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    Hi guys,

    So for my second year I have to do a BNU (Business negotiated unit) which basically involves me putting together a research paper on a topic of my choice, which has to include some primary, related research. I've decided to do mine on the impact of social media on business development.

    So I'm here asking for content ideas for the above idea. All I can think of right now is telling a short history of social media and its growth in recent years, and discussing the evidence that shows its impact.

    I'm also struggling to think of ideas as to what to do for my primary research. I was considering going into a load of high-street shops and asking the various questions about their use of social media, to assess the impact of it on the high-street and also look into how many businesses utilise it successfully.

    So yeah, ideas please! Thanks in advance guys, you're always helpful here.
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    (Original post by tom1817)
    Hi guys,

    So for my second year I have to do a BNU (Business negotiated unit) which basically involves me putting together a research paper on a topic of my choice, which has to include some primary, related research. I've decided to do mine on the impact of social media on business development.

    So I'm here asking for content ideas for the above idea. All I can think of right now is telling a short history of social media and its growth in recent years, and discussing the evidence that shows its impact.

    I'm also struggling to think of ideas as to what to do for my primary research. I was considering going into a load of high-street shops and asking the various questions about their use of social media, to assess the impact of it on the high-street and also look into how many businesses utilise it successfully.

    So yeah, ideas please! Thanks in advance guys, you're always helpful here.
    Hey Tom,

    That's an interesting idea and sounds ideal for a 2nd year paper. It's tricky to give you suggestions without knowing precisely what you're pondering at the moment as well as how much time you are willing to spend on this paper - I could suggest a whole range of interesting concepts, but if you are unfamiliar with them and the paper isn't worth much, you may not be able/willing to put in the time required to really come to grips with them.

    The first thing I'd like to know is what aspect of business development you want to look at, as it's a pretty broad area. One thing that I find particularly interesting is the extent to which social media forces a company to be more introspective with regards to its branding in terms of customer engagement - that is, the brands "personality" and how it is communicated. Back in the days when communication was basically 1-way it was much easier for marketers to plan every bit of communication they put out and force the brand on the customer, but today marketing is all about co-creation. The question you might want to ask, then, is how does the co-creation of brand values through social media impact SMEs? Does it lead to a shift in focus in managers' approach to business development? Recruitment? Communication strategies? Customer retention/acquisition targets?

    That's just off the top of my head- hope it helps!

    PS. If you're feeling really adventurous and unsure as to what angle you want to take, you could opt for a grounded theory approach (read some of Bryant's writing on the subject) which basically means that you collect data first (i.e. go out and talk to businesses about social media) then analyse it, then link it to extant research. That's very simplified, but hopefully communicates the gist of it! If you decide to do that, though, make sure yo ask your lecturer/tutor/supervisor if its OK first, because not everyone is a big fan of GT!
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    (Original post by Salgoud)
    Hey Tom,

    That's an interesting idea and sounds ideal for a 2nd year paper. It's tricky to give you suggestions without knowing precisely what you're pondering at the moment as well as how much time you are willing to spend on this paper - I could suggest a whole range of interesting concepts, but if you are unfamiliar with them and the paper isn't worth much, you may not be able/willing to put in the time required to really come to grips with them.

    The first thing I'd like to know is what aspect of business development you want to look at, as it's a pretty broad area. One thing that I find particularly interesting is the extent to which social media forces a company to be more introspective with regards to its branding in terms of customer engagement - that is, the brands "personality" and how it is communicated. Back in the days when communication was basically 1-way it was much easier for marketers to plan every bit of communication they put out and force the brand on the customer, but today marketing is all about co-creation. The question you might want to ask, then, is how does the co-creation of brand values through social media impact SMEs? Does it lead to a shift in focus in managers' approach to business development? Recruitment? Communication strategies? Customer retention/acquisition targets?

    That's just off the top of my head- hope it helps!

