Qualitative and Quantitative Studies

Introduction

This paper is a comparative critique of two different research studies, one qualitative and the other quantitative. It will analyse the two’s objectives, describe their methodologies, and provide a critical response. It will also compare the two to find the differences and determine their causes and effects on the paper’s quality. Both studies work with commercial buildings, mostly shopping malls, and try to analyse their facility management and propose improvements based on their findings. However, one only discusses building maintenance while the other covers various aspects such as finances, human resources, utilities, and others. As such, the difference in the approaches may be justified from the perspective of each researcher group. Nevertheless, it should be possible to find some similarities or distinct differences in the papers’ approaches to the same topics and evaluate the articles as a whole.

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Paper 1 Summary

Article title: Performance of building maintenance in operation & management at a commercial building.

Paper objectives:

  • Determine how satisfactory building maintenance performance is in commercial buildings in Malaysia and identify the most significant issues.
  • Examine the operations and management practices in Malaysian commercial building maintenance creation.
  • Develop recommendations that will help commercial building management maintain them to improve service and create an excellent public environment.

Critical Evaluation

The researchers analyse information relevant to their topic based on two sources of information: data from facilities and prior studies. For the former, they interview local experts on operations and management in detail to learn their opinions. Additionally, the survey random staff and visitors to collect their opinions in a quantifiable form. For the latter, they take information from books, magazines, newspapers, journals, websites, and undisclosed sources suggested by their supervisor. The study mentions that the authors use secondary data directly and indirectly, which creates a possibility for plagiarism if the sources are not referenced appropriately (Williams and Davis 2017).

Additionally, the supervisor mentioned in the study may not be a reliable source of information and introduce bias that the researchers omit from their analysis. However, overall, the data collection method appears sound, as it combines theoretical and practical data to form a conclusion.

The authors investigate three different commercial buildings as separate case studies, identifying strengths and weaknesses in each one. One is a village-style development with numerous small buildings that house a variety of commercial facilities. Another is a building that combines apartments, offices, and shops in a single location to provide the opportunity to “live, work and play” (Nuratirah and Salmiah 2017). The third one is a more traditional mall building that features several floors that house numerous facilities close to each other. The diversity of the sample allows the authors to obtain a picture of the various commercial buildings in Malaysia and address each one’s needs.

However, the sample size is small, and the authors may find endemic issues instead of systemic ones. Such an event would potentially invalidate the resulting recommendations for other commercial buildings.

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For their quantitative analysis, the authors collected 768 questionnaires, with 277 coming from the first facility, 253 being filled at the second, and the third returning 238. The surveys analyse the staff and visitors’ demographic qualities such as gender, employment and visit frequency as well as purposes. They use the Likert scale to evaluate the respondents’ opinions of the various aspects of building maintenance, such as cleaning, parking, and air conditioning. They then find the mean of the values obtained in the process and pronounce it to be the average value reflective of the public opinion about these aspects.

However, the authors do not verify their information by analysing the distribution of the answers for indicators such as dispersion or skewness, which are necessary to see whether the findings reflect reality (Sepoy 2018). As such, they may have omitted some biases and let them affect the conclusions without highlighting possible issues to readers.

The applicability of the quantitative method, and the Likert scale, in particular, may be questionable in this paper. The researchers survey visitors, who are unlikely to notice details of building maintenance unless there are prominent issues. As such, the researchers introduce response bias, with the most likely variety being extremity bias (ZIkmund et al. 2017). The visitors are likely to check their immediate surroundings to answer many of the questions and provide uninformed opinions. This tendency is particularly likely for aspects such as landscaping and access, which many people tend to ignore or notice only in passing.

As such, their responses to such questions may not reflect reality, and there is likely to be an overall negative skew due to people noticing issues more than excellent performance. Providing additional data on the distribution would have helped the authors evaluate the size of the effect and the potential untruths it may introduce.

The authors do not achieve some of their objectives satisfactorily despite having the data necessary to do so. They do not evaluate the overall satisfaction of the customers with the maintenance of specific locations despite setting doing so as a target. Allen (2017) notes that to obtain a result, one has to sum up the results across all of the items listed in the questionnaire. The other two goals have been satisfied adequately, but they comprise qualitative research based on literature and interviews with professionals. As such, the study ultimately does not benefit the institutions where it has been conducted much, as it mostly repeats known information without adding to it. It is potentially beneficial for other commercial buildings in the area, but the results of the quantitative aspect may be too isolated to result in beneficial recommendations.

