Linking Research Questions to Appropriate Designs


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Evidence-Based Management for Researchers
British Academy of Management
December 13, 2012

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Linking Research Questions to Appropriate Designs

  1. 1. London, Dec 13, 2012Postgraduate Course British Academy of Management Linking Research Questions to Appropriate Designs
  2. 2. What is the best design?Postgraduate Course  Randomized controlled study?  Grounded theory approach?  Cohort / panel study?  Qualitative field research?  Longitudinal study?  Post-test only study?  Survey?  Action research?  Case study?
  3. 3. Postgraduate Course What is the BEST car?
  4. 4. Postgraduate Course (more / less appropriate)
  5. 5. What is the best design?Postgraduate Course quants vs quallies, positivists vs post structuralist, etc
  6. 6. Postgraduate Course
  7. 7. Types of questionsPostgraduate Course Does it work? Does it work better than ....? Does it have an effect on ....? Effect What is the success factor for ....? What is required to make it work ...? Will it do more good than harm?
  8. 8. Types of questions: non-effectPostgraduate Course Needs: What do people want or need? Attitude: What do people think or feel? Experience: What are peoples’ experiences? Prevalence: How many / often do people / organizations ...? Procedure: How can we implement ...? Process: How does it work? Explanation: Why does it work? Economics: How much does it cost?
  9. 9. Postgraduate Course Effect vs Non-effect
  10. 10. Postgraduate Course Internal validity
  11. 11. Internal validityPostgraduate Course internal validity = indicates to what extent the results of the research may be biased and is thus a comment on the degree to which alternative explanations for the outcome found are possible.
  12. 12. Causal relationsPostgraduate Course We are pattern seeking primates: we are predisposed to see order and causal relations in the world
  13. 13. CausalityPostgraduate Course So, when do we know there is causal relation? Three criteria: 1. the "cause" and the "effect" are related 2. the "cause" precedes the "effect" in time 3. there are no plausible alternative explanations for the observed effect
  14. 14. ‘Effect’ questionsPostgraduate Course Considerations for research: 1. Are the "cause" and the "effect” related? effect size 1. Does the "cause" precede the "effect" in time? before and after measurement 2. Are there no plausible alternative explanations for the observed effect? randomization, blinding, control group
  15. 15. Bias & ConfoundingPostgraduate Course Research shows: Shoe size > quality of handwriting Smoking youngsters > better lung function
  16. 16. Postgraduate Course Research shows: Charismatic leaders Successful companies
  17. 17. Levels of internal validityPostgraduate Course
  18. 18. Which design for which question?Postgraduate Course Explanation
  19. 19. Postgraduate Course Different types of research questions require different types of research designs, but ...
  20. 20. But 1: feasibilityPostgraduate Course Best research design?
  21. 21. But 1: feasibilityPostgraduate Course
  22. 22. But 2: it’s a trade offPostgraduate Course All research designs are flawed – though each is flawed differently:  Controlled studies: high internal validity, but sometimes less suited to generalization  Surveys and field research: low internal validity, but sometimes more useful for management practice. McGrath, J. (1981). Dilemmatics, The Study of Research Choices and Dilemmas. American Behavioral Scientist, 25(2).
  23. 23. Postgraduate Course SO: Evidence accrual requires convergence of findings derived from multiple studies that research the same constructs and variables with different research designs and in different contexts.
  24. 24. But 3: stage of developmentPostgraduate Course The appropriateness of a research design is also determined by the body of evidence’s stage of development. mature: extensively studied > controlled studies to identify independent, dependent and moderating variables nascent: open-ended the research questions > exploratory qualitative studies to shape the understanding of the topic . Edmondson, A. C., & McManus, S. E. (2007). Methodological fit in management field research. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1155-1179.
  25. 25. Postgraduate Course Figure 5: Controlled vs uncontrolled studies
  26. 26. In summaryPostgraduate Course Different types of research questions require different types of research designs, but ...  feasibility  past research  stage of development also have to be taken into account!