Observation Research Essay

9628 words - 39 pages

Introduction"We must leverage today's knowledge for tomorrow's success" - Tom Peters. Confronted with today's dynamic business environment, companies are rapidly discovering the importance of maximizing the value of information. Companies that transform information into a competitive asset can turn even the toughest challenges into opportunities. Capitalizing on the information a company owns about its business processes, employees, customers, suppliers etc, is the new competitive edge, as it will act as capital that earns high returns. Information acts as the new value proposition for sustainable long-term growth.Information is no doubt a valuable asset to any company, but the collection ...view middle of the document...

Observation, as a research methodology is becoming mainstream amongst researchers today and is widely being used in organizational and management research.Observation research by looking at what is actually happening in a natural setting is able to achieve corroboration in data collected. It reduces reliance on a human's memory to narrate what has happened in the past. It can be utilized to provide insights into the hidden behaviours, which people might be unaware of or might withhold. Observational procedures allow researchers to grasp subjective aspects of behaviour that other research tools neglect. In this manner, observation research has the ability to eliminate bias by penetrating barriers such as misinformation, fronts, evasions and lies, which are considered endemic in most social settings, including business.The concept sounds great, but to what extent can observation research actually match up to all these claims? What are the hazards, which stand to undermine the validity of this technique? And how can these be overcome? Opinion has been divided amongst practitioners about the role and relative merits of observation as a research technique.The following academic paper seeks to explicate observation as a research tool in the collection of business data. It will primarily focus on participant and non-participant observation. The paper first identifies the field role options available for an observation researcher and then examines the array of skills required to perform these roles. It will then progress to analyse the observation research process through a nine-step model. In carrying out observation, researchers encounter a number of problems. These form an obstacle to effective performance and retard progress. To minimize the damaging effects, observation researchers must first understand what the problems are and then be armed with prudent strategies to overcome them. Pragmatic insights into the problems that emanate during the observation research process and strategies by which these can be overcome are discussed towards the latter part.What is Observation Research?In a broad sense, even when we see something, we call it an observation. In common language, seeing and observing have the same connotation, but research observation is different from seeing. Observation used in a research context means some purposeful seeing."In its broadest sense, observation is a method for collecting data associated with either a positivistic or phenomenological methodology" (Hussey & Hussey, 1997, p. 159).The implicit assumption behind observation is that behaviour is purposive and expressive of deeper values and beliefs. Observation as a tool in organization research refers to,"The process of getting information about an object, person, situation or event, through sense organs at the time when the phenomena of interest is occurring" (Bailey, 1987, p. 239).Perhaps the greatest asset of observational techniques is that it does not rely on a...

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