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An observational study is a method of research used in business to collect information. Furthermore, humans have used this approach for many years, thus it contributes to many discoveries that people are aware of now (Brobst, 2016). The technique is simple to utilize as it involves looking closely at a particular phenomenon to understand how things operate or how people communicate with the world. Sekaran and Bougie (2016) describe the method as “planned watching, recording, analysis, and interpretation” (p. 127). This paper focuses on the advantage of this method as it excludes the self-bias that is present in cases were other research methods such as interviews or surveys are used.
Observational study has specific aspects that distinguish it from other research methods. Firstly, Cooper and Shindler (2013) state that due to the nature of the study, it is difficult to guarantee anonymity for the subjects, which is an object of ethical dilemmas. Secondly, due to the nature of the approach, the collected information can be considered deceptive. Sekaran and Bougie (2016) state that observational research is suitable for studies that do not involve “self-report” data (p. 126). Thus, the approach focuses on observing a phenomenon (e.g., consumer behavior) without notifying the participants of the study.
According to Cooper and Schindler (2013), there are several ways to conduct an observational study. The central principle is to observe the behavior of people in a specific situation. Sekaran and Bougie (2016) state that it is essential to perform the study in a natural setting. The primary method that can be used is exposing the subjects to a specific situation and observing the behavior. According to Sekaran and Bougie (2016), this is the controlled observation, as the researcher can choose the conditions that the subjects will be put in. A more complicated method is the uncontrolled study, as the researcher does not manipulate the settings of the experiment.
The analysis is the final stage of the observational studies and the use of computers can make the task of looking through a lot of information much more accessible. Brobst (2016) states that modern business researchers can benefit from the technological advantage in their studies, specifically when conducting an observational study. In addition, there are a participant and non-participant observations. In the first case, the researcher does not get involved in the environment he or she is observing. In the second case, the researcher directly participates in the experiment (Sekaran & Bougie, 2016). Thus, there are various approaches to conduct an observational study; one should choose the method that is suitable for the aim of the research.
I do not have an experience conducting an observational study. However, in my daily life, I observe different situations and analyze them. Although it is not a setup experiment, the observations help me understand the behavior of others better. Additionally, in business practice, it is an essential tool that helps to understand many aspects of the operations. It can be used for both product research and market evaluation when developing a new offer. Consumer behavior can be observed and studied by this approach closely, illuminating the possibility of self-bias. Furthermore, any company can benefit from the observational research as the method can be utilized to identify an issue and ways to resolve it. Therefore, conducting observational study can be helpful in a variety of settings.
Brobst, S. (2016). From observation to instrumentation: The data science revolution made possible by the internet of things. Forbes. Web.
Cooper, D. R., & Shindler, P. S. (2013). Business research methods (12th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
Sekaran, U., & Bougie, R. (2016). Research methods for business: A skill building approach (7th ed.). West Sussex, England: Wiley.