Monday, 18 July 2016

The Research Process within the Management Process

One of the greatest struggles that some of my research students have is understanding that, as management majors, they have to both manage themselves AND manage their research process simultaneously.

They get the research part.

But not all of them get the self-management part.

In my first lecture, on the first day of class, I take the class through the management process and the research process, but it doesn't seem to stick for some of them. Those students who don't get it struggle through their entire projects.

It has been a slow dawning realisation on my part that those students simply don't get it. Probably because I tend to start any project with the big picture, I am better able to see the "fundamental interconnectedness of all things" (Adams, 1987, p. 144). What I didn't realise was that, despite being management majors, my students didn't begin all things with management theory at the forefront of their minds.

For example, management is about efficiency, effectiveness, and the five functions of management. As Robbins and Mukerji say, it is “the process of getting activities completed efficiently with and through other people” (1994, p. 6). Van Fleet thinks that management is “a set of activities directed at the efficient and effective utilisation of resources in the pursuit of one or more goals” (1991 , p. 8), and Daft thinks it is “the attainment of organisational goals in an effective and efficient manner through planning, organising, leading, and controlling organisational resources” (1994, p. 8).

OK, so our key management tools are effectiveness, efficiency, planning, organising, leading, and controlling. And when we apply the management process to ourselves – when we are our own resources – we need to use those functions.

Anthony Veal, in his 2005 book, Business Research Methods, uses Roger Bennett's definition of what research is. Bennett says that research is “a systematic, careful inquiry or examination to discover new information or relationships and to expand/verify existing knowledge for some specified purpose” (1991, p. 68, as cited in Veal, 2005, p. 3).

I think that is a great definition, particularly the 'systematic' and 'careful' aspects. While this doesn't talk about evaluating what already we already know, I think it is implied – in 'expanding' and 'verifying' what exists.

Research processes form such integral sub-sets of the management process – for example, the classic 4 step plan, SWOT, Porters Competitive Forces, logistics OTIFEF etc – that I think students become blind to the difference between the two processes.

Students tend to get the research part, and rush off 'doing'... and forget to manage themselves along the way.

While researching, we must concurrently manage to ensure good goal setting, effectiveness, efficiency, planning, organising, leading and controlling.

The two processes have to be explicitly spelled out for students. So I have created a clip to explain the practicalities, through their set assignments, of how the management process and the research process interrelate for their research projects (viewable below, if you are interested). 

But, while I have explained the 'doing' part of working with the two processes, I feel I have yet to have told my students, simply and clearly, precisely what the two processes are, why they are important, and how they must use them simultaneously as they manage in their professional lives.

I think we can rely too much on intuition, and not enough on spelling things out.

Some work to come then.



  • Adams, Douglas (1987). Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. UK:  William Heinemann Ltd
  • Bennett, Roger (1991). What is Management Research? in N. Smith & P. Dainty (Eds) The Management Research Handbook. UK: Routledge
  • Daft, Richard L. (1994). Management (Third Edition). USA: The Dryden Press.
  • Robbins, Stephen P. & Mukerji, Debu (1994). Managing Organisations (Second Edition). Canada: Pearson Education.
  • Van Fleet, D. D. (1991). Contemporary Management (Second Edition). USA: Houghton.
  • Veal, Anthony J. (2005). Business Research Methods (Second Edition). Australia: Pearson Education.

1 comment :

  1. It is exactly useful blog!Any information here is critical, meanwhile it is helpful to understand and plan your big photo. Awesome! Why I did not find it when I studied this paper? Anyway, it is not too late!