Functions of research

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Functions of research
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Research begins when we want to know something. Research is concerned with increasing our understanding. Research provides us with the information and knowledge needed for problem solving and making decisions[1].

Functions of research in management

There are several functions of research:

  • exploring new facts and truths (about world, technology, etc.)
  • learning the relationships that occur between the various phenomena (market, internal)
  • creating theoretical knowledge (then used for innovation and creation of new products)
  • identification of market opportunities and potential risks
  • solving problems and undertaking challenges for development of company[2][3].

Research will therefore serve of the following functions:

Functions of research.png

Description - to provide baseline data or simply a picture of how things are. Explanation (analytical) - to understand why things are the way they are, what factors explain the way things are. Prediction - to predict how systems will change under alternative scenarios (modelling). Prescription and planning (decision-making) - prescription and planning relating to changes in existing systems. Monitoring and evaluation - monitoring and evaluation of the effects of changes during and after they have been made. Investigations may be made to compare results in practice with predictions, or to monitor the effects of a policy, management technique.

Behind the list of problem-solving activities or research functions is a set of very important questions about who is involved and who is in control at each stage:

  • Who identifies problems?
  • Who diagnoses causes?
  • Who identifies potential solutions?
  • Who decides on action?
  • Who monitors and evaluates action and outcomes?

These questions emphasise the central role of decision-makers in decision-making. Research therefore far from being a neutral, objective process.

Observations, knowledge, and concerns therefore tend to influence both the selection of topics to be researched and the way that they are researched. Our own experience, and the availability of data and information can all, consciously or unconsciously, strongly affect our choice of problems to research and the questions we address in our research. The results should be critically assessed bearing in mind the focus and presentation. Applied research topics and methods are closely related to the philosophy, objectives, and approaches of researchers[4].

Multilevel research in management

Most management problems involve multilevel phenomena, yet most management research uses a single level of analysis. A micro or a macro lens alone yields incomplete understanding at either level. Multilevel research addresses the levels of theory, measurement, and analysis required to fully examine research questions. Multilevel research on bribery, national identity, team boundary spanning, professional role identity, organizational citizenship, interorganizational exchanges, and divestitures. To enrich the impact of future management research, we recommend

  • applying multilevel designs to existing models
  • considering bottom-up effects,
  • collaborating across disciplines on multidisciplinary topics, and
  • addressing major real-world problems via multilevel approaches.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research studies that are based on observational methods are also extremely well suited for making discoveries because they allow us to see the world as it is seen by its inhabitants and to observe how they interact in their environment. Through observation, we can discover the effects of physical space on interactions, how props are used as well as the flow or temporal sequences of interactions, and appreciate the subtleties of tones of voice and nonverbal expressions.Qualitative analysts to explain why their work matters.Stating who, what, where, when, why, and how isnecessary but not sufficient. It is also necessary to explain why the discovery matters, how pervasive the phenomenon might be, and why it is important to address it.In other words, we expect authors to answer the so-called “so what?” question.

Qualitative researchers have an obligation to make a convincing empirical case that the patterns, typologies, processes, and other regularities that they report characterize the context under study, and that their findings and interpretations are warranted by their data. Although we expect authors to be convincing about the rigor of their methods and data gathering, they use qualitative data analysis in service of describing and diagnosing phenomena[5].



  1. Kothari C. R. (2004)
  2. Crépon, B., Duguet, E., & Mairessec, J. (1998)
  3. Chesbrough, H. W., & Teece, D. J. (1996)
  4. Chesbrough H. (2004)
  5. Easterby-Smith M.,Thorpe R.,Jackson P.R. (2012)

Author: Iwona Maślak