Scientific Method in Business Research

The scientific method is a systematic method of investigation, evaluation, experimentation, interpretation and theorizing. It is characterized by critical discrimination generally and system, and empirical verification, according to wolfe. Generally speaking, the scientific method is characterized by a systematic study, based on theory and facts, universality or generality, objectivity of observation, predictability of results, and verifiability of the phenomenon. It consists of a number of formalities and procedures, which are time consuming. Time management is the basic requirement for the success of managerial decisions. Many management problems require timely solutions and decisions. In such situations, the management may not have adequate time at its disposal to make use of scientific studies before arriving at decisions. Laboratory experiments occupy a prominent place in the scientific method, which may not be useful in many situations of managerial decision-making.

Physical science phenomena may be subjected to laboratory tests and physical control. Most of the managerial policies and decisions, however, affect human beings. An individual’s behavior differs substantially from that of another from time to time, place to place and environment to environment and it cannot be placed under absolute control, for it is very difficult to employ the scientific method is the practice of management. Despite the development of dynamic methods pf management information systems, many decision areas, such as those of labor productivity, materials handling, product planning and consumer behavior, require complex data to be analyzed as a part of the scientific method which may not be appropriate in quick managerial decisions. The greater the complexity of the data, the lesser is the possibility of accuracy and the lesser is its utility in the management process.

Consumer behavior, a trade union’s behavior, workers’ behavior, the tastes, temperaments and fashions of the population at large, the demonstration effect in the market, technological development, political change, social change, geographic change, and such other forces influence business policy a great deal. Many of these forces, especially the human factor, are unpredictable. Despite a thorough scanning of the environment, a perfect prediction, on the basis of these variables, is just not possible, as it is in the physical sciences. The scientific method of research, therefore, has a limited applicability in such managerial decision areas.

The scientific method is effective in the physical sciences, because physical phenomena can be verified and evaluated by the senses; but many managerial factors, like the behavioral aspects in organization, cannot be absolutely tested or verified physically. As a result, the scope of the scientific method in management is profoundly affected. Many management problems cannot be empirically tested, in spite of the extensive use of quantitative techniques in the latter half of this century. Though servicing, decision-making, marketing and promotional effectiveness, production planning the complexity of these techniques makes them unpopular with many practitioners. At the same time, the scientific method does not find favour with many organizations and functional executives because of the heavy demand it makes on their time, exposure, resources and manpower. Even in the science where quantitative, empirical and scientific methods are extensively employed, the qualitative approach is made simultaneously, thus limiting the importance of scientific method.

The performance evaluation of the sales force is usually made by combining both quantitative and qualitative performance, though there is a possibility of making a quantitative analysis. The experimental method is seldom used in managerial analysis, unlike in the physical sciences, while the cause-effect relationship cannot be established beyond doubt in many cases. For example, there is a relationship between the sales revenue and the advertising budget; but it is not easy to establish which the actual cause of effect is because both are interlinked. The exact magnitude of the effect of each on the other cannot be easily determined, for various other factors-economic variables, market forces, changes in fashion, tastes, temperaments, and the competitors’ policies make a substantial impact on the sales volume. Similarly, business policies, marketing opportunities and product specifications attain dynamic dimensions in a dynamic economic, social and business environment. Evidently research, scientific methods and their results have very little policy implications in such situations; and that is why the recourse invested on research do not yield any considerable returns. However, the scientific method that empirically tests a hypothesis has a far-reaching utility value, not only for theoretical purposes, but also for practical applications and policy decisions.