Contemporary Business Report Writing, 4th Edition
PLANNING AND CONDUCTING BUSINESS RESEARCH: COMMUNICATING RESEARCH RESULTS IN ORAL AND WRITTEN REPORTS – CHAPTERS 9-16
Resolving complex business problems requires research that begins with a detailed plan, often a writer’s first research-related task. After the plan is approved, the researcher/writer must collect data from appropriate sources and by appropriate means. The researcher then must analyze the data, using qualitative or quantitative analysis or both. Only after extensive planning, data collection, and data analysis can the research results be communicated—by a written report, an oral presentation, or both.
Chapters 9 through 16 present the detailed skills required in planning a research project, carrying out the research, and communicating the research results.
CHAPTER 10—PLANNING THE RESEARCH
For Chapter 10 by review the reporting situations, simple and complex, that are introduced in Illustration 1.1, page 4. Remember that complex problems generally require extensive research, preceded by careful planning, and result in reports that are more extensive and complex than those studied in Chapters 7 and 8. Chapter 10 focuses on the process of planning such research.
After completing this chapter, you should be able to do the following:
· Explain the value of a comprehensive research plan.
· Recognize the steps in planning business research.
· Identify the information that should be included in a research plan.
· Write a research proposal that clearly articulates the research plan.
Begin by reviewing the questions that open the chapter and ask additional questions. Ensure that you understand the significance of research to an organization’s success.
Use a visual reproduction (transparency or presentation graphics) of Illustration 10.1 to focus discussion of the parts of a research plan.
Compare this illsutration to Illustration 2.1, p. 28.
The comparison shows that the research plan is an elaboration of the planning process presented in Chapter 2.
Discuss each part of the plan.
· Obtain or review authorization. Discuss the importance of authorization to the report writer and to the person who authorizes the report. Authorization protects both parties from misunderstandings and ensures that company resources (time and money) are being used appropriately.
· Identify the audience. Emphasize again the importance of audience analysis and its influence on other decisions about the research plan.
· Define the problem. Differentiate between the managerial problem and the research problem. Be sure students understand that the managerial problem consists of what is known—a situation about which a decision must be made. The managerial problem may eventually be included in the background section of the proposal and the final report.
The research problem identifies specifically what will be analyzed in an attempt to solve the managerial problem. The research problem becomes the central focus of the research and the report.
· Clarify the purpose. Differentiate problem and purpose. The purpose identifies why the research will be conducted, whereas the problem identifies what is to be studied.
· Narrow the scope. Use the example in the text and others from your own experience to illustrate the need to confine the project to meaningful, workable factors or elements that will be analyzed.
· State delimitations and limitations. Many students have difficulty understanding these terms. They tend to avoid the term delimitations and use limitations for all boundaries as well as potential shortcomings or inadequacies. Clarify these terms and provide additional examples if necessary. Remember delimitations should be defined before the research begins, but limitations are sometimes not evident until after the research has been completed.
· Plan data collection. Define primary and secondary data sources. Give examples of each. Emphasize that defining the problem and the scope of analysis must precede the data collection plan. (Don’t identify data sources first and then back up to define a problem that would permit them to use those sources? For example: “My aunt works in the governor’s office. She can help us get information about a political issue.”) Data sources must be chosen for their relevance, not their convenience. This topic is developed further in Chapters 11, 12, and 13.
· Plan data analysis. Proposed data analysis must complement the stated problem and purpose. At this stage, students should be able to indicate whether quantitative or qualitative analysis (or both) will be used. If quantitative analysis will be used, emphasize that the researcher should select appropriate statistical procedures before collecting the data. This topic is developed further in Chapter 15.
· Estimate time schedule. In a realistic job setting, a manager often requires time projections for completion of major projects. In the classroom we emphasize the importance of beginning on time, progressing steadily, and ending on time. You should include a time schedule for achievement of major project goals. Develop a progress report at some time while a project is another way. It is important to keep on schedule. Review information studied in Chapter 7.
· Estimate resources needed. Become aware that research and report writing requires the use of company resources. In the student setting, research requires use of time and resources that might expended on other activities. Although you may object to preparing a budget for their research projects, doing so is a valuable learning experience. Estimate the time to be spent and budget yourself at least minimum wage. You should also estimate the cost of any resources—such as office supplies and long distance telephone calls) you will use as well as travel associated with the project.
· Plan presentation of results. Remember that research is not complete until the results have been communicated. Also, results can be communicated in a number of ways. Therefore, the proposal should indicate how the results will be presented.
Remember the functions and forms of outlines at this stage. For the outlines, you should review Chapter 2, pages 40-47, “Outlining the Report.”
