Case Study On Wavetech Market Research Proposal
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Research Problem Definition
The research problem and question statement is a critical starting point for any research project, whose precise definition serves to guide the entire process and defines the value that the project hopes to deliver. The research problem statement also gives clues regarding the applicable methodology and the manner in which the questions can be answered, besides giving the researcher an orientation or background to the issue in question. This means that a properly stated research problem helps the researchers to determine whether the problem is researchable. It gives clues to the variables to be investigated (which must be measurable and clearly defined), sources of data, and the requisite resources to ensure that the research question(s) are fully and answered. It explicates the paradigm i.e. quantitative, qualitative and/or mixed and the specific designs that could be used to pursue the purpose of the study project (Creswell, 1998; Wilson, 2012).
The WaveTech research brief begins with a description of the chosen target markets and the price elasticity of the plumbing industry, the organizational background, as well as the possible consumer decision-making drivers, including cost savings and the product’s value proposition. The research objectives give information on the exact problem or problems that the proposed market research hopes to solve, albeit implicitly. According to the aims statement, it is implicit that the plumbing market size and potential in the two target markets, the national and international markets is unknown, even though there is anecdotal information such as the fact that Homeswest is worth about $1.6 million/year. However, there should have been a brief background that would indicate the existent knowledge and the knowledge gaps that the proposed research hopes to fill, as against simply implying this in the research aims. In doing this, the statement avoids re-inventing the wheel by researching questions/problems that have already been explored in previous research. The clear definition of the research problem ensures that the research project adds value by investigating issues of interest/importance to the researcher or client, and adds value to the existent body of knowledge. It is further implied that the plumbing market and the organization’s growth potential is unknown, along with the potential annual sales and commercialization options. Other possible research problems implicit in the objectives statement include the determination of the suitable business model, the competitive landscape, and WaveTech’s possible entry strategies.
It appears that WaveTech’s research problem is the need to determine the economic, political and technical viability of its proposed strategy of entering the Australian market, beginning with the two chosen target markets. The economic feasibility aspects include the market potential, likely growth, competitive landscape or rivalry, commercialization options, potential sales and consumer needs. On the other hand, the technical feasibility includes aspects of value that the WaveTech products will bring to the market (safety, thrift and durability), while the political feasibility includes the acceptability or relevance of the proposed strategy to political organizations (e.g. city councils) that promise to be major customers.
However, the implied research problems in the WaveTech tender specification means that researchers may subjectively/liberally interpret the objectives in the design the study, its scope, data sources, applicable analytical approaches and the budget among other factors in ways that may fail to answer the main research problem. It is also difficult to determine the priority areas i.e. the research problems that are more important to the client and apportion resources accordingly. It may well be possible that the different research objectives flow from more than one research problem. The clear research problem statement in addition to the objectives make it possible to determine with certainty issues that the objectives should answer, and how the different research objectives lead to the resolution of the parent problem (Supino & Borer, 2012; Creswell, 1998). This is not least because researches are usually designed in such a way that the resolution of different objectives leads to the resolution of the research problem, but this may only be the case if the objectives speak to different aspects of the same problem. The WaveTech research proposal makes it slightly difficult to determine whether the defined objectives can result in the resolution of the problem or problems facing the company because these problems remain largely implied.
This is not to argue that the statement of the research objectives is an inadequate way to define the problem, but that it can lead to ambiguity. In fact, the statement of objectives amounts is one of a five ways in which the research problem may be formulated, but care must be taken ensure clarity and specificity. According to Creswell (1998) and Supino & Borer (2012), the research problem is formulated in possible five ways, including the research problem specification, contextual review, environmental review, variable definition and assessment of the outcomes of alternative courses of action. To avoid ambiguity, multiple ways may be used simultaneously. Nursing and medical studies follow frameworks such as Population-Intervention-Control-and-Outcome (PICO), which help to ensure comprehensive problem statement (Supino & Borer, 2012; Wilson, 2012).
