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Chapter One: Finding out what’s involved Dissertations and theses come in all shapes and sizes Different departments / different programmes of study have different rules: e.g. will topics be given or must students find them postgraduate research is all about respecting these rules

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chapter one finding out what s involved
Chapter One: Finding out what’s involved
  • Dissertations and theses come in all shapes and sizes
  • Different departments / different programmes of study have different rules:
    • e.g. will topics be given or must students find them
  • postgraduate research is all about respecting these rules
  • If it is not immediately obvious what’s expected, student MUST find out as early as possible
finding out what s involved
Finding out what’s involved
  • Timeframe and specific deadlines
  • Penalties for being late
  • Marking scheme:
    • is marking exclusively based on thesis?
    • What else will be graded?
    • How important are the other elements of the course work?
  • Specific requirements for the empirical / theoretical work
    • e.g. number of interviews, sites or questionnaires
finding out what s involved3
Finding out what’s involved
  • This attention to what is expected should be sustained throughout the process
  • Discussions with thesis adviser / supervisor must deal specifically with what must be done / is left to be done
  • It is not a silly question to ask whether your work is achieving the requirements for First Class etc…
  • The closer you get to the end of the process, the more specific the feedback should be
chapter two selecting a research topic
Chapter Two: Selecting a research topic
  • What is a topic?
  • How does one go about finding one?
  • What are the stages in getting a research topic accepted?
  • What happens after?
what is a topic
What is a topic?
  • Some kind of statement describing what the research is about
  • more or less detailed - more or less work remains to be done
  • reference to previous work?
  • how to carry out the research?
  • a “good enough” starting point
  • must respect a number of characteristics
1 enjoyable research topic
(1) Enjoyable research topic!

To my way of thinking, there are four reasons for choosing one group over another: the group should be fun, accessible, convenient and suitable. Lest these criteria be dismissed as frivolous, let me explain. Fieldwork is exhausting, difficult, psychologically demanding and time consuming. The more fun and interesting the group, the greater the likelihood that your interest and commitment will be sustained. A fun group can be just as important as a dull group, and a lot easier to study (Browne, 1976; p.56).

why enjoyable
Why enjoyable:
  • Personal project
  • keep attention / motivation to a maximum degree
  • MBS thesis is hard, maybe impossible without sustained commitment
  • trade-off between a topic given to you by someone else and a personal topic that takes time to come together
  • want to be able / happy to talk about it afterwards
2 researchable topic
(2) Researchable Topic
  • Fits available resources and time constraints
  • does not require impossible access to information sources - interview with Head of NY stock exchange
  • respondents / informants can be found who are willing to talk - Kennedy’s assassination
  • reliable information can be found - Beef Tribunal
3 suitable area and safe topic
(3) Suitable Area and Safe Topic
  • Can a supervisor be found?
  • safe topic where previous research is available
  • operate under the umbrella of well-charted theory
  • some proven methods can be used
  • clear trade-off between originality and easiness
safe topic bis
Safe Topic (Bis)
  • Can I see the wood for the trees?
  • how easily can research questions be derived?
  • if totally uncharted, there might be too many ways to attack the problem
  • some students never find out what their research was about!! It really helps if you do...
judging trade offs
Judging trade-offs
  • Students should not rely on their judgement
  • Supervisors are there to help them
  • a topic should not be discarded just because…
  • fine-tuning can make all the difference
  • experienced researchers have a feel for such things
how important is a good research topic
How important is a good Research Topic?

The most critical step in the research process is the definition of the research topic. This step must produce a clear and unambiguous statement of the objectives of the study. An unambiguously stated objective is essential in guiding the decisions and tradeoffs that are required in the next and subsequent steps (Jenkins, 1985; p.103).

