The Nature And Purpose Of Business Research

Abstract:

The paper seeks to demonstrate the importance of business research for the organizations in terms of marketing and collection of data. Various concepts of business research and its requirements have been thoroughly discussed in this paper. This research papers further explores the different methods and techniques for writing the business research. The classification of data and the limitations and reliability of each class has also been discussed. Finally, the other methods of data collection such as questionnaires, interviews and surveys are discussed to elaborate the concept of data collection. The paper, thus, seeks to identify the various ways of collecting data to carry out a business research in an effective and efficient manner.

Introduction:

A thorough, complete and well-organized research is the only tool for different organizations to get the overview of their targeted audience. Particularly in business related research, there are various research modules that are carried out in order to understand the marketing trends and patterns. For instance, what are the current needs and wants of the customers and clients in the market and how can the organization meet those needs in an easily accessible manner, the best prices for customer’s needs, how can you compete efficiently with your competitors and with whom you have to keep well collaborative terms (Bryman and Bell, 2007, p.33).

Therefore, there are different research methods depending on the requirements of an individual organization:

Planning a Research:

The basic step in order to plan a research related to any purpose of any organization depends heavily on what are the requirements of that organization. Thus, you must know your primary objectives that would help you collect the relevant data and information and makes you design a well-organized and precisely targeted research plan. These objectives may include, a current frequent complaint by customers regarding a particular product or service, need to improve a particular service for customers, need to get a high amount of loan from a bank or a fund provider, and the like (Sumner, 2005).

Thus, deciding your objectives at first will not only improve the efficiency of your research, but also save you lots of time that you might have spent researching random objectives.

Here are the top ten factors that should be kept in mind in order to bring out the best possible plan for any research:

You should be precise about the sole objective of the research. You should know before planning research that what goals you want to achieve, what objectives are there that you want to pursue through this research. The clearer you are in your approach, the better results you will most likely get.

What will be the information regarding a particular product or service that will make you take the correct decision. For instance, the weakness and strength of a product or service, the failure of a particular product, etc.

The audience of the research is another critical factor for carrying out any kind of research. You should be aware of what audience you are going to target for a particular research. The audience may include customers, employees, shareholders, fund provider, bankers, etc.

The source of information is also a very crucial part of any research. The research that will provide you information can depend on your objects as it may have consumers, employees, managers, etc.

You should also know the deadline for a particular research. As a deadline helps keep the research precise to a particular time only.

You should also be aware about the sources that would collect the data and information from different audience.

How much can you afford to conduct a research?

How much time you are ready to spend in conducting the research?

Last but certainly not the least, what will be the methods of collecting information or conducting the research itself. These methods may include, interviews, observation of the targeted audience, case studies, listening, surveys, and the like.

Nature and purpose of business research:

No hard and fast rules can be described in order to express the purpose of a business research. The reason is simple; each business research depends on the situation and the person or organization that is carrying out the research. However, only one thing is sure that the general purpose of any business research is to get success in the future.

It is an undeniable fact that every individual or organization enters the market hoping to gain massive profits. Thus, the primary objective of any business research can be explained as an attempt to improve the sales and income ratio of the company (Hair et al, 2011, p. 82). In addition, it helps the government agencies in obtaining a sort of financial support (Gravetter and Forzano, 2008, p.495).

Therefore, conducting a business research will let you understand the trend of the market and what are the needs of the markets and if you would be able to respond to those needs in an efficient manner. You will have to sell only such products or services that the market requires; otherwise, you will have no sale at all. As it is the first rule of entering any market along with your business that never enter a market without knowing each and everything about it. Hence, you should make sure that everything is planned out for even worse of the scenarios. However, if you have done a thorough research, then you can have massive gain in profit in near future.

Methods of writing a research proposal:

There are various types of research proposal depending on the needs of the research and its purpose. Writing a research proposal for a business is one of those proposals that require a great deal of skills in order to achieve the desired results. The exact research proposal of each organization is different according to its needs and objectives. However, the basic outline can stay the same for almost all the business research proposals (Gravetter and Forzano, 2008, p.495).

Title

The title of a business research proposal should be attractive enough to catch the attention of the readers in instance of a second and make them curious. However, it should be short and concise, but informative to give an overview picture of the research.

