Column: Incorporating research evidence into decision-making processes

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IN the words of the great Greek philosopher Aristotle, “The secret of success is to know something nobody else knows.”

By Robert Mandeya

Just like nation states rely on the intelligence units popularly known as the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) in Zimbabwe, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in America etc, business organisations, public entinties or civic organisations should constantly seek their indulgence in the information generated by their research and development departments when making critical decisions of strategy.

Basically, research is a strategy that seeks to make basic discoveries and undercover new principles of factors so far not unknown or unrecognised. Simply put, research is the systematic search for knowledge.

Unpacking business research

Business research is maybe defined as the “systematic and objective process of gathering, recording and analysing data for aid in making business decisions.” (Zikmund, Business Research Methods, 2002,p6).

Systematicness and objectivity are the hallmarks of business research, which is an important tool for managers and decision makers in corporate and non-corporate organisations.

Therefore, a business research is an increasingly popular way for companies to train and educate their managers and other employees in a vast array of different fields. In modern-day business running or trade, business research can pertain to economics, business strategy, ethics and so on.

When is business research used?

Typically, business research methods can be used in situations of uncertainty that is when decision makers face two or more courses of action and seek to select the best possible alternative under the circumstances.

Business research is hence aimed at improving the quality of decision making which, in turn, benefits the organisation and helps ensure its continuity and efficiency.

However, business research must be objective, detached and impersonal than biased. Given the fast-changing business landscape these days, business research must facilitate the managerial decision making process for all aspects of a business.

Some Aspects where Business Research is important.

Importance of research

Research can be used as an important element in business administration such as testing of new products. Companies must know what types of products and services customers want before they market them.

Market research will minimise risk Market research can help shape a new product or service, identifying what is needed and ensure that the development of the product is highly focussed towards demand.

Companies may also use business research to ensure the adequate distribution of their products. For example, a consumer products company may want to talk to retailers about all the different brands they sell.

Basically, research is an essential part of any business that wants to offer products or services that are more focussed and well targeted. Business decisions that are based on good intelligence and good market research can minimise risk and pay dividends. Given the foregoing, it is imperative that business executives should make market research part and parcel of the business process.

Research creates benchmarks, and helps you measure your progress. Unless you measure it, you may no be able to gauge how well your business is performing.

Early research may highlight glaring holes in your service or shortfalls .in your product. Regular market research will show if improvements are being made and this will motivate the team if there is positive progression.

Research will help you better communicate. Your current customer experiences could be your valuable information source. Not only will they allow you to gauge how well you currently meet their expectations: they can tell you, where you are getting things right and more importantly where you are getting things wrong.

Business research types

These can be put into two broad categories; basic research and applied research. Basic research attempts to expand the limits of knowledge but is ot directly involved in the solution to a pragmatic problem.

For instance, is executive success correlated with a high need for achievement? According to Zikmund, basic research aims to expand the frontiers of science and knowledge by verifying or disapproving the acceptability of a given theory or attempting to discover more about a certain concept.

For instance how does motivation affect employee performance?

Applied research focusses on real life problem or situation with a view to helping reach a decision to deal with it. It is conducted when a decision must be made about a specific real-life problem. For example, should corporate x adopt a paperless office environment? I will not delve into science and scientific methods of research but suffice it to say business research impacts on the decision making process and is associated with the development and implementation of a strategy.

Value of business research

Reduction of uncertainty and improvement in the quality of decision making, with several consequent advantages (eg strategic, operational) and benefits for organisations. Business research methods can be employed in each of the following four stages;

Identification of problems and or opportunities useful for strategy planning, analysis of internal and external organisational development.

Diagnosing and assessment of problems and/or opportunities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, every business needs to conduct research and small budgets are no excuse for lack of a research plan. By starting out with some accessible resources, you can begin to develop better marketing strategies that can position you for market growth.

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