This book is designed as an introductory textbook on management research methods. Research is a creative process and the topic of research methodology is complex and varied. The writing of a book like this is beset with over-structuring and simplification. The basic premise for writing this book is that research methods can be taught and learnt. The emphasis is on developing a research outlook and a frame of mind for carrying out research. Competence in mathematical and statistical techniques of analysis is not necessary for understanding this book; however, some competence is required for carrying out research in management.
To present the overall research process as a unitary whole, and then explain it by breaking it into small pieces, is a difficult task. We have attempted such a task in this book so that the student can see the whole and then take time to grasp the details in order to get a proper perspective of the subject.
Management research has three predominant approaches: First, there is the quantitative empirical approach in which the design provides for obtaining data that can be treated by rigorous statistical analysis. In this, hypothesis testing and multivariate analysis procedures are used. This is predominant in marketing management, organization theory and decision theory. Second, the mathematical modelling approaches use mainly logical thinking and operations research models in decision making situations, especially in the areas of operations, manufacturing, logistics, inventory and finance. These two provide solutions to problems on the lines of positive science. The third approach is the qualitative analysis approach of organizational theorists who emphasize studying and understanding particular problems and situations based on voluminous empirical data. They prefer depth of understanding of the particulars to the generalizations of the other two approaches. The book tries to integrate all these approaches and present to the student a blend of the general and the specific methods.
The book is organized into the following six parts:
- Part A—Scientific Method in Management Research consists of principles of scientific method and overview of management research. It provides insight into the basics of scientific method in research and discusses the way in which it is currently viewed in contemporary management research.
- Part B—Research Problem deals with methods of problem solving, research problem identification and formulation, and project proposal. The emphasis is on a mix of creative, logical and systems approaches particularly in problem identification and formulation.
- Part C—Research Design Strategy details the various types of researches, namely, experimental, ex post facto and modelling research. Modelling approaches in research design are elaborated along with experiment and ex post facto approaches. This is a new dimension in the treatment of management research methodology.
- Part D—Research Design Tactics discusses measurement and sample design as the final phase of planning of research before the research study is dealt with.
- Part E—Data Acquisition and Preparation encompasses data collection procedures and preliminary data analysis as research tools. The technical aspects of executing a research study are detailed in this part.
- Part F—Data Analysis and Reporting is devoted to methods of data analysis as tools of research and reporting as a means of communication of results of research.
Each chapter of the book contains learning objectives; a summary of the chapter; an annexure, in which the longer research examples or cases are provided; suggested readings; and questions and exercises that are considered useful for students.
The book is an outcome of several years of teaching in management in the form of teaching courses at the graduate level and through participation in workshops and seminars, guest lectures, management development programmes at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and many in-house programmes of a number of industrial units in Bangalore and Singapore. In addition, the feedback from the students has helped the authors in structuring the book. This book, therefore, blends the needs of the research students on the one hand and the practising managers on the other.
This book is intended for students of MBA programmes and researchers at masters and doctoral levels. It can also be used by undergraduate management students, practising managers, and scientific professionals of R&D-sponsoring organizations.
This book contains some special features that will be of particular interest to research students:
- The material in the book is supplemented by a number of schematic diagrams for clear communication. Particularly, in the depiction of research process, they are intended to give a total picture of the flow of research to enable the student to get an integrated perspective of the details to be provided later.
- The text contains illustrations from research, consultancy, personal research, and Ph.D. and M.Sc. theses of the authors, their students and from research literature.
- Chapter 3 is intended to enhance the student’s appreciation of a variety of problem-identification and problem-formulation approaches. It also makes the student aware of different kinds of thinking required in the various stages of research. The present education system seems to neglect training in creativity and to promote only logical and analytical thinking. The authors believe that the initial phase of identifying and formulation of the research problem, being fuzzy, is the most difficult phase of research and will be facilitated by making the student aware of these approaches.
- A separate section is devoted to qualitative research methods.
- A basic and thorough treatment of mathematical formulation (principles of modelling) is another aspect which distinguishes this book from others. Structural modelling and patterns of modelling are presented. Further, analytical, heuristic and simulation approaches are detailed. Some AI approaches are outlined for the awareness of the student. This will be of special interest to those interested in operations/manufacturing management, logistics and financial management.
- The composite modelling methodology, seldom mentioned in other books on the subject, will be useful to doctoral students.
- Preliminary data analysis, with data mining for analysing qualitative data, is another special feature of this book. This will aid in preliminary analysis of large public databases that are becoming increasingly available to the students.
- The statistical analysis procedures are so presented that the students can learn their appropriate choice, appreciating the conditions under which they have to be used and also their strengths and weaknesses. The mathematical and statistical aspects are kept to the maximum and only the interpretations are emphasized. They are demonstrated using software.
- The principle of thesis writing and qualitative and research reporting are also special features. It will be beneficial to the students while developing their theses.
- The current issues and controversies of management research are outlined in detail.
K. N. Krishnaswamy
Appa Iyer Sivakumar