08-Unit8 - Research Methodology Unit 8 Unit 8 Structure 8.1...

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Unformatted text preview: Research Methodology Unit 8 Unit 8 Structure 8.1 Meaning of observation Objectives 8.2 8.3 8.4 General characteristics of observation method Process of observation Types of observation 8.4.1 8.4.2 8.4.3 8.4.4 8.4.5 8.4.6 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 Participant Observation Non-participant observation Direct observation Indirect observation Controlled observation Uncontrolled observation Observation Prerequisites of observation Advantages of observation Limitations of observation Use of observation in business research Self assessment Questions 8.9 Summary 8.10 Terminal Questions 8.11 Answers to SAQs and TQs 8.1 Meaning of Observation Observation means viewing or seeing. Observation may be defined as a systematic viewing of a specific phenomenon in its proper setting for the specific purpose of gathering data for a particular study. Observation is classical method of scientific study. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 99 Research Methodology Unit 8 Objectives: After studying this lesson you should be able to understand: General characteristics of observation method Process of observation Types of observation Participant Observation Non-participant observation Direct observation Indirect observation Controlled observation Uncontrolled observation Prerequisites of observation Advantages of observation Limitations of observation Use of observation in business research 8.2 General Characteristics of Observation Method Observation as a method of data collection has certain characteristics. 1. It is both a physical and a mental activity: The observing eye catches many things that are present. But attention is focused on data that are pertinent to the given study. 2. Observation is selective: A researcher does not observe anything and everything, but selects the range of things to be observed on the basis of the nature, scope and objectives of his study. For example, suppose a researcher desires to study the causes of city road accidents and also formulated a tentative hypothesis that accidents are caused by violation of traffic rules and over speeding. When he observed the movements of vehicles on the road, many things are before his eyes; the type, make, Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 100 Research Methodology Unit 8 size and colour of the vehicles, the persons sitting in them, their hair style, etc. All such things which are not relevant to his study are ignored and only over speeding and traffic violations are keenly observed by him. 3. Observation is purposive and not casual: It is made for the specific purpose of noting things relevant to the study. It captures the natural social context in which persons behaviour occur. It grasps the significant events and occurrences that affect social relations of the participants. 4. Observation should be exact and be based on standardized tools of research and such as observation schedule, social metric scale etc., and precision instruments, if any. 8.3 Process of Observations The use of observation method requires proper planning. First, the researcher should carefully examine the relevance of observation method to the data needs of the selected study. Second, he must identify the specific investigative questions which call for use of observation method. These determine the data to be collected. Third, he must decide the observation content, viz., specific conditions, events and activities that have to be observed for the required data. The observation content should include the relevant variables. Fourth, for each variable chosen, the operational definition should be specified. Fifth, the observation setting, the subjects to be observed, the timing and mode of observation, recording, procedure, recording instruments to be used, and other details of the task should be determined. Last, observers should be selected and trained. The persons to be selected must have sufficient concentration powers, strong memory Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 101 Research Methodology Unit 8 power and unobtrusive nature. Selected persons should be imparted both theoretical and practical training. 8.4 Types of Observations Observations may be classified in different ways. With reference to investigator’s role, it may be classified into (a) participant observation and (b) non-participant observation. In terms of mode of observation, it may be classified into (c) direct observation. With reference to the rigor of the system adopted. Observation is classified into (e) controlled observation, and (f) uncontrolled observation 8.4.1 Participant Observation In this observation, the observer is a part of the phenomenon or group which is observed and he acts as both an observer and a participant. For example, a study of tribal customs by an anthropologist by taking part in tribal activities like folk dance. The persons who are observed should not be aware of the researcher’s purpose. Then only their behaviour will be ‘natural’. The concealment of research objective and researcher’s identity is justified on the ground that it makes it possible to study certain aspects of the group’s culture which are not revealed to outsiders. Advantages: The advantages of participant observation are: The observer can understand the emotional reactions of the observed group, and get a deeper insight of their experiences. The observer will be able to record context which gives meaning to the observed behaviour and heard statements. Disadvantages: Participant observation suffers from some demerits. 