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Business Research Methods

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Team C’s Business Research Methods Part I analysis determined a problem within Toyota Motor Corporation’s recent recalls that posed a potential for decreased customer satisfaction, which has the additional potential for impacting sales. Part II proposed a sample design and appropriate collection methods, a sample survey, a presentation, and classification of findings. In Part III, the final piece of this essay, the statistical analysis from Part II will be discussed as well as the potential challenges and validity of the original research question and the data analysis that followed. Finally, the findings are presented in the proper response type, and classified in order of power in appendix A. The research question Team C proposed is “Is there a statistically significant relationship between customer satisfaction and Toyota sales in the U.S.?” Statistical Analysis

The previous data in Part II concluded that in Toyota’s 2009 fiscal year, the company sold 2.21 million units. Although the 2010 fiscal year is not yet complete, the company has sold 1,567,006 units as of the end of February 2010. After review of the monthly sales totals, it is reasonable to project that the March sales totals will not be sufficient to match the sales totals of fiscal year 2009, which was down 746 thousand units from the previous year.

Although data is not yet available for the 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index, the 2009 customer satisfaction rating for Toyota was 86. The 2008 customer satisfaction rating was also 86, up from 84 the previous year. Although there is a decline in sales during the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years, the customer satisfaction rating has held firm in the corresponding years. However, recent problems with recalls may have yet to be discovered in this index as it is a yearly average and 2010 information to date is not available. As the 2008 timeframe is nearly two years old, the timeline for the trend line for customer satisfaction has changed dramatically within the last 12 months because of increased recalls, and Toyota’s acknowledgement of prior knowledge of events that led to the recalls. As such, there is a high potential for anomaly in the customer satisfaction results. Potential Challenges to Validity and Reliability

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports three recalls related to safety issues with various Toyota models in recent months. “Currently, NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation has received 124 reports from consumers, including four reports alleging that crashes occurred.” Furthermore, the NHTSA has opened a formal investigation into the 2010 Toyota Prius (NHTSA, 2010). A reports by USA Today indicates that two million vehicles will be affected by the recalls (Healey & Carty, 2010). A spike in recalls by Toyota has the potential to cause an anomaly in the survey results. Such an anomaly within the last 12 months can dramatically skew customer satisfaction survey results over such a short time frame. A report by the Los Angeles Times alleges that despite repairs conducted through the recalls, vehicles continue to have safety related issues (Bensinger & Vartabedian, 2010). Although recalls within the automotive industry are not uncommon, perceptions of customer satisfaction may be affected by the growth in recalls by Toyota. Additionally, the Customer Satisfaction Index rating is done on a yearly basis while sales figures are reported within a fiscal year. This discrepancy in reported data indicates that the potential may exist for misrepresentation in the correlation between sales and customer satisfaction in the years in question.

Challenge Minimization Techniques in Research
“Good research generates dependable data that are derived by professionally conducted practices and that can be used reliably for decision making” (Cooper – Schindler, p. 22). Useful research generally follows the standards of the scientific method, which by definition is a systematic, empirically based procedure for generating reliable research (Cooper & Schindler, 2008). To ensure minimization of challenges in research the following steps must be taken. 1.) Purpose clearly defined

2.) Research process adequately detailed

3.) Research design properly planned

4.) High ethical standards applied

5.) Limitations revealed throughout the process

6.) Analysis adequate for decision maker’s needs

7.) Findings presented unambiguously

8.) Conclusions justified

9.) Researcher’s experience reflected throughout the process

The research question is the cornerstone of the scientific process. Validate research questions support the resolution of the management dilemma. Diagram one in the attached appendix can be used to ensure a valid research question is constructed.

To ensure the challenges associated with data collection are minimized, pilot survey tests should be conducted. Pilot tests identify weaknesses in the study’s design, data collection instruments, and procedures therefore, increasing data validity, and reliability.

Once pilot tests are completed and the researcher is confident in the validity of the sampling questionier, a full survey indicative of population size and demographics should be conducted. During the survey, clear direction and instruction should be given to reduce participant confusion and bias. In Team C’s study, stratified random sampling was used. Stratified Random Sampling entails dividing a population into smaller groups known as strata. The strata shows elements of the members who share the same attributes or characteristics A random sample is then taken, in a size relative when balanced against the population, then united to form a random sample. General Response Types

For Toyota to succeed in this recall effort and maintain future customer loyalty, merely accepting a survey is only a starting point. In response to the survey, Toyota must: * Acknowledge that the customer’s concern is important

* Acknowledge that the information is documented
* A incident number is issued
* Advise the customer that the complaint will be resolved
* Remind customer of Toyota’s policies when appropriate
* Offer alternate solutions to avoid future incident
* Thank the customer for the concern
Classification of Findings in Order of Power

The classification of findings in order of power are listed with the survey in appendix A.


Toyota faces a massive blow to sales as well as reputation in their current recall effort, and recovery may take years, and may never be achieved at pre recall levels. Team C’s study suggests that there is a statistically significant relationship between customer satisfaction, based on Toyota sales in the U.S. in that sales are down, customer satisfaction is low, and Toyota is scrambling to keep a viable customer base.


The American Consumer Satisfaction Index. (2006). ACSI Scores and Commentary. Retrieved from http://www.theacsi.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=
Bensinger, K. & Vartabedian, R. Los Angeles Times. (2010). Retrieved from: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/05/business/la-fi-toyota-complaints5-2010mar05
Cooper, D., & Schindler, P. (2006). Business research methods. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Healey, J. & Carty, S. USA Today. Retrieved from: http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration . (2010). Retrieved from: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/portal/site/nhtsa/template.MAXIMIZE/menuitem.f2217bee37fb302f6d7c121046108a0c/?javax.portlet.tpst=1e51531b2220b0f8ea14201046108a0c_ws_MX&javax.portlet.prp_1e51531b2220b0f8ea14201046108a0c_viewID=detail_view&itemID=c1d264146b1a6210VgnVCM1000002fd17898RCRD&pressReleaseYearSelect=2010

The American Consumer Satisfaction Index. (2006). ACSI Scores and Commentary. Retrieved from http://www.theacsi.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=149&
Toyota USA Newsroom. (2010). Newsroom Home Page. Retrieved from

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