· Seek approval to proceed. Because research requires the consumption of resources, your are advised to get approval for all major projects, both in the classroom and on the job. Seeking approval before beginning a project can prevent later problems. There are many positive aspects to requests for approval: This is your opportunity to seek assistance or clarification on any part of the project and enables you or your team to proceed with confidence.
.the research proposal in Illustration 10.2. Emphasize that a research proposal is a formalized research plan that is prepared for presentation to someone for approval. Show students that each element of the plan appears in the research proposal. Discuss also the various formats in which a research proposal may be presented (memo, letter, manuscript) and the reality that the proposal may also be presented orally.
Examining the research proposal is a logical outcome of studying a research plan. Review the proposals presented in Chapter 8: the service proposal (Illustration 8.9, pages 200 and 201) and the operational proposal (Illustration 8.10, page 202). Discuss ways in which those proposals are similar to or different from the research proposal.
C. Ethical Considerations
To heighten awareness of ethical issues surrounding research planning and proposal preparation, you should identify ethical concerns that the writer may have had to resolve while preparing the proposal shown in Illustration 10.5. Solicit examples of other ethical issues you may have encountered as you planned research for other classes or on the job.
Answer items that demonstrate your understanding rather than memorization of the text.
Application 1. This application contains ten scenarios for planning research and writing a research proposal. The scenarios can be used effectively as discussion questions as you explain the parts of the research plan or to summarize the chapter. We might divide the class into five teams and assign one of the scenarios to group or ask each team to select the scenario find most interesting . As you explain each part of a research proposal, the groups should draft that section of the proposal for their respective scenarios. Note: A suggested solution for Application 1-g appears after Application 3 (below).
Application 2. Application 2 can be selected as a reinforcement exercise after you have worked in groups during the initial proposals (Application 1). For writing a research proposal in memo format, you may use a scenario in Application 1 or one of the four issues suggested in his application.
Application 3. Application 3 involves small teams in converting the memo proposal of Application 2 to a manuscript proposal and cover letter, specifying the role of each team member in the proposed research. This application is an appropriate way to launch a team project. The teams can then develop and complete the report writing assignment as they study Chapters 11-16.
Suggested Solution for Application 1-g. The report, which begins below and continues on the following two pages, is presented without editing exactly as submitted by the Thai writer.
The, is currently the prime industry most investors, both local and foreign, are focusing. More than 5 million tourists in 1994 were reportedly customers of Thai spas. By the end of 2001, there were around 200 registered spa service providers around the country. These were located mainly in Bangkok and other tourist destinations, including Phuket, Surathani (Koh Samui) and Chiengmai. Thai economic developers announced a plan to promote spa services as part of the country’s strategy for bringing in foreign money.
The spa business in Thailand can be classifsied into seven groups as shown in the table.
The hotel and resort spa group is receiving a good share of the market in Thailand, targeting tourists with high purchasing power. Most of the hotels and resorts report their investment in spa services ranges from 10 to 50 million baht, and they expect the payback period to be between 12-18 months. The destination spa group offers distinguished world-class spa services. Chivasom is the first of its kind in Thailand and well-known among high-end customers, including the world’s richest and most famous people. There are only a few local players in the destination spa business. Medical spa is gaining in popularity among hospitals in Thailand as an alternative medical treatment. Day spa services are targeted mainly at the middle-level market and take advantage of lower price offering with quality spa treatments and herbal aromatic products. The investment in a standalone day spa ranges from 3 to 5 million baht with a payback period of 8 to 12 months. Mineral spring spa and cruise ship spa are popular among local and foreign tourists. Finally, club spa is targeted mainly at local exercise enthusiasts.
A SWOT analysis is shown in the table.
As shown in the table, various factors yield promising future for the spa business in Thailand. First, the Thai government has displayed strong support for developing the country to become the center of the spa business in Southeast Asia. For instance, the government has cooperated with the private sector in establishing spa training institutes; promoting a tourist campaign, “Unseen Spa”; investing in many research projects on Thai local herbs; and offering special investment packages to both local and foreign business investors who want to invest in the spa business. Moreover, Thai impressive hospitality, magnificent natural tourist places, delicate culinary and traditional ways of life attract as high as 10 millions visitors a year to the country. Finally, Thailand is able to develop its own high quality, unique herbal products from local materials.
Hilton Hotel International has the advantages of available investment fund and extensive experience in the service industry. The spa business in Thailand yields a promising potential and, therefore, it is recommended for Hilton Hotel to invest in spa business in Thailand. Specifically, hotel spa and destination spa are the two potential groups for investment. Since Hilton Hotel International has several hotels and resorts in its chain in Thailand, it is recommended that in depth information and set-up costs, as well as standalone location be studied. The international experience of Hilton personnel together with unique local personnel provides a good combination for the success.