Research Methods and Data Analysis Portfolio

Term Paper 2005 44 Pages

Business economics - Offline Marketing and Online Marketing


Table of Contents


List of Graphs

List of Tables

1 First Stage of the Research Process
1.1 Problem Definition
1.2 Type of Research
1.3 Research Objectives

2 Research Design

3 Questionnaire Design
3.1 Questionnaire Layout

4 Sampling

5 Fieldwork

6 SPSS Analysis
6.1 Frequencies
6.2 Cross-Tabulations and Chi-Square Test

7 Conclusion


Appendix A: Pie Charts, Survey Analysis

Appendix B: Assessment Portfolio


Over the past few years, the Employee Credit Union (ECU) has accumulated a large amount of surplus funds, which have been invested in certificates of deposit. It has also experienced a lower loan/share ratio then other credit unions of similar size. Because of these factors, the credit union’s average earnings on its investments have slowly declined and its profit margins have been squeezed” (Portfolio Assessment, 2004).

The market place of a company changes every few years, and therefore, it needs to be researched and analysed (Kotler, 2001). The ECU decided to conduct a research project to determine how the credit union can solve its problem. The aim of this paper is to:
- Evaluate the research objectives.
- Evaluate the research design in light of the stated research objectives.
- Use SPSS to obtain simple frequencies for the answers to each question.
- Use SPSS to perform appropriate cross-tabulations.
- Use SPSS to perform appropriate univariate and bivariate statistical tests after developing hypotheses for these particular tests.

The analysis discovers several weaknesses of the research process used by the credit union. Furthermore, many mistakes are found in the research design. The analysis of the survey identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the credit union, which can partly answer the research objectives. The main strengths of the union are its helpful employees, their ability to treat information confidentially, their prompt processing of loan applications, and the way the credit union is managed and operated. Identified weaknesses are the level of the loan rates, the usefulness of their services, and problems associated with the loan application form.

List of Graphs

Graphic Name

1 The first three Stages of the Research Process
2 The Process of Problem Definition
3 Research Design
4 Employees are Courteous

List of Tables

Table Name

1 Courtesy of employees
2 Statistics
3 CU rates lower
4 CU confidentiality
5 Promptness of CU’s processing
6 CU’s financial services meeting needs of members
7 CU loan applications simple
8 Overall rating
9 Case Processing Summary: Employees are Courteous / Helpful
10 Cross-tabulation: Employees are Courteous / Helpful
11 Chi-Square Test: Employees are Courteous / Helpful
12 Case Processing Summary: Saving rates / CU rates
13 Cross-tabulation: Saving rates / CU rates

1 First Stage of the Research Process

Albert Einstein noted that “the formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution” (Einstein, 1942). This statement is also true for marketing research (Zikmund, 2001). Firstly, the problem of the organisation needs to be carefully identified and described before successful research can be carried out.

This section discusses the problem definition, which presents the first stage of the research process (Zikmund, 2001). Furthermore, it investigates the different types of research and the research objectives. The following graphic shows the first three stages of the research process:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Graphic 1: The first three Stages of the Research Process (Zikmund, 2001).

Stage two, research design, and three, sampling, are analysed in the next sections (see sections two and four). Sampling is followed by the stages: data gathering, data processing, conclusion and report.

1.1 Problem Definition

Zikmund (2001) states that “an orderly definition of the research problem lends a sense of direction to the investigation” and “allows the researcher to set proper research objectives”. He applies the word problem to the managerial problem and the information needed to help solve the problem. It is emphasised that the problem definition stage of the research process probably is the most important one, which is often neglected by the researcher (Zikmund, 2001).

For example, Coca-Cola decided to change its Coke formula because its competitor’s “Pepsi Challenge” adverting campaign touted Pepsi’s superior taste. The research carried out by Coca-Cola investigated the question how the consumer reacted to the taste of the reformulated Coke. However, the company ignored the emotional aspects of buying behaviour. The marketing research was too narrow in scope and the problem was inadequately defined. The old Coke formula has been quickly reintroduced as Coca-Cola “classic”. This demonstrates the importance of a proper problem definition (Zikmund, 2001).

According to Zikmund (2001), defining the research problem includes several interrelated steps:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Graphic 2: The Process of Problem Definition (Zikmund, 2001).

1. Ascertain the decision maker’s objectives: Ideally the management expresses the research goals in measurable terms to the researcher. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. However, both parties need to gain a clear understanding of the objectives. One effective technique is to present to the management possible solutions to a problem in order to clarify misunderstandings.
2. Understanding the background of the problem: It is worthwhile to mention the iceberg principle to demonstrate the vitality of understanding the background of a problem. A sailor on the open sea notices only the 10 percent of an iceberg, which can be seen over the water, 90 percent is submerged. The same principle is valid for a marketing problem. 90 percent of its dangerous part is not understood by marketing managers. A situation analysis should be carried out to gain a better knowledge of the background.
3. Isolate and identify the problem, not the symptoms: Again the iceberg principle helps to understand that the obvious symptoms are not always the marketing management problem. The marketing management problem may be submerged and, therefore, not visible to the researcher.
4. Determine the Unit of Analysis: The researcher must specify the investigation e.g. the kind of data which needs to be collected. In the case of home buying, “the husband-wife dyad typically is the unit of analysis rather than the individual because many purchase decisions are jointly made by husband and wife” (Zikmund, 2001).
5. Determine the relevant variables: To determine relevant key variables is important in research. Zikmund (2001) defines a variable as “anything that varies or changes in value”. For example, variables are the attributes of an airline such as services, safety, and baggage handling which can be positive or negative. This implies that each research objective should mention one or more variables that need to be measured or analysed.
6. State the research questions and research objectives.

In the following, the problem statement of Employee Credit Union (ECU) is given:

“The ECU has accumulated a large amount of surplus funds, which have been invested in certificates of deposit. It has also experienced a lower loan/share ratio than other credit unions of similar size. Because of these factors, the credit union’s average earnings on its investments have slowly declined and its profit margins have been squeezed” (Portfolio Assessment, 2004).

In general, this problem statement is not specific enough to develop proper objectives; therefore, the chance of collecting the relevant information is much lower (Zikmund, 2001). What exactly is the problem the ECU discovered? The problem should not be a description of the symptoms (see stage three of the problem definition process). The problem needs to be isolated and stated clearly and precisely. For example, the aim of the research project is described as to “determine why its members are not borrowing money from the credit union” which could have been a good problem definition (the members do not borrow money from the credit union). Furthermore, it can be argued that other stages of the problem definition process are neglected; for example, a situation analysis has not been conducted before formulating the research problem (see stage two). The unit of analysis is not defined (see stage four). For example, the unit of analysis could be the customer but also the competition. Further key variables are not determined (see stage five).

The more specific aim of the ECU is to determine “why members are borrowing money from alternative sources instead of from the credit union”. Though, the ECU has specified its aim, it is confusing to have two aims. It also does not support the development of appropriate objectives.

Additionally, the ECU has the aims to determine (Portfolio Assessment, 2004):

1. What are the member’s attitudes toward the overall management and operations?
2. How informed is the membership about the services provided?
3. Are there any differences between members who live in the area of the firm’s headquarters and members who live outside of the area in opinion toward borrowing funds and the services provided?

These aims could already be part of the objectives and do not need to be mentioned twice (as an aim and as an objective). The ECU needs to reduce the number of aims to one overall aim.



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University of Teesside – Teesside Business School
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Research Methods Data Analysis Portfolio Management



Title: Research Methods and Data Analysis Portfolio