Research Question, Investigation Question, Measurement Issues

 1. The Research Question

Using his or her understanding of the basic theoretical concepts, the researcher’s task is to assist the
manager in formulating a research question that fi ts the need to resolve the management dilemma.

A research question best states the objective of the business research study. It is a more specific management question that must be answered. It may be more than one question or just one.

A business research process that answers this more specific question provides the manager with the information necessary to make the decision he or she is facing.

Incorrectly defining the research question is the fundamental weakness in the business research process. Time and money can be wasted studying an alternative that won’t help the manager rectify the original dilemma.

Fine-Tuning the Research Question

The term fine-tuning might seem to be an odd usage for research, but it creates an image that most researchers come to recognize. Fine-tuning the question is precisely what a skillful practitioner must do after the exploration is complete. At this point, a clearer picture of the management and research questions begins to emerge. After the researcher does a preliminary review of the literature, a brief exploratory study, or both, the project begins to crystallize in one of two ways:

1. It is apparent that the question has been answered and the process is finished.

2. A question different from the one originally addressed has appeared.
 In addition to fine-tuning the original question, the researcher should address other research question–related activities in this phase to enhance the direction of the project:

1. Examine the variables to be studied. Are they satisfactorily defined? Have operational definitions been used where appropriate?

2. Review the research questions with the intent of breaking them down into specific second- and third-level questions.

3. If hypotheses (tentative explanations) are used, be certain they meet the quality tests

4. Determine what evidence must be collected to answer the various questions and hypotheses.

5. Set the scope of the study by stating what is not a part of the research question. This will establish a boundary to separate contiguous problems from the primary objective.
 2. Investigative Questions

Investigative questions represent the information that the decision maker needs to know; they are
the questions the researcher must answer to satisfactorily arrive at a conclusion about the research

3. Measurement Questions

Measurement questions are the actual questions that researchers use to collect data in a study. They
could become questions on a survey or elements on an observation checklist.

Measurement questions should be outlined by the completion of the project planning activities but
usually await pilot testing for refinement. Two types of measurement questions are common in business research:

• Predesigned, pretested questions.

• Custom-designed questions.

Predesigned measurement questions are questions that have been formulated and tested previously by other researchers, are recorded in the literature, and may be applied literally or be adapted for the project at hand. Some studies lend themselves to the use of these readily available measurement devices. Such questions provide enhanced validity and can reduce the cost of the project. Often, however, the measurement questions must be custom tailored to the investigative questions.
The resources for developing custom-designed measurement questions —questions formulated  specifically for the project at hand—are the collective insights from all the activities in the business research process completed to this point, particularly insights from exploration. Later, during the pilot testing phase of the research process, these custom-designed questions will be refined.


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