The Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods provides perspectives on topics relevant to research in the field of business and management
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Journal Article

Getting results from online surveys — Reflections on a personal journey  pp45-52

Rachel A. McCalla

© Jul 2003 Volume 2 Issue 1, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp1 - 77

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Abstract

In this paper we present a personal reflection on the implementation of an online survey, highlighting the tradeoffs between the potential benefits and pitfalls. It is argued that casting your net out too wide, in a bid to maximise responses can result ultimately in a low response rate. We evaluate the experience of completing an online survey from the perspective of both the researcher and the respondent to outline the dynamics of the completion and submission process. Finally, in a bid to assist those interested, a review of some of the online survey tools is presented.

 

Keywords: Questionnaires, Surveys, Research Design, Research Process, Design and Implementation, Stakeholder Perspectives

 

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Journal Article

Developing Information Systems Design Knowledge: A Critical Realist Perspective  pp93-102

Sven A. Carlsson

© Nov 2005 Volume 3 Issue 2, Editor: Arthur Money, pp93 - 148

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Abstract

Academic Information Systems (IS) research has a serious utilization and relevance problem. To increase IS research utilization and relevance, scholars argue that the mainstream IS research, which is based on the behavioral science paradigm, should be complemented with research based on the design science paradigm. The current IS design science frameworks have a strong focus on the IT artefact, in most cases an exclusive focus on the IT artefact. The frameworks have very little discussion and clarifications regarding underpinning philosophies, but most seem to be based on positivism, traditional realism, or pragmatism. This paper presents an alternative framework for IS design science research. The framework builds on that the aim of IS design science research is to develop practical knowledge for the design and realization of different classes of IS initiatives, where IS are viewed as socio‑technical systems and not just IT artefacts. The underpinning philosophy of the framework is critical realism which has been developed as an alternative to positivism and traditional realism as well as to constructivism (relativism). The framework proposes that the output of IS design science research is practical IS design knowledge in the form of field‑tested and grounded technological rules. The IS design knowledge is developed through an IS design science research cycle. The paper presents how technological rules can be developed as well as the nature of such rules.

 

Keywords: Information systems, IS design, frameworks, rules

 

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Journal Article

A Generic Toolkit for the Successful Management of Delphi Studies  pp103-116

Jacqueline Day, Milena Bobeva

© Nov 2005 Volume 3 Issue 2, Editor: Arthur Money, pp93 - 148

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Abstract

This paper presents the case of a non‑traditional use of the Delphi method for theory evaluation. On the basis of experience gained through secondary and primary research, a generic decision toolkit for Delphi studies is proposed, comprising of taxonomy of Delphi design choices, a stage model and critical methodological decisions. These research tools will help to increase confidence when adopting the Delphi alternative and allow for a wider and more comprehensive recognition of the method within both scientific and interpretivist studies.

 

Keywords: Research method, Delphi, Research Design, Research Evaluation

 

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Journal Article

Looking for Clues about Quality: A Multilevel Mixed Design on Quality Management in Greek Universities  pp85-94

Antigoni Papadimitriou

© Dec 2010 Volume 8 Issue 2, ECRM Special Issue Part 1, Editor: Ann Brown, David Douglas, Marian Carcary and Jose Esteves, pp63 - 162

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Abstract

As methodology, mixed methods (MM) provide a means to facilitate and explain several complex phenomena across various disciplines. Tashakkori and Creswell (2008), identified a nurturing and dynamic intellectual community as one that encourages scholarly debate and intellectual risk‑taking as well as developing graduate students as stewards of their disciplines. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to describe how a multilevel mixed design was applied to a research project designed to investigate the adoption of quality management in Greek universities through the lens of neo‑institutional theory. Appropriate research design is a critical choice when performing organizational research, especially when the research lacks previous precedents; thus, this gap in the literature empirically investigated these issues by using MM, which led to a process in design development and compatibility to overcome many challenges. This paper presents part of the methodological and pragmatical rationales that guided the choice to use a multilevel study mixed method design by using both concurrent and sequential data collection at the macro, meso, and micro levels in Greek universities.