  • Nevertheless, students should not overemphasise the importance of the choices made at the outset as many changes can and will intervene during the course of their project (Good Enough)
at the end of the day
At the end of the day
  • The research topic must be reasonably clear and well-defined
  • But not all problems can be solved at that stage
  • certain types of projects begin in the Fog … hopefully, they come out of it
  • a good supervisor will be satisfied with a positive statement of intent
  • And, research projects NEVER stick to their original topics!
  • A research topic is presented and refined using a document called Research Proposal
  • few guidelines can meaningfully be put forward to describe what such a document should look like
  • they come in all shapes and sizes and that’s the way it should be!
  • Read, read, read and read… then start writing a short document
  • 5 to 10 pages of explanations
  • 10 to 20 solid references
  • a clear statement of the What of the research
  • a clear statement of Why this research is of interest
  • maybe some indications of how similar studies have been carried out
  • maybe maybe some notions of who to talk to (or a potential case study)
example 1 a safe topic
Example 1: a safe topic
  • the investigation of the Application of Business Process Re-engineering in a Multi-national Organisation using a case study and identifying the actual company that is going to be studied. The key informant has already been identified and a standard literature review is presented in summarised form.
example 2 a topic that could be good
Example 2: a topic that could be good?!
  • research proposal that argues that the circulation of information between the top managers of an organisation is crucial to the performance of that organisation. It presents a number of references reporting on relevant research in the area and concludes that more research is required to better understand how the communication amongst the top managers of an organisation can be improved. It suggests that focusing on a group of managers in one or several sites and interviewing a number of them is a good vehicle to investigate the topic.
which is the best
Which is the best?
  • At opposite ends of the “safe” spectrum
  • But, both were successful topics
  • both took about 12 months to investigate
  • first one was safe
  • second one was half crazy
  • state of preparedness of both proposals is not at all related to the amount of work put in!


Why? (page 12-13)

at the end of the day19
At the end of the day
  • Research proposals are not an end in themselves
  • in some programmes, they carry a mark…
  • but not in this one
  • proposal is a vehicle for discussion between the various stakeholders
  • also a vehicle to keep track of the initial work done by students: reading, thinking, understanding
  • incremented bit by bit until...
misconceptions about the proposal
Misconceptions about the proposal
  • It should follow a number of set rules
  • it should follow a certain template
  • it is written in one stage when the time has come
  • it is a definitive document
  • it will guide the project to its very end
validation of proposals
Validation of Proposals
  • Proposals are validated in presentations to staff
  • these sessions are not like going to the slaughter!
  • opportunity to talk to experienced researchers
  • opportunity to get good, more up-to-date, more relevant references
  • important feed back is obtained - do not go in there to hide weaknesses
  • seek clarifications for anything that is still unclear
  • problems discovered at that early stage are no problem
what is a presentation
What is a presentation
  • Talk time 10 minutes
  • clear statement of goal
  • explanation of any difficult terminology
  • brief review of existing research:

(1) What is the extent of current research in the subject area / research topic? Who said so?

(2) Is that subject area / research topic worthy of further research?

(3) Where does your chosen research project fit into the answers to the first two questions above?

  • some idea of methods used
  • not expected to have all the answers
what then
What then??
  • Once proposal is deemed finished, research process re-starts
  • proposal is still a good discussion document (potential interviewees etc...)
  • document may be used as a starting point to write the literature review
  • slot more and more information and references in the original proposal.
  • Finished product will seem radically different from what was in the proposal
  • not a problem
  • not a weakness
  • just a reflection of the tortuous nature of research work
  • also convenience for researcher (e.g. data available)
practical session on writing proposals
Practical session on writing proposals
  • 6 articles relevant to the study of information for managers
  • some easier than others
  • presenting various methodological orientations
  • 6 groups of 3 students - each group gets one paper
  • goal of the session: the papers must be used to write a proposal on a topic revolving around the general theme: Managers and Information
how do we go about it
How do we go about it?
  • 20 minutes to read the papers individually
  • 15 minutes to talk about them in groups and prepare a presentation
  • 6 times 10 minutes to present the papers
  • a well-deserved 10 minute break in the middle
  • A quick discussion on potential topics that emerge from the articles presented
  • Students select a potential topic
  • students write a 1000 words proposal using all the papers on the model described last week
  • proposal include research questions that will be pursued
  • proposals go in the research folder
  • Freddy reads them
  • students describe their individual proposals (next week)
  • open discussion on the proposals that students put forward (next week)
  • Presentations should aimed at reporting on:
    • general objective / theme of paper
    • key elements in the lit review section (key references)
    • frameworks that could be useful for us
    • specific research questions
    • methods used
    • key findings that we can use
  • 5 minutes to present paper using transparencies
  • 5 minutes for other students to find out as much as they can about the papers
  • the better the presentations, the better the proposals, or else, make sure you ask many questions
the papers are
The papers are:

