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The Research Process step 6: Elements of Research Design

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  1. The Research Processstep 6: Elements of Research Design CHAPTER 6

  2. Chapter Objectives • Understand the different aspects relevant to designing a research study. • Identify the scope of any given study and the end use of the results. • Describe the type of investigation needed, the study setting, the extent of researcher interference, the unit of analysis, and the time horizon of the study. • Identify which of the two, a causal or a correlational study, would be more appropriate in a given situation.

  3. The Research Design • In this step we need to design the research in a way that the requisite data can be gathered and analyzed to arrive at a solution. • The research design was originally presented in a simple manner in box 6 of Figure 6.1.

  4. Figure 6.1

  5. Figure 6.2: The Various Issues Involved in the Research Design

  6. Purpose of The Study The Nature of Studies: • Exploratory Study • Descriptive Study • Hypothesis Testing (Analytical and Predictive) • Case Study Analysis

  7. Exploratory Study • Exploratory Study is undertaken when not much is known about the situation at hand, or no information is available on how similar problems or research issues have been solved in the past.

  8. Example 6.1 • The manager of a multinational corporation is curious to know if the work ethic values of employees working in Prince Hassan Industrial City would be different from those of Americans. That city is a small city, and no information about the ethic values of its workers. Also, the work ethic values mean be different to people in different cultures.

  9. Example 6.1 (Cont.) • The best way to study the above situation is by conducting an exploratory study, by interviewing the employees in organizations in Irbid area.

  10. Descriptive Study • Is undertaken in order to ascertain and be able to describe the characteristics of the variables of interest in a situation. • For instance, a study of a the Research Methods 200 class in terms of the percentage of members who are in their senior ( will be in the graduation stage), sex composition, age groupings, number of semesters left until graduation, can be considered as descriptive in nature.

  11. Descriptive Study • In addition, descriptive studies are undertaken in organizations to learn about and describe the characteristics of a group of employees, as for example, the age, education level, job status, and length of service.

  12. Example 6.2 • A bank manager wants to have a profile of the individuals who have loan payments outstanding for 6 months and more. This profile would include details of their average age, earnings, nature of occupation, full-time/ part-time employment status, and the like. The above information might help the manager to decide right away on the types of individuals who should be made ineligible for loans in the future.

  13. Example 6.4 • A marketing manager might want to develop a pricing, sales, distribution, and advertising strategy for his product. The manager might ask for information regarding the competitors, with respect to the following: 1. the percentage of companies who have prices higher and lower than the industry norm. 2. the percentage of competitors hiring in-house staff to handle sales and those who use independent agents.

  14. Example 6.4 (Cont.) 3. percentage of sales groups organized by product line, by accounts, and by region. 4. the types of distribution channels used and the percentage of customers using each. 5. percentage of competitors spending more dollars on advertising/promotion than the firm and those spending less. 6. Percentage of those using the web to sell the product.

  15. Hypotheses Testing • Studies that engage in hypotheses testing usually explain the nature of certain relationships, or establish the differences among groups or the independence of two or more factors in a situation. • Hypotheses testing is undertaken to explain the variance in the dependent variable or to predict organizational outcomes.

  16. Example 6.5 • A marketing manager wants to know if the sales of the company will increase if he doubles the advertising dollars. • Here, the manager would like to know the nature of the relationship between advertising and sales by testing the hypothesis: If advertising is increased, then sales will also go up.

  17. Case Study Analysis • Case studies involve in-depth, contextual analyses of matters relating to similar situations in other organizations. • Case studies, as a problem solving technique, are not frequently resorted to in organizations because findings the same type of problem in another comparable setting is difficult due to the reluctance of the companies to reveal their problems.

  18. Case Study Analysis • Case studies that are qualitative in nature are, however, useful in applying solutions to current problems based on past problem-solving experiences. • Also, case studies are useful in understanding certain phenomena, and generating further theories for empirical testing.

