The madetomeasure research process

It is helpful to begin with an overall view of the research process. Six stages in the research process are identified, and 12 related questions that must be given consideration. These form the framework within which the content of this and the following five chapters are set.

A clear definition of the problem, and the data needed to produce a solution to it, are the starting point of the research process. This is also the most important part of the process from the point of view of the manager who must play a dominant role in it if the research is to produce the right kind of data for the organization's needs. This chapter is concerned with defining the research requirement, and deals with Questions 1 and 2: What is the problem? and What data are needed to solve it?

Table 5.1: The 'made-to-measure' research process: six stages, twelve questions Stage Question Chapter

1 Defining the research required

1 What is the problem?

5

2 What data are needed to solve it?

5

2 Planning the research

3 How will the data be collected?

6

4 Who will provide the data?

7

5 How will the questions be asked?

8

6 Who will ask the questions?

9

7 What will happen to the answers?

10

8 Will the plan work?

3 Carrying out the fieldwork

9 Is it going according to schedule?

(9)

4 Analysing, interpreting and 10 What are the results? (10) reporting

5 Using the research 11 What action will result?

6 Feedback 12 What can be learned from the process?

The next stage is the planning stage. At this point decisions must be made about technical aspects of the research survey. In practice, the manager who requires research information is unlikely to have more than a controlling involvement in the research process from Stages 2-4. The research itself and the major technical decisions about research method, sampling, questionnaire design, fieldwork, data analysis and report writing are usually undertaken by research professionals, either within the research department of an organization or in research agencies.

Managers who need to commission and use research will be more effective in making use of this business tool if they know more about it. Each of the significant decision areas in the planning and operation of research surveys is explained in the following chapters: research method in Chapter 6, sampling procedures in Chapter 7, questionnaire design in Chapter 8, fieldwork in Chapter 9, and analysis, interpretation and reporting of results in Chapter 10.

The aim of these chapters is to enable the non-research manager to become a more informed research user and buyer, and to equip him or her with appropriate criteria for judging research quality. This will allow the individual to deal more competently and confidently with research agency personnel, and the matter of selecting a good research agency to carry out the research is covered in Chapter 11.

Stage 5, using the research, is the subject of Chapter 16, where a range of research applications in making marketing decisions is dealt with. Stage 6, feedback, is always important, but perhaps particularly so for the new research user. After a made-to-measure research survey has been conducted, it should be critically analysed by the manager personally, in order to learn from it. Approaches, methods or techniques that worked well can be noted for use again in similar circumstances, and those aspects of the research process that did not work so well should be noted and avoided in future. It is always helpful to share this analysis with the research agency, if one was involved, in order to build a constructively developing and improving research expertise relevant to the organization's specific needs, within the agency. Alternatively, it may be that sharing the post-research analysis with an agency may explain to them why they are unlikely to be involved again. The purpose of critical feedback from the research process is for the manager to develop personal skills and experience as a research user, ready for when the process begins again from Stage 1.

Team LiB

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