1 -

2 -

3 -

4 -

5 -

6 -

Information as signal and symbol (Feldman and March, 1981)

Making Executive Information Systems more effective (McLeod and Jones, 1986)

What effective general managers really do (Kotter, 1999)

Information Media and Source patterns across managerial levels (Jones, Saunders and McLeod, 1988)

The Manager’s job folklore and fact (Mintzberg, 1975)

Executive’s perception of their information sources (McLeod, Jones and Poitevent, 1984)

feed back on proposals
Feed Back on Proposals
  • No more hand-written stuff
  • Also work on general presentation from now on
  • Also work on style:
    • no I, we etc…
    • punctuation
    • referencing
    • don’t overemphasise
  • Respect authors and their work
  • Support in required for all statements (cf lit review)

We expect evolution

throughout the year

  • By and large, proposals did not discriminate enough: no area is being delineated
  • In real LRs, more support from a broader range of sources / authors will be required
  • e.g. too much Mintzberg / findings are only results from one study, there might be others
  • Proposals were also too much like essays => end must be different and include questions
  • Quite normal not to know what topic to follow at the stage => evolution from here on
research reports in diaries
Research reports in diaries
  • Folder MUST be done on on-going basis - three at a time reports are useless for students
  • students must learn the process so they can do it again efficiently in May / June
  • Zero tolerance on deadlines - too much trouble
  • Reports are sometimes too close to the lectures
  • should reveal a more personal experience - what it all means - show message was received
  • reports might be the forum for evolution of topic
finding and studying existing research
Finding and studying existing research
  • Next step after writing the proposal
  • proposal does not solve problems…it asks questions
  • existing research must be sought to guide researcher
  • benefit of knowing what has come before
  • contents / findings / methods used / problems encountered / solutions found
in the context of an mbs programme
In the context of an MBS programme
  • Important aspect of thesis
  • important part of assessment (NC)
  • research not necessarily very original or very representative (sample sizes), but well documented
  • conventional:

demonstrate the additional understanding and knowledge

gained by students in a particular domain and to show their

ability to synthesise and organise the material selected

within the context of a well defined research project

functions of the literature review
Functions of the Literature Review

(1) to demonstrate the underlying assumptions behind the research topic (e.g. provide a rationale);

(2) to show that the researcher is knowledgeable about the related research, and research traditions in the subject area;

(3) to help in identifying gaps in the previous research within which the proposed study can be placed;

(4) to aid in refining and redefining the research questions towards placing them within the context of the research tradition in the subject area.

After Rosmann (1989)

  • The lit review constitutes the theoretical foundation of the research project
  • outlines the boundaries of the research domain considered
  • presents research results that justify the focus on the research topic and those that are going to be used in designing the study
  • in a coherent chapter (or series of two or three chapters)
  • conclusions:

a concise statement of the research objective and an outline

of the research questions that are being pursued

sourcing material
Sourcing Material
  • Abundance rather than drought
  • Library, CD-ROM search, Internet, supervisors, other staff
  • Traditional sources are totally overloaded
  • Also, access is far easier for very new stuff (e.g. indexes databases start in 1990)
  • Regrettable because:

We still enjoy reading the book from time to time and are surprised more

often by the things that we knew then, but have forgotten, than by the

things that we know now, but did not know then (p.1).

