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Choosing Research Strategy and Approach


Choosing Research Strategy and Approach Lecture 7 Prof. Development and Research Lecturer: Rositsa Milyankova Objectives of the lecture: To outline the key research ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Choosing Research Strategy and Approach

Choosing Research Strategy and Approach
  • Lecture 7
  • Prof. Development and Research
  • Lecturer Rositsa Milyankova

Objectives of the lecture
  • To outline the key research philosophies
    positivist, interpretivist and realist
  • To select one of the two approaches deductive or
  • To identify the main research strategies and
    explain why they are not mutually exclusive
  • To explain concepts of validity and reliability
  • To understand the ethical issues of selecting
    research strategy

The research process onion
Research philosophy
  • Positivism
  • Role of researcher objective analyst
  • Working with an observable social realitythe end
    product can be law-like generalizations similar
    to those produced by the physical and natural
    scientist (Remenyi et al., 1998)
  • The researcher is independent and neither affects
    nor is affected by the subject of the research
  • Highly structured methodology
  • Quantifiable observations that lend themselves to
    statistical analysis
  • Complexity is reduced to a series of law-like
    generalizations this leads to interpretivism

Research philosophy
  • Interpretivism (Phenomenology)
  • Business situations are not only complex, they
    are unique, a particular set of circumstances and
  • To discover the details of the situation to
    understand the reality or perhaps a reality
    working behind them, associated with
    constructionism or social constructionism
    reality is socially constructed
  • People place different interpretations on the
    situation, in order to make sense of and
    understand motives, actions and intentions of
    other people

Research philosophy
  • Realism
  • Based on a belief that reality exists,
    independent to human thoughts and beliefs
  • Social objects or phenomena, external to or
    independent of individuals affect the way people
    perceive their world, whether the are aware of
    them or not
  • Shares some philosophical aspects with positivism
  • N.B. Business research is often a mixture between
    positivism and interpretivism, reflecting the
    stance of realism

Research approaches
  • Deductive - testing theory (positivism)
  • first develop a theory and hypothesis and then
    design a research strategy to test the hypothesis
  • Inductive - building theory (interpretivism)
  • first collect data and than develop theory as a
    result of the data analysis

The stages of the deductive research
  • 1. Deducing a hypothesis from the theory
  • 2. Expressing the hypothesis in operational
    terms, proposing relationship between two
    specific variables
  • 3. Testing this operational hypothesis
    experiment or other empirical inquiry
  • 4. Examining the specific outcome of the inquiry
    (what is happening?) and either confirm or modify
    the theory
  • 5. Modifying the theory (if necessary) in the
    light of findings

Case study absenteeism in a retail store
  • Reasons for absence age of workers, length of
  • Longitude of absence?
  • Highly structured methodology
  • Researcher should be independent of what is being
  • Concepts need to be operationalized in a way
    that enables facts to be measured quantitatively
  • Reductionism - problems are better understood if
    they are reduced to the simplest possible
  • Generalization!!! select samples of sufficient
    numerical sizes

The stages of the inductive research
  • 1. Examining the specific problem - why something
    is happening?
  • 2. Make sense of the data by analyzing it
  • 3. Formulation of a theory

Major differences between Deductive and
Inductive approaches
Deduction emphasizes
Induction emphasizes
  • Scientific principles
  • moving from theory to data
  • the need to explain causal relationships between
  • the collection of quantitative data
  • the application of controls to ensure validity of
  • the operationalisation of concepts to ensure
    clarity of definition
  • a highly structured approach
  • researcher independence of what is being
  • the necessity to select samples of sufficient
    size in order to generalize conclusions
  • Gaining an understanding of the meanings humans
    attach to events
  • a close understanding of the research context
  • the collection of qualitative data
  • a more flexible structure to permit changes of
    research emphasis as the research progresses
  • a realization that a researcher is part of the
    research process
  • less concern with the need to generalize

Which approach to select?
  • 1. Depending on the wealth of literature
  • More sources, definition of a theoretical
    framework and - deductive approach
  • Less sources, data generated and analyzed
    inductive approach
  • 2. Depending on time
  • deductive approach is quicker to complete
  • Inductive needs time
  • 3. Depending on risk
  • Deductive approach is a lower-risk strategy
  • Inductive fear that no theory will emerge
  • 4. Question of audience who makes the research
  • 5. Who will mark/pay the research

Need for a clear research strategy
  • Why is the approach important?
  • Is it possible to combine approaches?
  • Which approach I should adopt?

