1. Some researchers find that their sole sources are secondary data. Why might this be? Name some management questions for which secondary data sources are probably the only ones feasible.
Secondary research makes up the largest part of research in many organizational circumstances and also in many educational settings. Essentially secondary data is data that has already been collected by another source. For managers this is likely to be data such as personnel information or performance related information. Much of this will already be collected by human resources, sales and other functions within the organizations.
By using secondary research a researcher will be able to achieve so much more with the time and resource available than if they were to begin collecting the data again. As the data is already collected a focus can be made on analyzing the data and spending time on supplementing the data where necessary.
As well as the practical reasoning it is also important to note that a great deal of management research may be viewed as suspicious by those that the data is being collected. For example where the questions are related to performance and possible re-organizations, the individuals in question may not feel comfortable giving information that they may think will be detrimental to their position. It is also possible that the information being given may not be as accurate as it could be due to the fact that the individual is concerned about how it will be used in the future.
With this in mind, questions such as how a certain process can be streamlined or how greater efficiencies can be achieved will often be better undertaken through secondary research that has already been collected. This also has wider cost and time savings as the data is already available for the management team and there is no need to duplicate the efforts.
2. How do environmental factors affect response rates in personal interviews? How can we overcome these environmental problems?
Environmental factors may fall into two separate categories, barriers (that have a negative impact) and facilitators (that have a positive impact). When undertaking personal interviews it is necessary to be fully aware of the environmental factors so that the best possible response rate can be achieved.
Environmental factors such as communication skills, awareness of the reasons behind the research and the ability to respond to the request. For example if it is difficult for an individual respondent to take part in the interview or they don’t understand the benefits associated with participation they will simply not take part or respond. Similarly if the language is not understood then again there will be a reduction in the number of people being prepared to take part in.
In order to encourage a greater response rate therefore it is necessary to firstly make sure that the communication is clear and that the reasons behind the research are readily understood. Communication needs to be clear and directed at the correct people.
Secondly, it s necessary to make participation easy for those that are being asked to participate in the research. This means that the length of time required for the interview should be as small as possible and that the physical location or time of the interview should be as convenient as possible to the participants to encourage response rates.
Environmental factors can also be positive and by targeting individuals that are likely to have a personal interest in the research it is likely that this will increase the response rates. Being aware of the relevant factors will also ensure the broadest possible of response rates from a range of different sources.
3. Below are six questions that might be found on questionnaires. Comment on each as to whether or not it is a good question. If it is not, explain why. (Assume that no lead-in or screening questions are required. Judge each question on its own merits.)
a. Do you read National Geographic magazine regularly?
This is a good screening question and is closed therefore it will enable a quantitative analysis of the response and will answer a specific question for the researcher. There is no definition of ‘regularly’ which may lead to contradictory responses. What one responded thinks is regular another will not therefore stating a specific figure such as 2 in every 3 editions would make the answer more useful.
b. What percentage of your time is spent asking for information from others in your organization?
This is a qualitative answer and will offer valuable information on the interactions within an organization. In order to make this more useful it would be necessary to define what ‘asking for information’ means as some individuals would read this to mean asking for help, others may take a wider view. It is also not clear as to what is meant by ‘others’ and this could be split down into different types of colleagues.
c. When did you first start chewing gum?
This is not a particularly useful question due to the fact that it does not ascertain whether or not the individual chews gum currently and does not clearly state whether the question is aged based or time based i.e. does the researcher mean at what age did the respondent first try chewing gum or does the researcher want to know when chewing gum became a regular part of day to day life for the respondent.
d. How much discretionary buying power do you have each year?
This is a very unclear question as it does not state in what terms the answer is expected. It is not clear whether it is based on a monetary value, a percentage or some other reference point. It is also not clear as to what exactly is meant by discretionary buying power and whether this is something that is dealt with within the household or whether it is an individually based question.
e. Why did you decide to attend Big State University?
An open question such as this is useful from an explanatory point of view but may make comparisons and analysis difficult for the researcher. An alternative would be to offer some suggested answers which could be ticked to allow comparisons to be drawn between respondents.
f. Do you think the president is doing a good job now?
Again this is another question which may be useful from an explanatory point of view. Getting reasons behind the answers would make this question much more valuable as in many cases the answers will be based on individual experiences and these need to be ascertained to make the answers valuable.
4. You wish to analyze the pedestrian traffic that passes a given store in a major shopping center. You are interested in determining how many shoppers pass this store, and you would like to classify these shoppers on various relevant dimensions. Any information you secure should be obtainable from observation alone.
a. What other information might you find useful to observe?
Information such as sex, rough age, group size or nature and time of day would all be relevant and observable without having to directly question individuals.
b. How would you decide what information to collect?
Through considering what the ultimate aim of the research it would be clearer as to what information needs to be collected. For example if the question is related to how more people could be attracted to entering the store then the type of the people passing the shop would be relevant in order to ensure the appropriately attractive shop displays are used.
c. Devise the operational definitions you would need.
Group type: individual, couple, same sex groups, families
Age: under 18, 18 – 35 approximate, 36 – 60 approximate, over 60
Time of day: before 9am, 9am – noon, noon – 2pm, 2pm – 5pm, after 5pm.
d. What would you say in your instructions to the observers you plan to use?
To ensure that every group is noted as accurately as possible, and that where the categorization cannot be established, to make a best guess in order to get the best possible result. All pedestrians should be noted as the overall number is critical.
e. How might you sample this shopper traffic?
By stopping every 10th passer by or by undertaking sampling based on types to ensure that all traffic is recorded for example at least one woman under 18 should be stopped, at least one woman over 60 etc.
5. What ethical problems do you see in conducting experiments with human subjects?
One of the critical issues relating to ethics is to ensure that all participants are fully aware of why they are being observed and for what purpose. Undercover observations or collecting data without permission needs to be avoided. All subjects need to be aware of what data is being held and for what purpose. The data should not be used for any other purpose or sold forward without permission.
6. Select a small sample of work associates, or friends and ask them to answer the following in a paragraph or two: “What are your career aspirations for the next five years?”
a. Use one of the four basic units of content analysis to analyze their responses. Describe your findings as frequencies for the unit of analysis selected.
The four units that were deemed to be critical were: more money, promotion, geographic move and a move to another company. The responses were given by a ‘tick all that apply’ and therefore some people will have answered yes to all four or a combination of the four. More money was the most popular response at 92%, promotion was next at 85% a geographic move was listed at 35% and move to another company at only 8% (although note that this may be due to the fact that respondents didn’t want to show disloyalty.)
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