March and Simon (1993)

  • Managers’ work:

Fayol (1916), Carlson (1951), Steward (1967), Mintzberg (1973, 1975, 1976)

  • Organisational behaviour:

Simon (1957,1977), Galbraith (1974, 1977)

  • Psychology:

Maslow (1943, 1954, 1970), Festinger (1957), Milgram (1974)

  • Social Psychology:

Asch (1951), Bavelas (1948), Lewin (1951)

what does a lr look like
What does a LR look like
  • Students may be unsure / puzzled initially
  • Hard to provide strict guidelines - contingency approach
  • Iterative process somewhat like proposal writing
  • careful examination of papers / books
  • also, reading examples of previous research projects (MBS / MSc)
  • unstructured process
as a result
As a result
  • LRs grow rapidly and may go out of control:
    • The structure may be lacking in clarity and purpose
    • The balance between the different sections may be wrong
    • There might still be a number of gaps in the analysis presented
    • The emphasis may be wrong
  • Consequence of the process followed
  • OK once corrected at some point
proper lr writing
Proper LR writing
  • Style must be proper
    • I, we, us, our … are all forbidden
    • avoid making general statements such as it is obvious that
    • common sense is not sufficient for including an argument or an idea in a literature review
  • argumentation must be clear and purposeful
    • stringing together paragraphs presenting the results of different studies without “doing anything” with them is not enough
    • analysis must be done!!
    • A mere catalogue does not any value
proper lr writing 2
Proper LR writing (2)
  • A synthesis of the material must be presented - i.e. show how it all fits together
  • diagrams are a good vehicle for that:
  • Clear unambiguous statement of research objectives
  • also an outline of the questions (i.e. directions of research)
  • Maybe a nice framework that can be validated or augmented in the rest of the research
  • the How can be left to the next chapter (research methodology)
additional guidelines for lr
Additional guidelines for LR:
  • As soon as LR has reached a few pages in volumes, it must be accompanied by
  • a bibliography
  • a table of content
  • an abstract - specifying what is done / remains to be done in relation to the content
what is a bibliography
What is a bibliography?
  • alphabetical listing of books, journal articles, web pages and any other sources used
  • presented at the end of the thesis
  • increment as you go along (not to lose any refs.)
  • specific format to be used:
table of contents
Table of contents:
  • Better to automate (saves time)
  • Use MS word styles and Insert Table/Index menu
  • Headings One, Two and Three
  • Then:
referencing work
Referencing work
  • Two types: direct quote or just argument support
  • Direct quote is used when the author illustrated your point + said it so well you can’t paraphrase:
  • Argument support: author argued a similar point => integrate his/her name in the sentence or add it in brackets at the end.

“Re-engineering, like democracy, religion and marriage,

is theoretically a sensible concept. But like every good idea

promoted as a solution to all ills that ail, it has the potential

to serve the opposite purpose” (Strassmann, 1994; p. 119)

The important question is not how scientific the research design is,

but how it serves to generate the level of proof wanted in the research

and to reflect the state of existing knowledge in the research area (Miller, 1991).

  • Obviously, if more than one author supports your view, you can add several names in brackets
  • Try to always document your page numbers
  • Try to be consistent in your use of referencing style
  • Document your sources as you go along - a lost reference at the end may mean you have to remove it from the text.
using the web as a source of material
Using the Web as a source of material
  • See handout
  • but remember Web is a complement, not the whole thing
  • also remember it is not always a time saver
  • referencing must be done consistently as well
  • WEB addresses are relatively lengthy => use an abreviated form in the text (eg:
  • Then in biblio:


The Department of AFIS has 19 full-time staff, with research interests in

managerial accounting, corporate finance and information systems (w-UCC1)

  • Important point for MBS students
  • Plagiarism is a deadly sin…punished as one
  • Always attribute arguments / phrases
  • Never type Verbatim unless it’s a quote
  • Only reference material YOU have read
  • If cross-referencing, state that you are doing it:
  • By and large, you won’t get away with it

“Field method is not an exclusive method in the same sense that

experimentation is. Field method is more like an umbrella of activity beneath

which any technique may be used”

(Schatzman & Strauss, 1973; p.14, cited in Burgess, 1982).

