Research Methods and Research Design

Research design mainly serves the role of certifying that the acquired evidence can address the research problem in the most unambiguous manner as much as possible. From a social research perspective, the solution obtained for the problem is mainly meant to certify the existence of a theory, to clearly define and asses the significance of an apparent phenomenon, or to assess a program (Kothari, 2005). In some situations, some researchers have conducted their research far away very early prior to deeply assessing the information necessary to address the raised research questions. Under such conditions, it implies that the appropriate research designs will not be attended to implying that the overall research will be weakened in the sense that the deductions arrived at will be weak and unpersuasive. Eventually, this will imply that the overall research problem will not be adequately addressed. It is on this basis that it is important for a researcher to employ the most deemed appropriate research design while conducting their research in order to ensure that research problem is addressed in the most apposite manner.

In this study, both qualitative and quantitative research methods have been adopted in order to deeply examine the impact of cultural factors that influence business organizations.  The research problem aims to investigate the underlying effects caused by the cultural factors to the business sector. As such both quantitative and qualitative approaches are considered appropriate. Quantitative approach is objective in nature while qualitative is subjective in nature implying that the two approaches will help in achieving the optimal goals and objectives of the study. In other words, qualitative approach will enable the research in going into an in-depth examination and exploration of the study problem in question (Taylor, 2005). Additionally, quantitative approach will be used in the quantification of the underlying impacts, project on the expected future trend, and finally help in the development of recommendations as optimal solutions to the underlying problems at hand.

Different research design approaches have been adopted depending on the nature of the problem at hand. These include and not limited to descriptive/survey design, experimental, quasi-experimental, observational, case and field research design, and correlational. Descriptive design is a research method that describes the phenomena as they are, and such a design does not influence the observation in any way. Descriptive method is commonly used by social scientists in order to in describe behaviors exhibited by human beings. Marketers also make fertile use of this method while examining customer habits. Finally, descriptive design has widely been used by different business organizations while investigating the practices of different companies. Experimental design has been considered to be the most accurate design to employ while conducting any research and is most commonly used while conducting research that are based on physical sciences. Quasi-experimental have widely used in psychology as well as in social sciences. Observational design, on the other hand, has been applied where the researcher is considered to have little control over the experiment, especially on the basis of ethical issues. Case study is considered qualitative in nature and looks into the narrow aspect of the problem rather than the broad statistical survey. Correlational research design aims at exploring the relationship between different variables and at the same time coming up with predictions. However, for the purpose of this paper, descriptive design method is considered appropriate and as such will be adopted.

Based on the aforementioned observations, descriptive research design is found to be most useful on the basis of the following; descriptive research design has been useful and effective in providing answers to questions such as how, where, what, and who as they may pertain to any research problem. Most researchers make use of this design in their attempt of exploring current issues as concerns the research problem. It will also be used in the explanation of ‘what exists’ in relation to the conditions present in the case under study. As above stated, a descriptive research design will involve the collection of information without necessarily altering the environment of the existing observations in regard to the research problem. It implies that there will be no manipulation of the underlying factors in regard to the problem under investigation. Some scholars argue that the design can constitute aspects of observational as well as correlational studies. According to the Office of Human Research Protections, a descriptive study is a research that is not wholly experimental. According to OHRP, this type of study is very critical in providing information relating to behaviors or attitudes of a given group of people. It is also very appropriate in the provision of information that demonstrates the existing relationships between things that exist in a given environment.

To some extent, descriptive study can be cross-sectional in nature in the sense that the design can encompass the aspect of one-time interaction between different groups of individuals. It can also be longitudinal in nature as it might follow different people over a time-period. Researchers under descriptive study can interact with different participants, especially in cases where interviews and surveys are the primary instruments used to gather information (Monsen, Van & American Dietetic Association, 2008). In some instances, descriptive research design has made the use of the already existing records in order to gather relevant data. In that case, it can thus be argued that descriptive research design will encompass many aspects of data collection ranging from obtaining information from existing materials to conducting field surveys. In most studies, there will be the concept of applying both primary and secondary methods of data collection. Primary data is where raw data is obtained from field surveys by the use of questionnaires as well as conducting of interviews. On the other hand, secondary will involve the collection of data from existing literature such as periodicals, magazines, newspapers, company reports, statistical analysis from statistics bureau, as well as any other material that can provide relevant information in regard to a given research problem.

