Engineering Manager

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CHAPTER 2 SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION
Instructional Goals
1. To help participants comprehend that scientific research offers assurance to the manager that the results of a study can be relied upon and further action can be taken at low risk. 2. To impress on the students that business research, however rigorously conducted, cannot produce 100 percent scientific results in terms of precise solutions. 3. To sensitize participants to being watchful about observing the different cues in the environment which offer some idea of a gap in the desired and actual state of affairs. 4. To help students understand that applied research, though limited in generalizability, still has to be “scientific”.

Discussion Questions
The first two questions are straightforward and the answers may be extracted from the text.

3. One hears the word research being mentioned by several groups such as research organizations, college and university professors, doctoral students, graduate assistants working for faculty, graduate and undergraduate students doing their term papers, research departments in industries, newspaper reporters, journalists, lawyers, doctors, and several other professionals and nonprofessionals. In the light of what you have learned in this unit, how would you rank the aforementioned groups of people in terms of the extent to which they might be doing “scientific” investigations? Why? To the extent that any of the above groups conforms to the hallmarks of science, they would be doing scientific investigation. It © 2009 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. www.wileyeurope.com/college/sekaran 7

is quite possible that poor research is done by research agencies, and excellent research is conducted by a graduate assistant. The ultimate test is the rigor of the research which would lend itself to testability, replicability, accuracy and precision, generalizability, objectivity, and parsimony. Research organizations and research departments in industries engage themselves in both basic and applied research and usually have the resources required to conduct scientific investigations using rigorous data collection methods, sampling designs, and data analysis. Most professors in colleges and universities are well trained to conduct scientific investigations, though their resources may not, in most cases, be as plentiful as that made available in research organizations and research departments. Because of restricted resources, professors may have to compromise somewhat on methodological rigor (e.g. use a small sample) which might restrict the generalizability of their findings. However, their research might otherwise be scientific. Applied researchers doing action-oriented research, are somewhat restricted in even disseminating information about their findings due to the localized nature of their inquiry which may not pass many of the criteria of the hallmarks of science. Doctoral dissertations conducted under able guidance and supervision quite frequently make valuable contributions to the body of existing knowledge. Much of this research is later published as journal articles, and some get published as books because of their contributions to knowledge. Students’ term papers are meant to be exercises in skill development for integrating materials and communicating ideas in written form. Exceptional research papers, when refined and published, could qualify for being termed as scientific investigations. Newspaper reporters and journalists may obtain extensive primary and secondary data but their investigations are confined to a narrow range of current incidents, events, or individuals, which are of passing interest with little generalizability to other times, events or individuals. Hence, they cannot ordinarily be termed scientific investigations. Some newspaper articles, however – as for instance, economic and environmental investigations – provide data, analysis of data, and valid conclusions drawn there from, which might later be used as...
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