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The Research Process step 6: Elements of Research Design. CHAPTER 6. 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.

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chapter objectives
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.
the research design
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.
purpose of the study
Purpose of The Study

The Nature of Studies:

  • Exploratory Study
  • Descriptive Study
  • Hypothesis Testing (Analytical and Predictive)
  • Case Study Analysis
exploratory study
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.
example 6 1
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.

example 6 1 cont
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.
descriptive study
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.
descriptive study11
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.
example 6 2
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.

example 6 4
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.

example 6 4 cont
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.

hypotheses testing
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.
example 6 5
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.

case study analysis
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.
case study analysis18
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.
type of investigation causal versus correlational
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.
example 6 9
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?

example 6 10
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.
example 6 11
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.
extent of researcher interference with the study
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.
extent of researcher interference with the study24
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.
extent of researcher interference with the study25
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.
minimal interference
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.
example 6 12 cont
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.
moderate interference
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.
moderate interference29
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.
moderate interference30
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.
moderate interference31
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.
moderate interference32
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.
excessive interference
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.
excessive interference34
Excessive Interference
  • The researcher want to make sure that such external factors that might affect the cause-and-effect relationship are controlled.
controlling the external factors
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.
controlling the external factors36
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.
controlling the external factors37
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.
excessive interference38
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.
study setting contrived and noncontrived
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.
study setting contrived and noncontrived40
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.
example 6 15 field study
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.

example 6 15 field study42
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.
example 6 16 field experiment
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.
example 6 16 field experiment44
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.
example 6 16 field experiment45
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.
example 6 17 lab experiment
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.
example 6 17 lab experiment47
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.

unit of analysis
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
unit of analysis individual
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).
unit of analysis dyads
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.
unit of analysis51
Unit of Analysis
  • Groups as a unit of analysis
  • Organizations as a unit of analysis
  • Cultures as a unit of analysis
example 6 18 individuals as the unit of analysis
Example 6.18 Individuals as The Unit of Analysis
  • The Chief Financial Officer of a manufacturing company wants to know how many of the staff would be interested in attending a 3-day seminar on making appropriate investment decisions.
  • Data will have to be collected from each individual staff member and the unit of analysis is individual.
  • The unit of analysis is the individual.
example 6 19 dyads as the unit of analysis
Example 6.19 Dyads as the Unit of Analysis
  • A human resources manager wants to first identify the number of employees in three departments of the organization who are in mentoring relationships, and then find out what the jointly perceived benefits of such a relationship are.
example 6 19 dyads as the unit of analysis54
Example 6.19 Dyads as the Unit of Analysis
  • Once the mentor and the mentored pairs are identified, their joint perceptions can be obtained by treating each pair as one unit.
  • If the manager wants data from a sample of 10 pairs, he will have to deal with 20 individuals, a pair at a time. The information obtained from each pair will be a data point for subsequent analysis.
  • Thus, the unit of analysis is the dyad.
example 6 20 groups as unit of analysis
Example 6.20 Groups as Unit of Analysis
  • A manager wants to see the patterns of usage of the newly installed Information System (IS) by the production, sales, and operations personnel.
  • Here three groups of personnel are involved and information on the number of times the ISis used by each member in each of the three groups as well as other relevant issues will be collected and analyzed.
  • Here the unit of analysis is the group.
example 6 21 divisions as the unit of analysis
Example 6.21 Divisions as the Unit of Analysis
  • Johnson & Johnson company wants to see which of its various divisions (soap, shampoo, body oil, etc.) have made profits of over 12% during the current year.
  • Here, the profits of each of the divisions will be examined and the information aggregated across the various geographical units of the division.
  • The unit of analysis will be the division, at which level the data will be aggregated.
example 6 22 industry as the unit of analysis
Example 6.22 Industry as the Unit of Analysis
  • An employment survey specialist wants to see the proportion of the workforce employed by the health care, transportation, and manufacturing industries.
  • The researcher has to aggregate the data relating to each of the subunits comprised in each of the industries and report the proportions of the workforce employed at the industry level.
example 6 22 industry as the unit of analysis58
Example 6.22 Industry as the Unit of Analysis
  • The health care industry, for instance, includes hospitals, nursing homes, small and large clinics, and other health care providing facilities.
  • The data from these subunits will have to be aggregated to see how many employees are employed by the heath care industry.
  • This will need to be done for each of the other industries.
example 6 23 countries as the unit of analysis
Example 6.23 Countries as the Unit of Analysis
  • The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a multinational corporation wants to know the profits made during the past 5 years by each of the subsidiaries in England, Germany, and France. It is possible that there are many regional offices of these subsidiaries in each of these countries.
example 6 23 countries as the unit of analysis60
Example 6.23 Countries as the Unit of Analysis
  • The profits of the various regional centers for each country have to be aggregated and the profits for each country for the past 5 years provided to the CFO.
  • The data will now have to be aggregated at the country level.
time horizon cross sectional versus longitudinal studies
Time Horizon: Cross-Sectional Versus Longitudinal Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies

