MANAGEMT 7250 - Research for Decision Makers

North Terrace Campus - Trimester 3 - 2018

This course is designed to develop skills in designing, conducting and evaluating action research in the context of management practice. Action research is a methodology commonly used by management practitioners to affect change. It is an iterative, cyclical, collaborative approach to identifying, critically and reflectively analysing, evaluating and synthesising data in relation to a given problem or question. Practitioners are simultaneously learners, researchers and agents for change. This approach is particularly useful when dealing with complex and complicated systems as it allows practitioners to respond to the emerging and changing needs as the situation changes with each iteration of the process. Students will consider leading theories in this field, the relationship between action research and other common business research methodologies and the relationship between action research and complexity and systems theories.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code MANAGEMT 7250
    Course Research for Decision Makers
    Coordinating Unit Business School
    Term Trimester 3
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact up to 36 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Restrictions Available to Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Master of Business Administration students only - other students must first meet with program director for enrolment approval
    Course Description This course is designed to develop skills in designing, conducting and evaluating action research in the context of management practice. Action research is a methodology commonly used by management practitioners to affect change. It is an iterative, cyclical, collaborative approach to identifying, critically and reflectively analysing, evaluating and synthesising data in relation to a given problem or question. Practitioners are simultaneously learners, researchers and agents for change. This approach is particularly useful when dealing with complex and complicated systems as it allows practitioners to respond to the emerging and changing needs as the situation changes with each iteration of the process.
    Students will consider leading theories in this field, the relationship between action research and other common business research methodologies and the relationship between action research and complexity and systems theories.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Cullen Habel

    Name: Dr Cullen Habel
    Adelaide Location: Room 924, Nexus 10
    Telephone: +61 8 8313 4763
    Course Website:
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    The course provides a strong grounding in understanding the research process enabling students to either engage an external research organisation to undertake a study on their behalf in a business environment or, alternatively, action and complete a research project themselves as either the sole researcher or as part of a research team. In addition to the technical skills and knowledge required to be successful in these endeavours, the course also provides students with a clear understanding of the ethical considerations involved in undertaking research and the special challenges evidenced in international and cross cultural studies.
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

    1. Apply an advanced understanding of business research design options, methodologies and analysis methods (both qualitative and quantitative), including respective terms, definitions and applications to the design, implementation and evaluation of a research project.
    2. Distil an identified business problem into a succinct research problem (or problems) and articulate this into a comprehensive research brief for investigation by a research team locally or internationally.
    3. This brief will include a statement of the resulting research problem and the objectives that need to be achieved to provide the information necessary to tackle the business problem and the decisions that need to be made respective to it.
    4. Complete, from the brief created, a research proposal for implementation at either a local or international level.
    5. This will include (but not be restricted to), a literature summary at the necessary level of depth to ensure a thorough understanding of what is already known about the problem to be addressed, the proposed research design, data collection, sampling, analysis methods to be employed along with an indicative time frame for each stage of the research proposed and budget.
    6. Apply a broad understanding of issues specific to undertaking business research across international boundaries, including cultural, geographical, language and cost related challenges and respective strategies and approaches that may be employed to solve them to the design, implementation and evaluation of a research project.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    2, 3
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    3, 4, 5
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    3, 4, 5
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    3, 4, 5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Text Book: Gill, John & Johnson, Phil (2010) Research Methods for Managers, 4th edition, London: Sage. 9781487870940
    Recommended Resources
    For the required level of Advanced Excel Skills: these skills are articulated on the university's ITS online training site. If you are unsure if you have the necessary level of Excel expertise, book the online courses provided by ITS. Note: Excel online training has 3 courses (levels 1, 2 & 3). You need all three. You can only book one at a time. You have 2 weeks to accomplish each level (but can progress faster if you wish or rebook to repeat a level). You will need to have accomplished level 3 by commencement of session 1 in Business Research Methods.