According to Supino & Borer (2012), the failure to clearly state the research problem renders the entire process open-ended and inefficient, not least because it amounts to finding answers/solutions to problems that may or may not exist. The definition of the scope of the WaveTech proposal is helpful in mitigating most of the problems created by a possibly unclear problem statement. For instance, it is clear that WaveTech intends to enter the Australian plumbing market, beginning with two critical markets that it has already identified, and thus the proposed research study must be confined to the obstacles are preventing the successful rollout of operations or barriers to the success of the proposed venture. It, therefore, becomes easy to determine beforehand the problems that the research project hopes to solve by meeting the objectives defined in the scope. Even most importantly, the clear definition of the research problem and questions helps to evaluate the value that would be attained by the study, including whether such value is sufficient to justify the resource investments. It helps to assess whether there is a compelling topic, which can be investigated within the specified time period through the application of reliable and valid methods, to create value for the researchers and their clients.
The proposed use of primary and secondary research methods, qualitative, and quantitative data is also appropriate for multiple reasons. Given the resources available to the company and time available, reliance on secondary data in the determination of the market size, growth potential and the competitive landscape can be reliably accomplished using secondary data. The accuracy of peer-reviewed secondary data from government departments and other peer-reviewed sources promises even greater accuracy than custom-gathered data. Similarly, the use of qualitative approaches in studying heavily subjective concepts such as the consumer decision-making and responsiveness to different strategic outcomes is also appropriate. However, it does not seem proper that the proposal suggests that objectives 6 to 9 will be answered similarly. These appear to be derived objectives that can be met at the analysis stage as against the design and data collection phases. In order to determine the proper business model for instance, it is necessary to inculcate the acceptability of different aspects to the customers, the strategies used by competitors, the market power controlled by competitors, product differentiation and the market structure among other variables. Effectively, objectives 6, 7, 8 and 9 are derived from other objectives, and thus may only be fully met at the analysis stage.
It is clear that the research objectives show the value that WaveTech hopes to gain from the research and that the results would help it achieve its strategic goals. The objectives show the value of the project, and thus the statement of research objectives amount to a clear statement of the research project’s significance or importance. It is clear therefore, that the outcomes of the proposed study would add value to the organization and other stakeholders, especially by ensuring that the company makes strategically competent decisions on its entry into the chosen target markets. It may, however, help to state the study’s theoretical foundation and relevance to the previous studies and outcomes. Effectively, the proposed research would create sufficient value for the organization to justify the investment of time and resources in conducting it. This is especially an important criterion for a market research, which must have a commercial value to WaveTech to be justifiable, as against being merely an academic exercise (Polit & Beck, 2012; Rugman & Collinson, 2012; Peter & Olson, 2005).
This market research proposal passes over several critical aspects, which affect its successful implementation. Many practical aspects necessarily in operationalizing the study have largely been left out of the proposal. For instance, while it is clear that John Smith is qualified (holds a Ph.D., and he is an experienced market research consultant), there is no indication as to the recruitment and skill levels of the research assistants, the required resources, an actual budget (including a the hourly consultation fees for Dr. Smith). While, for instance, the proposal includes a timeline for the project in hours, the lack of specificity regarding the number of working days, availability of other staff and resources affect the number of hours. While it is a stretch, the proposed 65-hour project length can take many months because the hours may not run concurrently (Kerzner, 2004; Supino & Borer, 2012). Effectively, while the overall proposal appears sound on many levels, it needs to inculcate practical operationalization measures in order to ensure certainty on the part of both the researchers and the client company. Necessary improvements include:
The proposed sampling design and sample size for primary research, including justification for the choices made
The type of data and the expected sources of secondary data
The number, skill levels and compensation for research assistants
The estimated completed dates for the varied activities in addition to the number of hours
The budget and the estimated resources requirements to complete the project within the time specified and fully meet the set objectives
The clear definition of the practical aspects and the roles to be played by every party averts confusion and wastages, performance appraisal and perhaps most importantly, the flawless implementation of the market research project.