    PS. If you're feeling really adventurous and unsure as to what angle you want to take, you could opt for a grounded theory approach (read some of Bryant's writing on the subject) which basically means that you collect data first (i.e. go out and talk to businesses about social media) then analyse it, then link it to extant research. That's very simplified, but hopefully communicates the gist of it! If you decide to do that, though, make sure yo ask your lecturer/tutor/supervisor if its OK first, because not everyone is a big fan of GT!
    That's really helpful, thanks

    First off, I'm aiming for a First Class degree overall so I'm willing to put in a lot of work.

    I didn't realise that the topic would be so broad, would you suggest focusing on a specific area (like those you have suggested) rather than doing a more broad paper about the general subject? Focusing on SMEs seems to call to me moreso than the larger companies, just because the smaller companies have to rely on social media to a greater extent so I think it would be more interesting.

    Also the general structure of the paper suggests that grounded theory wouldn't be the best (we're to start with the literature review, and then go on to discuss our own findings) but I'll read around and might ask him anyway.
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    (Original post by tom1817)
    That's really helpful, thanks

    First off, I'm aiming for a First Class degree overall so I'm willing to put in a lot of work.

    I didn't realise that the topic would be so broad, would you suggest focusing on a specific area (like those you have suggested) rather than doing a more broad paper about the general subject? Focusing on SMEs seems to call to me moreso than the larger companies, just because the smaller companies have to rely on social media to a greater extent so I think it would be more interesting.

    Also the general structure of the paper suggests that grounded theory wouldn't be the best (we're to start with the literature review, and then go on to discuss our own findings) but I'll read around and might ask him anyway.

    No worries at all I'm glad to hear that! So many students aim for a 2.1 or "pass," which always annoys me in my role as a graduate teaching assistant. As a PhD student I'm thankful, though, as fewer of them will be able to apply for PhDs and hence compete for my future lecturing jobs!

    Well, "business development" isn't really a set term per se and can cover a whole range of tasks, and while social media may legitimately influence a whole range of them, space and time restrictions may make it difficult for you to include them all. Personally, I prefer a tight essay - one that sets out to investigate a particular aspect of something and does it in great detail and depth, rather than touching upon this-and-thank without saying much about anything. That said, an exploratory essay might also be interesting - if you could legitimately argue that not enough is known about which aspects of SME business development are affected by social media and how, that also sounds to me like the makings of a good piece.

    The one thing I'd like to add is that whichever approach you take, make sure you define your sample well enough. SMEs covers anything from your local corner shop to a small manufacturer of fertiliser, and you will struggle to legitimately argue that social media affects them in similar ways etc. If I were you, I'd select a particular subset of SMEs (say, independently owned shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants or manufacturers) and focus on that. This will give you a considerably more legitimate sample - I don't know how familiar you are with research methodology at this point, if you're doing interviews I would read up on purposive sampling. Positivists will tell you that a sample has to be statistically significant and representative, and you have to acknowledge that criticism, but taking an interpretivist stance and using purposive sampling is equally valid. If you're interested I could give you a couple of interesting references for this.

    As for GT, I just thought I'd throw a somewhat more controversial option into the mix. I know that most universities state that you should start with the literature review and formulate your research questions prior to collecting data, but a GT supporter would argue that this is simply out of tradition and unwillingness to change rather than for any reasons pertaining to scientific validity. One might argue, for instance, that a researcher who first formulates their questions and then collects data will always be more open to data that fits their questions - this is the issue with positivist research such as questionnaires (you can't find surprising data that falls outwith the researchers prior conceptions of reality), and that's one of the main criticisms of positivism presented by interpretivists. However, a GT supporter would argue that as much as an interpretivist may try to be neutral in the face of their prior knowledge, the questions that spring to mind as a response to what their interviewees are saying will naturally and uncontrollably be informed by their prior knowledge, hence hindering the possibility of uncovering unexpected data.

