Posted: September 13th, 2017
The purpose of this assignment is to exam what you have learned throughout the course. You are asked to complete the following tasks:
1. Develop a Research Design following the traditional model of science.
The research design paper will display your comprehension of the topics addressed throughout the course.
Following the research process and write up your design.
Your paper should be about 4~5 pages, single space, 12 font, with at least 3 citations of academic articles. Please refer to the writing samples posted in this moduel.
A problem is something you don’t like, whether it is your ignorance or uncertainty about a phenomenon, or your discomfort with the way things are going in your life or in the organization or society in which you live. Some problems are more important to you and are therefore worth more effort in looking for solutions.
Please identify a problem in the field of public administration and write your problem down and ask yourself, “Is this really the problem?” If it is, go on to step 2. If it isn’t, try again.
Criteria for the Selection of a Problem
• Is the problem of vital interest to you or the field of public administration?
• Is the problem feasible in terms of time and available resources?
• Does the problem contribute to the field of public administration and to the whole of society, in other words, is there any benefit other than to yourself and your organization to be derived if you solve the problem which you have stated?
Please try to find at least three (articles) sources
Step 2 Theory
A theory is a collection of propositions that summarizes everything you think you know about a phenomenon. (A proposition is a statement of the relationship between two or more variables.
“The more you eat the fatter you get” is a proposition, but it’s not much of a theory, since you know that what you eat, when you eat it, and how much exercise you get would also influence how fat you get.) You can develop a theory by asking yourself:
1. What you know and writing down your answers in the form of propositions,
2. By asking other people and by reading what others have written (which is another way of asking other people), and writing down their answers. You may search some professional journals in the field of public administration to identify what researches have been done with regard to the problem of your interest.
Some of the propositions you write down might contradict one another, and others might be very tentative in the sense you are uncertain about them. Still others may seem so obvious that you have very little doubt about their “truth”.
Step 3 Hypotheses
Hypotheses are propositions about which you are uncertain (or about which there is disagreement) and which are important to your theory or understanding of the phenomenon in which you are interested.
In practical affairs, hypotheses, which are worth testing, are ones about whose variables you or someone else can do something.
A hypothesis states the relationship between two variables (the independent variable or the cause and the dependent variable or the effect).
Step 4 Operational Definitions and Measurement
Operational definitions are descriptions of what you will do (the operations you will perform) in order to observe or measure the variables of your hypotheses. If most people agree that you procedures will really measure what you say you are measuring, you have a valid operational definition. If you get the same results every time you apply your procedures to the same thing, you have a reliable operational definition.
Step 5 Research Design
A research design is a description of everything you intend to do in order to test your hypotheses, including how you will sample objects, events or people to observe, what specific instruments you will use to make and record your observations, how you will organize and analyze the data that result from your observations, and how that analysis will help you understand if your hypotheses are “true”.
Most research designs are concerned with independent variables (or causes- “how much you eat”), dependent variables (or effects – “how fat you get”) and control variables (“how much exercise you get”) which could influence the dependent variables if you didn’t control them in some way.
Examples of Research Design are experimental, quasi-experimental, and survey.
Keep in mind whether it is a cross-sectional study, latitudinal study and identify the unit of analysis
Step 6 Instruments and Data Collection
Instruments are the specific devices or tools (i.e. questionaires) you use to make observations and record them.
Exactly how you intend to collect the data or make the observations, where, when, from whom and by whom, is an important part of the research design, and exactly how, when, where and from and by whomit was actually collected, an important part of the research report.
Step 7 Final Products/Contribution
What will be the final products of your research?
A research paper for publication in professional journal, an executive report, or a research presentation at a specific occasion?
How will your research add to your knowledge about the problem that started the whole thing?
How will it contribute to the knowledge of both researchers and practitioners in the field of public administration?
These are 2 examples for the research design:
Research Design Project
Does Trust within Organizations Affect Employee Performance?
In the wake of the Great Recession, the worst economic crisis in the past seventy years, public managers have sought to enhance organizational efficiency. Given limited resources, public managers, from senior directors to mid-level supervisors, face significant challenges to accomplish that goal. They must, for example, maintain services while operating on reduced budgets, something that requires employees to become more efficient.
