The scope of business research is broad and includes a wide range of methodologies, topics, and objectives. Additionally, it plays an important role in advancing one’s understanding of the business world and provides valuable insights for decision-makers.
What is Business Research?
Business research refers to various types of research conducted during the start of a business. For example, when starting any type of business, requires research into the target customer and the competition to create a business plan. Furthermore, conducting business market research in existing businesses helps keep in touch with consumer demand. Additionally, small business research begins with researching an idea and a name and continues with research based on customer demand and other businesses offering similar products or services. Businesses research to acquire information that can enhance their overall success.
What is Business Research?
According to McDaniel and Gates, “Business research is the planning, collection and analysis of data relevant to business decision-making and the communication of the results of this analysis to management”
According to Zikmund, “Business research is a management tool that companies use to reduce uncertainty. It is a manager’s source of information about organisational and environmental conditions, and covers topics ranging from long-range planning to the most ephemeral tactical decisions”.
Scope of Business Research
Researchers conduct business research within specified boundaries to determine its scope in the field. Moreover, it includes the range of topics, methodologies, and objectives that researchers explore to gain insights and knowledge about various aspects of the business world.
Research methodology is a broad term with a wide range of applicability in disciplines like psychology, biology, political science, anthropology, mathematics, etc. Researchers conduct studies to discover and explain theories or solve specific management problems.
To understand the scope of business research, it’s essential to examine the various areas of management that it encompasses, as explained below.
1) Production Research
The production function in an organisation is dynamic and needs continuous improvement in process, product design, cost and many more. Production research is instrumental in resolving the complexities resulting from these changes and improvements. Researchers conduct production research in the following areas:
i) Methods for Standardizing and Controlling Production,
ii) Finding new and better production methods, and
iii) Finding strategies and methods for troubleshooting.
2) Industrial Research
Industrial research is a practical concept and is concerned with the well-being of a company. Therefore, it is a planned effort to gain better information and improve the new and existing products, services, and processes. The scope of industrial research extends to several crucial areas, and they are as follows:
i) Developing services and new products to gain market share,
ii) Finding ways to improve the quality of services and products,
iii) Devising new ways to use the available resources,
iv) Decisions regarding minimising the cost,
v) Ways to reduce hazards at the workplace,
vi) Standardisation of processes, and
vii) Developing strategies for improving the relations with customers and the public.
3) Organisational Research
Organizational research includes a multitude of disciplines. In an organisation, researchers come from different backgrounds and hence bring various concepts, tools, and methods for research. Many experts widely accept that students aspiring to become future managers benefit significantly from a solid understanding of research methods. Organisational research facilitates managers to explore various theories and findings that are relevant to the organisation. Additionally, it helps the managers to increase their problem-solving efficiency. Knowing the research fundamentals allows the managers to investigate a problem scientifically, which in turn enhances the efficiency of managers.
4) Marketing Research
There is widespread use of research in marketing. As a result, the company formulates all its marketing strategies and initiatives based on consumer tastes and preferences, which various research efforts aim to thoroughly comprehend. Companies conduct marketing research to study consumer behaviour, assess consumer attitudes, measure advertising effectiveness, evaluate distribution channel efficiency, analyze sales, and support new product development, among other objectives.
Some specific examples of marketing research are:
i) Forecasting the demand for products,
ii) Analysing the buying behaviour of consumers,
iii) Measuring the effectiveness of advertising.
iv) Decisions regarding media selection for proper advertising.
v) Market testing for new products,
vi) Decisions related to positioning strategies for a product, and
vii) Estimating the product potential.
5) Human Resource Development and organisational behaviour
The areas of human resources and organizational behaviour are some of the core domains of research. Within these domains, researchers actively investigate several significant issues, which we’ll outline below.
i) Individual behaviour and interpersonal relations,
ii) Attitudes of employees,
iii) Leadership characteristics and styles,
iv) Mechanisms used for performance appraisal, and
v) Assessment centre and evaluation.
6) Accounting and Finance
In the field of accounting and finance, researchers investigate various main areas, which are as follows.
i) Designing new practices and methods for inventory costing.
ii) Examining budgetary control systems.
iii) Analyzing the practice of transfer pricing and its effects on profitability.
iv) Investigating the treatment of depreciation and its effect on earnings.
v) Exploring decisions regarding capital structure and capital budgeting.
vi) Assessing the effect of mergers and acquisitions on profitability.
vii) Studying individuals’ attitudes towards investment decisions.
Nature of Business Research
Business research can be characterised in the following ways:
1) Different Emphasis on Theory and Practice
Gummesson presents an intriguing perspective on the relationship between theory and practice in business research. He sees academic researchers and management consultants as groups of knowledge workers who each place a different emphasis on theory and practice. ‘Backed by bits and pieces of theory, the consultant contributes to practice, whereas the scholar contributes to theory supported by fragments of practice’, but fundamentally their roles are closely related. Gummesson’s perspective emphasizes that researchers and consultants play a pivotal role in addressing management-related problems. This underscores the importance of their capacity to demonstrate the usefulness and relevance of their findings to the business community.
2) Applied in Nature
The practice of business research does not exist in a bubble, hermetically sealed off from the social sciences and the various intellectual adherences that their practitioners hold. The diverse nature of management and business scholarship has sparked significant debate regarding the appropriate evaluation of its research claims. Hence, some writers have suggested that business research can be understood only as an applied field because it is concerned not only with understanding the nature of organisations but also with problem solving that is related to managerial practice.
Applied research characterizes business research in almost every instance. Consequently, it is problem-oriented, aiming to obtain information to help solve a specific business problem or make a decision.
4) Conducted in a Dynamic Environment
Business research is conducted in an environment in which conditions change rapidly. Consequently, the answers to research questions asked today may very well differ from the answers to the same questions obtained yesterday. In these dynamic areas, the manager needs to stay in tune with the changing landscape. Moreover, the same research questions might need to be asked repeatedly. Therefore, successful organizations develop a culture where constant research is an integral part of their operation.
5) Involves Lengthy Fact-finding Exercises
However, some writers argue that management and business research excessively focuses on extensive fact-finding endeavours and is driven by theoretical considerations. Researchers would argue that application is not a primary purpose to which management research should be directed. For these scholars, the primary objective of academic study should not solely revolve around making research relevant to managerial practice. Many researchers believe that research should not be dictated by non-academic interests, such as professional associations and government agencies, who may seek to influence its focus and guide its development in a way that is useful to current practice but susceptible to the whim of current management fads and fashions. Others suggest that the applied nature of management and business research has influenced the development of the field in a way that makes it overly pragmatic and susceptible to users’ agendas.