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In management research, there are many elements of research design, from research philosophy to the period of data analysis that influence the outcome in terms of research results. Methods of research are by far some of the most important out of these elements. Prior to the program, I was sure that quantitative methods are the most appropriate for management research as they provide valid and reliable data for analysis.
However, during the course of the program I learned that quantitative methods are often not the best solution for management research, which entails organizational behavior and other qualitative concepts in the research process. Behavior analysis in most cases becomes reliable if the quantitative data is supported by observation or interviews in the data collection process. I have seen that results obtained by quantitative methods are usually lacking depth and, therefore, do not fully address the research questions.
I have then changed my opinion towards qualitative research. Throughout the course of the program, I also learned that management research that is based on solely qualitative analysis can be reliable and can become a solid foundation for any types of generalizations in this certain case.
Moreover, such research methods as postal mail surveys are usually not reliable due to low response figures (Hoonakker& Carayon 2009). For this reason, research methods have been changing rapidly with the technological methods introduction. Nowadays research favor Internet-based research as it not only allows allocating the target groups of the population, but increase the response rate (Hoonakker & Carayon 2009).
After the exploration of the advantages of technology-based research methods used in management research, I realized how crucial it is to provide flexibility to respondents in terms of questionnaire design and the timing of responses. Some researchers argue that this could result in numerous biases, and these biases would directly influence research results. However, it has been proved that the biases that occur in research refer to the design of data collection tools, not to their actual implementation.
According to Grandcolas, Rettie and Marusenko (2003), there are four principal sources of bias in the web-based surveys, i.e. the sampling process, the coverage of data, non-response and measurement methods. Since all these sources relate to data collection, we see that the flexibility of data response enhances the elimination of the above mentioned bias sources. For this reason, I assume that what I have learned about respondents is true. I hope that, in the future, I am able to design the research process in the way that the data collected is valid and that survey data is enough to drive conclusions and make recommendations for organizational management on the issue of research.
Finally, the most influential factor in the research methods for me is a combination of both qualitative and quantitative methods within one research. I believe that adding the data from qualitative research can enhance results of quantitative survey data by content and depth of concepts. At the same time, such combination usually reveals key issues that have not yet been mentioned. In quantitative research only, the data that are collected does not allow seeing the full picture and only focuses on those concepts that have been proposed by the literature review. Qualitative analysis helps the researcher find out more.
Shah and Corley (2006) build a compelling theory based on these thoughts: coupling the two methods not only helps seeing more, but also gives new qualitative means of analyzing the quantitative data, and at the same time provides means for quantifying the qualitative research. Grounded theory, which is introduced by Shah and Corey (2006), pushes management research to the advanced level of in-depth analysis of multi-level theories and concepts. In my opinion, this is the key trend for the development of management research in the future, driving flexibility of research and allowing the researcher see theoretical framework in practice.