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

Increasing business students' Confidence in Questioning the Validity and Reliability of their Research  pp67-76

Teresa Smallbone, Sarah Quinton

© Jul 2003 Volume 2 Issue 2, Editor: Arthur Money, pp47 - 170

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Abstract

Business students like to think that their research is of practical value but rarely have the confidence to question the validity of the data they have collected. Teachers expect that students will demonstrate a critical awareness of the limits of their own and others' research. The paper outlines different ways of teaching students how to recognise the key issues surrounding validity and reliability and how to make generalizations from their research.

 

Keywords: business, research methods, validity, reliability, teaching, learning

 

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Journal Article

Managing the Fear Factor (or how a Mini‑Viva Assessment can Improve the Process of Learning for International Students)  pp83-92

Susan Sayce

© Jul 2007 Volume 5 Issue 2, ECRM 2007, Editor: Ann Brown, pp37 - 124

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Abstract

This paper is about an exploration of international business students' learning through the use of mini‑vivas as a form of assessment. It also includes an investigation of the meaning of a mini‑viva for students who come from a wide range of nationalities. Pedagogical research has indicated that using this form of summative assessment for large cohorts of international students may be problematic (Carless 2002). However, experimentation with this model of assessment with MA business students in research methods has indicated that mini‑vivas can enhance and consolidate the learning potential of international students. So in effect this paper is also about explaining why this has happened in relation to students' learning.

 

Keywords: international students, research methods, mini-viva, deep learning, assessment

 

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Journal Article

Researching Spirituality and Meaning in the Workplace  pp1-10

Carole Brooke, Simon Parker

© Dec 2009 Volume 7 Issue 1, ECRM 2009, Editor: Ann Brown, Joseph Azzopardi, Frank Bezzina, pp1 - 116

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Abstract

In this paper we begin to address the topic of researching spirituality in the workplace. The notion of spirituality at work has been an increasing focus of attention in the academic literature over the last 10 years or so, with several special editions of journals being dedicated to the topic. However, we find at least two areas of this work so far to be problematic. One aspect relates to the apparent ambiguity relating to the term 'spirituality' in itself and, especially, in comparison to the use of the word 'religion'. Another aspect refers to the motives and drivers behind the study of workplace spirituality and the search for 'higher meaning'. In essence, we find the predominant objectives behind the research to be highly instrumental. Sometimes this seems to be deliberately espoused but sometimes it is more hidden. This paper attempts a preliminary critical review of the field with a special emphasis on the issues it raises for the researcher. In particular, we seek to show how the way in which 'spirituality' is conceived and constructed directly affects decisions related to methodological choice and (ultimately) to research design itself. We close the paper by reflecting on the importance of the topic and yet the dangers inherent in appearing to trivialise its nature.

 

Keywords: organisations, spirituality, critical management, meaning and work, religion, research methods, protestant ethic, essential self, methodology

 

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Journal Article

Research Methods — a Case Example of Participant Observation  pp39-46

Jessica Iacono, Ann Brown, Clive Holtham

© Dec 2009 Volume 7 Issue 1, ECRM 2009, Editor: Ann Brown, Joseph Azzopardi, Frank Bezzina, pp1 - 116

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Abstract

This paper discusses the role of the researcher as a participant observer and reflective practitioner. The paper aims to assess the benefits and limitations of participant observation, and offer guidance as to how to manage the challenges inherent in this technique. The paper draws on the lead author's experience as a participant observer when working on her doctoral thesis: 'Factors Affecting the Viability of Electronic Marketplaces: an Empirical Investigation into International Steel Trading'. It discusses the issues and concerns resulting from participant observation and how these were dealt with in the case example. The empirical research was a longitudinal study tracking the evolution of steel electronic commerce between December 1998 and the present time. The events examined in this study were observed during the lead author's ten years at a large steel producertrading house. As a trader and a manager, the lead author was directly involved in the conduct of business. The study represents the contribution of an industry practitioner and, as such, provides a unique insight into a real‑world setting.

