Business Research and the Scientific Method
The scientific method is an organzied way for a business manager (or anyone) to
answer a (business) question or solve a (business) problem. There are usually six
steps associated with the scientific method:
1. Purpose/Business Question – What do you want learn? For example, “How
can I improve my sales revenue?”, or “Our customer satisfaction metrics are
trending downward; how can we reverse this trend?”
2. Research/Orientation – Find out as much as you can about the question. Talk
to management and “subject-matter experts”. Reviews memos and other
sources of information.
3. State Hypothesis – After doing your research, try to identify an “intervention”
that may address the problem, typically as an if/then statement, “If (we do
this)…. then (this will occur). For example, “If we focus on improving
relationship selling skills of our sales force, then they will be better at
understanding customer needs, which will lead to increased sales
4. Experiment – Design an experiment to test your hypothesis. Using the above
hypothesis (Increased relationship selling skills will lead to increased sales), we
would need to develop a relationship-selling course and set up an experiment
where some sales people take the course (experimental group), while others
do not (control group). We will then compare sales performance (perhaps two
quarters out) between each group (experimental versus control).
5. Analysis – Gather and analyze your data. For example, gather sales data and
conduct a t-test between experimental and control group to test hypothesis.
6. Conclusion – Review data to see if your hypothesis was correct. If not correct,
learn from the experience and (possibly) generate a new hypothesis and
repeat the process.