Preference for Time over Costs in performance Measurement
The performance measurement and compensation approach has considerable effects on the outcomes of labour, not least because of the constant need to align the agent’s interests with the principle’s interest. A failure in the performance appraisal and compensations strategy results in a misalignment of interests, which in turn has an adverse effect on performance. This is easily the main driver behind the choice for time over cost because the latter is a better measure of both the principle (WaveTech) and the agent’s needs for a number of reasons. These include:
According to Gielen, Kerkhofs, & Ours (2006), performance related pay bolsters productivity because of two key factors. Firstly, in situations of asymmetrical information about the employees’ effort or abilities, such a payment scheme can induce workers to exact the optimal amount of effort to attain the required output and maximize their incomes. Further, it is possible to to use piece rates as a screening mechanism to recruit only capable employees during the recruitment process, because lazy employees are likely to have lower incomes compared to the average labourer. The successful completion of the market research project is dependent on the successful collaboration between the consultant and the WaveTech management. For instance, the tender preparation and methodology is to be developed through a joint effort by both parties. By using time to quantify the activities in the proposal in order to ensure that both parties make the most of the available time to deliver the expected results. This is emphasized by the fact that the consultancy services will be billed per hour for services rendered, which forces WaveTech to ensure that they can the most value of John Smith’s time. Smith also keeps a relatively busy schedule, which is why it us in his interest that he gets the optimal value out of it. If costs are used, every activity would have a fixed cost, which means that both parties would not be bothered about the time used to complete the activities or the marginal product of time.
Every activity is time-bound, and thus it is possible to anticipate when it would be completed with a pre-specified amount of time. According to Clarkson, Miller, & Cross (2014), performance related pay transfers the responsibility for supervision to the employee and project units from supervisors, which resolves the agency problems. The agency problems are eliminated because this form of compensation aligns the interests of the agent with those of the principal. By optimally using his consultancy time, Smith would optimize the return he receives for his services and WaveTech would also benefit. Effectively, the use time limits on activities and costing the project in terms of the actual amount of time exerted into the project, it is possible to ensure the highest possible effectiveness in the delivery on every activity.
According to Kerzner (2004), many projects face unexpected adverse events that may lead to unexpected cost increases. The adverse events may include natural disasters, intricate initiatives or transactions that have implications for the delivery of the project outcomes, regulatory or compliance related and other third-party related delays. In this project, it is possible that once the project is started, delays on the part of WaveTech, third parties, natural disasters and technical factors occur, resulting in delays or extensions of the project. If costs had been used, the payments would remain constant regardless of the time taken, and the consultant will effectively bear the costs for the risks. By using times, unforeseen project extensions can still be billed in terms of the additional hours required, and thus the consultant does not bear the risk for such delays. WaveTech will also be covered in the event of similar difficulties on the part of the consultant.
Financial Equilibrium – It is critical that WaveTech and third party consultants have clearly set out expectations of costs and expenses associated with the project in order to plan for the same accordingly. Financial equilibrium occurs when returns on investments are just equal and unchanging to investments. Financial equilibrium is defined by assuming that every agent has a portfolio set that describes the portfolios available to them, while at once ensuring that the individual portfolio sets are limited from below, so that whatever kind of assets options are available on the market, the incentive to sell short is excluded. By setting out expected time durations and returns for the time investments, every agent realizes the costs of wasted time. Compared to a situation where costs are used, there is an incentive for parties to waste as much time as possible because their compensation is independent of the amount of time invested in the project. The lack of a cost for the time/resource wastage creates incentives for agents to cheat the system to the detriment of the successful delivery of the project outcomes.
This describes the ratio of useful work done by employees or machines in a given time period. Effectively, while a meeting may take twelve hours, the amount of useful work done may not be commensurate with the amount of time invested in the same. This will be worsened if performance related payment systems are not employed (e.g. in the case of using costs). By using the number of hours as against the costs, all parties would be incentivised to use their time in an effective and productive manner, which in turn generates efficiency gains. For instance, the proposal states that WaveTech would have to pay additionally in the event that it may need the projected completed earlier than is proposed, which does not necessarily mean than fewer hours would go into the project.
It is evident that the choice of time over costs in the estimation of the amount of work and possible compensation fosters productivity by inducing both parties to collaborate towards the attainment of the project’s objectives. It makes it possible to optimally utilize the available resources and thus attain the highest possible value from consultancy services and the resources invested by WaveTech. Further, using the time covers unexpected adverse events by ensuring that in the event of undue extension of the project, the risks are borne by WaveTech, but also that the consultant takes all measures practicable to avoid delays on his part. Other benefits include the attainment of financial equilibrium and a relatively higher level of efficiency.
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