Next, methods of analysis of data will be highlighted. Finally a conclusion will synthesize the main points to demonstrate the importance of knowledge of research methods in management.
In experimental research there is the explicit assumption that the universe functions according to causal laws (Creswell, 2003). The purpose of an experimental design is to establish the cause-effect relationship between sets of variables, by way of isolating assumed casual factors, and controlling suspected confounding or extraneous variables. It is hypothesized that an independent variable causes changes in a dependent variable, and that alternate hypotheses can be provided by other factors that are able to influence the results.
The design uses random selection procedures to recruit a sample and randomly allocates participants to two or more groups (i.e., treatment group/s and a control group) (Neely, Gregory & Plats, 2005). Due to these random procedures, experimental methods allow for high external validity (generalization of results to a wider population), as the sample is more likely to be representative of that population.
Alternatively, a quasi-experimental research design does not use random allocation of participants to groups, instead they are self-selecting (e.g., they have cancer or they do not have cancer) (Bryman, 2002). The quasi-experimental design is used in studies that are unable to control the independent variable, or when it is considered unethical or unfeasible to attempt to control the IV. The two main types of quasi-experimental designs are: 1) the non-equivalent control group; and 2) the pre-post design. Non-equivalent control group designs have both a treatment and a control group, whereas the pre-post design has no comparison group, as each participants serves as their own control in regards to their pre-test data. Due to the lack of random allocation the results of quasi-experiments cannot be generalized to a wider population with as much confidence as with an experimental design.
There is also the non-experimental design in which no treatments (i.e., independent variable/s) are given to participants (Bryman, 2002). There is no random selection or random allocation of participants, and so the results of the study are unable to be generalized at all, as no causal relationships can be predicted. These designs tend to be used to investigate naturally occurring phenomenon in which the independent and dependent variables vary without researcher intervention.
The advantages of experimental research methods are that the use of quantitative levels measurement (i.e., numerical data), random selection and allocation procedures, and a controlled environment, allow for higher confidence in the results, as well as greater generalizability of the results (Creswell, 2003). The results are more