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Research is a very crucial exercise in every business, both new and existing. This is because success or failure of any business venture is hinged on how well it gathers information relevant to its operations and utilizing it in planning its subsequent operations. Many successful businesses are known to possess very effective research and development department able to keep such businesses updated on the current changes in the external environment. It's for this purpose why a company should ensure that continued research is carried out to ensure its success. Research will be very useful in exposing opportunities in the external environment as well as threats. Such information is very useful in helping a company position itself in way that will maximize on the available business opportunities while at the same time minimizing the risks from the identified threats. It's also very important in providing competitive information very important especially in today's business whole which is characterized by stiff competition. In carrying out a business research, it's important to follow a certain protocol which is usually preset. This will be important in making sure that any research carried out elicits relevant information which will justify the cost and time spent in carrying out the research. There should be a leader mandated to ensure that the research process is a success. He is responsible to the top management who uses the information got to make strategic decisions for the business. In this context, the top management should ensure that the needed resources during the research process are sufficiently provided to the research team. The resources range from material resources to time as a resource. Basically, business research should win the support of the whole organization for it to be successful. It's a vital exercise deemed important for the future of every business (Coldwell & Herbst, 2004).
A typical business research begins with a research proposal. It provides an outline of the programme to be followed in the research and the objectives of the same. It's very important in informing the dependants of the research on the goals sought or what the research is geared to achieve (objectives) and how those objectives will be achieved otherwise known as the research design. The proposal justifies the research process by proving that the research project is worthwhile. The reader of the proposal must find the operational research idea practical. In this case, the management a school must be convinced by the research proposal to find ways of bettering food services in the food department. It must be convinced beyond doubts that appropriate methodologies are to be used and the major issues affecting the business are highlighted. In an auto company, price is a major issue and influences every decision made. This is enough to convince the top management on the need to carry out a research on prices in various demographic areas.
One of the main components of a research proposal is a comprehensive problem statement. It's very important in defining the reason that called for the research (Coldwell & Herbst, 2004). This is always a problem to be solved or an issue to shed more light on for future decision making. For example, an auto company dealing with used automobiles will need to carry out insightful researches to establish the prices of used cars in various demographic areas. Such a business will therefore find internet very useful in facilitating the research. In another example, a school food service will find research very useful helping offer better food services in the food department. The research problem can be asked as a single question which will be answered through the research proposed. A back ground to this problem should be provided which provides the context or sets the stage for the research problem. The background should be informative both in historical and contemporary context. All the major issues or players touching on the research problem should be highlighted. It should provide a broader context of the problem explaining why the research problem is an important call for the research. An auto company will discuss the problem drawing inferences from the fact that the business is complicated thus prompting a research to gather facts on top used cars with their price ranges.
The next section of the proposal is literature review which provides in-depth and critical review of literature on the research proposed. It's in this section where various theories are evaluated depending on the findings obtained (Coldwell & Herbst, 2004). All the relevant literature on the key variables of the research should be perused as well as the research instruments. Literature review is very important in demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the area under study and consequently justifying it. It's a key force in convincing the reader of the proposal that the research will make a substantial and significant contribution to the area in question. It will be important in explaining why the research will provide a solution to the issue at hand and fill in the existing information gaps in the business. A good literature review should be focused around and directly related to the research question being developed. It should also synthesis results as a concise summary of what is known and what is not. It should also identify controversial areas in the literature as well as posing questions which need further research.
The other important part of the research proposal is research methods where a clear description of the research design to be used in the proposed study is described. There is also description of population and sampling procedures to be used in the research process. Methods of analyzing the data are also discussed as well as the instruments which will be used (Coldwell & Herbst, 2004). A good understanding of the different methods in research important and the ability to prove that the selected method for the research is the most appropriate one to answer the research question formulated. The research proposal also contains a timetable which is basically a time frame within which all the activities to be carried out in the course of the research project should be completed. It should be realistic bearing in mind the technicalities of each stage in the process.
