The overall aim of this review is to compare and understand research design models both the Qualitative and the Quantitative ones. And thus being able to get the desired results considering the merits and demerits of the two.
2. What is Research design?
In simplest meaning Research is to find out answers to question (s) in a systematic or scientific manner. Question asked can be about anything, anybody or for any reason. Research design allow us to formulate a system using which we can get close to the most appropriate or true answers. But the most important task here is to choose the right kind of design model for the right research.
There are two main approaches to a research design:
The kind of method to be used depends upon the actual aim of any research. While Quantitative methods are more descriptive and experimental in nature, this will give us answers to what, where and when and thus will and can involve a larger sample. On the other hand Qualitative research design results in more in depth understanding of the problem and thus answers the how's and why's of the concerned study. Both the techniques are widely used in research design.
Quantitative Methods of Research Design
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Quantitative research design is said to be deductive or in other words it tests theory. These methods are generally objective in nature and the results are in form of numbers, which can be easily generalized. Such design models include questionnaires, forums, experiments, data collection etc.
Qualitative methods of Research design
Qualitative design model is more subjective in nature. It generates theory and thus answers questions in words and not in numbers. It studies human behavior and reasons for that behavior. Thus can be widely uses in generating quantitative results. Methods under this technique include in depth interviews, focus groups and direct observations.
Comparative Analysis on the two approaches of Research design using the published studies as below:
Liff, S. and Ward, K. (2001) 'Distorted views through the glass ceiling: the construction of women's understandings of promotion and senior management positions', Gender, Work and Organization, Vol.8 (1): 19-36
Gunkel, M., Lusk, E., Wolff, B. and Li.F. (2007) 'Gender-specific effects at work: an empirical study of four countries,' Gender, Work and Organization, Vol 14 (1): 56-79.
3.1 Analyses of Qualitative research design model using Liff, S. and Ward, K. (2001) 'Distorted views through the glass ceiling: the construction of women's understandings of promotion and senior management positions', Gender, Work and Organization, Vol.8 (1): 19-36
The basic aim of the above mentioned study is to find out the primary reasons for less participation of women at the senior management level in the concerned bank.
In this case the organization provided equal opportunities to both its male and female junior managers to grow and gain promotions and thus was in favor of an investigation to find out the explanation for women's absence from the top managerial posts.
The research team undertook a qualitative approach that too using a limited sample size. They took up interviews with 52 managers, comprising 38 junior and middle level managers and 14 senior managers. 36 women were interviewed out of which 9 were at the senior level and rest at junior and middle level. Out of 16 men, 5 were at senior level and rest at the junior and middle level. The people chosen were in the age group of 26 to 55 and most had been working with the bank for a long time. Also people considered for the research sample were in the list of good performers and those who were entitled to a promotion in the near future.
This was not a number based analyses but it was a people based one which could point out some problem areas in terms of the gender balance at the top positions.
While senior managers were interviewed to construct a picture as to what are the real challenges and qualities a senior job holder should possess and the experience he or she needs to have in order to sit at the senior managerial level.
The junior and middle level managers were asked open ended questions about the promotion process in the organization and whether they seem to face any barriers to promotions. Men and women were interviewed to find out whether there are any gender specific problems underlying the system.
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During the course of interviews men came out with the real organizational culture. And the way women were viewed within it.
Most findings in regard to the organizational roles at the top level and promotion process were quiet similar to both. While, consequences for their personal career orientation differed for both men and women.
The characteristics and behavior which a promotion seeks were found more challenging to women than to men. While active parenting and job promotion was an issue for both, women were found to be more affected by the same. In this case it was viewed that women took career decisions keeping their domestic life in mind.
Like any other financial institute a top post demanded long working hours, more responsibility and hence more work load, which in turn presented a problem to those willing to balance home and work as cited in the study.