Can one possible strategy to improve organizational efficiency be centered on improving the level of trust within organizations? The reason I pose this question is that I have observed, over the past ten years in a public agency, an apparent correlation between trust among coworkers and employee performance. I’ve worked in offices in which very little trust existed among coworkers, and the level of office productivity was low. Conversely, I’ve worked in offices where a significant degree of trust existed among coworkers, and the level of office productivity was high. Moreover, a growing body of research (e.g., Dirks, 1999; Robinson &Salamon, 2008; Madjar& Ortiz-Walters, 2009; Tan & Lim, 2009) indicatesa link between trust in organizations and higher levels of employee performance. Further, it makes sense, intuitively, that coworkers who trust one another would, for example, collaborate more effectively, leading to greater office esprit de corps and increased efficiency in work processes. In other words, the apparent link between the two variables has face validity. The purpose of this study is to determine, using a nomothetic approach, if such a link actually exists. It will not, however, undertake a descriptive examination of all the variables involved.
What, exactly, is trust? Trust is a belief in reliability. It is, according to Webster’s Dictionary, a “reliance on the integrity of a person or thing.” Trust is also defined as “confidence,” as in, confidence in another person’s behavior or actions. Of course, trust is a complex psychological state, one with a multiplicity of dimensions. After all, individual perceptions of trust vary: what one person defines as trust may differ markedly from another person’s definition. In any case, trust is an important component in all relationships. In fact, scholars consider trust a “fundamental lubricant of social interaction” (Costigan&Ilter, 1998, p. 303).
Why is this study significant? Trust is vital in organizational settings. It is something on which employee interaction is based. Efficient teamwork, for example, requires cooperation, which, in turn, is dependent on the degree to which employees trust each other. Just as trust is essential in social relations, so, too, is it in public organizations. Managers of public agencies could therefore benefit from the insight that this study would offer.
Since the 1990s, research on trust within organizational settings has received significant scholarly attention (Tan & Lim, 2009). It is now a key area of focus in organizational theory. Numerous journal articles on the subject have appeared in publications such as Academy of Management Review and Organizational Science(Tan & Lim, 2009). Today, a general consensus exists among scholars that trust in organizations is important, particularly as it relates to cooperative behavior. According to Costigan and Ilter (1998), “the essential ingredient of collaborative effort is trust (p. 303). Tan and Lim (2009) note that trust has been a “source of competitive advantage for organizations” (p. 45). Similarly, Robinson and Salamon (2008) aver that “trust should enhance organizational performance” (p. 593).
Dirks and Ferrin (2001) contend that the main effect of trust in organizations is that higher levels of trust lead to more positive attitudes, which, in turn, result in increased cooperation and higher levels of employee performance. The relationship is fairly straightforward: In organizations with high levels of trust, employees feel comfortable and therefore can focus on work processes, because they know their coworkers will not take advantage of them. Tan and Lim (2009) also argue that trust facilitates work processes and results in better employee performance. Madar and Ortiz-Walters (2009), as well, contend that trust in organizations make employees produce more work at a higher quality.
By contrast, employees who do not trust their coworkers will undertake efforts that do not require them to rely on others. As a result, both collaboration and efficiency suffer (Dirks, 1999). Dirks (1999) notes that employees who distrust their coworkers may become anxious, causing the individual to engage in self-protective behavior. This creates inefficiency as the individual directs cognitive resources away from work duties, instead of focusing all energies toward achievement of performance goals. Put simply, if an employee has to worry about the trustworthiness of his coworkers, if he feels they will not follow through on tasks, he will expend less effort in carrying out his responsibilities.
As noted, the link between trust in organizations and employee performance has face validity. While it makes sense intuitively—after all, the ability to trust openly is the basis of all productive social relationships—we must empirically test the possibility of such a link using a systematic process. To that end, we need to first identify the variables, as well as the unit of analysis, involved in our study. The independent variable is employee trust in organizations, while the dependent variable is employee performance. The unit of analysis is the employee. I expect the study’s findings to demonstrate a correlation between trust in organizations and employee performance. Therefore, I propose:
H1: Trust in coworkers is positively related to trust in organizations.
