Research Methods for Business

Applied and Basic Research

In the business environment, research is essential as it allows identifying a company’s problems, their causes, and possible solutions. Sekaran and Bougie (2016) define research as a process of looking for a solution to an issue by conducting a study and analyzing the results of it. Generally, two methods of analysis are used – applied research and basic research. Both applied research and basic research can be utilized to enhance an organization’s efficiency.

Applied research is focused on solving a specifically identified problem in a practical manner. Thus, the objective of such a study is to identify possibilities that can be utilized in a specific case. It offers a “timely solution” for the researchers in a specific work setting (Sekaran & Bougie, 2016, p. 2). In business, executives can use the approach to find answers to operational problems or other managerial problems. Basic or pure research is focused on a theoretical framework. Unlike applied research, the basic approach does not strive to find a practical solution to an issue. Thus, it is more focused on the knowledge one gets from the outcomes. Antwi and Hamza (2015) state that “pure quantitative research relies on the collection of quantitative data (i.e., numerical data)” (p. 220). The focus of it is on testing a hypothesis or a theory. The researcher who utilizes pure research applies the scientific method to test an assumption. While the two research methods are similar, the difference in the outcomes is what distinguishes one from the other.

In a question of how a salesperson should be paid, by commission or salary, the two research methods would utilize different approaches. The question that would guide applied research would be “Which of the two options can maximize the efficiency of work of this salesperson?” or “What method should be used to maximize the sales of this employee?” The objective, in this case, will be to identify whether a commission or a salary motivates the employee more efficiently. The research would focus on finding a practical answer to the question that can be applied in practice immediately. Pure research would be concerned with the statistical outcomes of a salesperson who is paid a commission and a salesperson who receives a salary for the work. Thus, the question would be “What are the outcomes of the commission-based pay versus salary payments for the salesperson?” The data from this research would not help to make a decision about what type of payment should be utilized. However, the obtained knowledge could be used to understand the sales process better and could be further applied to develop practical solutions for a company.

Business Research

Business research can help the management make the right decision by answering several important questions. Sekaran and Bougie (2016) state that it is a “systematic and organized effort” aimed at solving a specified problem that an organization faces (p. 2). According to the authors, the first step in such research is to identify what the problem is and where it exists within the organization. Additionally, Wilson (2014) states that there is no distinct definition of what differs academic research from business research. Thus, business research should be regarded as a serious matter. Shapiro and Kirkman (2018) state that it is challenging to produce knowledge both rigorous and practical, which is the primary challenge when combining scientific and business research. Different people can utilize various methods for their studies, as the main objective is to investigate a phenomenon.

In the case of an established company that has been losing money recently, business research can help identify the objectives of the issue and find possible solutions to the problem. The aim would be to create a specific plan that the management can utilize to improve the state of the company. The issue requires in-depth applied research that will offer a practical solution. Firstly, the researcher would have to identify what causes unprofitability and inefficiency. The first issue is most likely connected to the changing business environment as companies are bypassing wholesalers in favor of the direct sales model.

Additionally, many of the company’s clients were acquired by large food chains which had an impact on how they operate. The second issue is connected to the internal environment of the company. There can be several causes of work inefficiency such as job satisfaction, motivation, and leadership within the company. Business research can help specify the exact issue that impacts the company’s inefficiency. The next step in the study will be to identify the solutions to the problems. The company cannot influence the business environment that it operates in, thus, it should adapt its model to new market conditions. Business research will identify what steps need to be taken to implement the new model. As for the internal environment, based on the analysis of what causes the inefficiency the company can create a plan of how to change its operations to counteract issues. Overall, business research can help the management of an established company that faces problems to make the right decision.


Antwi, S. K., & Hamza, K. (2015). Qualitative and quantitative research paradigms in business research: A philosophical reflection. European Journal of Business and Management, 7(3), 217-226.

Sekaran, U., & Bougie, R. (2016). Research methods for business: A skill building approach. West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley.

Shapiro, D. L., & Kirkman, B. (2018, July 19). It’s time to make business school research more relevant. Harvard Business Review. Web.

Wilson, J. (2014). Essentials of business research: A guide to doing your research project (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.

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