The report is aimed at the insight into the comparative approach of research, its application and value for the research project, especially in the business context. The research work is organized through the definition of comparative examination and its practice, the basic issues of development and implementation.
On the whole, a research design provides a basis for data collection and analysis. It creates conditions for a choice of research measurements, including the relation between variables, the observation of larger group than the investigation set, behaviour and its sense in the social perspective, social phenomena and their interdependence.
Comparative design is the research of some different cases by several identical methods. These differences create emphasis in the analysis. At least, there must be at least two cases (people, nations, organizations, etc.), from which data are composed in a cross-sectional format. Thus, social phenomena are better understood by comparison of a few contrasting situations. This kind of design is appropriate for both qualitative and quantitative studies.
Quantitative data always attach numerical value of the object. Cross-national or cross-cultural research is one of the evident quantitative forms. The comparative design is applied in the cross-national comparison of employment, the measurement of socioeconomic and demographic variables or changes in the health care systems (Mills, Bunt & Bruijn 2006).
Qualitative data determine existence rather than numerical value. In a qualitative research strategy, the comparative design takes the shape of a multi-case (multiple-case) investigation. It usually compares the organizations as cases, but can also collate data of people. In such a manner, Marshall examines the manager’s situation of women. Qualitative or ethnographic interview research is the typical form of comparative design in this context (Bryman & Bell 2011).
A research method is a procedure for information acquisition, which involves a particular tool: the observation of participants, the structured interview schedule or the questionnaire.
The comparative approach originated in Ancient Greece. Since the nineteenth century, the sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and philosophers have practiced the cross-cultural comparisons in order to meet numerous goals. These comparisons served as the instruments for installation whether social phenomena can be elucidated by the similar reasons and, thus, for development of their classification. The contrast provided the analytical framework of cultural and social specificity for many scholars. Currently, cross-national comparisons serve as the mechanisms for comprehension of societies, their institutions and structures.
The comparative research can be used for the discovery of changes in the health care sector. For example, the research on the effect of socioeconomic status on the health issue in the U.S. and Canada was carried out. In summary, it was established that a level of economic inequality and the social policy could cause relationship between the incidence of preventable disease and the socioeconomic resources (Castilla 2004).
Comparative effectiveness is the progressing field of health care, especially in pharmacotherapy. The received data are significant for the decisions linked with information about drugs and drug therapy (Schumock & Pickard 2009).
In many respects, the methods used for within-nation comparisons and other areas are the same as those that are adopted in cross-national comparative research. The survey or descriptive method is commonly the first phase of the considerable comparative design, such as the projects of the European networks and observatories. At this stage, the juxtaposition approach is frequently implemented. According to certain criteria, data are collected by the teams or the individuals. Afterwards, they are presented for examination.
Some large-scale schemes can be based on a number of methods. The demonstrative method is designed to confirm and ascertain a theory. The deductive method applies the general theory to a specific case in order to comment on the definite features. The inductive method starts from widely defined hypothesis and moves towards its verification.
The “safari” method allows implementing the research in several countries by the single-nation team of scientists or a single investigator. This approach is accepted for more qualitative studies and a small number of involved countries. The researchers must possess thorough knowledge of all countries under investigation. This technique may take account of personal observation, secondary analysis, survey as primary examination, and the clarification of results concerning the wider social perspective (Neuman 2003).
The combination of different countries in the comparative research impacts the nature of collaboration between the academics, the comparability of data and the quality. In the ideal situation, a project team manager is able to pick out the researchers with appropriate experience and knowledge as well as the proper countries to the occasion. However, reality often differs from the desired effect. For instance, many European programmes comprise all EU members, though the states are not the same in social and economic development. They often have dissimilar thought patterns and assumptions due to the diverse cultural value systems.
As a consequence, the problems of consensus on the definitions and the approaches, ensuring of their observance, meeting organization and negotiations of a research agenda may arise. There can be differences in the research background of participating countries even within a single discipline. Hence, they influence the quality of joint publications and the general result of a collaborative project. The majority of investigators proclaim that cross-national comparative research requires finding the middle ground in the methods more regularly than a single-country study (Hair et al. 2003).
Careful choice of a research method makes the analysis of certain phenomenon easier and, in such a way, facilitates the procedure of drawing conclusions. A researcher should choose the method, in which he/she is enough skilful. The constraints such as the measuring available tools, time, feasibility, ethical considerations, and money must also be taken into consideration. It is important to mention that the effectiveness of the method depends on the type of the investigation, and one method cannot be beneficial to all kinds of research.
Validity, replication and reliability are the most noticeable criteria of the evaluation research, containing the management and business investigation. Reliability is the degree to which the observation, test, questionnaire or any measurement technique has the same results with retry. In other words, it is the consistency and stability of expert review made by the rating agency or in due course. Internal consistency (homogeneity), stability, and equivalence are the three aspects of reliability (Oliver 2010).
Any assessment aimed at reaching the reliability has to be regularly compared with the earlier rating. This will determine whether information from the assessment is constant or changeable.
Validity is the degree of measuring. A job test is the illustration of validity, if its assessment is directly connected with the performance of future work. There are many different types of this criterion. Internal validity addresses the reliability of whether one variable is the reason of certain result, particularly the ability to exclude the probable opposing hypotheses. In general, the investigations put emphasis on specific populations in order to reinforce internal validity. External validity integrates the inferences of study to the overall population. It synthesizes the causation of different treatments or operations, settings, people, and outcomes of research. Bryman & Bell (2011) also give prominence to measurement and ecological validity.
Validity is usually obtained by the comparison of estimates with some stated construct and criterion. Initially, research must ensure accuracy. The test series can guarantee more trustworthy and valid assumptions than earlier (Healy & Perry 2000).
The qualitative and quantitative forms of comparative research explore the different measures of reality. The complexity of a phenomenon is better investigated by qualitative data. A number of methods are used for the comparative study. In any case, validity and reliability are the measures of research effectiveness.
In business, the cross-cultural approach compares the local business customs and the national management systems in different countries. Culture is supposed to be the main explanatory variable that impacts organizational behaviour to a great extent. Comparative research does not only inquire into the nation, but rather a variety of circumstances. For instance, the ethical decision making has also been practiced to the conception of organizational behaviour.
The comparative design is often the expansion of a case study design in qualitative research, while it is the expansion of a cross-sectional design in quantitative research. In business, the level of analysis can be quite different: societies (the surrounding of the organization), organizations (the company as the key unit of survey), groups (the certain type of departments), and individuals (the employees or the managers) (Bryman & Bell 2011).
The application of comparative design is useful for many managerial areas. In order to determine the effectiveness of management strategy, the managers can parallel the certain features of one part with the others. Nevertheless, the comparative research has the advantages as well as the disadvantages.
Comparison remains one of the most powerful tools that provide support for the decisions in management. The findings can be shown quickly, if information is available. Comparison can lead to deeper understanding of the subject and give new exciting vision of it, point the possible directions and indicate the gaps in knowledge. As a result, many problems may be solved.
At the same time, the comparative research demands quantifiable data in the case of statistical comparison. Moreover, the control of all factors is a difficult process.