Abstract

Different sections of the research proposal should be summarized in 3-4 sentences that should relate to the general objective of the research. The key points and facts and figures of a research should be the part of this section.

Introduction

The introductory part of a research proposal is another important aspect of the proposal. It should state the research purpose in the business context. However, there are two important theses in the introduction. The opening thesis should state the problem properly for which the research is being conducted and expected to be resolved through the research. Meanwhile, the thesis statement should state the expected outcome and the measures that get decided as a result of the research.

Features of literature review

The literature review of a research proposal is the heart and soul of the research. The feature of literature review is that it justifies and gives arguments to conduct research in the future and shows the already possessed knowledge by the writer ((Bryman and Bell, 2007, p.94).

Thus, the core purpose of literature review is that the writer of the research proposal have carried out an extensive research and grasped a large area of the knowledge regarding the research and that the writer is well-aware of the problems and have learned the new theories and patterns. On the other hand, literature review should be strong enough to show a massive gap between the theory or business practice.

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Methods

This section of the research proposal should provide a thorough outline of the activities and methods that the writer have planned to carry out during the research. If the writer of the research wants to achieve success in a research proposal, the methods should be discussed and analyzed that can be used to collect data, information, facts and figures from different source. The top three primary activities for conducting a research are to do surveys, have face-to-face interviews and have focused groups.

On the other hand, the sources for secondary activities may be market reports, financial and legal documents, executive publication, etc. Nevertheless, the focus on this section should be on the time to complete any particular activity, materials, script for interviews, etc. All in all, the more thorough and descriptive the data are, the better will be the research proposal.

Conclusion

The conclusion of a research proposal should state a brief review of all the aspects of the research including the problems, the activities going to be used to counter them and the methods that will benefit a business in theory and in practice (McNabb, 2010, p. 126).

Planning a literature search

It is always a tricky task to plan a literature search to grasp the relevant, adequate and up-to-date literature. Making sure this thing will actually help you compare your current literature search with the ones that has been conducted in the past. It can really be a time-consuming task for any student. However, if you plan well ahead, then the chance of wrapping it up quickly increases (Hart, 2001).

Meanwhile, the best way to bring out everything out of your mind is to use the brainstorming technique. Thus, start your research without concentrating on a single objective and does the literature search from a broader aspect. You can then plan your strategy for the search and then reexamine it with friends or your tutor.

Further, you should keep the following information with you, when you are going to discuss with your tutor:

The parameters of the literature search should be well explained in an organized manner.

The collected databases and the number of different search engines you used to carry out the search.

The keywords that you targeted along with the terms or phrases you used for searching purpose.

What are the criteria that you have used in search of your literature and the basis on which you collected different data and information?

Different approaches to research

There are different approaches to conduct a research related to any aspects of life. Few of the most important and crucial approaches to conduct a research are explained below:

Primary Research:

Primary research is the most widely used approach to conduct a research. It includes the construction and conduction of different surveys, interviews, questioners, etc. to the top-notch people of media and different industries having a diary of log of data. For instance, this research may be about observing what women or men have been doing on television for a whole week.

Therefore, the research can be extensive, complex and difficult to conduct. Hence, it requires a much more committed and dedicated efforts to conduct the research. However, if your research is an extensive and thorough project or assignment, then these kinds of researches can be the best available option in terms of choosing a method to conduct a research (Norris and Ortega, 2006).

Secondary Print and Multimedia Sources:

This method of conducting a research is less complicated and easy to carry out. It deals with the collection of data and information from print media like newspapers, books. Printed statistics issued by different organizations, etc. and from multimedia like radio, television, etc. Hence, these sources can provide a very firm base for statistics, remarks, interviews, collected research details and so many of the other valuable information. Since, most of the part of the research in this approach is collected by these resources and hence makes the job fairly easy enough to just organize the information and present it in a professional manner.

Secondary Online Sources:

This kind of method of conducting a research can be a tricky one. Most of the people can do a thorough research online, but they will have to compare the information and the source of information as well. Since, most people believe whatever they see online, but it is not entirely true. A website stating a fact or figure does not mean it is true, as there are millions of fake websites roaming around online. Thus, only the official websites can provide the real fact and figures about different surveys and researches conducted at an official level.

