numerous differences between qualitative research and
quantitative measurement. Though both are valuable research
methods, each has specific application in assessing and
improving organizational communications effectiveness.
definition, measurement must be objective, quantitative and
statistically valid. Simply put, it's about numbers,
objective hard data. A scientifically calculated sample of
people from a population is asked a set of questions on a
survey to determine the frequency and percentage of their
responses. For example: 240 people, 79%, of a sample
population, said they are more confident of their personal
future today than they were a year ago. Because the sample
size is statistically valid, the 79% finding can be
projected to the entire population from which the sample was
selected. Simply put, this is quantitative research.
size for a survey is calculated by statisticians using
formulas to determine how large a sample size will be needed
from a given population in order to achieve findings with an
acceptable degree of accuracy. Generally, researchers seek
sample sizes which will yield findings with at least a 95%
confidence level (which means that if you repeated the
survey 100 times, 95 times out of a hundred, you would get
the same response) and a plus/minus 5 percentage points
margin of error. Many survey samples are designed to produce
smaller margins of error.
and structure designs, survey question writing and testing,
criteria for selecting appropriate methods and technologies
for collecting information from various kinds of survey
respondents, survey administration and statistical analysis
and reporting are all services provided by GuideStar
Communications. However, due to their technical nature,
these topics are not covered in this brief.
research, is much more subjective than quantitative research
and uses very different methods of collecting information,
mainly individual, in-depth interviews and focus groups. The
nature of this type of research is exploratory and
open-ended. Small numbers of people are interviewed in-depth
and/or a relatively small number of focus groups are
are asked to respond to general questions, and the
interviewer or group moderator probes and explores their
responses to identify and define peoples' perceptions,
opinions and feelings about the topic or idea being
discussed and to determine the degree of agreement that
exists in the group. The quality of the findings from
qualitative research is directly dependent upon the skill,
experience and sensitivity of the interviewer or group
This type of
research is often less costly than surveys and is extremely
effective in acquiring information about peoples'
communications needs and their responses to and views about
specific communications. It is often the method of choice in
instances where quantitative measurement is not required.
key to success in organizational communications research
with people is confidentiality. Survey respondents and
participants in in-depth interviews and focus groups are
often asked to give open, honest personal responses about
sensitive issues, concerns, perceptions and opinions on a
variety of topics.
the truth from people, researchers must be able to not only
assure, but to absolutely guarantee, that a participant's
identity will be kept confidential and fully protected.
Confidentiality is one of the primary reasons, in addition
to their specialized qualifications, that corporations turn
to independent consultants to conduct organizational
communications research and measurement.
Channels and Networks
to research involving people and the produced communications
media, activities and management communications they
interact with, there are other important aspects of
organizational communications to study for a fully
dimensional understanding of how an organization
communicates and what is working and what isn't. These
include examination of the usage patterns of electronic
communications systems such as e-mail, Voice-Mail,
Intranets, etc., analysis of communication flow patterns in
networks, feedback systems and informal communications such
these areas is often conducted by technology systems
personnel and communication audit professionals like
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