MANAGEMT 7250NA - Research for Decision Makers

Ngee Ann Academy - Quadmester 3 - 2017

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 7250NA
    Course Research for Decision Makers
    Coordinating Unit Business School
    Term Quadmester 3
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s Ngee Ann Academy
    Units 3
    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

    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

    Readings: See Course Materials - Assigned reading material has been provided to generate greater depth of understanding on particular topics and may be discussed during class sessions. It is likely that this material will provide useful examples and references during assessment.
    Recommended Resources
    We will be catching up every Monday night through the Adobe Connect Portal. It is important for you to attend as many of these (direct from your own PC) as you can – although attendance is not compulsory. We will provide the details in the first visit.

    During the visits we will be using a range of software that requires you to bring your own PC that can connect to NGA wireless. The software is:
    • Qualtrics Data Collection Suite (Web Based)
    • Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (Web Based through ADAPT)
    • nVivo 11 Qualitative data analysis software (PC only – no Mac)
    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:
  • 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:

    • Synchronous “Catchup” sessions each Monday night
    • Two Lecturer visits
    • 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.

    Our face to face sessions are a total of 36 hours long. You can expect to spend about the same amount of time preparing for each class. Assignments and exam preparation will demand additional concentrated periods of non-classroom study, on your own or with your allocated student group. So you could expect to spend in the order of 120 hours of study time to complete the course, of which 36 hours would be in class.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Date Week Weekly Catchup Activities Monday Night Assessment
    11-Jul 1 Hello and Welcome
    16-18 Jul Visit 1 Research Brief presentation
    18-Jul 2 Consolidate your written Resarch Brief - Group. Cullen at NAA this week to consult if necessary Research Brief Document
    25-Jul 3 Discuss the Quantitative assignment
    1-Aug 4 Completing the Quantitative Assignment Quantitative Assignment
    5-8 Aug Visit 2
    8-Aug 5 Using nVivo to get on top of the literature for your research proposal
    15-Aug 6 The important theory of the course
    22-Aug 7 Pre-Exam Review
    27-Aug Theory Examination
    29-Aug 8 Use qualitative methods and nVivo to firm up your ideas
    5-Sep 9 Build a solid piece of qualitative investigation
    Qualitative Assignment
    12-Sep 10 Build a strong literature review
    19-Sep 11 Finalising a Research Proposal
    26-Sep 12 Research Proposal Document
    Specific Course Requirements
    Introduction to research
    MS Word basic, intermediate & advanced. (esp: formatting, heading styles etc…, captions & cross-references) 
    MS Excel basic, intermediate & advanced. (esp: charting and formulae) 
    Library basics & database usage workshop. (including common Business Databases)  
    a.     … Secondary Sources (most of) 
    Academic integrity workshop/s (including plagiarism & ethics). 
    Nature & Value of Research in Business Setting (& ethics – 1st intro: academic & commercial)  
    a.     Outsourcing research (build a research brief, select a research provider, evaluate provided research)  
    b.     Designing & conducting research (develop a research proposal & conduct research)  
    Identifying and elucidating the business problem   
    a.     From Defining a research topic to Refining a research question  
    Dimensions of Research: Approaches; Philosophies & Design (& Morphological Analysis)  
    a.     Pure/basic vs applied;   
    b.     Qualitative & Quantitative & Hybrid, and Mixed Method & Multi-Method (& preview intro to Qualtrics)  
    i.     Inductive/Deductive/Abductive research (& iterative)  
    c.     Research ‘question’ vs research ‘objective’ and ‘develop hypotheses’ vs ‘explore & develop’  
    d.     More than “Qual vs Quant”: Exploratory, descriptive & causal and          
    i.     Broader & wider “Research Options” overview (eg: Case Study, Action Research; Systems Research; Systems Dynamics; Design-based research…)  
    ADAPT - The University of Adelaide's Virtual Suite
    Qualtrics data collection suite
    SPSS Software: overview of SPSS as a Research Support Tool  
    NVivo software: Overview of NVivo as a Research Project Management Tool  
    a. research log   
    b. research journal 
    (Secondary Sources – follow up & complete from Prequel)  
    Conceptual frameworks & theories: 
    a.     working with pre-existing conceptual frameworks & theories 
    b.     incremental/iterative – working with the old and refining to the new 