In this case, the problem under study is to examine the impact of cultural factors that influence business organizations. This implies that both primary, as well as secondary research methods will be important since the research problem is broad and will try to answer many questions in regard to the relationship between culture and business organizations. Descriptive study will encompass aspects of both primary and secondary research methods. This is a broad spectrum under study, and as such it will be necessary to conduct an in-depth research that will focus answering the research questions. In this research, most questions are trying to answer the question ‘what.’ From the above discussion and on the basis of previous research, descriptive research design has been effective in addressing such questions.

Descriptive research will also incorporate aspects of primary date collection. Primary data is obtained through field surveys that are conducted either through the use of questionnaires or interviews. Field surveys are considered most appropriate in enwreathing the underlying factors behind a particular research problem. Through the use of interviews, there will be a one on one interaction between the interviewee and the interviewer. This implies that data will be obtained firsthand and hence will be deemed more reliable. Primary data is considered crucial as it helps in the verification of any existing data. It will also help in the validation of any existing theory in regard to the problem under investigation.

This research design makes use of existing data in order to provide relevant answers relating to a given research problem. This will give the researcher a chance of utilizing any existing material of any previous study that has been carried out on the subject in question. Any research will acknowledge any previous works done in regard to a particular research problem. Several theories will be used under the literature review, and these are based on secondary data. As such, secondary data is considered critical. Researches that incorporate both primary and secondary data are considered most appropriate and reliable. Descriptive research method incorporates these two aspects that implying that the research findings from this study will be convincing and reliable.

The study problem in this case concerns a social issue and how it impacts on business ‘impact of cultural factors that influence business organizations.’ The above discussion indicates that descriptive research design is appropriate in conducting both social and business related issues as it helps in examining the behaviors exhibited by human beings and assessment of habits of customers respectively. This research design approach would thus be appropriate in deeply investigating the impact of cultural factors that influence business organizations.

Field observation is another term that is used to refer to observational study method, a constituent of the descriptive research design. It can either be natural in nature or observations may be based on laboratory approach. When applied in a naturalistic nature, the descriptive design will enable the researcher in viewing the subjects in a more naturalistic environment as compared to laboratory observation thereby leading to greater ecological validity. In this case, the problem study concerns cultural issues that can be classified as sociological in nature. The study will be based on natural observation rather than laboratory observation, an aspect that is best served by descriptive research design. This design can thus be said to be more reliable and valid in studying the nature of the research problem ‘examine the impact of cultural factors that influence business organizations. Many researchers have made use of descriptive research design as an innovative research instrument. It has provided the researchers with an opportunity to connect between qualitative and quantitative in order to reconstruct the ‘what’ questions in the research underway. It will be upon the researcher to deeply examine both the positive and the negative aspects of the descriptive research design.

As above stated the reliability and validity of the research will most depend on both the primary as well as secondary data. Different methods will be employed in data collection and the case of secondary data; both questionnaires, as well as interviews, will be used. Specific forms of data collection methods will be used in under the descriptive research technique. Such data collection procedures are considered advantageous in a number of ways since they offer a multifaceted tactic for the gathering of data. It implies that the technique can be used to investigate the different aspects of something in several ways. It will thus be appropriate in using this research design in investigating the impacts of the social factors that impact on business organizations. The study question is eager to not only examine on one particular social factor, but a number of them implying that the concept of multifaceted technique of the descriptive study will be crucial.

Descriptive research design is understood as providing a unique mechanism of gathering data.  The descriptive research design combines both primary and secondary aspects. Personal accounts or newspapers form the bases of cases studies. When making use of case studies, there are high chances of engaging into an in-depth study into the subject matter by engaging as many participants as possible. Case studies will help the researcher to develop a hypothesis that can be tested and will also enable the researcher in studying phenomenon that are rare in nature (Anastas, 2012).

Finally, survey method also incorporated in descriptive type of research design. Survey method approach makes use of questionnaires and interviews where the participants are engaged through questions (Sreejesh, Mohapatra & Anusree, 2014). In the case of questionnaires, the participants will be required to tend to question that can either be open or close-ended. In closed-ended type of questions, the respondents are restricted to their answers as the multiple choices from where to choose from are predetermined by the researcher. However, in the case of open-ended questions, the respondent exercises his/her freedom and will give the answers based on his/her deep understanding of the underlying research problem. Unlike in the case of close-ended questions where the respondent is restricted to a limited number of choices, in an open-ended questions, the researcher will be able to give an in-depth explanation of the underlying issues in regard to the case problem under study. The open-ended questions will create room for a wide range of responses although they pose a great challenge during the analysis process. This is because the data has to be reduced or coded in a certain manner in order to make it possible to analyze them statistically. However, for the case of close-ended approach, the analysis is considered pretty simple. This is so especially by making use of the Likert scale that many researchers have favored and opted to use in their analytical analysis (Michie, 2014). Proper construction of questions ensures that there is validity and reliability of the answers obtained.