    ANDREWS, Frank et al. (2nd edition / 1981). A Guide for Selecting Statistical Techniques for Analyzing Social Science Data, University of Michigan Press (more recent editions exist).
    BOYD, Jr. Harper W., R. Westfall, and S.F. Stasch (6th edition / 1985). Marketing Research: Text and Cases, Irwin.
    CASSELL, Catherine & Symon, Gillian (Eds). 2004. Essential Guide to Qualitative Methods in
    Organizational Research - Pub ISBN-10: 0761948880 | ISBN-13: 978-0761948889
    CRESSWELL, John W. (2007) Qualitative Inquiry & Research Design: choosing among five approaches. 2nd ed. Sage: London.
    CROTTY, M (1998) The foundations of social research: meaning and perspective in the research process. Sage: London.
    ERIKSSON, Paivi: & Kovalainen, Anne (2008) Qualitative Methods in Business Research. Sage: London.
    FLICK, Uwe (2006) An introduction to qualitative research. 3rd ed. Sage: London.
    LYNN, Kelley, D. (1999). Measurement Made Accessible: A Research Approach Using Qualitative, Quantitative, & Quality Improvement Methods, Sage Publications.
    MARTIN, William E. and K.D. Bridgmon (2012). Quantitative and Statistical Research Methods: From Hypothesis to Results, Jossey-Bass/Wiley, (ISBN: 978-0-470-63182-9).
    MAXWELL, Joseph A. (2012). A Realist Approach for Qualitative Research, Sage Publications, Inc.
    NEUMAN, William L. (2010). Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, Pearson.
    ROBSON, Colin (3rd edition / 2011). Real World Research, Wiley.
    SILVERMAN, David (2005) Doing Qualitative Research. 2nd ed. Sage: London.
    SYMON, Gillian & Cassell, Catherine. 2012. Qualitative Organizational Research: Core Methods and Current Challenges. SAGE Publications Ltd (• eBook ISBN 13:9781446258279• Print ISBN 13:9780857024114
    SUDMAN, Seymour, and N.M. Broadway (1986). Asking Questions, Jossey-Bass.
    ZIKMUND, William G., B.J. Babin, J.C. Carr, and M. Griffin (9th edition / 2013). Business Research Methods, South- Western/Cengage Learning, (ISBN: 978-1-111-82692-5).
    Online Learning
    Course Website:

    As an important part of your course, you will need to become familiar with the collection of quantitative data using a web survey. You will need to get yourself an account by going to and using your university password.

    ADAPT (Any Device, Any Place and Time) allows staff and students to access their learning and teaching applications on personal devices: desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones, anywhere:

    • On campus via the UofA wireless network; and
    • Off campus via broadband access and 3G/4G Mobile networks.

    Through this “virtual suite” you will be able to use a range of licensed software products such as Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and the nVIVO Qualitative Data Analysis suite.

    Details for ADAPT can be found at:

    If you have a PC or a Windows MacIntosh, you can download and install nVivo11 Pro version from QSR International. You can install on a two week trial licence and then contact to receive a license code. nVivo11 will not run through ADAPT and the version for Mac does not perform adequately. So we request that you either use the nVivo through the pool computers or on your own PC.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Seminars consist of lectures, practical, and student presentations. Essentially, your job in this course is to develop a well thought out, well justified research proposal and an associated set of research methods to embark on a project of your own, under close supervision. We will also strongly support the face to face work with digital content through the MyUni platform. This will include:
    • Three intensive sessions
    • Discussion board
    • Broadcast Emails
    • Powerpoints, Readings and Case Studies all posted online
    • Lecture recordings on video
    • Digital Feedback on assignments – PDF of assignment rubric & video feedback (YouTube Link)

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
    The University expects full-time students (i.e. those taking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies. This means that, for this course, you are expected to commit approximately 9 hours for private study (i.e., the study time outside of your regular classes). Students are required to attend all class sessions.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Based on student feedback we have set up a “group rotation” system. You will be assigned your ‘rotation 1” group before the first intensive and you will do your first “research brief” group assignment with them.
    Importantly, this whole course is designed around you developing your own research topic. Sure, there are some practical assignments in there as well – nVivo Qual and a Quant assignment – but by the end of this course we expect that you’ll have your head around a research topic, reflected in a well thought out and well justified research proposal.
    Specific Course Requirements
    Proper class attendance must be observed (this includes, for instance, proper attendance, punctuality, returning from a break in a timely way, and the like).
    Academic writing PLC Workshop sessions are available. Students must attend at least one session.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    We are building a research brief as a team, and then we may be developing a research proposal as a team activity (subject to negotiation) which may flow through to a social enterprise project on a team or individual basis, or an individual academic thesis style project.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Weight Basis Related Learning Outcome
    AT1: Engagement with the course 10% Individual 1, 5, 6, 7

