How Research Creates Solutions
November 20, 2015
I have always been curious. When I see a problem, I’m curious as to how it can be solved. In fact, when people are interested in knowing “my best quality,” I often say it’s my curiosity.
This natural curiosity is why I became a researcher.
When people learn what my job is, I’m usually met with, “Oh, that sounds awful.” Folks tend to be kind enough to follow-up with, “What kind of research do you conduct?” This is where the fun begins!
While at Achieve, I was curious about attitudes, perceptions and behaviors on things like giving, volunteering and event participation. That natural curiosity is why our researchers were behind solutions like The Millennial Impact Project and The Millennial Running Study. At Achieve, we often employed a mixed-methodological approach to solve unique problems because many of our research projects attempt to generate not only explanations, but also a deeper meaning and understanding about cause work or endurance events.
For example, one of Achieve's clients – a Fortune 500 company – wanted to know how their employees understood their cause-related engagement initiatives, and further, whether this culture has impacted employee recruitment and retention. Culture alone is a complex concept and requires qualitative methods and quantitative methods.
To truly understand how their employees understood culture, we wanted to observe them within their work environment.
We collected data about the physical surroundings; we documented interactions among employees and supervisors; we reviewed cause work-related messaging; and then, we interviewed a sample of employees, asking them to describe the company culture, cause work activities and their participation (or not) in company-sponsored cause work initiatives.
We then interpreted the findings based on the overarching themes that the diverse data presented. From these findings, we then constructed a survey for distribution to a representative sample of teams within this company. This sequential mixed-methods approach was chosen because first we needed to explore the concept of culture and how it related to employees’ participation in cause work initiatives, and then we validated these insights through surveying the larger group of teams.
This process provided the large company with measurable outcomes that have assisted in refining and improving its cause work programs to better address the needs of millennials, increasing their workplace engagement.
So how do we arrive at our solutions? First, it’s important to remember that what you want to understand will determine your research method.
Using mixed methodologies is also dependent on what’s already known about a given phenomenon.
Different questions require different answers. Quantitative research uses numerical data (i.e., data you can physically count) to describe variables, examine and determine relationships between and among variables, and determine cause and effect, Qualitative research makes observations in natural settings and interprets and analyzes data using rich description, narratives and quotations. Finally, a mixed-methodological approach is comprised of aspects from each methodology, and can be designed as either parallel (quantitative and qualitative components occurring at the same time or independently) or sequential (either the quantitative or qualitative components occur first, followed by the other).
what questions does your company need answered? 4B Strategies would love to work with you to create a research protocol that will help satisfy your curiosity. Call us today!