1. The participant observer narrows his range of observation. For example, if there is a hierarchy of power in the group/community under study, he Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 102 Research Methodology Unit 8 comes to occupy one position within in, and thus other avenues of information are closed to him. 2. To the extent that the participant observer participates emotionally, the objectivity is lost. 3. Another limitation of this method is the dual demand made on the observer. Recording can interfere with participation, and participation can interfere with observation. Recording on the spot is not possible and it has to be postponed until the observer is alone. Such time lag results in some inaccuracy in recording 8.4.2 Non-participant observations In this method, the observer stands apart and does not participate in the phenomenon observed. Naturally, there is no emotional involvement on the part of the observer. This method calls for skill in recording observations in an unnoticed manner. 8.4.3 Direct observation This means observation of an event personally by the observer when it takes place. This method is flexible and allows the observer to see and record subtle aspects of events and behaviour as they occur. He is also free to shift places, change the focus of the observation. A limitation of this method is that the observer’s perception circuit may not be able to cover all relevant events when the latter move quickly, resulting in the incompleteness of the observation. 8.4.4 Indirect observation This does not involve the physical presence of the observer, and the recording is done by mechanical, photographic or electronic devices, e.g. recording customer and employee movements by a special motion picture camera mounted in a department of a large store. This method is less flexible than direct observations, but it is less biasing and less erratic in Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 103 Research Methodology Unit 8 recording accuracy. It is also provides a permanent record for an analysis of different aspects of the event. 8.4.5 Controlled observation This involves standardization of observational techniques and exercises of maximum control over extrinsic and intrinsic variables by adopting experimental design and systematically recording observations. Controlled observation is carried out either in the laboratory or in the field. It is typified by clear and explicit decisions on what, how and when to observe. 8.4.6 Uncontrolled observation This does not involve control over extrinsic and intrinsic variables. It is primary used for descriptive research. Participant observation is a typical uncontrolled one 8.5 Prerequisites of Effective Observation The prerequisites of observation consist of: Observations must be done under conditions which will permit accurate results. The observer must be in vantage point to see clearly the objects to be observed. The distance and the light must be satisfactory. The mechanical devices used must be in good working conditions and operated by skilled persons. Observation must cover a sufficient number of representative samples of the cases. Recording should be accurate and complete. The accuracy and completeness of recorded results must be checked. A certain number of cases can be observed again by another observer/another set of mechanical devices, as the case may be. If it is feasible, two separate observers and sets of instruments may be used in Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 104 Research Methodology Unit 8 all or some of the original observations. The results could then be compared to determine their accuracy and completeness. 8.6 Advantages of observation Observation has certain advantages: 1. The main virtue of observation is its directness: it makes it possible to study behaviour as it occurs. The researcher need not ask people about their behaviour and interactions; he can simply watch what they do and say. 2. Data collected by observation may describe the observed phenomena as they occur in their natural settings. Other methods introduce elements or artificiality into the researched situation for instance, in interview; the respondent may not behave in a natural way. There is no such artificiality in observational studies, especially when the observed persons are not aware of their being observed. 3. Observations is more suitable for studying subjects who are unable to articulate meaningfully, e.g. studies of children, tribal, animals, birds etc. 4. Observations improve the opportunities for analyzing the contextual back ground of behaviour. Further more verbal resorts can be validated and compared with behaviour through observation. The validity of what men of position and authority say can be verified by observing what they actually do. 5. Observations make it possible to capture the whole event as it occurs. For example only observation can provide an insight into all the aspects of the process of negotiation between union and management representatives. 6. Observation is less demanding of the subjects and has less biasing effect on their conduct than questioning. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 105 Research Methodology Unit 8 7. It is easier to conduct disguised observation studies than disguised questioning. 8. Mechanical devices may be used for recording data in order to secure more accurate data and also of making continuous observations over longer periods. 