Positivist is an approach used in the research methodologies of various researches. Researchers follow certain research philosophies in order to carry out their study effectively. It is a method an author follows for gathering, analyzing and using data for the research purpose. One of the important philosophies indentified in a research is positivism. According to Levin, (1988), Positivist researchers are of the opinion that the reality can be observed and viewed in an objective manner. Positivists feel that the data collection can be carried out in the society and is related to people and their ideas (May 1997).
Some of the methods used in positivist philosophy include data collection through observation, experimentation, and collecting data through survey. These collected information and data are then statistically analyzed to obtain results and hypothesis is proved empirically (Schiffman and Kanuk 1997). Positivists mostly deliver their results in a generalized manner and follow deductive approach. To be precise a positivist research will put forward a hypothesis which will be studied based on the data collected. This will then be empirically analyzed and the hypothesis will be rejected if disproved in the experiment and accepted if the hypothesis is proved. Positivist research philosophy is made use in quantitative as well as qualitative studies. The research based on this approach is mostly objective and is meant to be based on facts and figures (Nagy, 2010).
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Social constructionist is something that is socially oriented. Social constructionist approach is used in research work. Social constructionist approach or perspective is mainly concerned with constructing reality socially and in such a case the author will analyze the processes. This approach is mainly concerned with observing and understanding people and in such a case people interact with each other creating and describing themselves as well as their environment (Shotter, 1993). People will involve their views and respond to each other in different manners. Social constructionism involves products and process with human interaction and communication thus is more social (Leeds-Hurwitz, 1995).
In this approach more importance is given to the group or people who are in an interaction rather than on a single individual. Communication among people is considered highly important and is linked to reality and relationship. Communication is meant to increase the knowledge and imparts meaning and generates social responsibility (Penman, 1992). Social constructionists are people who study the relationship and communication among people and their role in bringing in better social constitution and spreading knowledge.
b. Research Designs
Survey Research design
It is an important method used in research design wherein the information gathering is done with the help of survey. Data is collected by way of a survey and the survey will contain certain questions and points that will be answered to deliver the results. There are certain important aspects to survey in terms of gathering unique information that cannot be obtained from any other source. Using a survey method an unbiased sampling can be done and the population can be represented in a proper way (Sapsford, 2007).
When a survey method is done the information collected is mostly in a standardized form since the same types of questions are being asked to the respondents. The respondents will answer all the questions according their idea regarding the particular topic. Survey method is done with the help of simple questionnaires in paper as well as based on an in-depth interview. One of the important aspects of survey research is choosing the right survey method. The decision is crucial and is more dependent upon the type of survey, the topic involved and the kind of people associated and under study. The importance, advantages and disadvantages of the type of research also needs to be considered well by the researcher.
Quasi experimental design is an experimental design where the manipulation of the treatment variable takes place. It is a method of research design wherein a group is selected without any random pre selection process, and on this chosen group a variable is tested. When this method is used in a research work the author will divide the group under study into different categories and then a variable will be studied based on this category (Broota, 1989). The quasi experimental design is mostly concerned with social sciences and psychology. The experimenter cannot assign the group to the treatment conditions, but the treatment variable can be assigned to the groups divided. In most of the cases the researcher using this research design will not have full control over everything. Quasi experimental research design is mostly useful in generating generalized results. This study is mostly concerned with individual case studies.
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ââ‚¬Å“Case method is empirical enquiry that, investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident and in which multiple sources of evidence are usedââ‚¬Â, (Yin, 1984). Case study method is an important research design method that is followed by many researchers in order to understand various types of issues and complex processes that have been previously studied, and will help extend experience and reinforce the study already done. Case study is concerned with the detailed or in depth analysis of a few events, thus making a very specific study.
Case method involves 6 steps:
Identifying and formulating the research question
Choosing the data gathering techniques
Preparation Data collection
Data collection to the concerned field
Analysis of the data
Prepare a final report
Critics of the method say that the method deals with study of specific subjects at a limited level thus a generalized result cannot be obtained.
Ethnography is the approach that helps in the learning of various social, cultural and other aspects of people in an organization, community etc. Ethnography can be done in a scientific, investigative set ups and when the researcher acts as the data collection instrument himself (Le Compte, 1999). The researcher also will use certain research methods as well as many other modes of data collection without any kind of bias or influences. Ethnography is mainly concerned with the research or enquiry, identifying and discovering important things, developing new relationships among variables.
