Qualitative and Mixed Methods: Research Method and Research Design

Various research methods are used for different purposes in order to reach the research goal. There are three main types of such methods: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research. Incompatibility thesis implies that solely one of the two research methods should be used (either qualitative or quantitative). Nevertheless, a creative approach to mixing ideas and methods offers a third option, which is referred to as mixed methods research and can be useful in a number of spheres and tasks. However, it is of major importance to distinguish between all these research methods and realize all the benefits and limitations that each of them has.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is based on collecting and processing quantitative data (numerical). According to experts, it is widely used to test theories and hypotheses based on the data gathered (Christensen et al., 2019). Quantitative researchers always seek to stay as objective as possible, trying to neglect any effects of human bias. These researchers attempt to distance themselves from the object they are studying. The focus of quantitative research is narrow, as it mainly seeks to test a specific theory and hypothesis. The casual effects of single variables are typically isolated. Statistical criteria are widely used as it helps avoid any forms of bias. Human behavior is seen as completely regular and predictable. Quantitative research is the best option when the final objective is to calculate rates, amounts, frequencies, scores, and measurable differences. Moreover, when a researcher manages to calculate both variables needed to confirm a hypothesis or a theory, the quantitative research method is the most logical choice.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research relies mainly on the exploratory scientific method, as it generally implies the “bottom-up” approach by using which researchers generate knowledge, hypotheses and theories. Given the different initial purposes of using such method, it is vivid that qualitative researchers accept relativism and varying standards when studying an object. Aspers and Corte (2019) note that all kinds of data collected by the researchers are perceived as situational, contextual, and even unpredictable. It can be said that this research method uses a wide-angle lens, as its main objective is acquiring a deep understanding of a certain phenomenon and gather more information on the subject. Qualitative research relies heavily on in-depth interviews, participant observations, and open-ended questions. Moreover, a researcher is considered to be the primary data-collection tool. Qualitative data is most appropriate when a researcher seeks to realize, describe, and provide extensive knowledge of feelings, opinions, perceptions, beliefs.

Mixed Methods

Mixed methods researchers claim that the limitations of both qualitative and quantitative methods do not allow for the proper collection of data and analysis. They argue that any subject is better understood when using techniques and tools offered by both the above-mentioned methods. Therefore, its scientific method is both confirmatory and exploratory at the same time. Although researchers emphasize objectivism, they realize that accepting pluralism is unavoidable at some point. Mixed methods researchers try to provide full explanation and understanding of the object they are exploring. Hesse-Biber and Johnson (2015) explain that this research method connects practice and theory and studies multiple factors in various contexts by examining the way they operate together. Mixed methods research is appropriate when researchers seek to acquire extensive knowledge of the object and its variables prior to realizing the way they interact or provide deep analysis and description of the quantitative data.

Research Method and Research Design in the Area of Business Administration

Business administration focuses on all types of business operations and seeks to organize people and other resources in the most efficient way. Although business administration covers a large number of fields, most of them center around numerical data. Business management requires numerous calculations, data gathering, and analysis. Therefore, maximizing profit and organizing the company’s activities can be performed in the most efficient way after using a certain kind of research methods and research design. Evaluation Research seems to be the most appropriate type, as its main objective is to realize the productivity of the subject matter. The productivity of the numerous aspects of the company’s activities is the main measure which allows to make more precise plans and make the most effective decisions.

Although sometimes it may be important to examine certain types of activities and provide in-depth analysis, most of the research work within a company aims to recognize the strengths and weaknesses by studying the performance indicators. When researchers need to use variables and show how they interact and influence each other, they use quantitative research. The tools used in this type of research are designed specifically to understand the numerical data and realize the objective and regular patterns that are an integral part of the whole process. Nevertheless, sometimes mixed methods research can represent a better option. Certain fields within a company’s activities should be thoroughly analyzed as pure numerical data, explored and described in a more creative way, which allows for innovations and better promotion of particular goods and services.

Conclusion

Each research approach and method is most suitable for specific goals and objectives as researchers’ work can vary a lot. Some researchers work mostly with numerical data and use quantitative research methods as they need to prove hypotheses and theories. Other types of researchers are determined to extend the knowledge available in general by gathering as much information as possible and describing the subject matter. Many cases require a more sophisticated approach that uses all the tools found in both approaches. Despite massive investments in research and development, entrepreneurs still rely mainly on quantitative research, which allows for a better understanding of the core of any business. Realizing the link between various types of variables in a company’s activities is instrumental in ensuring great performance and sound financial standing.

References

Aspers, P., & Corte, U. (2019). What is qualitative in qualitative research. Qualitative Sociology, 42(2), 139–160. Web.

Christensen, L. B., Johnson, R. B., & Turner, L. A. (2019). Research methods, design, and analysis (13th ed.). Pearson.

Hesse-Biber, S. N., & Johnson, R. B. (Eds.). (2015). Oxford handbook of multimethod and mixed methods research inquiry. Oxford University Press.