Useful yet pleasing to the eye

Business Research Methods. Second Edition - Research Methods for Business Students. Fourth Edition

February 23, 2007

When it comes to reviewing a textbook, we should take into account the contents, pedagogy, application and attractiveness. Contents are the primary consideration, including comprehensiveness and depth of information. Pedagogical features are crucial because a wide coverage of cases, statistics, online tests, discussion topics and further reading can help to engage students and facilitate learning. Moreover, the application of knowledge to practice is a vital element to consider because business practice and business theories are inseparable twins today. In addition to the above criteria, I also consider the book's attractiveness, for example, whether it is interesting to read, the information is up to date, the structure logical and the explanations clear.

Business Research Methods by Alan Bryman and Emma Bell focuses on the depth of qualitative and quantitative methods. The authors dedicate 18 of the chapters to the two methods, with the other chapters on the basic knowledge and technical support. On the other hand, Research Methods for Business Students by Mark Saunders et al follows a progressive logic - from formulating a research topic to writing and presenting it. The two textbooks support students' research with good research method references.

While they share pedagogical features, they also have their own characteristics. Both stress the importance of learning outcomes, tutorials, progress check, online resources, checklist, summary and questions. Bryman and Bell's book stands out pedagogically, offering tips and skills, research in focus and student experience to emphasise research theory and practice. Saunders et al uses examples and cases extensively to facilitate learning.

In terms of practical application, these books have a comparable focus.

Bryman and Bell emphasise students' experience in research, while Saunderset al combine experience and business practice. Both contain up-to-date information and their unique presentation structures. Tips and skills in Bryman and Bell's book demonstrate students' specific experience with a particular research activity, for example, how to make an introductory statement to an interviewee. Similarly, Saunders et al use a worked example to explain how to request participation of a focus group via e-mail or to use a recent publication to show how research is focused on management. Both books are structured logically to lead their audiences with clarity. For example, they use colours and boxes to separate the main texts from other pedagogical contents. Saunders et al use tables and diagrams to summarise key points.

In summary, the two textbooks are complementary in terms of contents, pedagogy, application and attractiveness. They are suitable for undergraduates and postgraduates in business and management studies. The Saunders et al book can also be used by students or researchers as a self-study guide.

Deli Yang is reader in international business and director of the PhD programme at Bradford University School of Management.

Business Research Methods. Second Edition

Author - Alan Bryman and Emma Bell
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Pages - 800
Price - £32.99
ISBN - 0 19925 938 0

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