H2: Trust in organizations in positively related to higher levels of employee
H2: Trust in organizations is positively related to higher levels of employee
Operational Definitions and Measurement
Tierney (2008) notes that trust in organizations is a social construct, based on shared experiences, and that it “occurs over time, depends on the competence of the trusted, and can neither be coerced or commanded” (p.38). Trust, of course, has many different dimensions. Integrity, for example, is an aspect of trust, as is reliability and confidence. For the purposes of our study, however, we define trust as an expectation or belief that one can rely on the actions and words of another person or an organization. We define employee morale as enthusiasm for one’s work responsibilities and for the overall mission of the organization. Higher levels of employee performance is defined as meeting or exceeding work expectations in five standard job evaluation categories:
1). Quality of work;
2). Volume of work;
3). Job skill level;
4). Work judgments; and
5). Ability to meet deadlines
To tests these hypotheses, the researcher will administer on online cross-sectional survey to approximately 750 front-end staff employees at Cal State, San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona who work in various departments and divisions. To increase survey participation, respondents who complete and submit the questionnaire will receive a $10 Subway gift card. Funding from a research grant will cover the cost of the study, including purchase of gift cards. Staff with less than six months of service at their institutions will be screened out. The reason is that, given limited experience with their work environment, they may not be in a position to assess the trustworthiness of their coworkers. In addition, they may have yet to receive performance evaluations, a critical component of this study. Survey participants will be asked to rate on a Likert Scale of 1 to 5 statements about the level of trust they have in their coworkers and organizations, as well as attitudes related to employee morale. Table 1, below, serves as a conceptual illustration; however, the actual survey will be in an online format, with statements presented followed by ordinal ranking choices (e.g., strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, and strongly disagree). Respondents will select the most appropriate option by clicking the corresponding radio button.
Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree
I feel I can trust the words and actions of my coworkers.
I feel I can trust the words and actions of my supervisor.
I feel I can trust the words and actions of the organization I work for.
I enjoy performing assigned work responsibilities.
I enjoy working with my coworkers.
I believe in the mission of the organization I work for.
The researcher will then examine the performance reviews of the respondents at the above-named universities. It is believed that surveyed employees who report high levels of trust and morale within their organizations will have met or exceeded job expectations in categories such as quality and volume of work, as well as job skill level, ability to meet deadlines, and judgments in work processes. The researcher will secure permission to examine the material. While access to such confidential information might appear extraordinary, it is not uncommon for researchers to examine employee performance reviews for research purposes.
In addition, the researcher and his team will interview approximately 200 staff members—100 from each institution—who agree to participate in the study. Staff will be selected from various university departments and divisions. They will be asked to respond to the six statements listed in Table 1, using the Likert model employed in the survey. Responses will be logged into a data sheet. Interviewed staff will be assigned a number that will indicate the university and department for which they work. Their responses will remain strictly confidential. The purpose of conducting field interviews is to gain a more nuanced understanding of the environments in which staff work, something that will assist the researcher in designing future survey questionnaires.
After having collected data from survey and interview respondents, the information will then be subjected to a statistical analysis, including SPSS, to determine if a statistically significant relationship exists between the independent variable (employee trust in organizations) and the dependent variable (employee performance). If such a relationship is found to exist statistically, we may then conclude that employees who trust their coworkers and organizations do in fact have higher levels of morale and that they, as a result of the felt trust, produce more work at a higher quality, thereby confirming our hypotheses.
Instruments and Data Collection
As noted, the researcher will administer an online survey to front-end staff at Cal State, San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona. The researcher will collect survey information, conduct interviews with university staff, and analyze the data using statistical analysis software to identify possible relationships between the two above-mentioned variables.
