Qualitative Observation Discussion
Statisticians and engineers generally prefer quantitative over qualitative observations mainly due to their objectivity, acceptable degree of accuracy and statistical validity of findings. While quantitative research explores and explains universal laws, cause – effects of events and relationships, the qualitative research investigates real understanding of the context, people’s perceptions, experiences, moods and as the result, deals with a wide range of subjective information and data. However, there are plenty of business situations, when qualitative observations may be preferred.
Firstly, the statistician may use qualitative observation for obtaining descriptive or analytical information about situation, program, procedure, etc. The obtained information may be used for developing theoretical knowledge, which can be further tested using quantitative research. Secondly, qualitative observation is preferred for investigating motivations for people’s behavior, their perceptions, and experiences. Qualitative observation will allow identifying, for example, why people prefer certain service or good. As the result, before designing new service or product, it may be useful to investigate people’s reactions or expectations. By conducting the survey, researchers will obtain necessary information directly from potential clients.
Qualitative observation may be also used for investigating strengths and weaknesses of the products or success of brand positioning or marketing strategy. As the result, qualitative methods are preferred, when researchers are to understand the reasons behind the results and outcomes. Finally, qualitative methods may be applied for analysis of obtained quantitative data. While quantitative methods produce numbers, measures, weights, etc., qualitative methods give an understanding of received numbers and may be used to explain unusual trends or unexpected results.
Qualitative methods may also be used for developing recommendations and making suggestions based on people’s reactions, expectations, perceptions. In conclusion, there is a wide range of business situations, such as designing new product or service, examining product potential, evaluating marketing campaign, etc., when qualitative research is preferred.
Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: …