Overall it is observed that more junior level managers desire senior jobs. They found that at senior level, work may not differ from their current work technically. But with it will come more responsibility, much more commitment and work long hour's routine. And with work taking most of the time, home front will surely become secondary. Here, we find that this scenario may make the men feel guilty of not giving time to kids and family, but still will be manageable. But in case of women who need to work at dual front suffer most and hence they keep away from such managerial posts. Also it came to light that more and more banking institutions are being opted by singles as these demand most of their time.
Taking this study as an example we find that both men and women in the sample agree that , to be at the top post one needs to be ambitious, should possess leadership qualities, should have a good network and most of all should be in the right place at the right time.
Moreover where senior managers gives weightage to ability, self confidence, flexible thinking and great communication skills to reach at the top and to be there for long. The middle and junior managers view that right network, luck and impressions of them in the eyes of the right people also is an important factor.
Another very popular view which came out in the study was the consequences of children for careers. Both men and women expressed concerns about managing senior jobs with real family life. This was supported on the basis of long working hours and work loads. But this issue mostly concerned the lives of the women who were mothers to young children or were planning a family in near future. In this context women generally considered motherhood as an end to their careers.
Further it was also viewed that women themselves were sometimes responsible for their failure by drawing attention to their differences. It was thus proved that unless women are ready to mirror male behavior, then they themselves are the one to be blamed for exclusions.
The finding brings out various factors responsible for lack of women presence at the top managerial level in the institution. These may be summed as, firstly the levels of uncertainty about the job and what they might involve; secondly , the perception of a promotion based more on knowing and impressing the right people rather on formal assessment system. Also both men and women were uncertain to some extent about future opportunities and workings of the promotion process.
Finally we can conclude that senior management in this bank was a male preserve. Formal equality statements expressed concerns about this but there were more informal practices which reinforced it.
A senior manager is supposed to be a super workaholic, willing to accommodate enormous workloads and should be able to devote oneself entirely to the bank.
Thus women in the picture were a left out bunch. They had a dual role to play, which made them a less of a contender for the top posts. Still those who were able to manage both the fronts somehow, were viewed as a more aggressive and 'not so nice' kind of people.
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The above study clearly proves that qualitative research design is very much successful when we talk about a specific problem in a specific sector or organization. Here using small but significant sample, we could derive at the real reasons for the current situation. Also using the method of in-depth interviews we could find out and study human behavior at different situations. Qualitative approach here highlighted specific issues women managers face in such organizations. They have problems presenting themselves as plausible candidates for promotion. Thus we come to a conclusion that qualitative study are much more helpful in finding the right answers to specific questions further these can assist in generalizing the results and can be helpful in quantitative design.
3.2 Analyses of Quantitative research design model using Gunkel, M., Lusk, E., Wolff, B. and Li.F. (2007) 'Gender-specific effects at work: an empirical study of four countries,' Gender, Work and Organization, Vol 14 (1): 56-79.
Aim of this study is to highlight the effects of gender related issues to work dimensions like work related goals, performance reward preferences and preferences for managerial styles. The study included results from headquarters of a corporation and its branches in different countries.
In order to keep pace with global competition an international corporation needs to work according to country specific goals. Different country have different cultures hence in order to benefit the most from it, a company should design their incentive systems, managerial systems which cater to employees in that country. The best possibility in today's globalizing era is to modify the headquarters incentive system for the foreign subsidiaries based upon prevailing foreign stereotypes in hopes of developing reasonable incentive plans. This study aims to investigate the relevance of using such gender stereotypes. While designing an effective compensation plan in addition to national, legal and cultural differences one also needs to consider gender differences within the country.
Using the questionnaire based method the author here is trying to identify the motivating aspects of performance rewards as well as to minimize non motivating rewards. This study provides us country specific profiles and thus helps in finding out whether gender stereotypes are relevant in selecting performance rewards.
Keeping earlier studies like the one by Hofstede (2001) as one of the variable for the current study. In case of work values it was found that men valued advancement, training and up-to-datedness more than did women ; where as women valued a friendly atmosphere, position security, physical working conditions, a positive relation with superiors and cooperation with colleagues more highly than did men. Men placed greater emphasis on salary while women on professional growth.
