Problem definition goaloriented approach

Rickards2 suggests a useful way in which to approach problem definition is the technique known as goal orientation. Essentially, the method employs identifying needs, obstacles and constraints in the search for an adequate definition of the problem. The procedure, along with an illustration, is given in Table 2.1.

(See also Proctor3 for an extensive coverage of problem-definition techniques.)

Deciding whether to undertake a research study

Problem definition: goal orientation

• Write down description of problem. Then ask:

• Problem: sales/profits of main product are stagnating

• What do we need to accomplish (needs)?

• Need: increased sales and profits

• What are the obstacles?

• Obstacles: competition intense so increase in market share unlikely; market saturated; home market in recession

• What constraints must we accept in order to solve the problem?

• Constraints: lack of funds for internal new product development

• Redefine the problem, bearing the above in mind.

• Problem redefinition: possible avenues to explore: new markets, market segments, diversification, licensing, joint ventures, integrative strategies

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