Explain how qualitative research methods will influence a research study.

RCH 7301, Critical Thinking for Doctoral Learners 1

Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VII Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Assess theoretical research methodologies in contemporary business scholarship. 4.1 Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various experimental designs.
  2. Implement a critical thinking process for business research methodology.

7.1 Explain how qualitative research methods will influence a research study.

Course/Unit Learning Outcomes

Learning Activity


Unit Lesson Chapter 7 Chapter 26 Unit VII Assignment


Unit Lesson Chapter 7 Chapter 26 Unit VII Assignment

Required Unit Resources Chapter 7: Qualitative Research Design Chapter 26: Analysing and Presenting Qualitative Data Unit Lesson

Qualitative Research Design Qualitative research is research that involves quality or kind. Qualitative research uses methods like interviews and surveys to find out underlying motives and desires. Other techniques used in qualitative research are word association tests, sentence completion tests, story completion tests, and other projective techniques (Maxwell, 2008). The point is to find out how a participant feels about a subject. In accordance with the nature of research objectives or types of research, one of two types of research design will guide a study: exploratory design or conclusive design (classified as descriptive and causal research).

UNIT VII STUDY GUIDE Qualitative Research Design: Exploration

RCH 7301, Critical Thinking for Doctoral Learners 2


Exploratory Research Design Exploratory research design is ideal when the objective of research is to accomplish the following goals:

• identify problems or opportunities; • define the problem more precisely; • gain deeper insight into the variables within in a situation; • identify relevant courses of action; • establish priorities based on the significance of a problem or opportunity; • gain additional insight before developing an approach; or • gather information on the problem, which is associated with doing conclusive research.

Much research has been exploratory, with an emphasis on finding practices or policies that needed to be changed and developing alternatives. Because of the purposes that exploratory research serves, it is an ideal approach to use at the initial stages of the decision-making process. Exploratory research allows the business researcher to gain a greater understanding of a phenomenon that the researcher does not know enough about. Within organizations, exploratory research is used at the beginning of the decision-making process and in the absence of tried models and definite concepts. Exploratory research could also be used in conjunction with other types of research. Since it is used as a first step in defining the problem for the research process, other designs will be used later as steps to further investigate and solve the problem. The analysis of data that is generated with exploratory research is abstraction and generalization. Abstraction refers to the translation of the empirical observations, measurements, and so on. Generalization refers to arranging the material so that it focuses on those structures that are common to all or most of the cases in the exploratory research study. The exploratory design is characterized by its flexibility and versatility. Examples of exploratory research include a survey of experts conducted to validate an instrument, pilot studies conducted to perform a reliability check on a questionnaire, and use of secondary data in order to analyze it in a qualitative way.

Conclusive Research Design

Conclusive research design involves providing information on the evaluation of alternative courses of action and selecting one course among a number that is available to the researcher. Conclusive research is classified as descriptive research and causal research. Descriptive research involves describing something in the field of business, such as market conditions, characteristics or functions of a campaign, the percentage of customers in a particular group who are exhibiting the same purchasing behavior, customer perceptions of product characteristics, or the pattern of behavior of one characteristic versus another. A majority of research studies within certain lanes of business administration, such as marketing, are descriptive studies. As marketing research studies involve investigating customers’ or consumers’ behavior, the collection of data includes interrogations of respondents in the market and any data available from secondary data sources. However, we cannot conclude that descriptive studies should be fact-gathering processes only. Since descriptive studies can deal with queries into the behaviors of people, the researcher has to exercise caution in developing a descriptive research study. The researcher has to engage in a great deal of planning, and the articulated objectives of the study should be clear. In descriptive research, the data is collected for a specific and definite purpose and involves analysis and interpretation by the researcher. The major contrast between exploratory and descriptive research is that descriptive research involves creating specific objectives. The success of descriptive studies depends on the degree to which a specific hypothesis acts as a guide.

