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Two kinds of research

Advancement Associates, Inc. (AAI) believes in the helpfulness of research and relies on research results to shape its counsel. Associate Michael Wiese, professor of marketing at Anderson (IN) University and widely known for his expertise in research, typically leads AAI’s research projects.

AAI carries out two kinds of research, each of them useful in particular circumstances. One type is called qualitative research, the other quantitative (or scientific) research.

Qualitative research comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Qualitative methods to answer research questions include interviews, open-ended response analysis, focus groups and observation research.

Many clients ask questions such as: Does our constituency still believe in us? Do we maintain good relationships with them? Do our constituents approve the plans that we have made? Will they support the plans with interest, prayers, and funds?

Such questions are typically answered through the use of feasibility studies, some of which are qualitative in design, other are scientific. In the qualitative studies, AAI consultants prepare a questionnaire schedule, then conduct one-hour in-depth interviews with crucial stakeholders. Skills in asking questions, following up replies with more questions, giving engaged listening, and then compiling results can be invaluable for organizational planning.

AAI has done qualitative feasibility studies having to do with capital campaigns, marketing audits, program designs, communication effectiveness and organizational image.

Scientific research calls for a rigor that permits analysis to a designated degree of reliability and validity. The design of questions, the selection of a random sample that is large enough to represent the whole, the control of questionnaire completion, the ability to make statistical inferences all contribute to the authority of scientific research. In many cases, scientific research costs more.

The problem calling for research may need a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to most fully answer questions.

Good counsel may, at times, arise from the years of experience of consultants. Sometimes it comes from “a gut feeling.” But in many circumstances, the right word of counsel is based upon careful qualitative or quantitative investigation.