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Purpose and importance of research

Mugenda and Mugenda  (2003) gives the main purpose of research as the discovery of new knowledge.  They further describe it as involving the discovery of new facts, their correct interpretation and practical application.  They see research as the most efficient and reliable source of knowledge.  A researcher will engage in research to come up with new knowledge of a previously little new known subject.

In understanding the significance of research in modern times one has to look at why they are carrying out the research or the purpose of the research.  For example, a researcher may want to find out the effect of corruption on the youth today.  In this case they researcher will interview a group of youth in order to come up with a hypothesis.  This brings use to another purpose of research which is to test a hypothesis.  Researchers have used this method to disapprove previously held beliefs.  An example for was the previously held belief that HIV could be spread through mosquito bites.  This belief was later disapproved through the use of research


Mugenda and Mugenda (2003) identify another purpose of research as theory development. This involves formulating concepts, laws and generalization about a given phenomenon and research is conducted to confirm or validate existing theories.


Research is also used to describe a phenomena.  This description involves accurate identification over a period of time of any event. This description provides knowledge that is the basis for understanding a phenomena and drawing conclusions.


 Another significance of research is to enable explanation of phenomena.  Mugenda and Mugenda (2003) see this explanation as involving accurate observation and measurement of a given phenomenon in order to be able to describe it, predict its occurrence and observe factors that cause its occurrence with certainty and accuracy.

A final purpose of research is to enable control. In scientific research, control is concerned with the ability to regulate the phenomenon under study. Mugenda and Mugenda (2003) see many scientific experiments as designed to achieve this objective.  Here one phenomenon is manipulated in order to exert control over another.


Research inculcates scientific and inductive thinking and it promotes the development of logical habits of thinking and organization.

The role of research in several fields of applied economics, whether related to business or to the economy as a whole, has greatly increased in modern times. The increasingly complexnature of business and government has focused attention on the use of research in solving operational problems. Research, as an aid to economic policy, has gained added importance, both for government and business.


a)    Research provides the basis for nearly all government policies in our economic system

For instance, government’s budgets rest in part on an analysis of the needs and desires of the people and on the availability of revenues to meet these needs. The cost of needs has to be equated to probable revenues and this is a field where research is most needed. Through research we can devise alternative policies and can as well examine the consequences of each of these alternatives.


Decision-making may not be a part of research, but research certainly facilitates the decisions of the policy maker. Government has also to chalk out programmes for dealing with all facets of the country’s existence and most of these will be related directly or indirectly to economic conditions. The plight of cultivators, the problems of big and small business and industry, working conditions, trade union activities, the problems of distribution, even the size and nature of defence services are matters requiring research. Thus, research is considered necessary with regard to the allocation of nation’s resources. Another area in government, where research is necessary, is collecting information on the economic and social structure of the nation. Such information indicates what is happening in the economy and what changes are taking place. Collecting such statistical information is by no means a routine task, but it involves a variety of research problems. This day nearly all governments maintain large staff of research technicians or experts to carry on this work. Thus, in the context of government, research as a tool to economic policy has three distinct phases of operation, viz.

(i)            investigation of economic structure through continual compilation of facts;

(ii)            diagnosis of events that are taking place and the analysis of the forces underlying them; and

(iii)           the prognosis, i.e., the prediction of future developments.


b)      Research has its special significance in solving various operational and planning problems of business and industry.

Operations research and market research, along with motivational research, are considered crucial and their results assist, in more than one way, in taking business decisions.

Market research is the investigation of the structure and development of a market for the purpose of formulating efficient policies for purchasing, production and sales. Operations research refers to the application of mathematical, logical and analytical techniques to the solution of business problems of cost minimization or of profit maximization or what can be termed as optimization problems. Motivational research of determining why people behave as they do is mainly concerned with market characteristics.

In other words, it is concerned with the determination of motivations underlying the consumer (market) behaviour. All these are of great help to people in business and industry who are responsible for taking business decisions. Research with regard to demand and market factors has great utility in business.

 Given knowledge of future demand, it is generally not difficult for a firm, or for an industry to adjust its supply schedule within the limits of its projected capacity. Market analysis has become an integral tool of business policy these days. Business budgeting, which ultimately results in a projected profit and loss account, is based mainly on sales estimates which in turn depend on business research. Once sales forecasting is done, efficient production and investment programmes can be set up around which are grouped the purchasing and financing plans. Research, thus, replaces intuitive business decisions by more logical and scientific decisions.

c)      Research is equally important for social scientists in studying social relationships and in seeking answers to various social problems.

It provides the intellectual satisfaction of knowing a few things just for the sake of knowledge and also has practical utility for the social scientist to know for the sake of being able to do something better or in a more efficient manner. Research in social sciences is concerned both with knowledge for its own sake and with knowledge for what it can contribute to practical concerns. This double emphasis is perhaps especially appropriate in the case of social science. On the one hand, its responsibility as a science is to develop a body of principles that make possible the understanding and prediction of the whole range of human interactions. On the other hand, because of its social orientation, it is increasingly being looked to for practical guidance in solving immediate problems of human relations.

In addition to what has been stated above, the significance of research can also be understood keeping in view the following points:


(a)        To those students who are to write a master’s or Ph.D. thesis, research may mean careerism or a way to attain a high position in the social structure;

(b)        To professionals in research methodology, research may mean a source of livelihood;

(c)        To philosophers and thinkers, research may mean the outlet for new ideas and insights;

(d)        To literary men and women, research may mean the development of new styles and creative work;

(e)        To analysts and intellectuals, research may mean the generalizations of new theories.

(f)        To the business organization, research may mean cutting down on production costs.

Thus, research is the fountain of knowledge for the sake of knowledge and an important source of providing guidelines for solving different business, governmental and social problems. It is a sort of formal training which enables one to understand the new developments in one’s field in a better way.



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