Business Research can be described as systematic and scientific effort to explore the problem area or to solve a business problem encountered in a day to day business environment be generic or specific functional areas of management. Research comprises of series of well though steps to deal with a specific issue it may be exploring area of interest or solving a specific problem. Managers with knowledge of research have an advantage over the other managers. Though manger himself may not be doing any research as a manager, but he need to understand and take decision. For example in a new product development, it may happen that product developed may not be paying off, in such cases manager need to conduct research and predict the future of product.
Definition of Research:
There are various definitions of research; some of them are mention here.
1) Redman and Mory :“Systematized effort to gain new knowledge”.
2) Clifford Woody comprises defining and redefining problems, formulating hypothesis or suggested solutions collecting, organizing and evaluating data, making deductions and reaching conclusions; to determine whether they fit the formulating hypothesis.
3)John W Best: “Research is the systematic and objective analysis and recording of controlled observations that may lead to development of generalization, principles, or theories resulting in prediction and perhaps ultimate control of events.”
4)P.V. Young: “Research is a methods of studying, analyzing and conceptualizing social life in order to extend, modify, correct or verify knowledge, whether that knowledge aids in construction of theory or in practice of an art”
.5)Robert Burns: “Research is a systematic investigation to find solutions to a problem. “One may consider research as search again and again as it is movement from the known to unknown. In essence it provides information and insight to manager to solve problems arise in day to day working. It is organized, systematic, scientific, planned, structured enquiry with specific objective to solve day to day business problems or sometimes add knowledge to domain knowledge of business.
In short Research can be:
Research can be defined as the search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, with an open mind to; Establish novel facts.
Solve new or existing problems.
Prove new ideas.
Develop new theories.
Usually using a scientific method.
6)Uma Sekaran :“While Business research is an organized, systematic, data-based, critical, objective, scientific inquiry or investigation into a specific problem, undertaken with the purpose of finding answers or solutions to it. “
7)Donald Cooper: “Business research ,as we use it in this text, is a systematic inquiry that provides information to guide managerial decisions. More specifically, it is a process of planning, acquiring, analyzing, and disseminating relevant data, information, and insights to decision makers in ways that mobilize the organization to take appropriate actions that, in turn, maximize performance. ”In short Business research is a systematic investigation.
Why Study Business Research ?
To understand, identify, analyze and solve business situation/problems and take appropriate decision in business.
Undertaking business research is an important since it aids a business to plan for the future, based on historical data/information. If performed effectively it can help an organization to make plans on how to become more viable in its field. There are several reasons to study Business research methods. While study management dilemma, the problem or opportunity to take management decision an organized enquiry has be conducted. There are various businesses, environment factors which stimulate our interest in studying business research such as information overload, technological connectivity, competition, government intervention, low cost data collection, real time access to data etc.
1) Business Competition: Businesses frequently make use of research to study key rivals in their markets. Research is important for any business to remain competitive in the market. The top function of research is to determine the customers and their needs. With the help of surveys, an organization can analyze the preferences of its target consumers. Furthermore, these studies could also provide a business the chance to examine its competitors in the industry and analyze and follow key strategies which could help in its operations.
2) Business Environment: The combination of internal and external factors that influence a company’s operating situation. There are many factors which influence business like Government legislations, technology, economic factors, political system, social system and values etc. To run business you need to know he trends of these factors.
3) Information Overload: Although the Internet and its search engines present extensive amounts of information is available, but this information does not help us to make decisions. The information’s quality and credibility must be continuously evaluated. Information need to be processed to arrive at knowledge. The knowledge can be helpful in business decisions.
4) More Government Intervention: In order to provide some minimal or enhanced level of social services, governments are becoming increasingly aggressive in protecting various segments of society with various policies. The policies are putting challenges to managers to be alert. The decisions under such circumstances can be made after the use of managerial and business research tools.
5) Stakeholders Demanding Greater Influence: Customers, employees, shareholders, and the general public have been influencing company decision making. They are more sensitive to their own self interest and more resistant to an organization’s stimuli.
6) More Complex Decisions: Now a day’s managers have to consider many factors in every decision, increasing their need for more and better knowledge and fore insights from that information.
7) Lower data collection cost: Computers and telecommunications lowered the costs of data collection, drastically changing knowledge about consumers both at store and household levels; employees at the position, team, and department levels; suppliers and distributors at the transaction, division, and company levels; and equipment at the part, process, and production-run levels
8) New perspectives on established research methodologies: Businesses experiencing rapid technological and social change are looking for researchers who can help them keep not just current with the rapid pace of change but in front of it. Older tools and methodologies once limited to exploratory or qualitative research are gaining wider acceptance in dealing with a broader range of managerial problems. To do well in such a business, technological environment, researcher needs to learn to identify quality information and to recognize the solid, reliable research on which high-risk managerial decisions can be taken. Researcher will need to know how to conduct such research. Developing these skills requires understanding the scientific methods.
What is Good Research?
Good research generates reliable data that are derived by professionally conducted practices and that can be used reliably for decision making. In contrast, poor research is carelessly planned and conducted, resulting in data that a manager can’t use to reduce his or her decision-making risks. Good research follows the standards of the scientific method: systematic, empirically based procedures for generating replicable research.
