Role of Research in Management
Research can be viewed from the perspective of a continuum from studies that expand knowledge about business and management in general on one end to studies that solve specific problems and add new knowledge in a limited context on the other end (Saunders, et al., 2009). Regardless of where a research project falls on the continuum, the findings can be a helpful aid to management. Generalized findings from university studies on management and human behavior theory can provide a manager with insight into handling a situation or dealing with employees, while specific studies enacted within the firm or the industry can provide management with a proper perspective when making decisions about the firm.
Research is not a complete solution to a problem, but it can help provide clarity to the decision making process. Data from a study can augment a perspective on a situation that may have been very narrowly focused before. However, it’s important to balance quality and quantity when it comes to using research. Higher quality information can lead to better decision making, but too much information might also lead to poorer decisions as decision makers are burdened with information overload (Paul, Saunders, & Haseman, 2005). Another drawback to using research to support decisions is that groups tend to accept information that supports their “preferred positions”; information that does not support the preferred solution is not considered (p. 82). This can lead to skewed decisions.
Applied research, which is research that improves understanding of a specific business or management problem (Saunders, et al., 2009) can be helpful to management when making decisions for the firm, such as launching a new product, merging firms or entering a new market space. Research can provide a bird’s eye view of a situation to put things in their proper perspective. It can help a company decide where to locate a retail operation, determine what kind of messaging to put on an advertisement or simply understand consumer behavior. Research can give a perspective on the way things currently are, and the way things might be, such as trends.
Research can provide information used in the decision making process, but the usefulness of the information depends on two distinct characteristics: information and time specificity. Choudhury (1997) explains that the ability to both gather and receive new information is limited by an individual’s “absorptive capacity”, which is the individual’s level of prior related knowledge. A manager is limited in his use of information if it is outside of his absorptive capacity, because he will not be able to fully comprehend the information as well as someone who holds a better grasp of the concept. A manager is also limited in using research for decision making if the information is not...