However, in spite of the strengths exhibited by descriptive research design, there are some shortcomings associated with it. In any research/study, it is important to maintain high standards of privacy both from the side of the researcher as well as that of the respondents. However, descriptive research design is believed to fall short of upholding such qualities. Primary weakness cited out from descriptive research design is lack of confidentiality. In some situations, the subjects have provided insufficient information or with information that they have felt unsatisfactory for the researcher to hear. During interviews, such issues have been prevalent as sometimes the subjects feel uncomfortable sharing their information. To some extent, these participants may consider some questions to be very personal and as such decline from providing the required answers. As earlier stated, interviews and questionnaires are both used in descriptive research design.

The possibilities of subjectivity and error are high in the case of descriptive research design. This aspect of error and subjectivity are attributed for by the concepts of both questionnaires. In most cases, the questions included in questionnaires are prescriptive in nature and are also predetermined. To some extent the research may have some errors. This may be attributed to the fact that the researcher may be biased in designing the questions by recording only what he/she would like to hear. Additionally, the researcher may also decide to ignore some data in order to favor the research hypothesis. Overcoming such biases under the descriptive research approach may be extremely difficult thereby negatively impacting on the final result of the study. In other words, because of the biased approaches in subjective research approach, it is difficult to come up reach on reliable results (Proctor & Zandt, 2011).

It has also been considered a failure especially in situations where laboratory observations are ignored. Laboratory observations are considered more reliable as compared to natural observation in the sense that more research will be conducted in the laboratory unlike in the case of natural observations where deductions will be arrived at by mere observation and without necessarily carrying out an in-depth examination of the subject matter. Less time is also spent in the case of laboratory observation as compared to the naturalistic observations. However, both of these observations have been used in the growth and development of the scientific knowledge. In this case, the subject matter is socially related and what is required is dependent in naturalistic observation than laboratory observation.

The use of descriptive is limited in the sense it can only be used in the description of the situation but cannot be used to determine the causal effects of a research problem. It will also not be used to provide solutions on the course of action to be adopted in addressing an identified research problem. In other words, it can be said that descriptive method of research can be advantageous and more reliable as it helps realize as it is considered as being a scientific tool. When applying this research design method, no disturbances will be caused on the subject matters. It can therefore be stated that descriptive approach is advantageous not only to social science-related studies, but it is also useful while carrying out scientific studies. Descriptive methods will incorporate aspects of observation, case study, and survey techniques thereby making it more solid and reliable (Gorard & Taylor, 2004).

Exploratory research design is usually applied in situations where there is very little or totally no earlier studies to refer to in regard to the research problem in question. In other words, it is carrying out a study on an issue that has previously not been clearly defined. The research outcomes obtained from this type of research design cannot be used by themselves in making decisions but can always provide significant tools in providing an idea in regard to the existing situation. There are several shortcomings associated with exploratory research design. First, it will be difficult to replace conclusive, quantitative research using this research design. Exploratory studies usually provide information that is qualitative in nature, and the interpretation of the observations is highly judgmental.

Findings obtained from, and exploratory researches are usually qualitative in nature. Studies show that there are significant interpreter bias in situations where findings are arrived at by qualitative research. To some extent, deductions made from a focus group interviews may not be clear. Sometimes exploratory research design is based on unrealistic assumptions. For instance, it is relatively problematic to interpret a nod or a facial expression. Because of its unrealistic interpretation of various issues, the findings from an exploratory study can only be classified as being preliminary. This makes the application of this kind of research to be lacking and as such cannot be regarded as the best in conducting several studies.

Another shortcoming of the exploratory research methods is its inability to make valid forecasts from the research outcomes. Most of the exploratory designs employ the concept of using modest samples. However, these samples are not grounded on a probability basis implying that they are not a representative of the total population. This in turn weakens the applicability of the exploratory research method. This is unlike in the case of descriptive research design that covers all aspects in the case problem under study because of its broadened research nature. Descriptive research combines several aspects of research methods thus making it more reliable and valid.

