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Research Methods for Business: A Skill-Building Approach, 6th Edition

ISBN: 978-1-118-52786-3
448 pages
January 2014, ©2013
Research Methods for Business: A Skill-Building Approach, 6th Edition (1118527860) cover image


Research Methods for Business: A Skill-Building Approach is a concise and straightforward introduction for students to the world of business research. The skill-building approach provides students with practical perspectives on how research can be applied in real business situations. Maintaining Uma Sekaran’s popular and accessible style of writing, Roger Bougie draws upon his extensive experience of the field to present an up-to-date guide on business research for the aspiring future manager.

The sixth edition has been substantially revised to go beyond the scientific approach and gives students a comprehensive introduction to what constitutes good research. This edition includes a range of new material on alternative approaches to business research, including three new chapters on: The Critical Literature Review, Observation, and Questionnaires. Other chapters on The Broad Problem Area and Defining the Problem Statement, Research Design, Interviews and The Research Report have also been substantially revised.

The new edition also features cases from Europe, Asia and the US to give students a global view of modern business research methods. Examples are drawn from different areas of business - such as human resources management, strategic management, operations management, finance, accounting, and information management - to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the applications of research methods.  

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Table of Contents

About the Authors xvii

Preface xix

Acknowledgments xxi

1 Introduction to research 1

What is research? 2

Business research 2

Definition of business research 3

Research and the manager 3

Types of business research: applied and basic 5

Applied research 6

Basic or fundamental research 6

Managers and research 8

The manager and the consultant–researcher 9

The manager–researcher relationship 9

Internal versus external consultants/researchers 10

Internal consultants/researchers 10

Advantages of internal consultants/researchers 10

Disadvantages of internal consultants/researchers 11

External consultants/researchers 11

Advantages of external consultants/researchers 11

Disadvantages of external consultants/researchers 12

Knowledge about research and managerial effectiveness 12

Ethics and business research 13

Summary 13

Discussion questions 14

Case: The Laroche Candy Company 15

2 The scientific approach and alternative approaches to investigation 18

The hallmarks of scientific research 19

Purposiveness 20

Rigor 20

Testability 20

Replicability 21

Precision and confidence 21

Objectivity 22

Generalizability 22

Parsimony 22

The hypothetico-deductive method 23

The seven-step process in the hypothetico-deductive method 23

Identify a broad problem area 23

Define the problem statement 24

Develop hypotheses 24

Determine measures 24

Data collection 24

Data analysis 24

Interpretation of data 25

Review of the hypothetico-deductive method 26

Some obstacles to conducting scientific research in the management area 28

Alternative approaches to research 28

Positivism 29

Constructionism 29

Critical realism 29

Pragmatism 30

Summary 31

Discussion questions 31

3 The broad problem area and defining the problem statement 33

The broad problem area 33

Preliminary information gathering 36

Nature of information to be gathered 36

Background information on the organization 36

Literature – the body of knowledge available to you 37

Defining the problem statement 38

What makes a good problem statement? 38

The research proposal 42

Managerial implications 43

Ethical issues in the preliminary stages of investigation 44

Summary 45

Discussion questions 45

Practice projects 47

4 The critical literature review 48

The purpose of a critical literature review 50

How to approach the literature review 51

Data sources 51

Searching for literature 53

Evaluating the literature 54

Documenting the literature review 55

Ethical issues 56

Summary 58

Discussion questions 58

Practice project 58

Appendix 59

Some online resources useful for business research 59

Bibliographical databases 62

APA format for referencing relevant articles 63

Referencing and quotation in the literature review section 64

5 Theoretical framework and hypothesis development 67

The need for a theoretical framework 68

Variables 68

Dependent variable 69

Independent variable 70

Moderating variable 72

The distinction between an independent variable and a moderating variable 73

Mediating variable 75

Theoretical framework 77

The components of the theoretical framework 78

Theoretical framework for the example of air safety violations 79

Hypothesis development 83

Definition of a hypothesis 83

Statement of hypotheses: formats 83

If–then statements 83

Directional and nondirectional hypotheses 84

Null and alternate hypotheses 84

Hypothesis testing with qualitative research: negative case analysis 87

Managerial implications 90

Summary 90

Discussion questions 91

Practice project 93

6 Elements of research design 94

The research design 94

Purpose of the study: exploratory, descriptive, causal 96

Exploratory study 96

Descriptive study 97

Causal study 98

Extent of researcher interference with the study 99

Study setting: contrived and noncontrived 100

Research strategies 102

Experiments 102

Survey research 102

Observation 102

Case studies 103

Grounded theory 103

Action research 103

Mixed methods 104

Unit of analysis: individuals, dyads, groups, organizations, cultures 104

Time horizon: cross-sectional versus longitudinal studies 106

