Business Research

Not all questions are researchable, and not all research questions are answerable. To be researchable, a question must be one for which observation or other data collection can provide the answer. Many questions cannot be answered based on information alone.

Questions of value and policy must often be weighed in management decisions. Management may be asking, “Should we hold out for a liberalization of the seniority rules in our new labor negotiations?” While information can be brought to bear on this question, such additional considerations as “fairness to the workers” or “management’s right to manage” may be important in the decision. It may be possible for many of these questions of value to be transformed into questions of fact. Concerning “fairness to the workers,” one might first gather information from which to estimate the extent and degree to which workers will be affected by a rule change; second, one could gather opinion statements of the workers about the fairness of seniority rules. Even so, substantial value elements remain. Left unanswered are such questions as “Should we argue for a policy that will adversely affect the security and well-being of older workers who are least well equipped to cope with this adversity?” Even if a question can be answered by facts alone, it might not be researchable because our procedures or techniques are inadequate.

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