 

Keywords: multilevel mixed design, quality management, higher education, neo-institutional theory

 

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Journal Article

Incorporating Design Science Research and Critical Research Into an Introductory Business Research Methods Course  pp119-129

John R Venable

© Sep 2011 Volume 9 Issue 2, ECRM 2011 Special issue, Editor: Ann Brown, pp87 - 197

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Abstract

Research in business can address a variety of goals, including explanation or evaluation of extant business practices, development of new business practices, critiquing business practice, and examining business goals other than profit. Empirical research about extant business practices is conducted in one or both of the positivist and interpretive research paradigms. Development of new business practices, rather than simply examining existing ones, is conducted by research within the Design Science Research (DSR) paradigm. The DSR paradigm emphasises the invention, design, and development of new technologies, techniques, and methods, yet still achieving research rigour. Critically examining organisational practices and goals other than profit, such as business ethics, sustainability, and the triple bottom line, is much better conducted within the Critical Research (CR) paradigm, which critically examines the purpose, goals, and social and societal impacts of business and other practices. Unfortunately, the Introduction to Business Research Methods courses and textbooks that develop the business research community’s fledgling members’ ability to conduct, interpret, and critique and develop high quality research typically place heavy if not exclusive emphasis on positivist and interpretive research paradigms and methods at the expense of other research paradigms and methods. Such exclusive emphasis on positivist and interpretive research at the expense of other paradigms handicaps new researchers and severely limits their future ability to conduct, interpret, critique, and develop high quality research. To address this problem, this paper describes how DSR and CR have been successfully incorporated within an introductory business research methods course, which introduces students, regardless of their specific business discipline, to business research. The paper describes how it (1) deals with textbooks that have a limited perspective on business research paradigms and methods and (2) provides a needed, holistic perspective on business research, regardless of the specific discipline. To accomplish the above, the new course does four specific things. First, it situates business research as an applied discipline, along with other applied disciplines, such as medicine and engineering, and in contrast to non‑applied disciplines, such as physics or psychology. Second, it includes a key new framework that contrasts the assumptions and perspectives of different research paradigms, including business research knowledge goals, the role of values in research, and epistemological issues. Third, it modifies and extends frameworks and figures from a popular business research methods textbook to supplement the limited perspective of the textbook with alternative research goals and paradigms. Fourth, the new course adds relevant introductory readings. The paper presents these extensions to the course, including how and where they are included within the course presentation, materials, and assessments, as a model for others wishing to enhance their introductory business research methods courses.

 

Keywords: business research, research methods, design science research, critical research, curriculum design, teaching

 

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Journal Article

Demystifying the Arduous Doctoral Journey: The Eagle Vision of a Research Proposal  pp130-140

Rahinah Ibrahim

© Sep 2011 Volume 9 Issue 2, ECRM 2011 Special issue, Editor: Ann Brown, pp87 - 197

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Abstract

In fast‑paced business organisations, there is critical need for conducting systematic research in order to explain and solve recurring problems in the industry. However, we find many building professionals losing their patience over the unknown end of a doctoral study as most of them practise problem‑solving in their jobs since they were so trained. The purpose of this article is to present a visualisation tool developed by a built environment faculty to explain a typical three‑year journey that mature building professionals are required to take for solving their own research inquiries. We claim that if these mature students are given a quick overview on how and what their doctoral journey would involve at the start of their studies, they will be less fearful of uncertainties and will accordingly fulfil the requirements of their doctoral studies successfully. The Eagle Research Design Table (Eagle Table) is a self‑filled tool guided by three research question’s constructs. The key to expanding the Eagle Table is identifying these constructs in a research inquiry first. We have established three constructs—“WHO”, “WHAT” and “HOW”—through prolonged participatory experience in teaching research methodology to building professionals. The “WHO” construct refers to the element or subject being used in, or impacted by, the study while the “WHAT” construct refers to the body of knowledge that is required to solve the research inquiry. The final “HOW” construct refers to the action to be taken on the element or subject during the study. In this article, we present how these three research question’s constructs, when presented in a table form, proved to be successful in providing a quick overview of a doctoral study’s journey. Hence, enabling many mature building professionals to persevere in their studies. Consequently, the academic community would benefit from the rich experience and wisdom of their industry partners in handling and tackling recurring problems in the built environment.

