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Business Research Methods and Tools

Required Text (Landrum, 2014)

  1. Read the following chapters from Research Methods for Business: Tools and Applications:
  • Chapter 9: An Action Research Approach to Business Research
  • Chapter 10: Techniques for Qualitative Data Analysis

Website

  1. United States Census Bureau. (2013). Data access tools. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/main/www/access.html

Discussions

To participate in the following discussions, go to this week’s Discussion link in the left navigation. These are pretty straight forward and there is nothing hidden to look for. The key to #2 is to observe and not engage people in this primary data collection method.

 

Ashford 5: – Week 4 – Discussion 1

Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Reference the Discussion Forum Grading Rubric for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.

Qualitative Analysis

Using the Ashford University Library, find a scholarly business research article that uses qualitative data collection and analysis methods. Read the article all the way through before you post. Use this week’s lecture to aid your analysis. In your post, provide:

  • The APA-formatted reference for the article.
  • The qualitative data collection method(s).
  • The qualitative data analysis method(s).
  • Your critical evaluation of how well the qualitative methods were designed and implemented.

Respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts.

Ashford 5: – Week 4 – Weekly Lecture

 

  Weekly Lecture

 

Week Four Lecture

Business Research Methods and Tools

Week 4: Qualitative Research

Focus groups

The focus group, which gathers a group of people together to answer interview questions about a specific topic, actually got its start in market research. Researchers found that focus groups were an effective way to gather opinions about a product or service. They are frequently used in early stages of product development to gather ideas about how something should work.

Focus groups can be effective, but they require some skill on the researchers’ part to make them work. It’s useful to have at least two members of the research team in the focus group itself: one person to ask the questions and facilitate the conversation, and another person to record the session. Unless ground rules are set at the start of the session, such as “only one person can talk at a time,” focus groups can become unmanageable. If the decision is made to record the focus group so that the discussion can be transcribed (this is recommended, but it’s also time-consuming and expensive), it’s difficult to determine who said what if multiple people are talking at the same time! Additionally, the personalities of focus group participants can clash: some people talk too much while others don’t talk at all; some have very strong opinions while others simply agree with everyone else, and so on. Moderating all these individual differences and getting the information you need from the group is where the challenges lie.

Questions for focus groups and interviews tend to be open-ended; in other words, there are no set answers from which the participants must choose. When writing focus group questions (or questions for one-on-one interviews), make sure your open-ended questions aren’t biased. A question such as “How amazing do you think Pepsi tastes?” is open-ended, but it’s biased, because you’re leading your participant to think about the drink’s amazing qualities. A better question would be, “What do you think about Pepsi’s taste?” With this question, you’re not making them think that they have to speak to how amazing it is, and you’re prepared to receive a wider range of answers.

Qualitative data analysis

Qualitative data is any data that’s not based on numbers and statistics. Responses gathered in a focus group constitute qualitative data, because your data consists of the words spoken by your participants. This type of data can call for analysis that does not involve statistics. A joke among researchers is that people who don’t like math do qualitative research, because they can avoid running statistics! (There might be some truth to this joke!)

The topic of qualitative analysis could fill up an entire course in itself, because there are many theories about and approaches to doing this work. Throughout the different approaches, a relatively common idea is that we should classify our qualitative data into categories or themes that paint a picture of our data. If we had 20 interview responses to our question “What do you think about Pepsi’s taste?” we could categorize those responses based on their content. We might find that there are three basic ideas behind the responses: “it’s too sweet,” “it’s refreshing,” and “I think another soda tastes better.” These categories are created as we analyze our data – it doesn’t work as well to make the categories before you see the data, because they might not accurately reflect the responses.

For viewing:

Löfgren, K. (2013, May 19). Qualitative analysis of interview data: A step-by-step guide. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRL4PF2u9XA

Forbes School of Business Faculty

Ashford 5: – Week 4 – Discussion 2

Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Reference the Discussion Forum Grading Rubric for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.

Observational Studies

Observe some people doing something for about 15 minutes. You could do it almost anywhere: in a store, at work, or even at home if you live with other people! Before you begin, think about a question you want to answer, such as “Where do customers go after they enter this store?” or “How do people act when they are in their offices?”

In your post:

  1. Write up your experience and any context that would be important for us to understand. (Where were you? How many people were present? What time of day was it? What did you learn about your question?)
  2. Tell us the question you wanted to answer and what you saw when you performed your observations. Please keep the discussion anonymous in order to protect the privacy of the people you observed.

Respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts.

Respond

Ashford 5: – Week 4 – Assignment

Research Project – Week Four

You will receive feedback on the previous week’s assignment by Sunday 11:59pm. Before you complete your Week Four assignment, please read your instructor’s comments about your Week Three assignment, as well as this week’s lecture. Be sure to include any suggested changes in your project going forward.

In a five- to six-page paper (not including the title and reference pages), include the following:

  1. A revised version of your introduction, research question, background research, hypothesis, research design, sampling plan, secondary data plan (if applicable), and measurement scales (if applicable).  These revisions must be based on your instructor’s feedback if your instructor provided comments about these sections in Week Three.
  2. Your plans for using observations, focus groups, interviews, or surveys, if applicable. This should include your draft version of the questions you will ask your participants. If observations or surveys would not be useful in your study, please explain why not.
  3. A reference list documented in APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.

Your paper must be formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.

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