Cross-sectional studies 106

Longitudinal studies 107

Review of elements of research design 107

Managerial implications 109

Summary 109

Discussion questions 110

7 Data collection methods: Introduction and interviews 112

Sources of data 113

Primary sources of data 113

Focus groups 113

Panels 114

Unobtrusive measures 115

Secondary sources of data 116

Methods of data collection 116

Interviewing 118

Unstructured and structured interviews 118

Unstructured interviews 118

Structured interviews 119

Review of unstructured and structured interviews 120

Training interviewers 120

Some tips to follow when interviewing 121

Establishing credibility and rapport, and motivating individuals to respond 121

The questioning technique 122

Review of tips to follow when interviewing 123

Face-to-face and telephone interviews 123

Face-to-face interviews: advantages and disadvantages 124

Telephone interviews: advantages and disadvantages 124

Additional sources of bias in interview data 124

Computer-assisted interviewing 124

CATI and CAPI 125

Advantages of software packages 125

Review of interviewing 125

Projective methods 126

Summary 127

Discussion questions 127

8 Data collection methods: Observation 129

Definition and purpose of research 130

Four key dimensions that characterize the type of observation 131

Controlled versus uncontrolled observational studies 131

Participant versus nonparticipant observation 131

Structured versus unstructured observational studies 132

Concealed versus unconcealed observation 133

Two important approaches to observation 134

Participant observation: introduction 134

The participatory aspect of participant observation 134

The observation aspect of participant observation 136

What to observe 137

Structured observation: introduction 139

The use of coding schemes in structured observation 140

Advantages and disadvantages of observation 142

Summary 143

Discussion questions 144

9 Data collection methods: Questionnaires 146

Types of questionnaire 147

Personally administered questionnaires 147

Mail and electronic questionnaires 147

Guidelines for questionnaire design 149

Principles of wording 149

Content and purpose of the questions 150

Language and wording of the questionnaire 150

Type and form of questions 150

Principles of measurement 154

General appearance or “getup” of the questionnaire 154

Review of questionnaire design 158

Pretesting of structured questions 158

Electronic questionnaire and survey design 158

International dimensions of surveys 159

Special issues in instrumentation for cross-cultural research 159

Issues in data collection 160

Review of the advantages and disadvantages of different data collection methods and when to use each 160

Multimethods of data collection 161

Managerial implications 162

Ethics in data collection 162

Ethics and the researcher 162

Ethical behavior of respondents 163

Summary 163

Discussion questions 164

10 Experimental designs 168

The lab experiment 171

Control 171

Manipulation 171

Controlling the contaminating exogenous or “nuisance” variables 173

Matching groups 173

Randomization 173

Internal validity of lab experiments 174

External validity or generalizability of lab experiments 175

The field experiment 175

External validity 175

Trade-off between internal and external validity 176

Factors affecting the validity of experiments 176

History effects 176

Maturation effects 177

Testing effects 177

Selection bias effects 178

Mortality effects 179

Statistical regression effects 179

Instrumentation effects 180

Identifying threats to validity 180

Internal validity in case studies 181

Review of factors affecting internal and external validity 182

Types of experimental designs and validity 182

Quasi-experimental designs 182

Pretest and posttest experimental group design 182

Posttests only with experimental and control groups 183

Time series design 183

True experimental designs 184

Pretest and posttest experimental and control group design 184

Solomon four-group design 185

Double-blind studies 187

Ex post facto designs 187

Simulation 188

Ethical issues in experimental design research 189

Managerial implications 189

Summary 191

Discussion questions 191

Appendix: Further experimental designs 193

The completely randomized design 193

Randomized block design 194

Latin square design 194

Factorial design 195

11 Measurement of variables: Operational definition 197

How variables are measured 197

Operational defi nition (operationalization) 199

Operationalization: dimensions and elements 201

Operationalizing the (multidimensional) concept of achievement motivation 201

Dimensions and elements of achievement motivation 203

What operationalization is not 206

Review of operationalization 207

International dimensions of operationalization 208

Summary 208

Discussion questions 209

12 Measurement: Scaling, reliability, validity 210

Four types of scales 211

Nominal scale 212

Ordinal scale 213

Interval scale 214

Ratio scale 215

Review of scales 217

Rating scales 218

Dichotomous scale 218

Category scale 218

Semantic differential scale 219

Numerical scale 219

Itemized rating scale 219

Likert scale 220

Fixed or constant sum scale 221

Stapel scale 221

Graphic rating scale 222

Consensus scale 223

Other scales 223

Ranking scales 223

Paired comparison 223

Forced choice 223

Comparative scale 224

International dimensions of scaling 224

Goodness of measures 225

Item analysis 225

Validity 225

Content validity 226

Criterion-related validity 226

Construct validity 227

Reliability 228

Stability of measures 229

Internal consistency of measures 229

Reflective versus formative measurement scales 230

What is a reflective scale? 230

What is a formative scale and why do the items of a formative scale not necessarily hang together? 230

