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Question 1. Do you have to have personal experience of a specific area of practice in order to be able to conduct research into it?
Research and practice are usually tied close together in an attempt to create a bigger picture of the process that is explored. In social science, research and practice present two different sides of the continuum, and very often we meet people who are perfect at research, but too theoretical to see how their thoughts can be implemented in the real world.
In this situation, research is based on great literature review which incorporates all the existing theories and approaches to the issue. It provides an overview of the past research that has been conducted in the area together with the well-planned methodology. However, when it comes to the data analysis, the researcher without personal experience and practical knowledge of a specific area is not able to address the primary data properly. More importantly, such researchers are not able to turn this data from the data analysis section into accurate conclusions and recommendations.
Mohrman and Lawler (2011) have examined the gap between the academic research and practice and found that the effort invested in making the research more useful from practical viewpoint requires time and resources if the researcher is not advanced in terms of his or her personal experience. All fields and areas of research are based on practice in social science, and the knowledge obtained from this practice has significant meaning to the interpretation of data within the research process.
The research that is only based on analysis of various processes usually has no particular practical meaning. For such type of research, personal experience of the researcher is not critical. However, all research that involves real data analysis requires not only theoretical knowledge and analytical skills from the researchers, but a solid understanding of the specific area of practice on which research is based.
Question 2. Do you have to fully understand the theory of research in order to conduct research in a business environment?
Theory of research is an essential element of research due to its systematic nature. Understanding the theory of research helps practitioners systemize the whole process. Usually the theory of research helps obtain information on what is to be done for the research to be consistent and complete.
Therefore, it is necessary that the research in a business environment entails the elements of the theory of research. First of all, this simply looks more professional. Secondly, theory of research as foundation for practical investigation in business environment ensures the depth of knowledge and the reliability of results.
However, fully understanding the theory of research is not very necessary to conduct a good quality research in a business environment. As Jenlink (2009) implies, practical knowledge is much more important element of research than the understanding of how each process should work. Due to the fact that businesses operate in a constantly changing environment, knowledge of these changes and the risk management is a critical element for conducting a research in business environment.
The basic knowledge about the theory of research is requires in cases when research requires complex methodology or when then amount of literature is significant. In such cases, research in business environment should be based on theoretical background to ensure that the recommendations proposed within the research are built from the existing knowledge framework in the specific area.
Finally, what is even more important is that the basic knowledge of the theory of research is likely to help researcher identify the potential problems easier as more theoretical models and methods will be open to the researcher. In this case, business environment research will be grounded on a solid investigation.
Question 3. Does research that is designed by practitioners, with little or no influence of academic theory incorporated, of any value in assisting practitioners to make better business decisions?
The theory of research is a system of processes that need to be conducted for the research process to ensure that the research is comprehensive and the results obtained from it are reliable. Therefore, the researcher has to understand, explain, and even forecast the outcomes of implementing the proposed recommendations (Woodside, 2010).
These recommendations are usually based on the practical side of business environment and usually tied to the single organization or the specific area of practice. Therefore, without understanding the basic theory of research, practitioners with little guidance from academic theory will only produce research analysis within the scope of organization or the industry that has short term period of implementation.
As Jenlink (2009) proposes, leadership is associated with practice in the modern world. However, in his article the author implies that leadership has to be based on a theoretical background (Jenlink, 2009). Without this background, the researcher will not be able to produce even a simple case study analysis that could be implemented without errors in business environment.
Therefore, research that is designed by practitioners who have little or no knowledge about the theory of research and do not implement it into the research process, will only produce practical recommendations in the form of extended memo for the employees of the organization or the industry. The expansion that allows researchers to generalize on the process of research are only obtained with the accurate research methodology and thorough data analysis.