    While I'm yet to conduct a GT study myself, I do think that it's an interesting approach that can yield good results. It does, of course, come with it's own set of problems and is by no means a panacea or even the best method around. In fact, I'm more of a traditional interpretivist myself, but I do think it's important that it's thrown into the mix of research methods that should be considered when approaching a study. Your tutor might argue that it's risky because it's different to what you will be taught during your studies, and they would be right, but that doesn't mean that an ambitious student can't handle a rudimentary version of it - because, in honesty, whatever methodology you choose your application will be rudimentary. The same holds true for most researchers at most stages, unfortunately! Myself very much included.

    PS: I sent you a private message, just so you know.
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    (Original post by Salgoud)
    No worries at all I'm glad to hear that! So many students aim for a 2.1 or "pass," which always annoys me in my role as a graduate teaching assistant. As a PhD student I'm thankful, though, as fewer of them will be able to apply for PhDs and hence compete for my future lecturing jobs!

    Well, "business development" isn't really a set term per se and can cover a whole range of tasks, and while social media may legitimately influence a whole range of them, space and time restrictions may make it difficult for you to include them all. Personally, I prefer a tight essay - one that sets out to investigate a particular aspect of something and does it in great detail and depth, rather than touching upon this-and-thank without saying much about anything. That said, an exploratory essay might also be interesting - if you could legitimately argue that not enough is known about which aspects of SME business development are affected by social media and how, that also sounds to me like the makings of a good piece.

    The one thing I'd like to add is that whichever approach you take, make sure you define your sample well enough. SMEs covers anything from your local corner shop to a small manufacturer of fertiliser, and you will struggle to legitimately argue that social media affects them in similar ways etc. If I were you, I'd select a particular subset of SMEs (say, independently owned shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants or manufacturers) and focus on that. This will give you a considerably more legitimate sample - I don't know how familiar you are with research methodology at this point, if you're doing interviews I would read up on purposive sampling. Positivists will tell you that a sample has to be statistically significant and representative, and you have to acknowledge that criticism, but taking an interpretivist stance and using purposive sampling is equally valid. If you're interested I could give you a couple of interesting references for this.

    As for GT, I just thought I'd throw a somewhat more controversial option into the mix. I know that most universities state that you should start with the literature review and formulate your research questions prior to collecting data, but a GT supporter would argue that this is simply out of tradition and unwillingness to change rather than for any reasons pertaining to scientific validity. One might argue, for instance, that a researcher who first formulates their questions and then collects data will always be more open to data that fits their questions - this is the issue with positivist research such as questionnaires (you can't find surprising data that falls outwith the researchers prior conceptions of reality), and that's one of the main criticisms of positivism presented by interpretivists. However, a GT supporter would argue that as much as an interpretivist may try to be neutral in the face of their prior knowledge, the questions that spring to mind as a response to what their interviewees are saying will naturally and uncontrollably be informed by their prior knowledge, hence hindering the possibility of uncovering unexpected data.

    While I'm yet to conduct a GT study myself, I do think that it's an interesting approach that can yield good results. It does, of course, come with it's own set of problems and is by no means a panacea or even the best method around. In fact, I'm more of a traditional interpretivist myself, but I do think it's important that it's thrown into the mix of research methods that should be considered when approaching a study. Your tutor might argue that it's risky because it's different to what you will be taught during your studies, and they would be right, but that doesn't mean that an ambitious student can't handle a rudimentary version of it - because, in honesty, whatever methodology you choose your application will be rudimentary. The same holds true for most researchers at most stages, unfortunately! Myself very much included.

    PS: I sent you a private message, just so you know.
    Yes it makes sense to just focus on something specific, because my essay last year was a little vague and I didn't do as well as I'd hoped I would. So I'll definitely look into specific areas, rather than an exploratory essay. I also think it would be easier for me to focus in on a particular area that interests me, because then I'm more likely to put more work into it.

    Yeah I understand that I should focus on a specific area. What I was trying to say is much the same as what you are saying; that I should focus on a particular area, a particular brand if you will, of business. I do think that SMEs would be a good place to start as I feel that there would be more research available to me as I think that SMEs have a closer relationship with and reliance on social media as a major advertising avenue.

