Methodological Issues in Management Research

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By atiq895
Words 6205
Pages 25
Methodological Issues in Management Research

Lee Sechrest, PhD
Professor
Department of Psychology
University of Arizona
Room 312
Tuscon, AZ 85721

White paper prepared for the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Research in VA Workshop, sponsored by the HSR&D Management Decision and Research Center
November 19-20, 2001

Methodological Issues in Management Research

Managers want to make good decisions. Any decisions will, by definition, be made on the basis of some presumed information. Even if a decision were to be made by throwing dice, that process would almost certain stem from “information” indicating that no better basis for the decision could be discerned, e.g., that a randomly determined choice would be likely to be better than a decision open to bias. At least to some extent, it is axiomatic that the better the information, the better the decisions.

It is useful to distinguish between data, facts, and information. Data are simply observations, usually in the form of numbers thought to represent some systematic process underlying them, i.e., a process generating the numbers. Data do not mean anything or tell us anything until they are interpreted in some way. Merely to have an observation that on a particular day 43 patients were reported to have received a particular service is not in itself meaningful. Facts are merely data elevated in confidence to a point of suggested certainty. The observation that 43 patients received a service may be registered as a fact if it seems likely that the data are sufficiently trustworthy to justify confidence that the data are correct. Facts come in all varieties: numbers, declarative statements, equations, and so on. But facts are not necessarily information For example, if one is told that the land area of Bahrain is 231 sq.mi., that might be factual, but it might not constitute information. A…...

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