Summary 231

Discussion questions 232

Appendix: Examples of some measures 233

Measures from behavioral finance research 233

Measures from management accounting research 234

Measures from management research 235

Measures from marketing research 236

13 Sampling 239

Population, element, sample, sampling unit, and subject 240

Population 240

Element 241

Sample 241

Sampling unit 242

Subject 242

Parameters 242

Reasons for sampling 242

Representativeness of samples 243

Normality of distributions 243

The sampling process 244

Defining the population 245

Determining the sample frame 245

Determining the sampling design 245

Determining the sample size 246

Executing the sampling process 246

Probability sampling 247

Unrestricted or simple random sampling 247

Restricted or complex probability sampling 248

Systematic sampling 248

Stratified random sampling 248

Cluster sampling 250

Double sampling 251

Review of probability sampling designs 251

Nonprobability sampling 252

Convenience sampling 252

Purposive sampling 252

Judgment sampling 252

Quota sampling 253

Review of nonprobability sampling designs 253

Examples of when certain sampling designs would be appropriate 256

Simple random sampling 256

Stratified random sampling 256

Systematic sampling 257

Cluster sampling 258

Area sampling 258

Double sampling 259

Convenience sampling 259

Judgment sampling: one type of purposive sampling 259

Quota sampling: a second type of purposive sampling 260

Sampling in cross-cultural research 261

Issues of precision and confidence in determining sample size 261

Precision 261

Confidence 262

Sample data, precision, and confi dence in estimation 262

Trade-off between confidence and precision 263

Sample data and hypothesis testing 264

Determining the sample size 266

Importance of sampling design and sample size 269

Efficiency in sampling 269

Sampling as related to qualitative studies 270

Managerial implications 270

Summary 270

Discussion questions 271

14 Quantitative data analysis 274

Getting the data ready for analysis 276

Coding and data entry 276

Coding the responses 276

Data entry 278

Editing data 279

Data transformation 280

Getting a feel for the data 281

Frequencies 283

Bar charts and pie charts 283

Measures of central tendency and dispersion 285

Measures of central tendency 285

Measures of dispersion 286

Relationships between variables 288

Relationship between two nominal variables: χ2 test 288

Correlations 289

Excelsior Enterprises: descriptive statistics part 1 290

Testing goodness of data 292

Reliability 292

Excelsior Enterprises: checking the reliability of the multi-item measures 293

Validity 295

Excelsior Enterprises: descriptive statistics part 2 296

Summary 298

Discussion questions 299

15 Quantitative data analysis: Hypothesis testing 302

Type I errors, type II errors, and statistical power 303

Choosing the appropriate statistical technique 304

Testing a hypothesis about a single mean 306

Testing hypotheses about two related means 308

Testing hypotheses about two unrelated means 312

Testing hypotheses about several means 314

Regression analysis 315

Standardized regression coeffi cients 318

Regression with dummy variables 318

Multicollinearity 319

Testing moderation using regression analysis: interaction eff ects 320

Other multivariate tests and analyses 322

Discriminant analysis 323

Logistic regression 324

Conjoint analysis 325

Two-way ANOVA 325


Canonical correlation 326

Excelsior Enterprises: hypothesis testing 326

Overall interpretation and recommendations to the president 329

Data warehousing, data mining, and operations research 330

Some software packages useful for data analysis 331

Summary 332

Discussion questions 332

16 Qualitative data analysis 336

Data reduction 337

Case: Instigations of customer anger 338

Data display 349

Drawing conclusions 349

Reliability and validity in qualitative research 350

Some other methods of gathering and analyzing qualitative data 352

Content analysis 352

Narrative analysis 352

Analytic induction 352

Summary 353

Discussion questions 353

17 The research report 354

The written report 355

The purpose of the written report 355

The audience for the written report 357

Characteristics of a well-written report 358

Contents of the research report 358

Integral parts of the report 358

The title and the title page 358

The executive summary or abstract 359

Table of contents 360

List of tables, figures, and other materials 360

Preface 361

The authorization letter 361

The introductory section 361

The body of the report 361

The final part of the report 362

References 364

Appendix 364

Oral presentation 365

Deciding on the content 366

Visual aids 366

The presenter 366

The presentation 367

Handling questions 367

Summary 367

Discussion questions 368

Appendix: Examples 369

Report 1: Sample of a report involving a descriptive study 369

Report 2: Sample of a report offering alternative solutions and explaining the pros and cons of each alternative 372

Report 3: Example of an abridged basic research report 374

A Final Note to Students 379

Statistical Tables 381

Glossary 391

Bibliography 401

Index 409

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New to This Edition

  • The coverage of qualitative research methods has been strengthened through the inclusion of new case studies and content on observation, interviews and focus groups.
  • New chapters have been added on qualitative data collection methods and the critical literature review.
  • The quantitative research part of the book has been further improved by the inclusion of a new chapter on survey research.
  • New case studies have been included at the end of each chapter.
  • Updated examples and improved pedagogical features.
  • Each chapter is accompanied by webcasts on key topics, combining data-streams, PowerPoint slides and video.
  • An interactive e-Book is included with this text, featuring a wealth of embedded media, including:  20 videos, online case studies, self-test quizzes and flashcards
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The Wiley Advantage

  • Provides a concise and straightforward introduction for students to the world of business research which is easily understandable.
  • Offers an expertly crafted overview of the research methodology process without oversimplifying it.
  • The skill building approach provides students with practical perspectives on how research can be applied to real business situations.
  • Maintains Uma Sekaran’s popular and accessible style of writing, with Roger Bougie drawing upon his extensive experience of the field to present an up-to-date guide on business research for the aspiring future manager.
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