RCH 7301, Critical Thinking for Doctoral Learners 3


Descriptive studies are restricted in their flexibility and versatility, as compared to exploratory research design. A descriptive study involves a high degree of formal design that specifies the methods that the researcher will use to select the sources of information and to collect data from those sources. Finally, the descriptive study design must explain how the researcher will prevent the collection of unnecessary data. While designing the descriptive research study, the researcher should be sure that they have sufficient knowledge on the nature and type of statistical techniques that they are going to use. Determining what statistical techniques will be best employed in interpreting the data will greatly help the researcher to have the right design in place. Most descriptive studies are conducted using questionnaires, structured interviews, and observations. The results of descriptive studies can be used directly in making business administration decisions. Descriptive studies are classified into two types: longitudinal and cross-sectional. Longitudinal research relies on panel data-gathering methods and panel data interpretation. It involves fixing a panel that consists of a fixed sample of subjects who agree to be measured repeatedly over a set period of time; the panel members are comprised of people who have agreed to provide information at specific intervals over an extended period. Panel data is analytical and possesses advantages with respect to the information collected in the study. Panel data are considered to be more accurate than cross-sectional data because panel data better handles the problem associated with the errors that arise in reporting past behavior and the errors that arise because of the necessary interaction between the interviewer and respondent. Cross-sectional research is the most predominantly and frequently used descriptive research design in several areas of business administration research. Cross-sectional research involves a sample of elements from the population of interest to the study goals. The sample elements are measured on a number of characteristics. There are two types of cross sectional studies: field studies and surveys. Field Studies and Surveys It may appear that field studies and surveys are more similar than they are different. However, for practical reasons, they are classified into two categories of cross-sectional research. The fundamental difference lies in the depth of what each of these two types of research covers. While the survey has a larger scope, the field study has greater depth. The survey attempts to represent some known universe of study subjects, while the field study is less concerned with the generation of large representative samples and is more concerned with the in-depth study of a few typical situations. Cross-sectional design may be either single or multiple, depending on the number of samples drawn from a population. In single cross-sectional design, there is only one respondent, and in multiple cross-sectional designs, there are at least two samples. One type of multiple cross-sectional design of special interest is cohort analysis. Cohort analysis involves conducting a series of surveys at different intervals of time. The basic unit to be analyzed is a cohort (i.e., a group of people who experience a common event in the same time period). Case Study and Causal Research The case study is an in-depth study of one or a small number of clearly defined cases. In this method, the researcher’s emphasis is on obtaining a complete description and understanding the factors in each case, regardless of the number involved (Eisenhardt & Graebner, 2007). The case study can be significantly helpful when the researcher is seeking help on a problem in which the interrelationships of a number of factors are involved and in which it is difficult to understand the individual factors without considering them in their relationships to one another. As in the case of exploratory research, the case study method is used in conjunction with exploratory research as a first step in the research process.

RCH 7301, Critical Thinking for Doctoral Learners 4


Causal research is used to determine cause-and-effect relationships, which is otherwise known as the independent-dependent relationship or the predictive relationship. This is an important type of research that is useful in the field of business administration because it allows organizations to base their decisions on assumed causal relationships. Causal research is appropriate in the situations described below.

• Causal research is used to identify which variables are the cause and which are the effect. In statistical terms, causal variables are called independent variables, and effectual variables are called dependent variables.

• This type of research is also used to determine how two variables are related and how the effect can be predicted. Causal research requires a strong degree of planning on the design because its success depends on the design’s structure.


Qualitative research design allows the researcher to explore phenomena within the human experience by working directly with samples of target populations. Different qualitative research designs serve different purposes, but all qualitative research results allow the researcher to create statistical representations of the voices of the studied population. These representations are evidence that can help organizations to make decisions as a part of their business administration processes.

References Eisenhardt, K. M., & Graebner, M. E. (2007, February 1). Theory building from cases: Opportunities and

challenges. Academy of Management Journal, 50(1), 25–32. Maxwell, J. A. (2008). Designing a qualitative study. In L. Bickman, & D. J. Rog (Eds.), The SAGE handbook

of applied social research methods. SAGE.

Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VII
Learning Activity
Required Unit Resources
Unit Lesson
Qualitative Research Design
Exploratory Research Design
Conclusive Research Design
Field Studies and Surveys
Case Study and Causal Research

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