Questions regarding participant's demographic are asked at the beginning of the survey
1. Build the management-research question hierarchy.
The management-research question hierarchy assists in moving from the management dilemma to the management decision.
The management dilemma is that Penton Media is experiencing a decline in use of publication reader service cards, postcard-sized devices that readers use to request more information from advertisers. Advances in technology are giving readers alternate means for them to contact advertisers. The basic dilemma is, "What is the long-term viability of the reader service card?"
The management question should ask, "Is the reader service card going to be viable in the long-term?" If not, then how can Penton Media better meet the needs of the readers?
The research questions would ask: Who reads our publications? Do these readers have buying power within their organizations? What action have readers taken in the past year to respond to print advertisements? How do magazine readers prefer to request information from advertisers? What information do readers want to receive from advertisers to make purchasing decisions? What other methods have readers used to gather information for purchasing decisions in the last year?
The investigative questions include "what methods are available to customers who want to get information from the magazine's advertisers?" How can we use the ads to allow easier access to the advertisers? How can we develop the options for readers to obtain information from or about advertisers? How can we take advantage of advances in technology to better our business model? Can our company modify our existing business model or should we utilize the advances in technology?"
The measurement questions are, "how can we measure the effectiveness of the various methods that customers can contact the advertisers?" Is the potential buyer given enough details on the reader service card to access information about the advertiser quickly enough to be relevant to their buying decision?
The management decision would be the conclusion of these steps and would move Penton Media in the direction that provides the best options for readers to obtain information from or about advertisers.
2. What ethical issues are relevant to this study?
"The goal of ethics in research is to ensure that no one is harmed or suffers adverse consequences from research activities" (Cooper & Schindler, 2010, p. 34). Penton Media is an intermediary between advertisers and readers of its magazines and changes in technology are forcing Penton Media to examine its current business model. They are seeking responses from magazine readers regarding advertising inquiries.
In this study, the participants must be free of coercion and treated with respect. Their responses must be safeguarded and kept in confidentiality so the participants will not suffer embarrassment or loss of privacy. The questionnaire must secure informed consent from all participants to acknowledge the use of their responses. The questionnaire should also give a full debriefing of the study so participants understand the results to which they are contributing. The researchers also have a duty to make sure that the information they collect is accurate. Penton Media should not use any information gained from the study in a manner that violates these participants' rights.
At the conclusion of the research, if the study gives negative results, i.e. shows the reader service card no longer provides advertisers with profitable leads, it would be unethical for Penton Media to continue to sell advertising on the reader service cards.
3. Describe the sampling plan. Analyze its strengths and weaknesses.
Penton Media conducted two pretests of its questionnaire, one by phone and one by mail then mailed the final study to 4,000 readers from its database that are categorized into seven industry groups and six job titles. 710 questionnaires were returned but only 676 were studied because of the respondents' particular industry job. Follow up phone interviews were conducted with 40 respondents for a deeper understanding of their responses and attitudes.
The strength of the sampling plan is how extensive the plan was pretested. A second strength of the sampling plan was focusing on the responses of individuals who had purchasing power within their company as those are the people that the advertisers are trying to reach.
The second strength is also a weakness. While the individuals with company purchasing power are important to focus on for current business, Penton and the advertisers would like to find a way to reach out in a successful way to the other individuals who responded to the study as they may someday become purchasing agents or make recommendations to purchasing agents.
4. Describe the research design. Analyze its strengths and weaknesses.
The research design is a descriptive study because it is concerned with finding out who, what, when, where, and how much in relation to individuals' responses for information from advertisers. The instruments used in this descriptive study were telephone surveys, mailed questionnaires, and in-depth follow-up telephone interviews.
One strength of this research design is its design of data collection. Data were collected in two pretests, the final questionnaire and the in-depth interview. By collecting data in a variety of methods, researchers were able gain a deeper understanding of participants' attitudes and behaviors.
One weakness of this research design is its method of data collection. Of the 4,000 questionnaires mailed out, only 710 responses were received. Of those 710 responses, only 676 responses were analyzed. By changing the method of data collection, Penton Media could have received more responses to aid in the analysis.
5. Critique the survey used for the study.
In critiquing the survey conducted for Penton Media, there are a few things to point out. First, the cover letter of the questionnaire does not provide a clear overview of the purpose of the study and it does not explain how participants' responses will be used. Executives will be more inclined to respond if they understand the importance of their participation.
Another critique of the survey is that the section entitled "General Information" seems very out of place. Questions regarding the participant's demographic are typically asked at the beginning of the survey. When survey questions are out of place, the survey feels inconsistent and disjointed. This could be resolved by adjusting the order of the questions.
6. Prepare the survey for analysis. Set up the code sheet for this study. How will this study be set up to be tabulated by a statistical analysis program like SPSS?
"A codebook contains each variable in the study and specifies the application of coding rules to the variable" (Cooper & Schindler, 2010, p. 585). The rules of coding require that categories of a data set be appropriate, exhaustive, mutually exclusive, and pulled from only one dimension of classification. A codebook can be set up for this survey using a numerical system to analyze the data. The SPSS can pull responses by number and researchers can interpret the responses. The codebook could be set up as follows: CODEBOOK was deleted ...
7. Assume you are compiling your research report. How would you present the statistical information within this case to the IndustryWeek decision maker, the manager who must decide whether or not to continue to publish reader service cards?
In presenting this case to the IndustryWeek decision maker, it would be best to present the statistical information as a management report, as opposed to a research report. "In contrast to the technical report, the management report is for the nontechnical client. The reader has little time to absorb details and needs a prompt exposure to the most critical findings; thus the report's sections are in an inverted order" (Cooper & Schindler, 2010, p. 580). The research report would begin with prefatory information and an introduction, followed immediately by the conclusions and accompanying recommendations. After that, individual findings can be presented to support the conclusions. Appendices and the bibliography are the last to be presented.
8. Assume you are compiling your research report. What are the limitations of this study?
"All research studies have their limitations, and the sincere investigator recognizes that readers need aid in judging the study's validity" (Cooper & Schindler, 2010, p. 585). The limitation of this study is the number of responses received from the survey. Out of 4,000 surveys that were mailed, only 710 individuals responded. It's possible that the final results of the study might differ if more responses had been received. A limitation should be stated that the research report is not designed to give an exhaustive analysis of the study, but rather to provide a general overview of the results.
9. Assume you are the decision maker for IndustryWeek. Given the declining value of the reader response card to subscribers, originally designed as a value-enhancing service to IW readers and advertisers alike, what further research might be suggested by the findings of this study? Or do you have sufficient information to stop the use of the reader response cards in IndustryWeek?
Further research might suggest an exploration of new methods for providing advertiser information to readers. With advances in communications technologies, executives are more likely to review an advertiser's website than to use a reader service card. The study could be strengthened by examining the effects of emerging communications technologies, such as smart phones and social media, on readers' responses to advertisers. The current study provides sufficient information to stop the use of the publication reader response cards in Industry Week.
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2010). Business research methods (10ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.