June 10, 2009

Research Methods: Useful knowledge or wasting time?

In this blog strand the emphasis is on ontological, epistemological, and methodological issues, ideas, and examples relating to empirical and interpretative research in the disciplines of marketing and/or strategy.

All HE taught business modules (especially in leading business schools such as Warwick) are (or should be) research led. Without robust research that explores or seeks to understand the conceptual underpinnings of business success and failure (whether qualitative or quantitative, positivist or constructionist), the teaching of business in higher education would be little more than either training in a particular technique (and that could be learned from a book) or a series of interesting business stories, anecdotes and experiences from which any learning would be wholly reliant on serendipity.

This is not to denigrate the role of experience, anecdotes or serendipity: spotting opportunities or insights drawn from stimulating examples is a major part of what business, and business research, is about. To paraphrase Machiavelli ('The Prince', 1532) we are all presented with opportunities but for them to be real opportunities we must a) recognise them as opportunities and then b) be in a position (i.e. have access to the knowledge and the resources) to take advantage of them as and when the opportunities are presented.

Business research is about conceptualising, understanding and/or categorising, and then making available and accessible, the knowledge needed to recognise opportunities and then to understand how the available resources can be best deployed to take advantage of those opportunities. However, unless such research is built on solid, robust, reliable and valid foundations the danger (?) is that business edifices are built on sand. For example, if more market researchers and users of market research understood the strengths and limitations of the various data collection and analysis methods, better and more robust research might emerge and better business decisions might result. My witness: the 'New Coke' debacle, in which, in essence, the wrong question was being investigated.

Thoughts, comments, ideas, examples and discussions relating to business (but particularly marketing and strategy) research methods are most welcome.

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Fanyi Lu

    But what do you think is the most important in marketing research apart from these variety research methods? modelling approaches, statistical skills, operational management or something else? Do you think knowledge of marketing weights more than research methods in practical business research?

    29 Nov 2011, 01:20

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