 

Keywords: research proposal design, research methodology, eagle table, dissertation, research framework, graduate study

 

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Journal Article

Project Management Bodies of Knowledge; Conjectures and Refutations  pp152-158

Miles Shepherd, Roger Atkinson

© Sep 2011 Volume 9 Issue 2, ECRM 2011 Special issue, Editor: Ann Brown, pp87 - 197

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Abstract

The traditional view of a profession is that of a discipline with a distinct set of skills and knowledge that define the area of practice and characteristics of the practitioners. This nature and area of practice of a profession is sometimes defined as its body of knowledge or ‘BoK’. In the case of project management, as the discipline moves towards professional recognition, this BoK becomes a significant device that serves the needs of many stakeholders in addition to those of the practitioner or academic. The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of research in the development of project management Bodies of Knowledge. As project management emerges from the ghetto of engineering and develops its trajectory towards recognition as a profession, its knowledge area becomes even more significant because it needs to be seen to define a distinct knowledge domain that sets out the limits of the ‘profession’. However, the knowledge domain can be said to have shifted so that it is still under constant review and improvement to respond to continual change. New areas of practice have emerged, such as programme management and portfolio management, that are considered to be part of the discipline hence the knowledge area requires refinement. In this paper we show that current versions of project management BoKs are poorly served by underpinning research. We contend that evidence based research should play a part in the construction of BoKs, and that other research approaches should be also seen as relevant and effective. This paper draws on experiences of updating a formal Body of Knowledge, reviews the context of a range of project management bodies of knowledge and identifies a number of issues concerning the nature of project management knowledge and how it can be represented. We conclude that BoKs serve a valid purpose but conflicting priorities affect the development process and undermine their usefulness. From the epistemological issues identified, we add our conjecture that the capacity of bodies of knowledge to represent the broader understanding of the discipline is limited.. The paper concludes with a review of some methodological implications of the interaction of stakeholder interests and BoK development practice.

 

Keywords: profession, body of knowledge, research design, knowledge representation, certification

 

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Journal Article

Deciding on the Scale Granularity of Response Categories of Likert type Scales: The Case of a 21‑Point Scale  pp159-171

Noel Pearse

© Sep 2011 Volume 9 Issue 2, ECRM 2011 Special issue, Editor: Ann Brown, pp87 - 197

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Abstract

This research investigates the use of a 21‑point Likert type scale in the design of a questionnaire that explores factors related to staff turnover and retention. The paper examines the notion of granularity in researcher‑defined fixed rating scales, where granularity refers to the number of response categories or cut off points that are imposed on a scale (Smithson 2006). The aim of this research paper is to examine the usefulness of a scale with high granularity, from the perspectives of respondents and the researcher. The questionnaire was administered among employees in three different public sector organisations in South Africa, to create a combined data set of 178 respondents. Informing the formulation of the hypotheses was Parducci’s (1965 cited in Tourangeau, Rips & Rasinski 2000) range‑frequency model, which assumes that respondents make use of the various response categories available with equal frequency, if they are evenly spaced. It was therefore hypothesised that (1) there are no significant differences in the frequency of use of the 21 response categories, implying that all of the response categories are useful to respondents; (2) that there would be no difference in the response pattern of respondents when different scale types and lengths are used, implying that increasing the scale granularity did not lead to redundancy; and (3) that there are no significant differences in the variation of responses with ongoing use of the scale. That is, if the scale was useful to respondents, they would continue to use a wide range of the response options available. Chi‑square tests were primarily used to test the hypotheses. It was concluded that the 21‑point scale was useful to respondents and by implication to researchers as well. This was evident in the spread of responses across the 21 response categories of the scale, and that even with prolonged use, they continued to utilise a wide range of response options. It was recommended that researchers should give more explicit attention to scale granularity when designing a questionnaire and that further research is required to assess the value of various levels of scale granularity.

 

Keywords: questionnaire design, scale construction, likert scale, scale granularity

 

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