The next section is a research design which acts as the binding element holding the whole research project in place (Bryman & Bell, 2007). A research design is vital in structuring the research. It shows how all the major components of a research project including samples, measures and methods work interactively in trying to address the research question posed. The research design to be used in the research process guides the researcher in selecting the information and sources deemed relevant to the research question. Its important in providing a procedure which every activity to be carried out should follow. It's the answer to questions regarding the techniques to be used in gathering data and the sampling method to be employed. It also defines how the various constraints like cost and tome will be tackled. A good research design should be experimental in nature. This is important in validating the findings and making them more acceptable as good results from the research. It should also be implementable. It should make sure that the timing and sequence of the events fit into the time frame drawn. It should also anticipate problems which may arise in the course of the research like measurement problems. A good design should be flexible in nature. Most importantly, it should be efficient in utilizing resources to ensure that costs do not over run the benefits of carrying out the research.
Data And Data Collection
In a business research, data can either be primary or secondary. Primary data is the data which is gathered for the first time by the researcher while the secondary data is the data obtained from secondary sources. It's important for the researcher to evaluate all primary sources of data before embarking on any efforts to gather primary data. In some instances, secondary data may prove to be sufficient to a researcher in helping solve the research question. Primary data may then be reviewed to ensure that the secondary data collected is accurate. This however depends on the business in question. One advantage of using secondary data is that it saves time, has rapid response and lower costs. It also has numerous supplementary sources and helps in planning how the primary data will be collected. This is because the data is already collected and compiled. Example an auto mobile company will obtain secondary data on used vehicles from auto magazines and internet. The data relevant to this kind of business include the wholesale price of the cars, manufacture suggested retail or average retail price. Primary data is gathered using instruments like questionnaires and interviews. One of its advantages is that it's uncontaminated and its direct information. However, its disadvantage is that it's usually one sided. In most business researches questionnaires proves to be very effective. They are usually structured and have both open ended and closed questions (Western CAPT, 2008).
Questionnaires are capable of eliminating interviewer's bias and can collect large volume of data. Example, when carrying out a menu survey for a school food department a typical questionnaire will contain open ended questions like how often do you eat in the cafeteria for breakfast? Or what do you like about the cafeteria if anything? Closed questions would be like did you eat in the cafeteria in the last one week? Yes or no. interviews may also be conducted to reinforce data collected using questionnaires. They are very effective in helping gain a better understanding of the reasons and motivations behind people's attitude, behavior or preference. Personal and telephone interviews are the most popular types of interviews in the business world. One advantage of a personal interview is that provides the interviewer an opportunity to ask many detailed questions. It also helps the interviewer to cut off the response time. Its disadvantage is that its time consuming and expensive. The interviewer may also sway answers. Telephone interviews o the other hand are relatively cheap and offer unbiased answers though there are limited for time. For example, in its efforts to better the food service department, a school may conduct interviews with dietitians and doctors.
This is an important part of the research process because raw data is not useful to the business until its analyzed. It's after analysis when the intended results of the research are assessed. Depending on the research question a qualitative or quantitative analysis may be carried. Information got in quantitative research is expressed numerically unlike in qualitative. The type of data collected and the survey design are key determinants of the method of analysis to be used. Data is analyzed for trends patterns and outliers. One data has been analyzed, it's then interpreted and results drawn. The drawn results are then communicated to the relevant persons in the company mostly the top management. From the results they can make decisions (Remenyi, Money & Williams, 1998).
Conclusively, an effective research should be a vital aid in decision making especially to the top management who are vested with the responsibility to steer the organization to its objectives. It's important to follow the steps described above from the research proposal to eventual a collection and analysis of data. Good coordination between the researchers and research facilitators should be ensured to guarantee its success. Resources should also be adequately provided to make sure that every step in the research process is carried out to the standards. This is especially in data collection stage which requires a lot of resources. It's a core part of the research exercise because without the data, there will be no results.
Bryman, A., & Bell, E. (2007). Business research methods. London: Oxford University Press.
Coldwell, D., & Herbst, F. (2004). Business Research. SA: Juta and Company Limited.
Remenyi, D., Williams, B. & Money, A. (1998). Doing research in business and management: an introduction to process and method. London: SAGE.
Western CAPT. (2008). Design: Asking Questions with a Purpose. Retrieved on 29th August2009 from http://captus.samhsa.gov/western/resources/bp/step7/eval10c.cfm