    AT2a: Research Brief - Presentation 5% Group 2, 3

    AT2b: Research Brief - Document 10% Group 2, 3

    AT3: Quantitative Assignment 10% Individual 1, 6

    AT4: Qualitative Assignment 10% Individual 1, 6

    AT5: Research Proposal Document 35% Individual (negotiable) 2, 4, 5

    AT6: Theory Examination 20% Individual 1,2,6,7

    Assessment Related Requirements
    The critical things to note about the assessments in this course are that:
    • Discussion forum assignments are very interdependent - built on the concept of community of practice and peer support. ie: if you miss deadlines or mess up, your colleagues suffer as well as you.
    • The assessment activities contribute significantly to your actual research project.

    • be timely - meet deadlines
    • but be sane - when you can only do it by half-killing yourself - negotiate
    • collaborate (note: acknowledged collaboration is a powerful professional and academic strength; UNacknowledged collaboration is called 'collusion' and is seen as cheating)
    • have fun (if you don't learn to enjoy it now, it will be 'unpleasantly hard work')
    • know that it DOES get easier - every piece you do makes the next one easier; every impossible-to-understand article you read makes the next one more possible and more readable - and your blogs will help you scale that wall faster and more easily than you can expect... the discussion board collaboration with your peers will make a world of difference. Therefore, your feedback to one another is critical!
    Assessment Detail
    AT1 - Engagement with the course; Participation / attendance, Discussion Forums, Blog (Individual grade 10%)
    Get involved
    By the end of the course, I will have spent over 35 hours in a classroom with you, seen some projects and taken attendance (really just as a reminder to me). This is ample opportunity for me to allocate 10% of the course mark to the quality of your contribution. This can be confronting for some people, but part of the transition to senior manager role involves being prepared to comment when the opportunity arises.
    So this component of assessment in the course comes from being involved in the classroom (which is impossible if you aren’t physically there) as well as online contribution an you might even create a blog in the public domain. If I was looking to “make a splash” in this course, that’s exactly what I’d be doing.
    Participate in the Online Discussions
    We will establish a weekly discussion which we require you to participate in. At the very least, you need to show that you have gotten in there and thought about the things that are being discussed.
    Why not build a blog?
    Grasp the nettle. Many people in business these days are creating a simple reflective blog – allowing it to be public but enhancing their personal brand. If you feel a little uncomfortable about speaking up in class, then why not do some reflection in a blog – even one that is public. This provides a triple benefit; you learn a few new skills, you can supplement the insights you demonstrated in the class, and it pumps you up the Google rankings against your name. In the first session I’ll show you how to get a blog going. It’s a five minute job. For the “tragic” among us, we might feed the blog with an outreach medium such as Twitter.
    So for AT1 the overarching criterion is as follows:

    The instructor’s subjective assessment of the student’s contribution to the discussion of marketing concepts, principles and examples. This can occur in a face-to-face, discussion board or blog context, or all three. 
    Assignment 2 – Research Brief (15%) total (5% for the presentation and 10% for the paper)
    You are required to submit a research brief that summarises a stated business problem that requires specific information in order for Managers to decide a strategic direction to address the issue.

    This will include:
    • a background to the problem and
    • the implications of not finding a solution.
    • The nature of the information that needs to be sourced (from both secondary and primary sources):
    • concise and actionable research objectives and
    • an indicative time frame and budget for the completion of the resulting study.

    This is not meant to be an 'argument' for the research per se - but it must provide any researchers that may take on the task with good understanding of the issues involved and nature of the information that is needed to find a solution.
    • This brief (including no more than 10 references) may not exceed 2000 words.
    • there is no minimum word limit - this will be dictated by the fewest possible words to contain adequate information to fully communicate the brief.
    • A sample brief will be provided to students (see attached) and many others can be found from a variety of sources.