Research strategies
  • Experiment
  • Survey
  • Case study
  • Grounded theory
  • Ethnography
  • Action research
  • Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies
  • Exploratory, descriptive and explanatory studies

Research Strategies
  • Experiment
  • Classical form of research
  • definition of a theoretical hypothesis
  • selection of samples of individuals from known
  • allocation of samples to different experimental
  • introduction of planned change on the variable /s
  • measurement of a small number of the variables
  • control of other variables

  • Puzzle solving
  • Two groups experimental and control
  • Four puzzles during each of the three sessions
  • Experimental group paid one dollar per puzzle

Research strategies
  • 2. Case study
  • Robson (2002178) defines the case study as a
    strategy for doing research which involves
    empirical investigations of a particular
    contemporary phenomenon within a real life
    context using multiple source of evidence
  • Generates answers to the questions Why, What, How
  • Development of detailed, intensive knowledge
    about a single case, or a small number of related
    cases /Robson (1993)/
  • Includes questionnaires, interviews,
    observations, , documentary analysis
  • Challenges the existing theory and provides a
    source for new hypotheses

Research strategies
  • 3. Grounded theory
  • Theory is developed from data generated by a
    series of observations, generation of predictions
    then tested in further observations
  • Best example for inductive approach
  • Data collection starts without the formation of
    an initial theoretical framework
  • Theory is developed from data generated by a
    series of observations which lead to predictions,
    then tested in further observations

Research strategies
  • 4. Ethnography (rooted in the inductive approach)
  • Comes from anthropology
  • To interpret the social world the subjects
    inhabit in the way in which they interpret it
  • Time consuming
  • The research process needs to be flexible

Research strategies
  • 5. Action research
  • The term was used by Lewin in 1946
  • The researcher is involved in the action for
    change and application of the knowledge
  • emphasis on the purpose of research
  • involvement of practitioners and close
  • implications beyond the immediate project
  • The action research spiral
  • Focus upon change

Research strategies
  • 5. Cross-sectional and Longitudinal studies (time
  • How do I prefer the research to be done
  • - as a snapshot or cross-sectional - the
    study of a particular phenomenon at a particular
  • - as a diary or longitudinal - to study
    change and development, to represent events over
    a given period

Research strategies
  • 6. Exploratory, descriptive and explanatory
  • Exploratory to clarify understanding of a
    problem what is happening - to search
    literature, take experts in the subject,
    conducting focus group interviews flexible and
    adaptable to change
  • Descriptive to portray an accurate profile of
    persons, events or situations (Robson, 1993)
  • Explanatory to study a situation or problem in
    order to explain the relationships between

Research strategies
  • 7. Survey
  • To collect a large amount of data from a sizeable
    population and standardize it to allow easy
  • Types
  • Questionnaires
  • Structured Interviews

  • Structured interviews
  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Unstructured interviews (in-depth)
  • Standardized interviews
  • Non-standardized interviews
  • Respondent interviews
  • Informant interviews

Structured Interviews
Multi-method approaches
  • Advantages
  • To use different methods for different purposes
    in a study
  • To enable triangulation
  • How do I know which method to use?

Credibility of research findings
  • 1. Reliability
  • Will the results be the same in other occasions
  • Similar observations reached by other observers
  • Transparency of the raw data
  • 2.Validity
  • If findings are really about what they appear to
    be about
  • 3. Generalizability (external validity)
    findings equally applicable to other research