Paper 2 Summary

Article title: Facilities management.

Paper objectives:

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  • Analyse the overall quality of facility management in the Sunway Velocity shopping mall and identify strengths and weaknesses using a qualitative analysis.
  • Develop recommendations for an overall strategy that will help the building improve its operations and continue operating sustainably in the future.

Critical Evaluation

The recommendations development is separated into seven different sections: services, expectation and objective assessment, portfolio, resources, market, sourcing strategy and risk management. For the first category, the author uses the Hedhli model, the application of which is supported by Panwar, Kumar and Ray (2016), which consists of functionality, convenience, safety, leisure, atmospherics and self-identification. The author’s goal in this section is to create a benchmark for the evaluation of the mall’s functionality.

Thus, he describes each category in slight detail but does not describe how they perform. It may be argued that the model’s use is inadequate, as the author gives some sections little attention, describing general details without identifying specific benchmarks, and omits the portfolio factor entirely. Overall, the paper appears to focus on some aspects more than the others without justifying the approach, calling the results into question.

To assess expectations and objectives, the author uses PEST and SWOT analyses to identify strengths and address weaknesses. However, though the former is mentioned and used to conclude, the analysis itself is not present in the paper, and there is no reference to another source where it may be found. This fact would potentially qualify the text portion that refers to PEST as plagiarism (Zhang 2016), though it is more likely that the author conducted the analysis and forgot to add it.

In that case, the omission is not a significant ethics violation, but it still lowers the paper’s quality. The discussion of the findings of the SWOT analysis is short but adequate, though there are some contradictions. In particular, the mention of the mall as well-diversified but also suffering from a small diversification scale leads the reader to question whether the first finding is correct.

The portfolio section discusses the design of the open spaces of the mall, focusing on an atrium where the mall hosts various events. The author calls attention to the design that removes the ceilings above the area, allowing for extensive decoration that calls the attention of shoppers on every floor to the event happening below. He notes that the strategy has succeeded in attracting various partners and that the company managing the building has developed a robust contract for such agreements.

Overall, however, the section is not adequate, as it does not feature other elements of the mall’s portfolio. The term is defined as “a collection of projects, programs, subsidiary portfolios, and operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives” (Project Management Institute 2017, p. 3). As such, it should incorporate the mall’s other initiatives or highlight their lack and the reliance on the atrium as weaknesses.

The resource audit is an extensive section that covers the physical, human, financial, supply, and system aspects of the concept. The author highlights several points of interest in each category and elaborates on some of the findings. He discusses strengths and issues, which can lead to the emergence of performance-improving recommendations later on. While the overall quality of the analysis for the areas presented is satisfactory, it should be noted that all of the resources discussed are tangible. Fernie, Fernie and Moore (2015) describe the importance of intangible resources such as relationships, reputation and competencies acquired through knowledge creation. These aspects can contribute to the performance of the mall considerably, and so, their omission detracts from the paper as a whole.

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While the paper has a market audit section, the author does not conduct one and describes Sunway Velocity’s ability to do so instead. However, even so, he may misunderstand the term and make mistakes in his assessment. The author discusses comparisons between different businesses and service review to determine best practices. However, McDonald and Wilson (2016) identify the need to understand customer needs and develop value propositions as one of the three critical steps of a market audit. While the mall does not sell products to customers directly, it can still evaluate its requirements and adjust its layout or selection of facilities to accommodate them.

The author omits this step beyond the definition of market auditing, perhaps because he expects the nature of the mall’s services to be immutable throughout time. Regardless, he should have mentioned the matter and provided a justification for the action he took or the lack thereof.

The two final sections discuss sourcing strategy and risk management recommendations. The author lists several benefits and disadvantages of outsourcing, which are supported by Barrar and Gervais (2016), and proposes changes to the company’s sourcing strategies based on the comparison with in-house production. He also identifies risks, evaluates their significance, and develops responses based on the four-action model used by Sadgrove (2016). Overall, the sections appear robust and comprehensive, though much of the information is used without references, which may constitute plagiarism (Capone, Kiefer and Lo Piparo 2016). With that said, it is also possible that the information constitutes original research and does not need external references.