Prior to arriving at a final decision, it is always important to conduct a quantitative study, and the study should have adequate sample in order to ensure that the measurements are clear and accurate. However, for the case of the exploratory studies, there have been several drawbacks emerging from the ignorance of applying the aforementioned concept. In other words, it means that due to its deductions made at the exploratory stage, there are high probabilities of ignoring a noble idea. In addition, further research into an idea may be ignored at the exploratory stage especially in situations where everything is much pleasing at the exploratory phase. It is always important to conduct a quantitative research in order to quantify the underlying factors affecting a particular research problem in order to reach a valid and reliable conclusion. Such an aspect is found to be missing in the case of exploratory research limiting its application in research.

The causal research study is carried out in order to ascertain the degree and nature of cause and effect relationships. This research design mostly makes use of experiments as the primary instruments in the data collection processes. However, compared to the descriptive research design, the causal study will exhibit some shortcomings especially in regard to the research problem that needs to be examined in this research paper ‘examine the impact of cultural factors that influence business organizations.’ First, under the causal studies there are high probabilities of assuming that coincidences as cause-and-effect relationships. For instance, in answering some of the ‘what’ questions in this research paper, there might be an assumption of some factors that may be perceived as being causal-and-effect relationships. Such assumptions that are not based on solid findings may invalidate the final results of the survey. Secondly, it is relatively challenging to arrive at appropriate and valid deductions using findings of causal research.

There is a wide range of elements and variables in the social environment that will impact on the causal research implying that the validity of the inferences may be negatively impacted upon. It is possible to infer casualty, but it can never be ascertained with a high degree of confidence. Finally, the establishment of the correlation between two variables is relatively and highly achievable. However, ascertaining the cause and the impact variable can be relatively problematic making it difficult to accomplish such an undertaking. From this discussion, it is evident that causal research is determined to establish the cause-and- effect relationships between two related variables. In this research, the aim is to determine impacts on business organizations by different cultural factors. The study is not concerned with the causes and as such descriptive method is deemed more appropriate as it will enable the researcher in establishing a relationship between the two variables; cultural practices and business organizations.

It can thus be ascertained that, under the research problem, ‘the impact of cultural factors that influence business organizations’ descriptive research design will be most appropriate as it will be used to describe the different issues relating to the social life, as well as the business organizations. In fact, descriptive research is believed to address many issues of life. Using this research approach it is possible to provide an in depth description of a certain group of people and any other attribute relating to business and other entities. Through descriptive research design, it will be possible to describe the characteristics exhibited by a particular group of people.

In this research, by identifying such factors, it will be possible for the researcher to determine the extent to what such attributes will impact on the lives of the concerned group and the hence the operations of the business organizations. It will be used to describe the cultural characteristics of the sampled population in order to determine the degree of how a change in such cultural practices will impact on the overall business organization. Descriptive research approach will also help determine the proportion of individuals who behave in a particular manner implying that it will be able to ascertain the degree to which a change will impact in that particular selected group of people. It will be used in the determination of the extent to which certain cultural factors will impact on the business organizations. Finally, it will be used in the determination of the relationship that exists between two or more variables (Mitchell & Jolley, 2012).

From the above discussion, it is evident that descriptive research design can be used in the fields of social sciences as well as business in order to ascertain different habits exhibited by human, as well as habits of consumers respectively. It is considered most appropriate as it incorporates many aspects in research such as the use of case studies that forms the basis for secondary date collection, surveys that form the basis of primary data collection. Based on research, descriptive study looks into answering ‘what’ questions. The research problem in this research proposal aims at answering such questions implying that the adoption of descriptive design will be most appropriate and effective. The positive attributes of descriptive research approach have to a long way outdone the negatives implying that the design will be suitable for this research design.

References

Anastas, J. W. (2012). Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services. New York: Columbia University Press.

Gorard, S., & Taylor, C. (2004). Combining methods in educational and social research. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Kothari, C. R. (2005). Research methodology: Methods & techniques. New Delhi: New Age International (P) Ltd.

Mitchell, M., & Jolley, J. (2012). Research Design Explained 8 th ed. Stamford: Cengage Learning.

Michie, J. (2014). Reader’s Guide to the Social Sciences. London: Routledge.

Monsen, E. R., Van, H. L., & American Dietetic Association. (2008). Research: Successful approaches. Chicago: American Dietetic Association.

Proctor, R. W., & Zandt, T. V. (2011). Human Factors in Simple and Complex Systems, Second Edition. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.

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Taylor, G. R. (2005). Integrating quantitative and qualitative methods in research. Lanham, Md: University Press of America.