However, it can be difficult for people to differentiate between a fake and an official website, but the doubt can be put to rest by watching the URL. If a website ends up with an extension like .edu, .ac, .org, etc. then the website is of an official level. Meanwhile, any regular website or blog cannot be termed as an official until or unless confirmed by contacting them.

However, these sources provide a good base for the data collection and it is relatively easier to collect the data through these sources (Kotler and Armstrong, 2008).

Comparison:

After collecting different data and information from different sources, you need to compare and analyze them. One cannot simply rely on something that he found on television, book or anywhere before getting any further information via different sources. Thus, comparison and analysis of the already collected information is an important part to conduct an efficient research. Therefore, we can conclude that the collection and evaluation of the secondary that is the first pre requisite for the collection of the primary data (Malhotra, 2008).

Definition of Secondary Data:

Secondary data is a form of data that is readily available from the internal and external sources of the organization. Due to the frequent availability of this data within or from outside the organization, this form of data is much cheaper to obtain as compared to the primary data which may involve a lot of resources for the collection of data (Saunders, 2003).

Sources of Secondary Data:

There are two main sources for the collection of secondary data which are discussed below:

Internal Sources: The Internal sources may include the internal experts, the reports that have been put forward by the organizations and also the internal conditions of the organization. All these things greatly facilitate the researcher to carry on his research after having an overview of the internal factors and internal knowledge of the organization (Winer, 2007).

External Sources: The external sources reside outside the organization and the collection of data from the external sources is much more difficult as compared to the internal sources. This is due to the fact that data is huge and is spread on a wider scale. Thus it’s not an easy task to select some particular sources that may be helpful for the completion of the research. The external sources may well include government and non government publications along with the syndicate services like survey and mail delivery panel (Winer, 2007).

Advantages of Secondary data

There are quite a few advantages that have been associated with the collection of the secondary data. As previously mentioned, it is not only economical but also save a lot of effort and time. It give the researcher a complete overview of his research and after the collection of the secondary data the user is well aware of the deficiencies in data that are still there which can be overcome with the help of primary sources. This data mainly concentrates on providing a way to the researcher to understand the problem statement in a more efficient and comprehensive way (Saunders, 2003).

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Limitations of Secondary Research

Apart from the above mentioned disadvantages, there are some limitations of secondary data as well which are associated with the secondary researches that also need to be kept in mind. When going for the secondary data, the accuracy issue might be a substantial one. It is not really assured that the data obtained from the secondary research is of accurate nature. Thus one cannot go blindly on the results obtained from the secondary research. These results can be important but surely not the final one. It is also an issue that data from secondary research may be outdated due to the fact that the secondary data is generally obtained from the employees within or outside the organization. Thus there is a chance that the information can be obsolete. Keeping this in view, it is strongly recommended that secondary research should be carried out; however the results cannot be deduced by seeing the results of this research alone. The final results should be the combined effect of the secondary as well as the primary research (Saunders, 2003).

Evaluating the Secondary Data

While evaluating the secondary data, there are some essential requirements that need to be satisfied before going for that particular secondary data. These are:

Availability: It has to been seen that whether that secondary data for which one is going is easily accessible or not.

Relevance: The data which one is going to use should meet the requirements of the research to be carried out. The concepts should be same as that of the proposed research and also the units used are not outdated.

Accuracy: This is an important factor which should be considered before going for the secondary data. For finding the accuracy of the data the user can determine the margin of error, the dependability of that particular source and finally the authenticity of that data. If all these three conditions are satisfied then the data can be termed as accurate enough to be used for the research.

Sufficiency: Finally there is a sufficiency factor. The data that is available should be sufficient enough to cover all the desired topics

Sampling of Primary Data:

The data which is never taken before and is collected by the researchers on the first hand is known as primary data. The data which is obtained as a result of primary research may be huge and needs to be filter out in order to make it more rational for the research. This process of filtering out is known as the sampling of the primary data. In the sampling process, one makes sure that which group will provide the best information. Obviously there are a lot of groups; thus sampling is important in the collection of the primary data (Hodges and Videto, 2010, p-98).