    c.     developing new conceptual  frameworks & theories 
    NVivo software supporting research design & development (and Literature Review; & Data Management):  
    (Literature Review for Background, Review, Justification, Exploration, Method & Results) 
    a.     creating & importing folders & documents;  
    b.     use of literature to define & refine research questions & hypotheses;  
    c.     use of ‘coding’ as an analytical tool for literature review and data analysis;  
    i.     a priori coding 
    ii.     a posteriori (post hoc) coding 
    d.     5 different methods (mechanically) of coding in NVivo  
    Intro to Quantitative Research, Scientific Method & Experimental Method 
    a.     “From Research question to questionnaire items” 
    b.     “From conceptual framework to questionnaire items” 
    c.     Variable types: dependent, independent, moderator 
    d.     Measurement (ratio / interval / ordinal / nominal) 
    Research Brief  
    a.     What is it & why have it 
    b.     Content & focus  
    c.     Timelines & Budgets 
    d.     Format & delivery 
    NVivo software supporting research design & development: 
    a.     developing use of codes, nodes and classifications;  
    b.     dealing with demographics;  
    c.     identifying relationship types & relationships; 
    d.     working with images 
    Quantitative Research Design: 
    a.     Data editing 
    b.     Data coding 
    c.     Data transformation 
    Survey Research Design  
    Survey Design and Application 
    a.     Overview introduction to Qualtrics 
    Qualtrics – Build & Distribute Surveys 
    a.     Question types 
    b.     Answer types 
    c.     Survey flow / logic 
    d.     Distributing a survey 
    e.     Time and timing / length 
    f.      Attention checks 
    g.     Validity checks (internal & external) 
    Content Analysis – Qualitative & Quantitative views 
    Qualtrics – On-board analysis 
    a.     Built-in histograms 
    b.     Charting 
    c.     Filtering result-views 
    d.     Cross-tabulations 
    e.     Exporting data to Excel & SPSS 
    SPSS software supporting research design & development:  
    a.     Exploring quantitative data  
    i.     tabulations;  
    ii.     descriptive statistics;  
    iii.     data transformation (conversions between data types) 
    SPSS supporting research design & development: 
    a.     Tests of difference 
                                                   i.     Paired sample t-test 
                                                 ii.     Independent samples t-test 
                                                iii.     ANOVA 
    Demographics & background – what, where & how much (screener or info?) 
    SPSS supporting research design & development: 
    a.     Association 
                                                   i.     Correlation 
                                                 ii.     Linear regression 
                                                iii.     Crosstabs / non-parametric 
    a.     Probability 
    b.     Non-probability 
    c.     Expanding purposive & theoretical sampling  
    d.     What & why (NOT) “convenience”  
    SPSS supporting research design & development: 
    a.     Data reduction / Factor Analysis 
    b.     Multiple regression analysis 
    NVivo software supporting research design & development: 
    a.     Data sets;  
    b.     Data Classification & Analysis;  
    c.     Data linking;  
    d.     Basic Queries. 
    Research Proposal 
    a.     What is it & why? 
    b.     Content & focus 
    c.     Ethics 
    d.     Format & discipline-specificity 
    e.     How to design & build – customized to YOUR research 
    Strong research paradigms in the Business World: 
    a.     Case study 
    b.     Action Research (& TQM / Sigma / RAD / Design-based … Lewin) 
    c.     Systems Analysis & Design & Systems Dynamics  
    NVivo software supporting research design & development:   
    a.     Querying literature & raw data to launch 
                                                   i.     â€¯Word frequency queries. 
                                                 ii.     Text search queries 
    b.     Sets 
    c.     Memos & Annotations 
    d.     Links & Hyperlinks 
    NVivo software supporting research design & development:   
    a.     Synthesis & Exploration of Data:  
    b.     Advanced Queries: 
                                                   i.     Coding 
                                                 ii.     Compound 
                                                iii.     Matrix 
                                                iv.     Group 
                                                  v.     Coding Comparison  
    Non-reactive data & analysis 
    Methods, Techniques & Skills in data collection 1: 
    a.     Developing (& Conducting) interviews A 
                                                   i.     Structured / semi-structured / unstructured 
