In its purest definition, quantitative research focuses on a systematic and empirical approach to research based on statistical, mathematical and/or computational techniques. The overall objective of this type of research is to develop models, theories and hypotheses that consist of measurable and verifiable datum. The overall basis for quantitative research is within the process of measurement. This process establishes the necessary connection between empirical observation and the mathematical expression of the interrelationships of quantitative datum. Thus, the researcher must ask specific, rather narrow questions; collect samples of numerical data; analyze that data mathematically; and then develop an unbiased result that can be replicated as well as generalized to a larger population. This is in contrast to qualitative research, that tends to follow broader questions with verbiage-based datum; and focuses on themes to describe patterns within the research set; then extrapolates that information into a larger group (Given, 2008, pp. 14-32).
For decades, there has been an intellectual battle between research styles. One side, usually focused on the hard sciences, believes that the quantitative approach is the best methodology, while others in the social sciences often prefer qualitative research. In its most basic set of definitions, qualitative research is a form of academic inquiry that tries to get at the heart of a behavioral issue and the reasons that surround that behavior. Instead of investigating the what, when and how, qualitative research asks more about the why and how decisions are made, actions are taken, and a side of the process that is sometimes best explained from a subjective and verbal paradigm instead of a strict objective and mathematical/numerical model found in quantitative research (Creswell, 2013).
The characteristics of qualitative research place the researcher within the world they are researching- through a use of interpretations and help transform the data into representations that may be understood and extrapolated to others. Qualitative research beings with assumptions that address social, cultural and human problems primarily. To study this the approach is emerging and evolving, and takes into account opinions, views, prejudices, bias and the entire aspect of human emotion -- making it necessary to often use small sample sizes and collect more verbal and interpretative data. Over the last few decades in fact, qualitative research has turned more to an interpretive, postmodern and critical practice that allow for action research, problem solving and the relationship between truth, knowledge and interpretation. The quantitative approach moves into the micro-aspects of the research question, less subjective and more measurable (Ostlund, 2011).
According to Newman et al.'s work of literature, "A typology of research purposes and its relationship to mixed methods," there is a critical link between a research question and the purpose of that research. The identification of the purpose for research questions inevitably leads one to the most efficacious way of conducting that research (Newman et al., 2003, p. 168). However, for any research to be viable and useful in an approach that allows for extrapolation of results into other fields, it must have epistemological validation. This ensures our ability as researchers to understand how we know what we know and what basis we make assumptions about research topics. In scientific research, for instance, two distinct phases have occurred: 1) a polarization of research methods to conform objectivism/positivism with subjectivism / constructivism, and 2) a reconciliation of these approaches into what is known as a "mixed-method" model (Robson, 2011). Indeed, while the conflict between qualitative and quantitative approaches has endured for decades, if not longer, the more apt approach to entrepreneurialism lies directly in this mixed-method approach; one in which there are clear subjective data that may be combined with quantitative studies to form a more robust outcome (Gliner, J., et al., 2011).
Critics sometimes believe that a mixed-method approach is incompatible because a multimethod approach is inherently wrong because quantitative and qualitative research looks at data in such a divergent manner. Quantitative inquiry is a method that is used in scientific methodology to gather a logical and provable manner of collecting...
Qualitative research uses a less numerical and more open ended approach to data -- it investigates the why and how of decision making; whereas quantitative focuses more on the what, where, and when -- which are all numerically measurable (Cresswell, 2003; Onwuegbuzie, et al.).
There are several ways in which a quantitative or mixed method approach could be used within the Learning Management DuPont project. The reason for the suggestion of a mixed-method approach is the nature of the overall research paradigm -- it is not just looking to measure objective data within a quantitative paradigm -- but instead, the way managers are able to utilize a new system, their issues, challenges, successes, etc., which are all qualitative/subjective based. One might thus suggest:
Qualitative -- Initial focus group to align the questions and initial perceptions of the new system; expectations, stakeholder issues, training time, etc. This would ideally be done with divergent groups of managerial levels, if possible. If not, then a single Focus Group that has a broader selection of managers. Rationale - In any study, since the human element is part of the process, there will be bias, focus on what is and is not included and even details about sourcing materials and overall viewpoint. Methodologically, the research must work with details that describe the context of the study, the relationship of the study to the field, and the way that the uncovering of the data changes the evolutionary process of the hypothesis over time (Creswell, pp. 22-25).
Qualitative -- Once the focus group has uncovered a basic organizational framework, then a questionnaire should be developed with two parts: 1) Quantitative measurements using numerical values to relate stakeholder perceptions and ideas about the model. Then, if allowable, a qualitative section that looks at a more behaviorial approach to the research problem. Rationale -- This could use the Rational Choice Theory as a model. RCT theory is a paradigm for understanding and modeling social and economic behavior within groups or systems. It is sometimes referred to as rational action theory, often interpreted as ways to assume behaviors in microeconomic models as "wanting more" of something rather than less -- goods, services, overt political control, etc. (Allingham, 2002). Rational Choice Theory (RCT) uses the term rational in a rather non-traditional manner -- not as thoughtful or clear, but as a way to describe the way an individual acts as if they are balancing costs against benefits to find the most efficacious solution to a problem -- really more as if something ends up being a more personal advantage. Using this theory, any decision made -- logical, illogical, sane or insane is said to mimic a "rational" benefit process. In effect, it is then a way of choices in patterns, rather than individual or unique choices. For example, there is nothing irrational about preferring dogs to cats as pets the first time, but there is something quite irrational about preferring dogs to cats and cats to dogs on a regular or even ad hoc, basis (Goode, 1997). This would be particularly useful when combining the reasons that managers reacted or answered certain questions.
Thus, looking at the research from a broader perspective, it seems that a MM approach is actually far more valuable to many aspects of medical research. Qualitative research methodology can be used to form the hypothesis and narrow the question prior to bringing in quantitative methods. For instance, one might use a focus group to look at a specific issue, behavioral pattern, or even the approach to an illness or treatment. The researcher would then take the qualitative data and use it to form additional hypotheses and develop a more quantitative approach to the problem. Typically, quantitative research uses larger samples that are able to be broken into specific statistical parts, while the qualitative approach uses smaller samples to generalize (Goertz & Mahoney, 2012; Ostlund, et al., 2011).
The Chow (2010) study also demonstrates that there are three major advantages to using a mixed methods approach to studies that involve interpretations, opinions, and judgments about healthcare: 1) The MM approach increases the manner in which the overall findings are more comprehensively linked between qualitative data (Phase 2) and quantitative measurement (Phase 1); A MM approach expands the dimensions and applications of the research by allowing client opinions and satisfaction/dissatisfaction measurements, and; 3) A MM approach increases the methodological robustness by providing a check and balance between qualitative and quantitative methods (Chow).
The overall advantage to doing combining methods seems to focus on the ability to utilize the best of each method. At times, using just the qualitative or quantitative approach provides too narrow a view which is often misleading when one wishes to extrapolate the data into different areas or disciplines. When doing research that has a social aspect (biological, psychological, etc.) there are different types of methodologies that have strengths and weaknesses. Using a broader approach takes these different strengths and weaknesses into account and…
The third position means stepping outside the situation and seeing issues from the point-of-view of a third party. NLP reminds us that people receive information in various sensory channels: the visual, the auditory, the kinaesthetic (perception of movement of effort) and the digital mathematical or reasoned thinking (Taylor, 2000). The idea being that people use all of these modes, but may have a preferred mode. Ethnographic approach: this takes its