There are a large number of benefits that are associated with the process of sampling of the data. First of all accuracy is one of the main benefit that can be assured after the sampling of the primary data. One can also increase the scope of the data by this strategy. When sampling is being done, the researcher is supposed to question specific group of people as stated by the aims and objectives of the research. In this scenario, gathering the data from limited number of groups will provide a way to the user to better concentrate on his required objectives. Using of samples may also decrease the errors in the collected data as the researcher is now only focused towards specific community as a result of sampling. Thus the margin of error will be minimized in the process of sampling (Hodges and Videto, 2010, p-98).

The sampling frame is an important term in this regard which includes the list of all those people from which the sample is going to be taken. It is better to make a new list for the research as the already existing list which may include schools student lists, call center lists etc might be outdated and hence can’t be used. The researcher needs to update the previously made list and add the new list of peoples to form a complete sampling frame (Hodges and Videto, 2010, p-98).

Data Collection by Observation

In the last couple of centuries, the collection of the data by observation is of particular interest especially in the collection of scientific data. The world of science is doing their research majorly on the basis of the observation of the scientists. Thus most of the scientists collect the relevant data on the basis of observation. However in the present age, the most of the research is being done in the field of sociological sciences in which majority of the research is based on the other data collection methods.

Data Collection by Interviews:

Data collection with the help of interviews is an important strategy that is being used by most of the researchers. Interview is an effective mean of data collection which is well suited for assessing the behavioral characteristics. The interviews are of flexible nature and can be taken in variety of different scenarios. It is the only way that enables the researcher to have direct conversation. After having an interview the researcher comes in a better position to know more about the problems, challenges and the limitations of that particular organization. This will obviously assist him in carrying out the research in a better way (Brown, 2006, p.162).

Semi-structured and in depth Interviews

Semi-structured interview is a type of interview that is carried out by using an interview guide. The guide contains the questions that need to be discussed during the interview in order to have maximum benefit from the interview. This is actually a kind of pre-planned interview which is meant for short time. The interview is often considered to somehow superior than the survey due to the fact that the answerer is not restricted anymore to limit his answer whereas in case of survey there are specific options to choose from. Thus an interview gives a sense of freedom to a person to express his/her views in a more convincing way (Geerlings, J. n.d., p.28).

Collecting Data by Questionnaires

Data collection by questionnaires along with interviews is probably the most commonly used method for the data collection. The questionnaire is basically a set of different questions that is put forward by the researcher in order to gain maximum information about the subject. Some basic types of questionnaires that are being used are Postal questionnaires, Online, Face to face and also telephonic questionnaires. While carrying out the research it is important for the researcher to be aware of the fact that whether the questionnaire is the right mean for the collection of data or not. Questionnaires are usually appropriate for those scenarios where data required is relatively simple, quantitative in nature and required from large number of people (Gratton and Jones, 2010).

Questionnaire design

A questionnaire is an organized technique that is used to conduct research by collecting the primary data in a survey. Questionnaire can be of any form, i.e. verbal or written. However, the basic goal of designing a Questionnaire is to encourage the respondent to provide accurate and complete information (Brace, 2008).

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Although questionnaire is the primary tool for collecting data, but there are other components as well that make a research complete and accurate. These components may include, developing a reward system for the respondents, communication methods, field-work, and the like.

Basic steps for designing a Questionnaire:

The process of designing a questionnaire is a step by step method which should be carried out with a great care (Stevens, 2006, p. 139). No matter which research you are pursuing, but a well-organized and professionally design questionnaire should possess the following guidelines:

The first and foremost thing that should be kept in mind before designing a questionnaire is that you should determine the actual information you are looking for and put that in front of you all the time to keep the track in check. The more target information you try to seek, the better will be the outcome of the whole questionnaire.

You should determine which form of answers you will provide as an option in a questionnaire to the respondents.

The sequence of the questions should make sense and form a fluent flow to keep the respondent interested in the questionnaire.

General question material should be put aside and determined to obtain the desired information.

