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Business Research Methods sample essay

Organizational Dilemma

Starbucks grew as it attracted many people, leading to tripling its stores worldwide. It became part of every neighborhood, appearing on every street, in airports, supermarkets, and roadside rest stops all over America. This is when complaints began to surface that Starbucks is transforming into a fast-food restaurant and not a coffee house. The coffee industry was no longer dominated by Starbucks, for competitors began to put pressure on the business. In addition, the biggest dilemma to hit Starbucks was the 2008 economic crisis. This took a toll on the consumer who saw Starbucks as a luxury and searched for more affordable alternatives. As a result, Starbucks’ management was faced with the need to generate the right management question that would be the thread to making the best decision through its research design.

An organizational dilemma can spark a research question. Once an organization determines a situation exists, research methods start to devise and eventually sample designs are implemented. When people think of Starbucks, do they think of great customer service, quality products, clean store, or great coffee? The organizational dilemma is: how should Starbucks go about keeping loyal customers while overcoming the old perceptions and changing with the times. According to Howard Schultz, “We are not in the coffee business serving people; we are in the people business serving coffee” (Starbucks Board of Directors, 2008).

Research Design

Marius Pretorius (2008) research infers Starbuck’s organizational dilemma, whether strategic or operational is not diminished when using Michael Porter’s (1985) generic strategies for competitive advantage. Declining sales require a turnaround solution that address strategic causes and cost relationship pressures that govern demand determinants. Which are “highly susceptible to external influences that are not clearly visible to the decision-makers” (Pretorius, 2008, pg. 21). Designing a two-stage exploratory study to identify the basis of distress and the key determinants is essential to a turnaround strategic plan.

An exploratory study provides sufficient flexibility to address research costs, timelines, and development of clear constructs to address priorities and operational definitions (Cooper & Schindler, 2011). The first stage of the study will look to ascertain the causation of the organizational dilemma and postulate the asymmetrical relationships in declining sales by examining both internal and external independent and dependent variables. This research will categorize findings into four relationship types as stimulus-response, property-disposition, disposition-behavior, or property-behavior. This will refine the second stage of research and explore influencing factors in depth.

Characteristics and Operational Definitions

The research design will produce casual inferences upon which a complementary strategy will result. “Although they may be neither permanent nor universal, these inferences allow us to build knowledge of presumed causes over time” (Cooper & Schindler, 2011, pg. 154). Therefore, it is important to identify moderating or interactive variable dependencies. To ensure data validity operational definitions will challenge data to meet specific standards. These definitions may not exhibit the organization’s use but will establish a means to classify clearly an event. The main concern is to establish actionable information in which contributory or contingent effects on the original independent to dependent variable (IV–DV) relationship will provide empirical conclusions.

Cooper, D.R. & Schindler, P.S. (2011). Business research methods (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Porter, M.E., (1985). Competitive advantage: Creating and sustaining superior performance. New York, NY: The Free Press
Pretorius, M., (2008). When Porter’s generic strategies are not enough: Complementary strategies for turnaround situations. Journal of Business Strategy 29(6): 19–28. Starbucks Board of Directors. (2008). Retrieved 2
2013, February, from

Starbucks, (2011) Our Company: Mission Statement. Retrieved from

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