    Assignment 3 – Quantitative Assignment (10%) total
    Students are required to read a short case study provided in this brief and answer 5 questions, selecting the appropriate statistical test to answer each business problem.

    You can download the datafile for this assignment from Myuni. You will need to run SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) through the ADAPT platform.

    This is an individual assignment. So, make sure you conduct data analysis and prepare a summary report individually. The written report represents a summary of key insight from your data analysis, demonstrating an ability to choose an appropriate statistical technique to provide answers to specific business research objectives, as well as an ability to correctly interpret results and develop preliminary conclusions and recommendations.

    The title for this report should also include the words Assignment 1_quant_student ID. Please submit this assignment as a Microsoft Word file. The assignment should not exceed 1,500 words (excluding the Appendix). Please use only the key tables or charts in the main body of your report with all support tables attached in the Appendix.

    Learning Objectives
    This assignment focuses on student’s ability to:
    • Develop skills in statistical analysis
    • Understand the need to relate research and management objectives to analysis and findings
    • Demonstrate an understanding of quantitative research and required analytical skills
    • Develop knowledge in the choice and application of inferential and descriptive statistical tests
    • Understand how quantitative research fits into the broader management and business planning process
    • Apply an advanced understanding of quantitative analysis methods to a specific research problem

    In addition, the aim of this assignment is to develop advanced knowledge in relation to the fundamental quantitative business and marketing research processes, such as:
    • Data preparation and re-coding
    • Descriptive data analysis and charting in SPSS and Excel, use of filters
    • Significant difference testing using ANOVA or an Independent-samples T-test
    • Factor analysis
    • Correlations and regressions
    • Provision of a short summary of key findings and recommendations

    A comprehensive assignment brief is provided on MyUni.

    Your report will be assessed on the following criteria:

    Assignment 4 – Qualitative Assignment (10%) total
    Assessment item: submit an NVivo Project that supports the development of the Literature Review (Background and Introduction) of your Research Proposal, identifying your Research Gap and Research Questions and/or Hypotheses.

    Using NVivo software, students will:

    1. Import and collate relevant materials to support the development of their Research Proposal. This may include academic literature, government reports, white papers, business articles, survey data, photographs and other images, marketing media, audio and/or video clips.

    2. Use the node & coding, classification and query tools to analyse and explore the imported documentation and materials, for the purpose of:
    a) summary of “what is already known” about the research topic
    b) identification of themes and patterns in “what is already known” about the research topic
    c) identification of need for research (research gap/justification)
    d) formulation of research question and hypotheses / propositions to address the research gap.

    A comprehensive assignment brief is provided on MyUni.

    Assignment 5 – Research Proposal (35%) total
    This Proposal is not only the culmination of the work in this course, it is also the official proposal that will be used to shape the required research in the 6 unit Research Project for most degree programs (or the equivalent for students in other disciplines).

    (as above) In order to pass this course, students must achieve at least 50% overall, and achieve a passing mark of at least 50% for their final research proposal.

    This document will be assessed on:
    1. Short restatement and justification of the research problem
    2. Relevance of objectives to the stated problem
    3. Adequate assessment of the relevant secondary data
    4. Justification of the research design and proposed methodology, including data collection and sampling methods. Questions to be answered include:
    a) can it be done this way?
    b) is it an appropriate design - is there a precedent for this design/approach?
    c) will it provide the right kind of data and enough of it?
    d) will analysis of the data provide the insights required?
    e) are projected costs defendable?
    5. Proposed analytical methods
    6. Research budget and timelines for completion of the project
    7. Quality of written presentation (referencing, grammar, punctuation and clarity).

    For the purposes of this course, this document is expected to be no more than 15 pages (not including references and appendices), and follow the "Document Guidelines".

    Note: where students come from a Discipline that has a specified Research Proposal descriptor, the Proposal must conform to that Discipline’s specifications.

    Presentation of Assignments
    • Please must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.
    • All assignments must be submitted electronically through the MyUni assignments portal
    • Assignments cannot be reworked and resubmitted after marking.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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