Business Research Process the Importance of Timely Term Paper

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Business Research Process

The Importance of Timely Business Research Today

In the Age of Information, business research would appear to be a fairly straightforward enterprise, but some observers have equated the experience today to drinking from a firehouse because of the enormous amount of information available. Nevertheless, understanding the environment in which a company competes is a fundamental aspect of good business management practices, and managers are on the constant lookout for business research methods that will help them in their decision-making processes. The purpose of Part I of this paper is to provide an overview of current business research practices, why the business research process is necessary to assist managers in the decision-making process and how such research is typically conducted. A discussion and assessment of the relative the strengths and weaknesses of the various parts of the business research process is followed by an analysis of why this research is important to companies seeking to maintain and expand their market share in an increasingly globalized marketplace. Part II of the paper provides a business research proposal to collect relevant primary data concerning the importance of business research in the decision-making process and how manages are using such resources today. A summary of the research and salient findings are presented in the conclusion.

Part I: Purpose of Business Research

Overview of Current Business Research Practices.

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Generally speaking, all business research methods share some commonalities, including obtaining and analyzing data in order to answer questions, solving problems or testing hypotheses and therefore contributing to the understanding and knowledge of the larger environment in which companies compete (Thomas, 2004). According to Thomas, "Although there are many different ways to do research, and although different fields have their preferred research styles, all research does share certain features:

Research is empirical; it involves studying the world outside ourselves.

Term Paper on Business Research Process the Importance of Timely Assignment

Research adopts systematic and explicit methods; it is essentially a public endeavor in which it is possible, in principle, for others to repeat investigations and check on their accuracy (p. 3).

Current business research practices vary according to industry and need, but the concept involves much more than simply asking a question and trying to answer it. According to Thomas (2004), "Sometimes research methodology is portrayed as if it were simply a set of tools and techniques used to solve research problems. But this is far from being the case.... There is no one best way to do research" (p. 3). Even though there may be no single best approach to conducting business research, the importance of timely business research to the decision-making process in helping managers accomplish their organizational goals is well established and these issues are discussed further below.

The Importance of Business Research in the Decision-Making Process.

Good managers are able to accomplish a great deal in virtually any environment based on an intuitive sense of what is needed to accomplish organizational goals, but this "seat-of-the-pants" management style will only take a company so far. In truth, timely information about a company's performance as well as its competitors' performance, the environment in which it competes, and current economic trends are just part of the vast array of information that business managers need to remain competitive today. Moreover, there is always the risk of relying on the wrong information or even the right information for the wrong purposes. Because humans are involved, there is also the fundamental issue of the highly subjective nature of the interpretation and application of research data as well. In this regard, Vernon (2002) emphasizes that, "The literature on decision making is vast, since the subject is regarded as a critical management activity, though fraught with danger. All stress the importance of gathering information prior to decision making, being aware of factors that have a bearing upon the process itself, and identifying ways of dealing with the uncertainty that is at the nub of the problem" (p. 55).

Strengths and Weaknesses of Current Business Research Practices.

While the term "business research" is an umbrella terms that encompasses virtually every research endeavor by a company to better understand the environment in which it competes, there have been some popular business research models developed in recent years that reflect current practices. For instance, Cooper and Robertson (1990) described four types of decision making in relation to the environments in which they are most appropriate, described further below together with an analysis of their respective strengths and weaknesses, in Table 1 below.

Table 1.

Types of current decision-making techniques.

Decision-Making Model

Description/Strengths/Weaknesses

The neo-rational model

This model takes note of the cognitive insights which suggest that decision making involves rational and non-rational processes; however, because it tries to account for intangible factors such as feelings, it tends to be suited to situations in which only a few decision makers are involved, such as top management.

Open ended model

This approach takes note of the uncertainty that surrounds decision making, preferring a number of small reactive decisions to be taken in order to best shape the overall outcome to real circumstances. The emphasis on flexibility suits innovative organizations.

The bureaucratic model

This model is characteristic of large corporations where decision making is inevitably complex and involves many participants. The emphasis on rigor brings a thoroughness to the process, although at the expense of time taken to reach a conclusion.

Arena model of decision making

This model is typically used in organizations where responsibility is widely distributed. Generally speaking, different interest groups will make representations to the organization as a whole in the hope that a consensus can be reached as to the course that should be followed. This model is necessary to hold certain kinds of organization together, although it suits those that are least sensitive to compromise.

Source: Cooper & Robertson, p. 101.

Based on the foregoing, it is clear that the highly subjective nature of the business research process itself is clearly a constraint, then, but the importance of the enterprise is sufficiently compelling to require companies of all types to engage in business research on an ongoing basis, and these issues are discussed further below.

Importance of Research Topic.

Aristotle Onassis once suggested that, "The secret of business is to know something nobody else knows." Because resources are by definition scarce, though, "knowing something nobody else knows" requires some careful management of a company's existing resources to ensure it receives the most "bang from its research buck." Therefore, identifying which business research methods are most appropriate for a given company based on its day-to-day operations and long-term strategic needs represents a timely and important endeavor. To this end, Part II below provides a business research proposal that will help identify what research methods are currently being used by business managers and for what purposes, as well as their relative strengths and weaknesses.

Part II: Business Research Proposal

Background.

While the type of information a company will need to make it short- and long-term decisions will vary according to the industry in which it competes and its particular organizational goals, it may be possible to discern some current best practices by surveying business managers from various industries concerning their preferred methods of conducting business research, and what types of information they rely upon to make their short- and long-term decisions.

Research Objective.

The research objectives of the proposed study are to answer the following three research questions:

What are the most common business research methods currently in use?

What types of business research methods are best suited for companies competing in different countries?

How are business research methods being used to help managers make their decisions?

Methodology.

The proposed research project will use a mixed methodology to accomplish the above-stated research objective. The first part of the methodology will consist of a critical review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature to identify secondary sources concerning current business research methods and their applications, and their relative strengths and weaknesses, followed by a survey of current business managers to provide primary data concerning what business research methods they use and for what purposes, as well as their perceptions of their effectiveness of their approaches in accomplishing their organizational goals. This approach is highly congruent with a number of social and educational researchers. For example, Fraenkel and Wallen (2001) advise, "Researchers usually dig into the literature to find out what has already been written about the topic they are interested in investigating. Both the opinions of experts in the field and other research studies are of interest. Such reading is referred to as a review of the literature" (p. 48). Likewise, as Dennis and Harris point out, "Primary data are information that is being collected for the first time in order to address a specific research problem. This means that it is likely to be directly relevant to the research, unlike secondary data, which may be out of date or collected for a totally different purpose. Ideally, an effective research project should incorporate both primary and secondary data" (emphasis added) (p. 39).

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