However in case of motivation different studies support different theories. Some reveal that work motivation is more dependent on factors like type of job, physical conditions and cooperating counterparts rather than the gender differences.
The research in the mentioned study is conducted only on full time employees. Early studies have shown that there are significantly small differences in needs, values and attitudes of men and women.
But at the same time it is seen that two major stereotypes rule the whole employee characterization in any corporate culture. First being, that men are perceived to be strong, active, assertive, competitive, and tough and are characterized by focusing on dominance, autonomy, aggression and economic achievement.
Second being that the women are best suited for tender roles, that is, to tend to the care of the home, to children and to people in general. Thus women are more concerned with nurturance, affiliation, deference and the quality of family life.
Thus we if designing packages according to these characteristics will offer following outcomes:
Firstly, men's work goals will include challenge, earnings, advancement, recognition, training, work autonomy and use of their skills. While women's work goals will consider cooperation, relationship with immediate managers, a desirable living area, fringe benefits, working conditions, job security and personal time to be more important than men.
Further same gender stereotype will lead to different profiles in case of incentives. Where, men's incentives include performance rewards as cash , merit raises, stock options, greater responsibility, promotion, additional training etc. women's include performance rewards such as day offs, healthcare plans, retirement plan payments, and improvement in the working conditions which further motivate them.
In case of managerial preferences two main hypothesis which came about were, in case of men, they preferred collaborative managers, that is , ones who meet with their subordinates when there is any important decision. While women were believed to prefer managers who make decisions promptly and communicate in detail the ways that the task is to be executed.
Thus the above characterization acted as a variable for the current study.
This study is based on the research conducted with a German MNC with its subsidiaries in China, Japan, and USA. A questionnaire mode designed by Greet Hofstede (Hofstede, 2001) was used in addition to some questions detailing various demographics.
The questionnaires were distributed in cooperation with the CEO of the MNC and were supervised by the author. Out of the total distributed questionnaires, 640 responses were valid, which were as follows, 64 from China, 312 from Germany, 64 from Japan and 200 from USA.
Further as suggested earlier in the review the basic variables on which the research is conducted are work goal differences between men and women, performance incentive preferences between the two and managerial preferences.
Thus we find that some basic questions answered by this study are:
Do women and men assess the importance of work attributes differently?
Are there any gender differences regarding preferences for various performance rewards and managerial styles?
Does national culture play a critical role in shaping these differences?
Does this information follow the usual gender specific stereotypes?
On analyzing the results from the study and going through the response data collected, we can conclude that gender stereotyped profiles and hypothesis are not exactly true neither in general, nor by specific country analysis.
It came to light that men do not necessarily value more highly the traditionally stereotypical masculine factors. Men and women prefer similar incentives across countries. Culture can be a major factor in some cases. Both men and women are equally dedicated towards their work goals. Both would want their managers to be collaborative.
While both men and women are found with similar traits we observe that the prevailing gender stereotyping is not seen to provide design formation that can be used to create effective incentive plans. Findings of the study supports that when considering culture, one must examine other variables such as occupation type, organizational form, company size and others.
Using the quantitative approach in this study we can generalize on a whole, to make a statement that would help in further studies.
Conclusion on the comparative analysis of the two research design approaches based on the case studies:
Both the case studies emphasize on the gender stereotypes in an organization. Both cases highlighted different aspects of somewhat same issue. Analyzing both the studies one can conclude that qualitative research model is more descriptive in nature while quantitative is more objective which aims at strait to point answers. In qualitative interaction human behavior can be very helpful in determining the outcome. Qualitative research design aims at dealing with human understanding and its sincere response to a particular question and thus can differ from one to another. While in case of quantitative research we are able to target much more people at one time and can further generalize on different subjects accordingly. Qualitative model thus is more successful in case specific researches like a particular company or sector. While quantitative one is more appropriate for lager groups like for a country or a community. One thing which is also evident from the review is that, qualitative research model can be very helpful in further deciding the parameters for any quantitative research design.