London, Dec 13, 2012. British Academy of Management Linking Research Questions to Appropriate Designs. What is the best design?. Randomized controlled study? Grounded theory a pproach? Cohort / panel study? Qualitative field research? Longitudinal study?
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London, Dec 13, 2012 British Academy of Management Linking Research Questions to Appropriate Designs
What is the best design? • Randomized controlled study? • Grounded theory approach? • Cohort / panel study? • Qualitative field research? • Longitudinal study? • Post-test only study? • Survey? • Action research? • Case study?
What is the best design? quants vsquallies, positivists vs post structuralist, etc
Types of questions Does it work? Does it work better than ....? Does it have an effect on ....? What is the success factor for ....? What is required to make it work ...? Will it do more good than harm? Effect
Types of questions: non-effect Needs: What do people want or need? Attitude: What do people think or feel? Experience: What are peoples’ experiences? Prevalence: How many / often do people / organizations ...? Procedure: How can we implement ...? Process: How does it work? Explanation: Why does it work? Economics: How much does it cost?
Internal validity internal validity = indicates to what extent the results of the research may be biased and is thus a comment on the degree to which alternative explanations for the outcome found are possible.
Causal relations We are pattern seeking primates: we are predisposed to see order and causal relations in the world
Causality So, when do we know there is causal relation? Three criteria: the "cause" and the "effect" are related the "cause" precedes the "effect" in time there are no plausible alternative explanations for the observed effect
‘Effect’ questions Considerations for research: effect size before and after measurement randomization, blinding, control group Are the "cause" and the "effect” related? Does the "cause" precede the "effect" in time? Are there no plausible alternative explanations for the observed effect?
Bias & Confounding Research shows: Shoe size > quality of handwriting Smoking youngsters > better lung function
Research shows: Charismatic leaders Successful companies
Which design for which question? Explanation
Different types of research questions require different types of research designs, but ...
But 1: feasibility Best research design?
But 2: it’s a trade off • All research designs are flawed – though each is flawed differently: • Controlled studies: high internal validity, but sometimes less suited to generalization • Surveys and field research: low internal validity, but sometimes more useful for management practice. McGrath, J. (1981). Dilemmatics, The Study of Research Choices and Dilemmas. American Behavioral Scientist, 25(2).
SO: Evidence accrual requires convergence of findings derived from multiple studies that research the same constructs and variables with different research designs and in different contexts.
But 3: stage of development The appropriateness of a research design is also determined by the body of evidence’s stage of development. mature: extensively studied > controlled studies to identify independent, dependent and moderating variables nascent: open-ended the research questions > exploratory qualitative studies to shape the understanding of the topic . Edmondson, A. C., & McManus, S. E. (2007). Methodological fit in management field research. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1155-1179.
In summary • Different types of research questions require different types of research designs, but ... • feasibility • past research • stage of development • also have to be taken into account!