One of the most important steps is to determine what kind of question structure and methods of administrating a questionnaire should be used. You should be collecting a set of questions that can bring out more and more information from a respondent without making them bored. Meanwhile, the medium of administrating a questionnaire is a crucial step as well. For instance, a long questionnaire over a telephone call will not give you any proper information, but annoy the respondent.

Qualitative data and its reliability

Reliability is one of the major characteristics for determining the quality of the data collected and observed. The idea is used in almost all kinds of research. Therefore, a good qualitative data can give a huge boost to the quality of the research. Similarly, a less reliable qualitative data will blur the real picture of the situation and can become immensely confusing. However, the different between the qualitative and the quantitative research that makes the concept of reliability irrelevant in the qualitative research (Silverman, 2006).

Meanwhile, there were three questions by Patton (2001) for the credibility of the qualitative research; here are those questions that were raised against the reliability of the qualitative data:

What assumptions are taken?

What approach and strategy was used to keep the validity, accuracy and integrity of the findings in check?

What experience and qualification does the researcher possess that could help the course of the survey?

Presenting and analysing data

Presenting and analyzing the collected data is the most crucial part of any research (Israel, 2008). Even if the data you collected is reliable and has a good credibility, but the analysis goes wrong, then the whole research will become of no use.

Therefore, the data should be organized and the analysis should be made in a decent sequence. First, before you start the analyzing questionnaires, interviews, statistics, etc. you should review the basic reason behind carrying out the whole research itself. For instance, if the reason behind conducting research for you is to improve a particular product or service, then the analysis should be made accordingly, i.e. the strong points, weak points and the suggestions to improve the product or service. On the other hand, if the basic reason behind the survey is to analyze the mechanism of your program, then the customers, clients, employees, etc. should go through your program.

Basic analysis & presentation of data of Quantitative Information

The basic analysis and presentation of Quantitative Information can be performed by the following guidelines:

First of all, backup of information collected is a must. Make copies of the data and use the copied version of the data in order to make changes, edit or improve the data.

Giving answers in range looks a more sophisticated way to present the data. For example, 10 of the 50 people were ranked on the 1st place.

Calculating a mean or average of the data collected is a much more organized manner to show ratings and rankings. An average of 30.7 seems much more professional then quoting the exact figures four, five times.

It is important to use tabular form to present the data in terms of ratings and rankings. However, a yes or a no answer should be placed next to each question.

Basic analysis & presentation of data of Qualitative Information

The basic analysis and presentation of Qualitative Information can be performed by the following guidelines:

Re-read the complete data and review if there are any mistakes.

Strong point, weakness and suggestion should all be labeled accordingly to make it presentable.

Once the qualitative data is collected, the next step is a very critical one that is to analyze the data. You should keep a close eye on the data and analyze it thoroughly to form different patterns, trends, similarity, association or any kind of relationships between the two terms. For instance, people of age 30 or less liked music more than the older ones, etc.

Never discard the only conducted research, as you might need it for future references or research.

The Final Analysis, Presentation and Interpretation of Data

The final analysis & presentation of data for conclusion is the heart and soul of a research. It shows what your goals were and what you achieved through conducting the research. Thus, a professional looking, well-organized evaluation of the research should be presented to the company’s employees and managers to improve the products and service of the organization (If the survey was conducted for the evaluation of the products and services of a company).

Show brief information about what results you expected and what was the result that you found? If it was a performance evaluation research, make sure to label the good and the bad of the performance according to the research. If it was a program evaluation, then give a proper place to the people’s experience section and try to learn the common findings from the experience of people who took part in the research.

After the complete interpretation of the collected data and information, a reporting result should be presented expressing concerns, recommendations and the association of different facts and figures that could help the cause of the survey.

Conclusion:

In this modern era, the need of carrying out a business research to sort out different problems which an organization may face as well as to determine the reliability and effectiveness of a particular project has become extremely vital. Business research, however, need to be carried out in an effective and efficient manner to draw accurate results. The most important part of the business research is the data collection. Primary data and secondary data are the two categories in which the data can be classified. For accurate results, it is requisite that both primary data and secondary data should be considered. Data can be collected through various ways such as interviews, surveys and questionnaires. Whatever the method of data collection is, it should be ensured that the results are drawn out after the careful analysis of all the available data.

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