Business Research Methods William G. Zikmund Chapter 6: Problem Definition and the Research Proposal A Sea Horse’s Tale Problem discovery Problem Discovery and Definition Sampling Selection of exploratory research technique Secondary (historical) data Experience survey Probability Pilot study Case study Data Gathering Data Processing and Analysis Problem definition (statement of research objectives) Experiment Laboratory Conclusions and Report Survey Field Interview Nonprobability Collection of data (fieldwork) Editing and coding data Data processing Selection of basic research method Research Design Selection of exploratory research technique Questionnaire Observation Secondary Data Study Interpretation of findings Report Uncertainty Influences the Type of Research CAUSAL OR DESCRIPTIVE COMPLETELY CERTAIN ABSOLUTE AMBIGUITY EXPLORATORY Problem Discovery and Definition • • • • First step Problem, opportunity, or monitor operations Discovery before definition Problem means management problem “The formulation of the problem is often more essential than its solution.” Albert Einstein Problem Definition • The indication of a specific business decision area that will be clarified by answering some research questions. Defining Problem Results in Clear Cut Research Objectives Symptom Detection Analysis of the Situation Problem Definition Statement of Research Objectives Exploratory Research (Optional) The Process of Problem Definition Ascertain the decision maker’s objectives Determine unit of analysis Understand background of the problem Determine relevant variables Isolate/identify the problem, not the symptoms State research questions and objectives Ascertain the Decision Maker’s Objectives • Decision makers’ objectives • Managerial goals expressed in measurable terms. 10 The Iceberg Principle • The principle indicating that the dangerous part of many business problems is neither visible to nor understood by managers. Understand the Background of the Problem • Exercising judgment • Situation analysis - The informal gathering of background information to familiarize researchers or managers with the decision area. 12 Isolate and Identify the Problems, Not the Symptoms • Symptoms can be confusing 13 Symptoms Can Be Confusing Twenty-year-old neighborhood swimming association: • Membership has been declining for years. • New water park -residents prefer the expensive water park???? • Demographic changes: Children have grown up Organization Twenty-year-old neighborhood swimming association in a major city. Symptoms Membership has been declining for years. New water park with wave pool and water slides moved into town a few years ago. Problem Definition Based on Symptom True Problem Neighborhood residents prefer the expensive water park and have negative image of swimming pool. Demographic changes: Children in this 20year-old neighborhood have grown up. Older residents no longer swim anywhere. What Language Is Written on This Stone Found by Archaeologists? TOTI EMUL ESTO The Language Is English: To Tie Mules To TOTI EMUL ESTO Determine the Unit of Analysis • Individuals, households, organizations, etc. • In many studies, the family rather than the individual is the appropriate unit of analysis. 18 Determine the Relevant Variable • Anything that may assume different numerical values 19 Types of Variables • • • • Categorical Continuous Dependent Independent Hypothesis • An unproven proposition • A possible solution to a problem • Guess State the research questions and research objectives 22 If you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there. Broad research objectives Statement of business problem Exploratory research (optional) Specific Objective 1 Specific Objective 2 Specific Objective 3 Research Design Results The Process of Problem Definition Ascertain the decision maker’s objectives Determine unit of analysis Understand background of the problem Determine relevant variables Isolate/identify the problem, not the symptoms State research questions and objectives Research Proposal • A written statement of the research design that includes a statement explaining the purpose of the study • Detailed outline of procedures associated with a particular methodology Basic Questions Problem Definition • • • • • • • What is the purpose of the study? How much is already known? Is additional background information necessary? What is to be measured? How? Can the data be made available? Should research be conducted? Can a hypothesis be formulated? Basic Questions Basic Research Design • What types of questions need to be answered? • Are descriptive or causal findings required? • What is the source of the data? Basic Questions Basic Research Design • Can objective answers be obtained by asking people? • How quickly is the information needed? • How should survey questions be worded? • How should experimental manipulations be made? Basic Questions Selection of Sample • • • • • • • • Who or what is the source of the data? Can the target population be identified? Is a sample necessary? How accurate must the sample be? Is a probability sample necessary? Is a national sample necessary? How large a sample is necessary? How will the sample be selected? Basic Questions Data Gathering • • • • Who will gather the data? How long will data gathering take? How much supervision is needed? What operational procedures need to be followed? Basic Questions Data Analysis • Will standardized editing and coding procedures be used? • How will the data be categorized? • What statistical software will be used? • What is the nature of the data? • What questions need to be answered? • How many variables are to be investigated simultaneously? • Performance criteria for evaluation? Basic Questions Type of Report • Who will read the report? • Are managerial recommendations requested? • How many presentations are required? • What will be the format of the written report? Basic Questions Overall Evaluation • • • • How much will the study cost? Is the time frame acceptable? Is outside help needed? Will this research design attain the stated research objectives? • When should the research be scheduled to begin? Anticipating Outcomes • Dummy tables • Representations of the actual tables that will be in the findings section of the final report; used to gain a better understanding of what the actual outcomes of the research will be.