 

Keywords: participant observation, qualitative research methods, qualitative data, longitudinal case work, steel trading case

 

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Journal Article

Claiming the Streets: Feminist Implications of Psychogeography as a Business Research Method  pp47-54

Deborah Knowles

© Dec 2009 Volume 7 Issue 1, ECRM 2009, Editor: Ann Brown, Joseph Azzopardi, Frank Bezzina, pp1 - 116

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Abstract

This paper is intended to establish a claim that the techniques of psychogeography may be advantageously employed in business and management research in order to provide a new perspective on how organisations are experienced. It examines this practice for its possibilities as a research approach for women and its compatibility with feminist research methods. Psychogeography offers an approach to gaining an understanding of the ways that human behaviour is shaped by the geographical environment (Coverley, 2006). It constitutes a style of collecting a variety of qualitative data using complementary methods, which gives a textured view of the real world in a particular environment. Psychogeography is primarily a literary tradition. However, its constituent parts are academic disciplines rooted in real world experience. The attraction of psychogeography to a business researcher is many layered. It invites the researcher to observe the environment slowly and painstakingly, whilst "strolling", and to construct meanings in a number of ways. Walking is celebrated by psychogeographers as a cultural act and an important way to understand the world, yet the male‑as‑norm character of psychogeographers is well established (Solnit, 2001). The masculine tradition of psychogeography may operate to challenge woman researchers to examine the possibility of using this approach in conjunction with feminist perspective research methods as a way of exploring and questioning women's place in a patriarchal culture (Acker et al, 1983). Feminist research methods seek to address the "invisibility" of women's experience in academic studies (Roberts, 1990:7), to overturn the male‑as‑norm perspective, and to highlight the possibilities for women to engage in 'male‑preserve' activities. In the case of the male preserve of psychogeography these intentions would apply not only to the subject of the study but also to the practice of the research method itself.

 

Keywords: psychogeography, feminist research methods, qualitative research, safety in the field, London, organisations

 

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Journal Article

Taking Stock of Research methods in Strategy as practice  pp156-162

Ramya T Venkateswaran, Ganesh N Prabhu

© 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

Strategy‑as‑practice research provides understanding of a complex phenomenon in language rich and holistic process terms, rather than statistically significant but limited variance terms. It requires mapping individual and organisational activities in the process of strategizing. This article assesses four research issues in strategy‑as‑practice research and their impact in advancing this field: challenges in bounding the scope of the research question, issues with the unit of analysis, difficulties in defining the dependent variable of outcomes and finally the challenge in specifying a particular level of analysis, all of which present complexities in the design of data collection. We suggest two broad alternative approaches that have the potential to push the frontiers of methodology to greater rigour in strategy as practice research. First, quantification methods that can capture practice can be a valuable tool, a paradigm that has been ignored in much of strategy‑as‑practice research. Second, better process data may be revealed by organizations that voluntarily initiates a consultation process with a researcher as it benefits by doing so, so we suggest that clinical research methods, that include such intervention, provide better understanding of the phenomena of strategizing. We make a case for why these methods must for acceptability in strategy‑as‑practice research.

 

Keywords: strategy-as-practice, research methods, strategy research, clinical research, review

 

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Journal Article

What Can We Learn from Gender Research  pp1-9

Eileen Trauth

© Jan 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1, ECRM 2010 Special issue Part 2/Jan 2011, Editor: Ann Brown, David Douglas, Marian Carcary and Jose Esteves, pp1 - 87

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Abstract

This paper considers issues, insights and lessons about conducting research in business that are drawn from this author’s experiences with gender research in the information technology (IT) field over the past decade. A research program on gender and information technology (IT) is used as the basis for consideration of methodological insights for business research. The purpose in discussing gender research is not so much to focus on the findings of this work. Rather, the purpose is to focus on research issues that have or could arise, the learning from which is transferrable to business research. The reason is that there are similarities between gender research and business research. Both are action oriented in that the research is driven by real issues and practical problems. The research is conducted into the phenomenon in order to inform actions and interventions. This problem‑orientation that drives business research also drives gender and IT research. Seven lessons relevant to business research methods are: the effect of data type, the choice of epistemology, the role of theory, building on disparate literature, the influence of researcher standpoint, stakeholder perspective that is privileged, and resolving the rigor vs. relevance conundrum. This review of insights for business research that is drawn from experiences with conducting research on gender and IT makes a case for increased methodological pluralism. Arguably, the degree to which institutions and publication outlets take these issues into account is indicative of their openness to exploring emergent topics. Methodological conservatism might be in order in some areas. But business research, which endeavors to respond to real world problems, needs to have the methodological tools available to respond to them. It must also be responsive to business trends and issues that might bring with them challenges for current methods for conducting research. New economic constraints, issues such as climate change that blur business area boundaries, globalization, social inclusion and innovation are 21st century issues that will encourage the research community to overcome resistance to different ideas, methodologies, epistemologies and theories.

 

Keywords: critical theory, diversity, epistemology, feminism, gender differences, gender and IT, individual differences theory of gender and information technology, interpretive research, research methods, social inclusion, theory, women and IT workforce

 

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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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