Quantitative vs Qualitative Research

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Introduction Marketing research has developed enormously in Ireland since the early 1960’s, which was the founding period of the first indigenous market research agencies – _Irish Marketing Surveys and Market Research Bureau of _Ireland. Now the market includes a range of companies operating as all-purpose, generalist market research agencies using both qualitative and quantitative research techniques (Domegan and Fleming, 2007). {text:list-item} Quantitative research is objective; qualitative research is subjective. Quantitative research seeks explanatory laws; qualitative research aims at in-depth description. Qualitative {text:list-item} Denzin & Lincoln (2003) concur, focusing on the attributes of the paradigm, stating that: ‘_Qualitative research is a situated activity that locates the observer in the world. It consists of a set of interpretative material practices that make the world visible. Qualitative research involves an interpretative, naturalistic approach to the world. It attempts to make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meaning people bring to them_’ (2003: 4). ‘_It seeks deeper understanding of factors, sometimes covert, which influence buying decisions. It is impressionistic rather than conclusive; it probes rather than counts. Intrinsically, it is subjective’ (2001; 195)._ {text:list-item} Denzin & Lincoln (2003) put forward a grounded approach to the characteristics of qualitative research, stating: Domegan and Fleming (2007) agree, contending:

_‘Qualitative research aims to explore and to discover issues about the problem on hand, because very little is known about the problem. There is usually uncertainty about dimensions and characteristics of problem. It uses ‘soft’ data and gets ‘rich’ data’ (2007: 24). _ {text:list-item} According to Schmalensee and Lesh (1999) the primary advantage of qualitative research is that it identifies areas for further research and can uncover underlying attitudes, beliefs and motives which cannot be understood from quantitative methodologies, whereas Domegan and Fleming (2007) argue that it’s advantage lies largely in generating ideas on new product development, packing, design, strategy, branding or image. {text:list-item} Marshall and Rossman (1989) postulates that the primary disadvantage of qualitative methodologies is that: Alvesson & Deetz (2000) further add three basic difficulties with qualitative research: There are always sources of influence in an interview context that cannot be minimized or controlled. Naive romanticism – the complexity of the effects of researcher-interviewee interaction and compliance. Statements can be determined by the situation (the interview context) and not to any other specific ‘experiential reality’ (honesty) (2000: 70). {text:list-item} {text:list-item} According to Malhotra (1996) {text:list-item} According to Sekeran (1992), an in-depth interview is a lengthy personal interview conducted to uncover primary attitudes, beliefs and motivations. {text:list-item} Malhotra (1996), Chisnall (2001), Denzin & Lincoln (2003), Domegan and Fleming (2007) and O’Sullivan (2008) and all support the fact that this type of technique can yield excellent results but requires very careful planning, training and preparation. However, Malhotra (1996) and Domegan and Fleming (2007) in particular highlight some of the weaknesses of this technique, advising that sample sizes are small and statistical extrapolation of findings become a problem. Domegan and Fleming (2007) further add that interviewer bias is difficult to regulate and that: _‘The disadvantages of the technique contribute to its limited use... the focus group is generally capable of providing the same information at a lower cost’ (2007: 174)._ {text:list-item} According to Chisnell (2001):

_‘Projective techniques use indirect methods of...
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