A study can be done in which data are gathered just once, perhaps over a period of days or weeks or months, in order to answer a research question.

time horizon cross sectional versus longitudinal studies62
Time Horizon: Cross-Sectional Versus Longitudinal Studies

Example 6.24

  • Data were collected from stock brokers between April and June of last year to study their concerns in a turbulent stock market.
  • Data has to be collected at one point in time. It is a cross-sectional design.
time horizon cross sectional versus longitudinal studies63
Time Horizon: Cross-Sectional Versus Longitudinal Studies

Example 6.25

  • A drug company desirous of investing in research for a new headache pill conducted a survey among headachy people to see how many of them would be interested in trying the new pill.
  • This is a one-shot or cross-sectional study to assess the likely demand for the new product.
time horizon cross sectional versus longitudinal studies64
Time Horizon: Cross-Sectional Versus Longitudinal Studies
  • Longitudinal Studies

Studying people or phenomena at more than one point in time in order to answer the research question.

  • Because data are gathered at two different points in time, the study is not cross-sectional kind, but is carried longitudinally across a period of time.
example 6 27
Example 6.27
  • A marketing manager is interested in tracing the pattern of sales of a particular product in four different regions of the country on a quarterly basis for the next 2 years.
  • Since the data are collected several times to answer the same issue, the study falls under the longitudinal category.
time horizon cross sectional versus longitudinal studies66
Time Horizon: Cross-Sectional Versus Longitudinal Studies
  • Longitudinal studies take more time and effort and cost more than cross-sectional studies. However, will-planned longitudinal studies could help to identify cause-and-effect relationships.
  • For example, one could study the sales volume of a product before and after an advertisement, and provided other environmental changes have not impacted on the results, one could attribute the increase in the sales volume, if any, to the advertisement.
exercise 6 1
Exercise 6.1
  • A supervisor thinks that the low efficiency of the machine tool operators is directly linked to the high level of fumes emitted in the workshop. He would like to prove this to his supervisor through a research study.

1. Would this be a causal or a correlational study? Why?

exercise 6 168
Exercise 6.1

2. Is this an exploratory, descriptive, or hypothesis-testing (analytical or predictive) study? Why?

3. What kind of study would this be: field study, lab experiment, or field experiment? Why?

4. What would be the unit of analysis? Why?

5. Would this be a cross-section or a longitudinal study? Why?

exercise 6 169
Exercise 6.1
  • Answers:
  • This would be a causal study because the operator wants to prove to the supervisor that the fumes are causing operators to be low in their efficiency. In other words, the machine tool operator is trying to establish the fact that fumes cause low efficiency in workers.
  • This is an analytical study because the machine tool operator wants to establish that fumes cause low efficiency and convince his workshop supervisor through such analysis (i.e. establish cause and effect relationship).
exercise 6 170
Exercise 6.1
  • This would be a field experiment. Though the study would be set up in the natural environment of the workers where the work is normally done, the amount of fumes will have to be manipulated while other factors such as atmospheric pressure may have to be controlled. Because of the location of the study, it will be a field experiment.
  • The unit of analysis would be the individual operators. The data will be collected with respect to each operator and then the conclusions will be made as to whether the operators are less efficient because of the fumes emitted in the workshop.
exercise 6 171
Exercise 6.1
  • This would be a longitudinal study because data will be gathered at more than one point in time. First, the efficiency of the operators would be assessed at a given rate of fume emission. Then the fumes emitted would be manipulated to varying degrees, and at each manipulation, the efficiency of the workers would again be assessed to confirm that the high rate of fume emission causes a drop in operators’ efficiency.
exercise 6 172
Exercise 6.1
  • This would be a longitudinal study because data will be gathered at more than one point in time. First, the efficiency of the operators would be assessed at a given rate of fume emission. Then the fumes emitted would be manipulated to varying degrees, and at each manipulation, the efficiency of the workers would again be assessed to confirm that the high rate of fume emission causes a drop in operators’ efficiency.