Ethnography research design is problem oriented, concerned with the particular group or community under study. It is done with the help of people participation and support. Ethnography mostly contributes to and points to bring about a social change. Ethnography research is carried out in a natural environment, in which there is a face to face interaction among the participants, their behavior and perspectives are analyzed with the help of both quantitative and qualitative data. The researcher also makes use of the inductive and interactive research approaches.
Experimental design is the method of planning out a study to meet specific objectives and goals. Experiments need to be properly planned so that the researcher knows what data needs to be collected, what sample size needs to be taken from the population and the types of research questions that has to be included. In an experimental research design the participants in a research are randomly allotted to different experimental and control groups (Marczyk et.al, 2010). Experimental design is considered to be more standardized and the one with more validity in results. It is one of the strongest research designs that is being extensively used in various kinds of researches. In the experimental research design the researcher will collect the relevant data regarding the topic and analyze them to test his hypothesis. Based in the analysis the hypothesis will be proved or disproved and the results will be analyzed well enough to obtain results.
Action research is a process of developing questions, data collection, analysis and deciding a course of action. According to Lewin, (1946) action research is a method of searching, planning and developing an action plan to obtain results. Action research is an interactive process that is mainly concerned with solving problems and finding suitable solutions and making a proper decision in various issues concerning individuals in a team or organization.
An organization based action research is essential in the sense that it involves participants, or subjects and delivering a practical solution to their issues by developing an interactive mode. Action research in any organization can only be carried out only with the help of certain specific skills. A researcher needs to make use certain essential tools in order to do an action research in any community or organization (Stringer, 2007).
Unlike the previous mentioned research designs grounded theory does not consider the variables. Grounded theory is the process of qualitative research design in which the data collected are analyzed in a systematic manner to obtain a theory. Grounded theory is also considered to be a general research which also involves quantitative research and is an inductive process. Grounded theory is a structured procedure in which a theoretical explanation is given and major issues of the participants are discussed (Bryant, 2002).
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There are certain steps in the grounded theory process that needs to be properly followed in order to develop theories.
Preparation is the first step that is followed in the theory, and then the next step is that of data collection in primary or secondary mode, after the data are collected they need to be properly analyzed so that the appropriate results can be obtained. It is based on this analysis that the theory is developed. Memoing is the nest step in the process wherein the theorization of the ideas in the analysis takes place, the last step in the process is that of sorting and creating a theoretical outline.
Co-operative enquiry is a method developed by John Heron which is also called by the name collaborative enquiry. Co-operative enquiry is a research method where the research is carried out with people who have similar ideas and issues and not on the people. In a cooperative enquiry people come together and will discuss their issues and concerns which are mostly similar and who have similar ideas. People in the group will contribute ideas to the group and they work and act together as part of the research. The researcher thus will be able to identify the issues and interests of the group members and observe them well being with them (Heron, 1996).
A systematic method of understanding and taking action is the essence of co-operative enquiry. In a co-operative enquiry group the each of the members will be involved in a cycle of action and reflection. As a first step the researcher is required to bring the people of common interest together and then they discuss upon their major concerns and issues and identify what they want to solve. Then the group members will decide upon an action plan that they will follow in order to understand their own issues and behaviors as well as that of the others.
There are many other types of research designs also that man researcher use in their researches which are exploratory, descriptive and causal research, focus groups etc.
Research topic is one of the most important parts of research since without a research topic no research can be carried out. A researcher needs to do an extensive literature survey of the various books, journals, and other websites so that they can understand their subject in depth and this decide finally upon the topic that they want to conduct a study on. Research topics are highly essential components of an MBA dissertation as the research can be carried out in the right path only with the help of topic. The research topic must be formulated in a specific manner and should be able to guide the researcher in conducting the study (Johnson, Christensen, 2010). An MBA student should identify the topic that is best required and relevant to his study and conduct a constructive research based on it so that the study will contribute to increasing his knowledge level in management subjects. The research topic must be strong, concise, specific and relevant to the field of study. The topic must be clear and not vague or lengthy. The student also needs to get familiarized with the research topic after identifying the research topic.