  19. Type of Investigation: Causal versus Correlational • A causal study: Is an inquiry to know the cause of one or more problems. • A correlational study: Is an inquiry to know the important variables associated with the problem.

  20. Example 6.9 • A causal study question: Does smoking cause cancer? • A correlational study question: Are smoking and cancer related? Or Are smoking, drinking, and chewing tobacco associated with cancer? If so, which of these contributes most to the variance in the dependent variable?

  21. Example 6.10 • Fears of an earthquake predicted recently in an area were a causal of a number of crashes of some houses in the area in order to be eligible of insurance policy.

  22. Example 6.11 • Increases in interest rates and property taxes, the recession, and the predicted earthquake considerably slowed down the business of real state agents in the country.

  23. Extent of Researcher InterferenceWith the Study • The extent of interference by the researcher with the normal flow of work at the workplace has a direct bearing on whether the study undertaken is causal or correlational.

  24. Extent of Researcher InterferenceWith the Study • A correlational study is conducted in the natural environment of the organization with minimum interference by the researcher with the normal flow of work.

  25. Extent of Researcher InterferenceWith the Study • In studies conducted to establish cause-and-effect relationships, the researcher tries to manipulate certain variables so as to study the effects of such manipulation on the dependent variable of interest. • In other words, the researcher deliberately changes certain variables in the setting and interferes with the events as they normally occur in the organization.

  26. Minimal Interference Example 6.12 • A hospital administrator wants to examine the relationship between the perceived emotional support in the system and the stress experienced by the nursing staff. In other words, she wants to do a correlational study.

  27. Example 6.12 (Cont.) • The researcher will collect data from the nurses ( through a questionnaire) to indicate how much emotional support they get in the hospital and to what extent they experience stress. By correlating the two variables, the answer is found. • In this case, beyond administering a questionnaire to the nurses, the researcher has not interfered with the normal activities in the hospital.

  28. Moderate Interference • If the researcher wants to establish a causal connection between the emotional support in the hospital and stress, or, wants to demonstrate that if the nurses had emotional support, this indeed would cause them to experience less stress.

  29. Moderate Interference • To test the cause-and-effect relationship, the researcher will measure the stress currently experienced by the nurses in three wards in the hospital, and then deliberately manipulate the extent of emotional support given to the three groups of nurses in the three wards for perhaps a week, and measure the amount of stress at the end of that period.

  30. Moderate Interference • For one group, the researcher will ensure that a number of lab technicians and doctors help and comfort the nurses when they face stressful events. • For a second group of nurses in another ward, the researcher might arrange for them only a moderate amount of emotional support and employing only the lab technicians and excluding doctors.

  31. Moderate Interference • The third ward might operate without any emotional support. • If the experimenter’s theory is correct, then the reduction in the stress levels before and after the 1-week period should be greater for the nurses in the first ward, moderate for those in the second ward, and nil for the nurses in the third ward.

  32. Moderate Interference • We find that not only does the researcher collect data from nurses on their experienced stress at two different points in time, but also manipulated the normal course of events by deliberately changing the amount of emotional support received by the nurses in two wards, while leaving things in the third ward unchanged. • Here, the researcher has interfered more than minimally.

  33. Excessive Interference Example 6.14 • IF the researcher feels, after conducting the previous experiments, that the results may not be valid since other external factors might have influenced the stress levels experience by the nurses. • For example, during that particular experimental week, the nurses in one or more wards may not have experienced high levels of stress because there were no serious illnesses or deaths in the ward. Hence the emotional support received might not be related to the level of stresses experienced.

  34. Excessive Interference • The researcher want to make sure that such external factors that might affect the cause-and-effect relationship are controlled.

  35. Controlling the External factors • The researcher might take three groups of medical students, put them in different rooms, and confront all of them with the same stressful task. • For example, he might ask them to describe in detail, the surgical procedures in performing surgery on a patient who has not responded to chemotherapy and keep asking them with more and more questions.

