Observation Research

Essay by lovergurlUniversity, Ph.D. August 2006

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"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 and analysis of business data to yield valuable information is an arduous task. There are a number of research techniques available to facilitate the collection of business information, but questions of validity and reliability remain a debating issue when collecting information about human beings.

Humans may be oblivious of their actual behaviour, both on an individual level, and in terms of how they move within the larger web of culture.

This mental restriction creates a barrier to the collection of information through generally used research techniques such as focus groups, one on one interviews and questionnaires. All too many research techniques depend entirely on people's retrospective or anticipatory reports of their own behaviour. However, people often cannot and will not report information accurately. After all, if people are unaware of aspects of their behaviour, how can they talk about it?

What is being done in the business research field to overcome this impeding barrier to research? Are there any techniques, which will surpass this barrier? The answer seems to lie in the growing popularity of observation research. Many companies are increasingly incorporating observation research techniques into their research agendas. Observation, as a research methodology is becoming mainstream amongst researchers...