Analysis

The two papers use fundamentally different approaches, with one being qualitative and the other being a combination of quantitative and qualitative. The latter approach allows for several benefits (Oflazoglu 2017), though there are issues such as the amount of additional work necessary that makes the method unpopular (Elsbach and Kramer 2016). Overall, it is challenging to compare the two articles directly, as they discuss significantly different topics and address varying issues. However, it is possible to find some common points in their methodologies, mostly with regards to data gathering and processing methods. This section will discuss each aspect briefly to highlight similarities and differences.

The first study makes the sources of its information known and mostly transparent, while the second mostly obscures them. According to Bakar et al. (2018), this difference is likely due to the diverging paradigms of the two methods, only one of which considers data accurate. The fact that the first work does not present the transcripts of the authors’ interviews with specialists despite mentioning and using them supports this argument. Hair et al. (2015) also note that much of the information in business research comes from secondary business data, which would otherwise remain confidential and not need to be cited. The second paper is a business proposal intended for the company in question, and so, this may be the case for the missing sources.

There are also significant differences in the data analysis approaches used as well as the effort used for the task. The first study uses a Likert scale to analyse quantitative data but does not use the full range of methods that are available (Bergin 2018). The second presents a significant range of different analysis methods (Walle 2015) but does not present the information used in the analysis. Overall, the first paper is more transparent but less detailed while the second displays many aspects but obscures the original information.

Conclusion

The two papers use different research methods and discuss varying, though similar topics. Regardless, each could benefit from a significant range of improvements that are related to their methodology. The first paper discloses its data gathering adequately but does not analyse it thoroughly enough or guarantee the generality of the results. The second conducts an in-depth study but only presents the conclusion without the initial data, calling the results into question. It is challenging to compare the two directly, a fact that demonstrates the distance between the two types of research.

Reference List

Allen, M (ed.) 2017, The SAGE encyclopedia of communication research methods, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Bakar, AHA, Roosli, R, Kamal, EM and Rashid, ZZA (eds.) 2018, A complete guide to academic research in built environment and engineering, Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penerbit, Malaysia.

Barrar, P and Gervais, R 2016, Global outsourcing strategies: an international reference on effective outsourcing relationships, Routledge, New York, NY.

Bergin, T 2018, An introduction to data analysis: quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Capone, A, Kiefer, F and Lo Piparo, F (eds.) 2016, Indirect reports and pragmatics: interdisciplinary studies, Springer, Cham, Switzerland.

Elsbach, KD and Kramer, RM (eds.) 2016, Handbook of qualitative organizational research: innovative pathways and methods, Routledge, New York, NY.

Fernie, J, Fernie, S and Moore, CM 2015, Principles of retailing, 2nd edn, Routledge, New York, NY.

Hair Jr., JF, Celsi, MW, Money, AH, Samouel, P and Page, MJ (eds.) 2015, Essentials of business research methods, M. E. Sharpe, Armonk, NY.

Kor, CS 2019, Facilities management, Master Thesis, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman. Web.

McDonald, M and Wilson, H 2016, Marketing plans: how to prepare them, how to profit from them, 8th edn, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Nuratirah, SCMN & Salmiah, A 2018, ‘Performance of building maintenance in operation & management at commercial building’, International Journal of Modern Trends in Business Research, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 76-89.

Oflazoglu, S (ed.) 2017, Qualitative versus quantitative research, InTech, Rijeka, Croatia.

Panwar, US, Kumar, R and Ray, N (eds.) 2016, Handbook on research on promotional strategies and consumer influence in the service sector, IGI Global, Hershey, PA.

Project Management Institute 2017, The standard for portfolio management, 4th edn, Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, PA.

Sadgrove, K 2016, The complete guide to business risk management, 3rd edn, Routledge, New York, NY.

Sepoy, I 2018, Statistics for economics: international edition, Sepoy Publications, Delhi, India.

Walle, AH 2015, Qualitative research in business: a practical overview, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.

Williams, K & Davis, M 2017, Referencing & understanding plagiarism, 2nd edn, Palgrave, London, United Kingdom.

Zhang, YH 2016, Against plagiarism: a guide for editors and authors, Springer, Cham, Switzerland.

Zikmund, W, D’Alessandro, S, Winzar, H, Lowe, B and Babin, B 2017, Marketing research, 4th edn, Cengage, South Melbourne, Australia.

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