A research is said to be good research if it possesses following characteristics
.1) Purpose Clearly Defined: The purpose of the business research should be clear, specific, unambiguously defined. The purpose should include its scope, its limitations, and the precise meanings of all words and terms significant to the research.
2) Research Process Detailed: The research procedures used should be described in sufficient detail to allow another researcher to repeat the research. This includes the steps to acquire participants, informed consent, sampling methods and representativeness, and data gathering procedures.
3) Research Design Thoroughly Planned: The procedural design of the research, and its choice among competing designs, should be clearly described, justified and carefully planned to yield results that are as objective as possible.
4) Reporting of Limitations. The researcher should report, with complete frankness, flaws in procedural design and estimate their effect on the findings. There are very few perfect research designs.
5) Sufficiently Proper Analysis: . The methods of analysis used should be appropriate. When statistical methods are used, appropriate descriptive and inferential techniques should be chosen, the probability of error should be estimated, and the criteria of statistical significance applied
.6) Present Findings Clearly: Whatever the finding came out of analysis must be mentioned very clearly so that one can draw valid interpretations. There should not be any ambiguity.
7) Conclusions Justified: Conclusions should be limited to those for which the data provide inadequate basis.
8) Researcher’s Experience Reflected: If researcher is experienced, greater confidence in the research is warranted and also has a good reputation in research, and is a person of integrity.
9) High Ethical Standards Applied: While conducting research it should include safeguards against causing mental or physical harm to participants and makes data integrity a first priority should be highly valued.
Research Applications in Functional Areas of Business.
Since generally applied business research deals with practical problem solving and decision making, now a day almost all the small, medium and large scale companies are using business research tools to take appropriate decisions and obtain competitive advantage over the others. Managers using it in all functional areas of business like Marketing, Finance, Human Resource, Operations and others. Research enables manager to have deeper understanding of functional areas, some of them are discuss here:
1) Marketing Management: Marketing research deals with the study of market and study of consumers. Various tools of marketing research deals with the study of market, study of brands, study of competitive brands, customer loyalty, market penetration of product, market share etc. Marketing Research also deals with the study of sales, product, promotion, and price. Marketing research is widely use for taking competitive advantage of competitors in market. Objectives of marketing research is to provide the facts and direction that manager needs to make important marketing decisions. Some areas of marketing research are:
a) Product Research: Competitive product studies, product testing, concept testing, Branding, packaging research etc.
b) Consumer Research: Consumer Behavior, Prospecting consumer profile, Panel discussion, Diary research etc.
c) Sales Research : Market Analysis, Sales research, Sales analysis tests, Marketing distribution channel, comparative sales analysis. Etc
.d) Advertising Research: Media Research, Readership survey, viewership survey, advertisement effectiveness survey.
e) Corporate Research: Forecasting, Trend Analysis, pricing studies, product mix studies, environment analysis, corporate image etc.
2) Human Resource Management: Various management principles /theories like Taylor‟ Scientific Management, Fayol’s Administrative Management and Weber’s Bureaucratic Management (George,1948) were the outcome of pioneer business research in Human Resource Management. Research is extensively used in Human Resource Planning and to understand relationship between personnel variables. This involves the study of wages, cost of living, employee turnover rates, employee wellness, performance appraisal, incentives scheme etc. Following are some of applications of research in Human Resource Management.
a) Research to understand training need of employees
. b) Research to provide appropriate training to employees.
c) Research to understand Attrition rate of employees.
d) Research to understand association of demographic factors of employees and job performance.
e) Research to understand traits of manager and appropriate job allocation.
f) Research in selecting right candidate. Overall research is applicable in all areas of human resource to provide understanding of human behaviors and its relationship with job performance, productivity and wellness of employees.
3) Operations Management (Production, Materials, logistics etc.): Research in Operations management helps operation manager to decide what to produce, how much to produce, how much to stock etc. Various research tools optimize the efficiency, quality, production. There are various research done regarding logistics management to decide most affordable route from warehouse/factory to market .
There is separate brand of research in operations called as quality control which decides acceptable/tolerable quality control using various research tools and techniques. Some of the applications are as below
a) Research to decide optimum production of product.
b) Research to decide optimum inventory.
c) Research to decide best available way of logistics to minimize the transportation cost.
d) Applications of Quality Control Techniques.
e) Applications of Networking and CPM.
4) Financial Management: This is one of the most important functional area of any business. There is lot of applications of research in this area. Some of the applications are mentioned below.
a) Research on cost of capital, valuation of firms, dividend policies, and investment decisions.
b) Research on Risk assessment, exchange rate fluctuations, and foreign investment.
c) Research on tax implications of reorganization of firms or acquisition of companies.
d) Research on collection of accounts receivable.
e) Research on development of effective cost accounting procedures.
f) Research on cost of capital, valuation of firms, dividend policies, and investment decisions.
g) Research on Financial Literacy.
h) Research on financial performance of organizations.
i) Research on various ratios ( Financial Indicators ) of any business.