Exploratory, Descriptive, and Causal Research Designs

Topics: Focus group, Research, Exploratory research Pages: 32 (9806 words) Published: May 13, 2013

Exploratory, Descriptive, and Causal Research Designs

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Focus groups are sufficient research tools for most decision problems. ST RONG LY DI SAGR E E







Learning Objectives 1. Describe the major emphasis of each of the three basic types of research design. 2. Describe the key characteristics and basic uses of exploratory research. 3. Discuss the various types of exploratory research and describe each. 4. Discuss the difference between cross-sectional and longitudinal descriptive research designs.

5. 6. 7.

Explain the difference between a continuous panel and a discontinuous panel. Clarify the difference between laboratory experiments and field experiments. Distinguish among a standard test market, a controlled test market, and a simulated test market.

A research design is the framework or plan for a study used as a guide in collecting and analyzing data. There are three basic types of research design: exploratory, descriptive, and causal. In this chapter, we’ll discuss these types of research design, give some examples, and note when each might be important.

The names of the three types of research design describe their purpose very well. The goal of exploratory research is to discover ideas and insights. Descriptive research is usually concerned with describing a population with respect to important variables. Causal research is used to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables. Experiments are commonly used in causal research designs because they are best suited to determine cause and effect. The popular crime investigation television shows (e.g., CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) provide a fairly good illustration of the three types of research

design. These shows usually begin with a crime that must be investigated (an unplanned change has occurred in the marketplace). The first step is to search for clues that can help establish what has happened (exploratory research). The clues uncovered in the exploratory phase of the investigation often point toward a particular hypothesis or explanation of the events that occurred, and investigators begin to focus their efforts in this direction, conducting interviews with witnesses and suspects (descriptive research). Finally, a trial is held to determine whether the evidence is sufficient to convict a suspect of the crime (causal research). Almost all marketing research projects include exploratory and descriptive research. How much of each is necessary depends mostly on how much managers already know about the issue to be studied. When a decision problem has arisen from unplanned changes in the environment, there is usually a need for exploratory

exploratory research
Design in which the major emphasis is on gaining ideas and insights.

descriptive research
Research design in which the major emphasis is on determining the frequency with which something occurs or the extent to which two variables covary.

causal research
Research design in which the major emphasis is on determining cause-and-effect relationships.

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continuous process. Exhibit 3.1 shows the interrelationships.


research to better understand what is happening and why it is happening. Sometimes, however, managers know a lot about the situation—they understand the key issues and know what questions need to be asked—and the focus quickly shifts to descriptive research that is geared more toward providing answers than generating initial insights. Unlike crime investigations, however, in business situations managers are often perfectly happy with a “most likely” result produced by descriptive research. Only occasionally do they choose to establish cause-and-effect relationships...
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