  36. Controlling the External factors • Although all are exposed to the same intensive questioning, one groupmight get help from a doctor who voluntarily offers clarifications and help when students stumble. • In the second group, a doctor might be nearby, but might offer clarifications and help only if the group seeks it. • In the third group, there is no doctor present and no help is available.

  37. Controlling the External factors • In the above example, not only is the support manipulated, but even the setting in which this experiment is conducted is artificial inasmuch as the researcher has taken the subject away from their normal environment and put them in a totally different setting. • The researcher has intervened maximally with the normal setting, the participants, and their duties.

  38. Excessive Interference • The extent of researcher interference would depend on whether the study is correlational or causaland also the importance of establishing causal relationship beyond any doubt. • Most organizational problems seldom call for a causal study, except in some market research areas.

  39. Study Setting: Contrived and Noncontrived • Correlational studies are conducted in noncontrived settings (normal settings), whereas most causal studies are done in contrived settings. • Correlational studies done in organizations are called field studies.

  40. Study Setting: Contrived and Noncontrived • Studies conducted to establish cause-and-effect relationship using the same natural environment in which employees normally function are called field experiments. • Experiments done to establish cause-and- effect relationship in a contrived environment and strictly controlled are called lab experiments.

  41. Example 6.15 Field Study • A bank manager wants to analyze the relationship between interest rates and bank deposit patterns of clients. The researcher tries to correlate the two by looking at deposits into different kinds of accounts (such as savings, certificates of deposit, and interest-bearing checking accounts) as interest rates changed.

  42. Example 6.15 Field Study • This is a field study where the bank manager has taken the balances in various types of accounts and correlated them to the changes in interest rates. • Research here is done in a noncontrived setting with no interference with the normal work routine.

  43. Example 6.16 Field Experiment • The bank manager now wants to determine the cause-and-effect relationship between interest rate and the inducements it offers to clients to save and deposit money in the bank. The researcher selects four branches within 60/km radius for the experiment.

  44. Example 6.16 Field Experiment • For 1 week only, he advertises the annual rate for new certificates of deposit received during that week. The interest rate would be 9% in one branch, 8% in another, and 10% in the third. In the fourth branch, the interest rate remains unchanged at 5%. Within the week, the researcher would be able to determine the effects, if any, of interest rates on deposit mobilization.

  45. Example 6.16 Field Experiment • This example would be a field experiment since nothing but the interest rate is manipulated, with all activities occurring in the normal and natural work environment. • Hopefully, all four branches chosen would be compatible in size, number of depositors, deposit patterns, and the like, so that the interest-savings relationships are influenced by some third factor.

  46. Example 6.17 Lab Experiment • To be sure about the true relationship between the interest rate and deposits, the researcher could create an artificial environment by choosing, for instance, 40 students who are all business majors in their final year of study and in the same age. The researcher splits the students into four groups and give each one of them $1000, which they are told they might buy their needs or save for the future, or both.

  47. Example 6.17 Lab Experiment The researcher offers them interest on what they save as followings: • 6% on savings for group 1. • 8% for group 2. • 9% for group 3. • 1% for group 4 ( the old rate of interest). Here, the researcher has created an artificial laboratory environment and has manipulatedthe interest rates for savings. He also chosen subjects with similar backgrounds.

  48. Unit of Analysis • The unit of analysis refers to the level of aggregation of the data collected during the subsequent data analysis. • Individual • Dyads • Groups • Organizations • Cultures

  49. Unit of Analysis: Individual • If the researcher focuses on how to raise the motivational levels of employees, then we are interested in individual employees in the organization. Here the unit of analysis is the individual (the data will be gathered from each individual).

  50. Unit of Analysis: Dyads • If the researcher is interested in studying two-person interaction, then several two-person groups also known as dyads, will become the unit of analysis ( analysis of husband-wife, and supervisor-subordinate relationships at the work place.