A research work is usually carried out in order to find answers to certain questions. These questions are formulated as part of the research in order to narrow down the whole research work. The research questions are the things that you want to find out as part of the research work. Research questions can be formulated by the students after a proper study of the matters related to the topic is done and the researcher will then get a clear idea regarding what has answers are to be obtained in the study (Douglas, 1979).The research questions will also help the student make the correct objectives of the research. The questions must be critical and valid with respect to the study, the answers of these questions should being out a new concept or idea. The questions derived must be practically feasible to answer and find a result on. Research question is an essential ingredient in the research work of any MBA student. It is the basic problem identified in the research that is considered as the research question.
Research hypothesis is formulated with the help of research questions and in an experimental mode of research. A prediction of a relationship between two variables or factors is called Hypothesis. Before the author carries out a research the hypothesis is formulated. The hypothesis formulation involves the process of framing the research questions in a testable manner. The hypothesis will depict what the researcher is trying to prove or disprove in the research. The research hypothesis is written as H1 and H0 in some single sentences. In the research it is the null hypothesis that is tested. If the null hypothesis is disproved then the research hypothesis is accepted, but if the null hypothesis is proved then the research hypothesis will be rejected. Thu the analysis part is carried out based on these hypotheses. It is the research problem that is depicted in the research hypothesis (DavidÂÂ & Sutton, 2004). Hypothesis is an important element in the research that is used to guide the researcher in the work. The researcher can focus on the hypothesis and direct his studies towards the problem. The researcher will also get a clear idea on where to find the right information related to the topic. The hypothesis becomes a theory when it is tested and proved.
Research objectives in a study are the important things that need to be achieved in a study. The objectives in a research and the problem statements should be linked. Objective in a study can be both primary and secondary objective. The general objective of the study is meant to describe what the research will yield in general terms (Saunders, 2003). The general objectives can be logically divided into specific objectives which are connected to each other and the general objective. The specific objective is meant to study the specific problems or smaller issues concerned with the study. All the specific objectives if proved will together contribute towards the general or the main objective of the research. An MBA research should have an objective and it is based on this objective that the research work will be carried out. Research objective brings greater specificity to the research work.
All these parts in a research are essential for an MBA dissertation and they follow a logical order in the study.
In order to carry out a research effectively the researcher needs to follow a proper research design.
Design and development
of survey instruments
The above diagram illustrates a research design using which a research can be carried out. According to Fraser, (1998) the model the author explain that the researcher needs to develop a method of survey like questionnaires and interview for data collection, also the sample population to whom the questionnaires will be given also needs to be analyzed. After the data collection is done the researcher then needs to analyze the collected data quantitatively and qualitatively using various statistical tools. Then the results obtained are discussed and hypothesis is proved or disproved.
There are mainly 4 types of scales used in a research as follows in decreasing levels
Ration scale- Absolute zero
Ordinal scale- attributes can be ordered
Nominal scale- attributes are named
These scales help the researcher standardize and collect data in an effective manner, so that they can be interpreted and measured efficiently. The measurement scales also help the researcher in deciding as to what statistical tool needs to be used for analyzing the data collected. Data analysis will be less sensitive if lower levels of measurements are used (Nash & Barnier, 2008).
Ratio scale measurement is concerned with absolute zero, and the researcher can develop a ratio with the variables in the study. It is more advisable to have a higher level scales like ratio or interval. Count variables in a research are all ratios in a research.
Interval scale: in case of this scale there is a meaning for the distance between variables. It is easy to interpret the distance between the variables. In this scale of measurement the average of the variable is calculated. Eg. Temperature variations
Ordinal scale: in ordinal scale the variables are kept in a rank or are ordered, in this case the distance between the variables do not have any meaning. The attributes will be given a gradation or order like strongly agree, agree, disagree etc.
Nominal scale- in case of numerical measurement the name of the attribute is important. Eg. Jersey number of football team
Questionnaires are important cheap tools for data collection from a large number of populations. A researcher will create questionnaires based on the topic under study. A structured questionnaire is an important component of a research since it will help the researcher collect data that needs to be analyzed. The questionnaire will contain some important questions related to the topic that are relevant to the population under study and the objectives of the research (Neelankavil, 2007).
There are certain important attributes of a questionnaire:
The questions will be relevant to the particular topic
The answers to these questions will answer research questions also
The questionnaire will set based on the research objectives
They include both closed and open ended questions
Questionnaire will be short and precise
There are certain poor designs attributes like, the respondents may be biased in the response they give, and the researcher will not be able to get the exact response of the respondents since face to face interaction is not possible.