- Don H. KluemperDon H. KluemperCollege of Business Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago
The use of surveys is prevalent in academic research in general, and particularly in business and management. As an example, self-report surveys alone are the most common data source in the social sciences. Survey design, however, involves a wide range of methodological decisions, each with its own strengths, limitations, and trade-offs. There are a broad set of issues associated with survey design, ranging from a breadth of strategic concerns to nuanced approaches associated with methodological and design alternatives. Further, decision points associated with survey design involve a series of trade-offs, as the strengths of a particular approach might come with inherent weaknesses. Surveys are couched within a broader scientific research process. First and foremost, the problem being studied should have sufficient impact, should be driven by a strong theoretical rationale, should employ rigorous research methods and design appropriate to test the theory, and should use appropriate analyses and employ best practices such that there is confidence in the scientific rigor of any given study and thus confidence in the results. Best practice requires balancing a range of methodological concerns and trade-offs that relate to the development of robust survey designs, including making causal inferences; internal, external, and ecological validity; common method variance; choice of data sources; multilevel issues; measure selection, modification, and development; appropriate use of control variables; conducting power analysis; and methods of administration. There are salient concerns regarding the administration of surveys, including increasing response rates as well as minimizing responses that are careless and/or reflect social desirability. Finally, decision points arise after surveys are administered, including missing data, organization of research materials, questionable research practices, and statistical considerations. A comprehensive understanding of this array of interrelated survey design issues associated with theory, study design, implementation, and analysis enhances scientific rigor.
- Research Methods