Formal Research vs Business Proposals

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Concerning the disconnect between academia and the business world, the classic adage comes to mind: “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches” (Shaw, 1903). However, this essay does not aim to address whether or not academicians are fundamentally incapable of functioning in real-world business application, but rather compare and and contrast the theoretical and practical differences between “formal research” and “business proposals”. As a two-part essay, the discussion will continue, then, to examine the effects of human resources outsourcing (HRO) on leadership performance and employee commitment.

Research is “simply the process of finding solutions to a problem after a thorough study and analysis of the situational factors” (Sekaran & Bougie, 2010). While individuals use research as a means of making informed decisions – professionally and personally – the idea of formal research is arguably most associated with images of academic or scientific fields. The inherent impracticality of formal research application to business management is the disconnect between the two disciplines. As M. Ronald Buckley, et al., noted in “The Disconnect Between the Science and Practice of Management” (Business Horizons, 1998), “The major academic goals of business scholars are publication and tenure … academics are trained to generate knowledge in our disciplines, not solve organizational problems”. For this reason, academicians are often thought to be out of touch with the “real world”.

Contrastingly, the purpose of a business proposal is to present an idea. It does not necessarily require the support of formal research, but the ability to influence others. This points out a clear cut difference between theoretical findings of research and practical application of business proposals: the later, much more than the sooner, requires an understanding of human nature, be it increasing productivity and employee morale, or a new product launch. This is not to say that research has no place in business proposals – researching psychological responses to various conditions in the workplace can lead to implementing changes for increased productivity, or knowing the strengths and weaknesses of market competition can help with developing a better product. However, what formal research might overlook is consumer tendency toward elements like brand loyalty, or even personal barriers that are interfering with employee productivity.

Beyond this, formal research and business proposals are intended for different audiences. Formal research, generally following structured steps: problem, hypothesis, experiment, communicate results. Most often, the results of a formally researched subject are published in books and scholarly journals. The target audience is generally other academics, the writing style and jargon used being beyond the comprehension of the average non-academic. On the other hand, business proposals are less structured, and the final information is generally presented in layman's terms to a manager, or decision making body.

Further yet, formal research has a tendency to follow the path of reflective decision making. Over the course of collecting empirical data, an academic researcher has the time to examine and reexamine a given hypothesis and collect samples for a thorough research. Conversely, business operations often require split decisions, leaving leaders to employ “gut instinct”.

In short, formal research and business proposals both follow similar guidelines: gathering information, publishing that information in a report, and presenting the report to achieve a particular outcome. Where they differ is that desired outcome – formal researchers aims toward publication and tenure, whereas business proposals are intended to persuade a particular business decision.

Moving on, it is hypothesized that HRO has a negative effect on leadership performance and employee commitment, not only with a firm's organic employees, but also with a...
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