8.7 Limitations of Observation Observation cannot be used indiscriminately for all purposes. It has its own limitations: 1. Observation is of no use, studying past events or activities. One has to depend upon documents or narrations people for studying such things. 2. Observation is not suitable for studying and attitudes. However, an observation of related behaviour affords a good clue to the attitudes. E.g. and observations of the seating pattern of high caste and class persons in a general meeting in a village may be useful for forming an index of attitude. 3. Observation poses difficulties in obtaining a representative sample. For interviewing and mailing methods, the selection of a random sampling can be rapidly ensured. But observing people of all types does not make the sample a random one. 4. Observation cannot be used as and when the researcher finds a convenient to use it. He has to wait for the eve n to occur. For example, an observation of folk dance of a tribal community is possible, only when it is performed. 5. A major limitation of this method is that the observer normally must be at the scene of the event when it takes place. Yet it may not be possible to predict where and when the even will occur, e.g., road accident, communal clash. Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 106 Research Methodology Unit 8 6. Observation is slow and expensive process, requiring human observers and/or costly surveillance equipments. 8.8 Use of Observation in Business Research Observation is suitable for a variety of research purposes. It may be used for studying (a) The behaviour of human beings in purchasing goods and services.: life style, customs, and manner, interpersonal relations, group dynamics, crowd behaviour, leadership styles, managerial style, other behaviours and actions; (b) The behaviour of other living creatures like birds, animals etc. (c) Physical characteristics of inanimate things like stores, factories, residences etc. (d) Flow of traffic and parking problems (e) movement of materials and products through a plant. Self Assessment Questions State whether the following statements are true or false. 1. Observations may be classified into (a) participant observation and (b) non-participant observation. 2. In terms of mode of observation, it may be classified into (c) direct observation. 3. With reference to the rigor of the system adopted. Observation is classified into (e) controlled observation, and (f) uncontrolled observation. 4. Observation involves standardization of observational techniques and exercises of maximum control over extrinsic and intrinsic variables. 8.9 Summary Observation means viewing or seeing. Observation may be defined as a systematic viewing of a specific phenomenon in its proper setting for the specific purpose of gathering data for a particular study. Observation is Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 107 Research Methodology Unit 8 classical method of scientific study. Observation as a method of data collection has certain characteristics. Observations may be classified in different ways. With reference to investigator’s role, it may be classified into (a) participant observation and (b) non-participant observation. In terms of mode of observation, it may be classified into (c) direct observation. With reference to the rigor of the system adopted. Observation is classified into (e) controlled observation, and (f) uncontrolled observation. This does not involve the physical presence of the observer, and the recording is done by mechanical, photographic or electronic devices, e.g. recording customer and employee movements by a special motion picture camera mounted in a department of a large store. This involves standardization of observational techniques and exercises of maximum control over extrinsic and intrinsic variables by adopting experimental design and systematically recording observations. This does not involve control over extrinsic and intrinsic variables. It is primary used for descriptive research. Participant observation is a typical uncontrolled one. Observation has certain advantages: Observation cannot be used indiscriminately for all purposes. It has its own limitations. Observation is suitable for a variety of research purposes. (a) The behaviour of human beings in purchasing goods and services: life style, customs, and manner, interpersonal relations, group dynamics, crowd behaviour, leadership styles, managerial style, other behaviours and actions. 8.10 Terminal Questions 1. What is Observation? 2. Explain the General Characteristics of Observation. 3. What are the types of Observations? 4. What are non-participant observations? 5. Distinguish between Direct and Indirect observation: Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 108 Research Methodology Unit 8 6. What is Controlled observation? 7. Describe the features of uncontrolled observation: 8. What are the advantages of observation? 9. What are the Limitations of Observation? 10. What is the utility of Observation in Business Research? 8.11 Answers to SAQs and TQs. 1. True 2. True 3. True 4. True TQs 1. Section 8.1 2. Section 8.2 3. Section 8.4 4. Section 8.4.2 5. Section 8.4.3 and 8.4.3 6. Section 8.4. 5 7. Section 8.4.6 8. Section 8.5 9. Section 8.6 10. Section 8.7 Sikkim Manipal University Page No. 109 ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/15/2010 for the course MBA mba taught by Professor Smu during the Spring '10 term at Manipal University.

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