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Unformatted text preview: CHAPTER 6– Problem Definition and the Research Proposal Zikmund Chapter Content • Nature of the Problem – first step is assessing the level of uncertainty • The Process of Problem Definition – a six step sequence of analyses • The Research Proposal – a written statement of the research design The Nature of the Research Problem A problem well-defined is a problem half solved. One of the most common causes of the failure of business research is an inadequate, poorly thought-through statement of the problem. The first task is to assess is the nature of the problem—and, in particular, the degree of uncertainty as to what the real problem is. Common errors are: • Equating the symptoms with the problem . o Example – “The problem is a decline in sales.” • Defining the problem in terms of a solution o Example – “We must not be spending enough on advertising.” • Drawing false conclusions from incomplete data o Example – Coca Cola’s mall tests of its new reformulated recipe—no take home tests Problem definition – the crucial first stage of research—determining the nature of the problem and the objectives of the research—“ What do we want to solve?” The Process of Problem Definition The process of problem definition involves the following six-step sequence of issues and analyses. They are: 1. Ascertain the Decision Maker’s Objectives o The user is the client – business research is conducted to meet the needs of some business user—not the researcher. It is the business user’s objectives that must be met. o The client may not know his or her objectives – their immediate need might simply be to ease the pain or anxiety and fail to understand where it originates o The iceberg principle – the dangerous part of many business problems is often not visible or not understood by business managers o The researcher is responsible for getting the problem properly defined – the first step is to present alternative courses of action to define the problem 2. Understand the Background of the Problem o All research—basic or applied —starts with a thorough investigation of the problem history, background, context, and any previous related investigations o Situation analysis – a preliminary investigation or informal gathering of background information to familiarize researchers and managers with the decision area. o Exploratory methods – there are numerous approaches to gaining a background understanding of the problem, depending upon the nature of the research • Library or Internet literature searches of background data • Pilot studies, focus groups, case studies, experience surveys • In-depth Interviews with key managers and other employees Ch6BriefOutline.doc 1 •...
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- Spring '07
- Business, researcher, problem definition