  • Do it right from day one - time saved at the end is precious
  • follow a template (your own or a generic one)
  • your supervisor should probably validate the style at the outset
  • See handout for the minimum requirements
what is a lr illustrations
What is a LR: illustrations
  • main functions of LR:
    • synthesis
    • set up research question / key aspect of research
    • etc...
  • example 1: using a diagram to set up a key aspect of the research
  • example 2: presenting a synthesis of the literature that has never been done before
  • example 3: density referencing
example 1 after adam 1999
Example 1 after Adam (1999)
  • Numerous units of analysis have been used in IS research:
    • individual (manager)
    • group (eg groupware)
    • organisation
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Not mutually exclusive??
research methodologies
Research Methodologies
  • How to do research - methods and techniques
  • Philosophical level: in what Great Perspective?
  • Rigorous approach means adoption of a paradigm:
    • Scientific Paradigm
    • more modern paradigm
  • Ad-Hoc approach means select techniques more likely to yield good results
  • for MBS students, second approach is suitable, but:
    • must be aware of theoretical debates
    • put forward a robust research design
  • Paradigm is a set of basic beliefs dealing with first principles and representing

a worldview that defines, for its holder, the nature of the world, the individual’s place in it and the range of possible relationships to that world and its parts (Guba and Lincoln, 1994; p.107).

  • Beliefs are basic in the sense that they must be accepted simply on faith (however well argued)
  • Possible to discuss whether these questions totally determine the practice of research
guba and lincoln s key questions
Guba and Lincoln’s Key questions

The ontological question - which deals with the form and nature of reality - i.e., ‘what is it that can be known about the world’;

The epistemological question - which deals with the nature of the relationship between the researcher and what can be known;

The methodological question - which deals with the ways in which the inquirer can go about finding out what he or she believes can be known.

leading paradigm scientific
Leading Paradigm: Scientific
  • the scientist is different from the man in the street because he / she

systematically builds his theoretical structures, tests them for internal consistency, and subjects them to empirical testing (Kerlinger, 1973; p. 3).

  • Furthermore, the scientist,

knowing ‘selection tendency’ to be a common psychological phenomenon, carefully guards his research against his own preconceptions and predilections and against selective support for his hypotheses (Kerlinger, 1973; p. 4).

what scientific research is
What Scientific Research is

To satisfy our doubts, therefore, it is necessary that a method should be found by which our beliefs may be determined by nothing human, but by some external permanency - by something upon which our thinking has no effect (...) The method must be such that the conclusions of every man shall be the same. Such is the method of science. Its fundamental hypothesis (...) is this: there are real things, whose characters are entirely independent from our opinions (Buchler, 1955; p.18).

question for us
Question for us
  • Should social sciences follow the rules set for physical sciences?
  • Debate between Positivists and Interpretivists
  • Fundamentalists on both sides of the divide
  • Journals are one or the other
  • Also a bit of US versus Europe
interpretivist paradigm
Interpretivist Paradigm

We cannot look at human society without some conception of human nature. I cannot become a social scientist without facing the question who ‘I’ am. This constitutes a radical difference from physical science. It is possible to study the behaviour of material objects without being constantly brought face to face with myself (Trigg, 1985; p.205)

  • not interesting to oppose the human sciences and the natural ones based on
    • the degree of accuracy in the results,
    • on the nature of the mental operations involved,
    • on the conditions of observation.
  • fundamental difference is in the subject of the study (i.e., human/non-human) and the nature of the relationship between the scientist and the objects of his or her inquiry
nice quote
Nice Quote

So many things separate the geologist from his minerals, whereas the historian or the psychologist are very near their objects: other human beings. It does not mean that researchers in these areas aspire to less accuracy or refuse the principles of reason, but that they refuse to eliminate what makes the specificity of the social sciences: the community of the subject and the object and the inescapable intertwining of the facts and the values (Todorov, 1989; p.10).