                                                 ii.     Types of question 
                                                iii.     Order of questions 
                                                iv.     Framing of questions 
                                                  v.     Probes 
    NVivo software supporting research design & development:   
    a.     Synthesis & Visualization of Data:  
    b.     Models – static; dynamic; customized 
    c.     charts 
    d.     graphs 
    e.     cluster analysis 
    Methods, Techniques & Skills in data collection 3: 
    a.     (Developing &) Conducting interviews B 
                     i.     Venue & timing 
                     ii.     Rapport & Aura (& empathy) – subjective & objective 
                     iii.     Recording (ethics & mechanics) 
                     iv.     Verbal communication – listening, studying & interpreting: 
                            1.     ‘Obvious’ meaning 
                            2.     Words & word choice 
                            3.     Underlying meanings & assumptions  
                            4.     Fluency  
                            5.     Cultural,  ethnic, organisational… influences 
                      v.     Non-verbal communication – ‘listening’, studying & interpreting: 
                                       1.     Kinesics (body movement) 
                                       2.     Proxemics (spatial) 
                                       3.     Vocalics (paralanguage) 
                                       4.     Chronemics (time) 
                                       5.     Haptics (touch) 
                                                vi.     Phrasing, probing, affirming… 
    NVivo software supporting research design & development:   
    a.     Transcription (video &/or audio to text). 
    b.     Types of transcription 
    c.     Choice of transcriber (self or outsource?) 
    Methods, Techniques & Skills in data collection 1: 
    a.     Developing & Conducting Focus Groups A 
                                                   i.     Multiple participants vs individual interview 
                                                 ii.     Room design 
                                                iii.     Recording issues (ethical & mechanical) 
                                                iv.     Building a discussion guide 
                                                  v.     Facilitation of egalitarian input 
                                                vi.     Facilitation of comfort/ confidentiality / security 
                                               vii.     Controlling direction of discussion 
                                             viii.     Managing ‘difficult’ members 
    Pulling it all together – toward the final Research Report (or thesis) 
    NVivo software supporting research design & development:   
    a.     Framework Matrices –  
                                                   i.     theory,  
                                                 ii.     method &  
                                                iii.     practice 
    Research design & development:  
    a.     Longitudinal  (qual & quant) 
    b.     [optional ‘advanced topic’?] Temporal Dimensions in Research (including Time Series) â€¯ 
    Methods, Techniques & Skills in data collection 4: 
    a.     The subtleties of the interview (& focus groups) 
    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 Weight Basis Related Learning Outcome
    Assignment 1: Participation 10% Individual 1, 5, 6, 7

    Assignment 2a: Research Brief - Presentation 5% Individual 2, 3

    Assignment 2b: Research Brief - Document 10% Individual 2, 3

    Assignment 3: Quantitative Assignment 15% Individual 1, 6

    Assignment 4: Qualitative Assignment 15% Individual 1, 6

    Assignment 5a: Research Proposal Presentation 5% Individual 2, 4, 5

    Assignment 5b: Research Proposal Document 35% Individual 2, 4, 5
    Assessment Detail
    Assignment 1 - Class Discussion and (optional) blog support (Individual grade 10%)
    Get involved
    By the end of the course, I will know all of you pretty well. 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 is essentially around the week’s case study, but general engagement within the class is good too.
    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 A1 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 or blog context, or both.

    Assignment 2 – Research Brief (15%) total
    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 would also need to install SPSS software to perform the required quantitative data analysis. Detailed instructions on how to install SPSS on personally owned equipment can be found at:

    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

    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.

    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.

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