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Business Research Methods & Tools

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What is business research? Why should there be any question about the definition of research? In business, managers need to respond to any issues that may arise in the business. While one may be prone to do this based on past experience, the wiser choice would be to use business research to gather the information to make decisions as business research will increase the likelihood that the solution would make a positive impact. According to Business Research Methods, the definition of business research is the structured questioning which provides information by which to guide wise decisions that maximize the impact of the manager’s actions. Business research includes planning, gathering, analyzing, and disbursing information to pullout the pertinent facts so that the management may gain insight in order to make decisions that are more likely to achieve the goal of maximizing profits (Cooper, D.R. and Schindler, P.S., 2011). Questions to the definition of research will arise as research will be different depending on the manager, goals of the business and strategy. No situation exists in an objective vacuum as such there are subjective tendencies when picking and choosing what information is pertinent for decision making. Even if businesses are alike the goals of the business may be different.

One can plainly see this in viewing a business’ mission statement. Success could be based mainly on profits, but in many cases there are several goals such as revenue, profits, customer satisfaction and loyalty. The strategy may not be based merely on making money but on expansion. Sometimes a business would rather expand and the definition of research would be entirely different more or less canvasing areas that may prove to be profitable in the future. As well, strategies within a business are often not singular; rather there are several strategies running simultaneously.

What is the difference between applied research and basic or pure research?
Use a decision about how a salesperson is paid, by commission or salary, and describe the question that would guide applied research versus the question that would guide pure research. While all research is designed to solve problems there are different types of research based on how quickly action will be taken and a possible impact to the business will happen. Applied research is in response to a widespread problem that is happening in current time. The goal of the research is to find answers and make changes to actions, policies or performance of the business entity. While basic or pure research still is meant to solve problems, the research is outside of the scope of action, performance or policy and is more experimental or theoretical in nature. If using applied research, the questions would be narrower in scope and may include looking at data such as the sales numbers obtained by commission sales representatives versus those on salary.

For instance, at Sears Hardware all hourly associates earn SPIFFS based on selling protection agreements or getting people to apply for credit cards. These same SPIFFS are not offered to salaried associates. Therefore, in applied research one may gather current data on the rates of credit and protection agreements sold by both types of salary and see if there is a significant difference in the rate of acquisition. If there is the policy may change so that SPIFFS to salaried members of management in order to increase sales in those areas as both areas are highly profitable. If using basic or pure research the questions would be more general in nature. These may include surveys sent to both types of associates in order to determine motivational forces behind selling. While information is gathered, action is not instantaneous. However, the data may be used in the future. The idea is to find the thought patterns behind the action of an individual.

A sales force manager needs to have information in order to decide whether to create a custom motivation program or purchase one offered by a consulting firm. What are the dilemmas the manager faces in selecting either of these alternatives? In order to make the decision on a motivation program, a manager must first use business research in order to determine the needs of the associates. While an in-house motivational program may appear to be more cost effective, this may not be the case if the program does not meet the end goal. Therefore, goals must be defined before the decision is made. A survey of motivational actions or education must be compiled to determine the needs of the staff. At this point, the manager must make the decision if the resources necessary are housed within the firm. Merely having a trainer may not be enough if the trainer does not have the education to teach the motivational course. As well, there must be room and allotment time within the firm. A benefit may be that the training can be staggered as to not totally shut down production; however, if a conference room needs to be rented this would no longer be as cost efficient.

Similar dilemmas are met when choosing to purchase a motivation program from an outside vendor. The outside vendor may be a mismatch to the goals of the proposed program. There may be a lack of understanding to the work environment or issues that arise within the industry. Either way the manager needs to do the research and align the program with the goals and strategy of the corporation. Neither program is likely to hit all bases but in the end the process becomes to weigh the pros and cons in order to choose the program that is most likely to reach the end goal and is efficient based on the research done before making the choice between programs. You observe the following condition: “Our female sales representatives have lower customer defections than do our male sales representatives.” 1. Propose the concepts and constructs you might use to study the phenomenon. A concept can be considered a general guideline associated with a subject, event, or action. The guideline is created by multiple memories throughout the lifecycle in the mind’s eye from prior knowledge, learning and experience (Cooper, D.R. and Schindler, P.S., 2011).

In this case, one may look through the data base of memories in order to define a sales person. Experiences from life will define the meaning of a sale person and look to experiences with both male and females in that realm as well as life in general. The concept of salesperson may clash with the concept of female. Many may identify women with the caretakers or nurturing individuals in life. Thus, are less apt to complain as the salesperson behavior does not align with the concept of a salesperson; rather, the concept of woman overtakes that of the salesperson persona. In order to study this one would need to question the concept of salesperson, man, woman and female versus male salespeople. By asking the concept of salesperson first, the territory becomes a unisex or a general concept. By following with gender one allows that ideas of the differences between male and female to flood the mind before asking about the male versus female salespeople. This allows the researcher to determine if gender differences exist in the mind of the respondent prior to attaching gender to salespeople in general.

As well, the terms are simplistic enough for all to derive the same meaning from the concepts to be defined/described. While the concept would be easy to understand the definition of character of each individual is not objective. By adding personalities to be defined the concept actually becomes a construct as the definition is abstract . For instance, if one were to ask the quality of the salesperson, this would be a subjective answer that is dependent on what a particular individual sees as quality. Quality could include speed, information given, friendliness and warmth which are all subjective and difficult to measure and define. Thus construct may devalue a research study as all participants are not defining the construct t in the same manner or with the same weight on each concept that may be attached to the construct. 2. How might these concepts and/or constructs be related to explanatory hypotheses?

If the survey group sees a female as more caring, honest, friendly, warm, or nurturing that the hypothesis can be explained simply by the terms of the association between the stereotype of women versus that of men. The attribute can equal to quality in the mind of the consumer thus making the sale more likely to close. However, if the definition of quality changed or if different concepts were related to the construct the one variable may change the association between women salespeople and quality thus changing the entire situation. This is the concept behind explanatory hypotheses. The quality of women salespeople (independent variable) leads to less defections (dependent variable) by the consumer. If quality changed to values of speed and pushiness then the entire hypothesis would be proven as null and void.


Cooper, D.R. and Schindler, P.S. (2011). Business research methods (11th ed.). New York : McGraw-Hill Irwin. ISBN: 9780073373706.

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