Research Methods in MIS Instructor: Dr. Deepak Khazanchi
Research Methods in MIS Research Problems, Preliminary Data Gathering, and Problem Definition
Sources of Knowledge • Empiricists attempt to describe, explain, and make predictions through observation • Rationalists believe all knowledge can be deduced from known laws or basic truths of nature • Authorities serve as important sources of knowledge, but should be judged on integrity and willingness to present a balanced case
The Essential Tenets of Science • Direct observation of phenomena • Clearly defined variables, methods, and procedures • Empirically testable hypotheses • Ability to rule out rival hypotheses • Statistical justification of conclusions • Self-correcting process
Steps in The Research Process Review Research Ethics • Research Problem Arises (Observation?) • Recognition of Existing Problem • Desire to Improve Status Quo • Planning for the future (environmental scanning) • Curiosity/Discovery • Preliminary Information Gathering • Interviews • Literature Survey • Determine the variables and operational definitions
Research Problem Arises (Observation) • Broad problem area is identified by: • Recognition of Existing Problem • E.g., Why is the turnover if the marketing department higher? Why are end users dissatisfied with the student information systems at UNO? • Most frequent source of research problems • Reactive research; often the research occurs too late • Wiser to conduct research before the problem occurred • Desire to Improve Status Quo • Proactive assessment of current situation to identify areas of improvement • E.g., Would improvements in the user-interface design make the system easier to use? • Much better approach than being reactive
Research Problem Arises (Observation) • Broad problem area identified: (cont’d) • Planning for the future • Some problems originate from short and long-term planning • Environmental scanning (critical corporate indicators recorded and monitored • Environmental monitoring (maintain currency of information for use in planning) • Curiosity/Discovery • Some problems originate from people who become curious about certain phenomenon • Some firms R&D departments allow researchers some flexibility in address problems like these; costs money though
The Decision to Conduct Research • Two important factors: • Research payoff • Budgetary constraints • Managers and Sponsors have competing projects—prioritization via payoff • Cost/Benefit Analysis-mostly subjective assessment of monetary and/or societal benefits • Feasibility of Conducting Research • Availability of subjects, materials, time and competent researchers • E.g., studying long-term effects of brand advertising might require following the same group of people over 5-10 year period.
Research Problem Defined • An inquiry which asks to what degree or how two or more phenomena are related, usually stated in question form. • E.g., • Does a color computer make a difference in the number sold? • Is customer service quality positively impacted by using web-based customer support knowledge bases? • Problem must be clearly stated. Often, misstated problems result in results not being useful to research sponsor or manager. • Manager-Sponsor should formally agree on the research problem prior to starting a project
Preliminary Data Gathering • Information About: • The Population (members of a defined category) • Organizational context and systems • Corporate philosophy, policies, structure, etc. • Employees and employee attitudes & perceptions • The Variables of Interest • Begin with a list of potential variables of interest • Theories • Relevant to understanding of the research problem • Literature survey is the key source for this information. • Useful for explaining/justifying why one variable may be related to another
Preliminary Data Gathering • Determine the Sources of Information • Secondary Data is gathered from existing sources • Internal organization reports & records • Published government records (e.g., SEC filing) • Statistical Data • Census data • Business documents • Periodicals and journals (Literature Survey) • Dissertations • Unpublished manuscripts
Preliminary Data Gathering • Determine the Sources of Information • Primary Data is data gathered from the actual site at which the event or phenomena under investigation occurs • Perceptions, attitudes and behavioral response of employees • Nature of work, workflow, participation in decision making, reward systems, MIS, etc.
Preliminary Data Gathering • Determine the Location of Information • Libraries at universities, commercial information services, government agencies, employees, your organization, trade associations • Determine how to retrieve the information • Online Database Search • EGDAR, ABI/INFORM, EBSCOHOST etc. • Library Research (Manual search of databases) • Interviews of employees: Semi-structured or Structured
Preliminary Data Gathering • Review and examine materials to identify information that addresses your variables of interest • Read the literature • Record the information on index cards or word processor for later use • Synthesize the information and determine next steps • Abandoning the Project/Changing Directions • If there is sufficient evidence in the literature that already addresses the research problem, do not hesitate to abandon or modify the project
Where you are now • At this point you should recognize: • Good vs. Bad research • The steps in the research process • Notion of a Research problem • How research problems arise • Ethical research practices • Components of a proposal