    All i really know about research is that it needs to be unbiased, not contain leading questions, and have check questions. I've not really heard of those terms so if you could give me some pointers as to where to read about it, that would be great. Just from what you've said, would I be right in assuming that positivists require the data to be mathematically manageable and accurate, whereas interpretivists will just analyse the data themselves, rather than using tools to analyse the data?

    The guide provided only states that the lit. review should appear before the findings in the paper, I don't know if I would have to write the lit review before the findings though; we already write the intro/conclusion at the end. So I think I'll do some reading around it and find out more about GT before I just dive in and try it.

    And yeah, I just had a look at that all looks really useful, I'll check it out when I get started on the work.

    Thanks for all the help again
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    No worries at all! I'm out of the office atm but I will be back in tomorrow and will try to dig those references out for you, and respond to the above
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    Okay, here we go!

    (Original post by tom1817)
    Yes it makes sense to just focus on something specific, because my essay last year was a little vague and I didn't do as well as I'd hoped I would. So I'll definitely look into specific areas, rather than an exploratory essay. I also think it would be easier for me to focus in on a particular area that interests me, because then I'm more likely to put more work into it.
    Very good reasoning - that's a very common issue with UG essays, as students tend to think that it's better to cover as much as humanly possible within the word count rather than going into any real depth.

    (Original post by tom1817)
    Yeah I understand that I should focus on a specific area. What I was trying to say is much the same as what you are saying; that I should focus on a particular area, a particular brand if you will, of business. I do think that SMEs would be a good place to start as I feel that there would be more research available to me as I think that SMEs have a closer relationship with and reliance on social media as a major advertising avenue.
    Yep, but as I said you have to keep in that term SME encompasses a wide range of companies, so you might be wise to narrow in even more on a particular section of SMEs.

    (Original post by tom1817)
    All i really know about research is that it needs to be unbiased, not contain leading questions, and have check questions. I've not really heard of those terms so if you could give me some pointers as to where to read about it, that would be great. Just from what you've said, would I be right in assuming that positivists require the data to be mathematically manageable and accurate, whereas interpretivists will just analyse the data themselves, rather than using tools to analyse the data?
    Yes and No: this is actually a rather complicated area, and the extent to which you will be expected to cover it in a UG essay will vary.. You are basically right that research should, in 9 cases out of 10, strive to be unbiased - however, qualitatively inclined researchers such as myself would debate whether unbiased social research is achievable to any real extent. Even if you design a questionnaire and distribute it electronically to a representative sample, YOU came up with the questions and what was of importance, and YOU will sift through the data you get and use it to support YOUR reasoning - I would argue that removing bias in this process is all but impossible. Still, you should of course try to remain neutral when you can and, as you said, not ask leading questions.

    Positivists follow the "natural sciences school of thought," meaning that they want to prove or disprove hypothesis using representative data (i.e. they are very concerned with the number of respondents and their demo and sociographics etc. so as to ensure that their respondents are representative of the greater population of potential respondents). They think findings should be generalisable so as to create "laws," if you will. That it somewhat simplified, of course.

    Interpretivists support the use of a wider array of data collection methods, and while they can use quantitative data they more often used mixed methods or rely solely on qualitative data. They believe that there is more value to be found in rich data gathered through e.g. interviews, focus groups, case studies and observations. While a positivist would point out that this means the results more often than not are not generalisable across the population, an interpretivist would reply that they don't need to be, and that because human beings are not static and predictable entities the extent to which any results is ever generalisable is questionable at best.


    (Original post by tom1817)
    The guide provided only states that the lit. review should appear before the findings in the paper, I don't know if I would have to write the lit review before the findings though; we already write the intro/conclusion at the end. So I think I'll do some reading around it and find out more about GT before I just dive in and try it.

    And yeah, I just had a look at that all looks really useful, I'll check it out when I get started on the work.

    Thanks for all the help again
    Ah, okay, well that doesn't actually rule out GT even though they often use a different structure. Still, it's probably safer to opt for a more common methodology at this point; just wanted to introduce you to the fact that there are options, as even knowing about it can help you think differently.

    Good luck with the project!
 
 
 
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