other specificity of social sciences
Other Specificity of Social Sciences
  • Difficulty in interpreting results (eg: ethnography)
  • Redfield (1930) and Lewis (1951) studied the same Mexican village 19 years apart
    • one concludedthat the village was a harmonious, conflict-free and well integrated environment, the other that it was ridden with fear, conflict, individualism and divisions
  • Slater (1976) and Gartrell (1979) studied populations in Tanzania
    • the former reported these populations to be ‘like zombies’, reticent and hostile while the latter found them to be warm, generous and open.
other side of the story
Other side of the story
  • Researchers swear allegiance to a paradigm in order to get published
  • Who knows what they really do?
  • Most important is to put together a realistic research design
  • McGrath et al. (1982) have formalised this
judgement calls in research
Judgement Calls in Research

all of those decisions (some big, some small, but all necessary and consequential) that must be made without the benefits of a fixed, “objective” rule that one can apply, with precision, like a template or a pair of callipers (McGrath, 1982; p.13).

  • Analogy with Baseball where

such judgement calls accumulate in their effects; and, indeed, they quite literally determine the outcome of most games (p.13).

  • no area of the process of scientific inquiry escapes these judgement calls.
  • Eg: decisions made by researchers regarding
    • choice of a strategy
    • the research design
    • the measurement tools, etc.
  • Also, research process as it really takes place is far less orderly than described in textbooks
practical conclusions
Practical Conclusions
  • Debate about philosophy of science boils down to one crucial belief that
    • on the one hand, social inquiry can be regulated formally in a generic fashion, or,
    • on the other hand, that

one loses a great deal when one attempts to fashion sound research entirely on the basis of general decision rules routinely applied (McGrath, 1982; p.14).

  • Contingency approach where all potential methods are used based on their specific merit in view of research goals
  • Question asked + state of the debate may suggest what methods to use
  • According to Sauer (1993),
    • the actual experience of conducting a systematic and rigorous case study brings home the complexities of the information systems process. (...) the complex social and political web in which computing developments are undertaken becomes salient (p.133).
  • But mixed designs that use different methods are more robust
a framework to show progress
A Framework to Show Progress
  • Before undertaking data collection - proving that you know enough
  • enough about questions / informants / what you are going to obtain
  • not about having preconceived ideas - rather about planning ahead
  • Thinking about what data will come up and what it will mean
  • Setting up the analysis phase
example a previous mbs thesis
Example: a previous MBS thesis

The Research Question

The last column will prove useful in discussions with supervisors and potential interviewees. Links to relevant areas of the Literature Review can also be noted.

Data Sources and Informants

use of the framework
Use of the framework
  • Show off in front of your supervisor
  • add to your own confidence
  • talk to potential interviewees / other informants
  • backbone of questionnaire
  • helps you to think about what’s ahead in a constructive way
data collection surveys
Data collection: surveys
  • Mail / email surveys of “the field”
  • operates by sending a questionnaire to a sample population
  • Goal: finding a population that is representative of “the field”
  • setting up this sample is the first key to the research robustness
  • sources of names and addresses
specific difficulties
Specific Difficulties
  • Most of the work done up front (sample, questionnaires)
  • questionnaire must be impeccable
  • administration of the mail survey
  • who filled the questionnaire!
  • response rate !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Bias
  • But analysis should be easier?!?!?
  • Some justifiable scheme must be used (Patton 1990)
  • Purpose-built - e.g. stratified based on a particular criterion

Of course:

not all strategies can be pursued at the same time

testing the questionnaire
Testing the questionnaire
  • Put together the questionnaire (use the framework for progress)
  • send it to a number of “trusted” respondents - 5?
  • See what they say (did they think it was OK?):
    • length
    • meaning
    • clarity
    • confidentiality
  • Make amendments
  • Send!
  • Responses are coming in (Bulk in first 2 weeks)
  • keep track of what arrived when (date the envelops)
  • react fast (response rate can be “guessed”)
  • Do a phoning to inquire what’s happening
  • if in trouble, send more
  • monitor evolution of flow
  • keep your supervisor posted
examples of previous theses
Examples of previous theses
  • IS security strategy 1995:
    • Irish sample
    • 220 sent 103 received => 98 good ones = 44.5%
  • Rapid Application Development 1997:
    • Irish sample
    • 300 sent, 37 received 1/3 had not heard of RAD = 12% (8%)!!
  • Lotus Notes usage in organisation:
    • Worldwide
    • email survey
    • several hundreds sent, initially 10 received! Several months of work to reach 50
checking the responses
Checking the responses
  • Look for failed questionnaires that must be discarded
  • investigate non-response using late respondents as surrogates (Oppenheim, 1996; Wallace and Mellor, 1988)
  • Analysis of who responded and who did not is interesting in itself
  • Set up a framework for analysing the data (SPSS?)
  • Hope for a 100 questionnaires
  • Not enough questionnaires
  • No pattern in data - all responses are the same
  • Additional work may be required to boost study
  • e.g. interviews with some of the respondents to confirm / complement findings
  • can use framework again with added columns to check if enough covered
questionnaire techniques
Questionnaire techniques
  • Open ended / close ended
  • predefined categories coming from literature
  • likert scale
  • richness versus ease of analysis
check list
Check list
  • Scrutiny must apply to the phrasing and sequence of questions
    • Is the question necessary? Does it map to a question?
    • Is the question a repetition of a previous one?
    • Can the data be obtained in a different fashion?
    • Does the question contain only one idea?
    • Should additional questions be asked to complement this one?
    • Can / will the respondent answer the question?
    • Is it clear / well phrased?
    • Is the proper format used (Y/N, likert scale…)?
    • Would a direct question be more efficient?
    • Would an open question bring more richness?
    • Is of questionnaire sequencing optimal?
    • Could be rearranged so that an answer precludes the need for other questions?
    • Is it OK for duration?
  • Break into 3 groups
  • Role of computer in education
  • isolate 3/4 main research question
  • use framework to break it down into what you must know about them
  • identify target respondents
  • create a questionnaire (max 20/25 questions)
  • Pick 2/3 innocent victims
  • send / collect / report on findings (over next two weeks)
name of interviewees for questionnaires
Name of interviewees for questionnaires
  • Eleanor Doyle - department of Economics
  • Freddy Adam - department of AFIS
  • Colin Murphy - department of Electronic Engineering
  • Alan Collins - department of Food Economics
analysing data from the field
Analysing data from the field
  • Rigour of data collection can help in this stage
  • research instruments and how well you understand them
  • Have you thought about analysis before?
  • Most personal stage of the the research
  • supervisor may not want to help you too much
  • no need to try to rush it (it does not work)
research tools and what they look like
Research tools and what they look like
  • Example of study of information flows
  • unit of analysis - manager
  • 21 interviews carried out (5 discarded)
  • 4 managers in 4 organisations - 16
  • 3 tools:
    • questionnaire
    • map of flows
    • framework of communication channels (daft / lengel)
a blank map
A blank Map:

Horizontal communication


Executives / friends



Books / Journals

Other media


other departments


same department


other departments


Vertical communication

Existing Systems


information systems

Support staff

Internal Newsletter

Other media


other departments


same department


Board meetings are info meetings for owner

Horizontal communication


Chairman / Owner

Managing Director

Executives / friends



Books / Journals

Other media


other departments


same department

Irish Trade Board

Original marketing info

contact providers

Main tactical decision making in informal meetings - daily contacts

Board meetings:

on-going decision making

e.g. what to do with cash surplus (Irish operations, export, other opportunities)

Guidelines VS economic reports (1)

Merchant bank - investment in government bonds

Monthly reports and weekly phone calls

Distributors in Northern Ireland

Info about budgets + Budgets


Advertising Agency


other departments

Ideas / recommendations VS company philosophy + budget info


Monitoring + questions

Vertical communication

(1) Quarterly reports and telephone conversations when specific events loom large: e.g. 1987 daily calls

General info including newspaper articles

(2) budget prepared every year based on 13 4 week periods. P/L produced monthly => variance calculation

Existing Systems

More formal: request / inquiries 90% + instruction 10%

Feed back on marketing aspects from sales force

Main source of internal info

gossip and other rumours

Sales and marketing information

also production etc… - informal


information systems

Support staff

Internal Newsletter

Other media


other departments


same department

Minimal influence

`Computer department and Accounting function

Office manager for debtor and creditor control

} Smooth and worryless processes

The same after an interview

blank framework
Blank Framework



Written Written Telephone Face-to-face Face-to-face

unaddressed addressed others meeting


Computer reports

Regular reports

As a source




Telephone calls

Social activities

business meals

observation tours


and scheduled


As a target


Personal contacts = persuade people that they are doing what they think is right even though it is your own idea => ask people their opinion and gain their commitment

Managing managers encourage and establish a dialogue + make sure they receive enough information.

