic research and dissertation writing. London: Continuum