Face to face are more successful for convincing people and asking them to do things.



Two way processes

Written Written Telephone Face-to-face Face-to-face

unaddressed addressed others meeting

Both lead to a modification of the message / understanding based on in-coming information

Regular reports about the functional area


Computer reports

Regular reports

As a source




Managing is about pulling things together. Past, present and future info

=> telephone is most suitable for that

but very short term

arrangement more than info - everything oh high importance

To use as bargaining asset in discussions with other managers

Regular reports from various

internal sources / activities

=> storing info

=> building understanding of patterns

of activity

Telephone calls

Social activities

business meals

observation tours

Preferably on the basis of preliminary documentation - e.g.agenda or report

Same = symmetrical


and scheduled


Low value of in-coming info

Good to see other people especially when work involves other companies.

Not regular, but frequent especially to base future reflection.

=> never go the same route twice

=> keep your eyes open for everything not only for control, but to hear first hand what is happening

As a target

Figure 4


Communication Channel -Overall Analysis

Name of Written Written Telephone Face-to-face Face-to-face

executive unaddressed addressed others meeting

Vital for strong linkage with customers and suppliers

regular internal meetings

invaluable for cohesion especially for specific topics

especially one-to-one: where you make the real discoveries!!

30% of time: with customers and also internally - better for specific problem solving

primary communication channel

quite important

30% of time n meetings with customers - also internal but only in small groups

limited to major decision making to avoid time wasting

informal meetings are everyday tool

only task forces (specific problems)

meetings should be used at a later stage in problem solving

mostly one-to-one meetings where the real work gets done

no way unless specific agenda!

Mots important channel!!

Intensive personal scanning = curiosity

also in graphical form to highlight variances

Pricing file is main channel of communication

could be better if information was better prepared - irrelevant or very important!

Too little time available!

Trying to organise paper-clipping service + dashboard for permanent info

personal scanning for new ideas

minor relevance (sees all reports as addressed!)

minor relevance or crucial as a tool to bargain

small or most important source here!

For external info only

too much to cope with + urgent to achieve cooperation in storing data

general info

background only

useful or the bin!!

Important source for personal development


vital source of contact with

remote sites - best way to show support


tours are the best way to communicate with wide labour force - systematic use of lunch and diners as well


crucial to obtain high value info





visits in remote sites are vital for efficient communication


invaluable but cannot be used all the time

to initiate contacts and be polite


Quite useful given the geographical spread of the company

to deal with exception or prepare a remote visit

always followed by written document

0% as a target (secretary) 50% as a source mostly accidental

restricted except with the sales reps - especially phone conferences - ideal to keep everyone abreast


too much time spent!

You have to live with it, but it cannot be controlled (culture)

quite important for relations with outside organisations

quite important and most flexible to get things done

best for qualitative impressions (especially phone conferences)

Super for problem finding and information gatherer

secretary screens everything

good for info not for action


Biggest item, but too much to manage properly time waster - solution needed

to verify that milestones have been reached - ie for specific queries only

quite a lot of info exchanged internally

mostly internal mail

especially as a source - internal mail to forward documents and comments

high frequency and low value

high volume

quite critical in coordinating the action of the sales force


very rare (too formal)

for the record only



very important to trigger action

Data removed

(9 / 2 / 1) and 5 for specific problem solving

(3 /3 / 3)

(5 / 1 / 6)

(5 / 0 / 6)

(6 / 3 / 0) but 4 for

books and journals

First figure: crucial

second figure: overload

third figure: little or no use