If the research finds a statistically significant relationship between employee trust in organizations and employee performance, the researcher will compose an executive report and submit copies to managers of area public agencies. It is hoped that the report would focus public managers’ attention on the importance of trust in organizations so that they may develop and institute trust-building programs within their agencies and thus increase both employee and organizational performance. Such programs would be another tool that public managers could employ to transform their agencies into high performance organizations.
Second example :
Research Design for Evaluating Customer Service Satisfaction
The customer service sector dominates our current economy (Anderson, 2006, p. 502). This is certainly the dominant service provided in by a public utility (water, wastewater and trash). Of course, the service provided is dependent on the revenue generated to support it. It is during June each year that the public administrator at the city, county or special district level is finalizing the upcoming fiscal year budget based on revenue projections. Traditionally a budget must be balanced, meaning projected expenses should not exceed the projected revenues. Over the past several budget cycles, the typical situation is that projected revenue shortfalls are great and severe cuts have been made. Generally speaking the highest cost to any budget is the personnel costs primarily consisting of salary, medical, retirement, workman’s compensation/ liability, and vacation/sick/holiday pay. In the case of a public utility, cutting personnel means cutting back on the public’s accessibility to the public service. The volume of customers has not changed but the resources applied to responding and resolving their needs is less. This has a negative effect on the agencies customer service delivery, especially “over-the-counter” support to the public it serves.
Adding stress to the equation, a higher percentage of public utility customers are experiencing unemployment, higher fuel and food prices and even home foreclosures. For some, unemployment benefit provisions are beginning to sunset and medical insurance is inaccessible. Retirees are also feeling the stress of poor performing investments, cutbacks in social security benefits and increased Medicare costs along with food and fuel. Nevertheless, all citizens still require access to government provided utilities such as water delivery, sewage disposal and trash pick-up. The cost of providing these services is also unstable with fuel, electricity and material prices on the rise.
In contrast, for those public employees fortunate enough to have a job, salaries and advancement opportunities within the organization are static and in some cases declining as pension and medical benefit share payment are being forced back onto the employee’s paycheck. Cost of living adjustments are rare even though costs are clearly up. In their situation, individual workloads are increased because of the vacancies. On top of it all, the unveiling of the City of Bell, CA government corruption incident has placed prejudicial attitudes in the minds of more customers who now perceive public employees negatively. There is a unique combination of stresses being imposed on both the public citizen/customer and the public service employee. For the customer, it could be feelings of humiliation, anger and loss of control. For the public service employee it results in lower morale and increased tension. It is the manager’s role to recognize and resolve these conflicts to meet organizational performance objectives which typically include excellence in customer service delivery.
The verbal interplay between citizens and public employees in the “over-the-counter” face-to-face transaction of seemingly simply business can play out in various negative ways. Ultimately some result in the citizen leaving dissatisfied with their customer service experience. In order to improve the customer service experience the researcher seeks to determine which elements under the control of management will most influence employee service delivery skills. Mechanisms and tools can then be developed to support those factors that lead to positive customer satisfaction. After all, the customer cannot simply choose a different service provider.
This study aims to determine what factors contribute to dissatisfaction amongst the customer base of a public utility and how customer service providers might be better equipped by management to control those independent variables during the transaction to improve overall customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction is always dependent on the independent variables comprising the actual and perceived service experience level provided and expected by the customer. Published literature examines customer service excellence as a core job function of the customer service representative and thus the one function that managers can (attempt to) control with employees. Managers cannot control their customers.
One definition of “customer” is provided by Revelle (2010), “a customer is someone who receives the results of someone else’s efforts” (p. 40). Revelle points to the phenomena of “cognitive dissonance” in recognizing the communication challenges that face the customer service representative (p. 44). He also advises that “whatever and however customer communications are to be improved, it always was and always will be the responsibility of the sender of communications, not the receiver, to make them understandable, consistent and acceptable” (p. 44). Lastly, Revelle points to the following variables: communication objectives, timing and extent of various customer cognitions” (p.43).
Anderson (2006) states that customer satisfaction is related to the delivery of service by the customer service representative whose behavior is based on the perception of the service climate and the relational coordination efforts by management (p. 501). He states, “little is know about the influence of a manager’s behavior on the employee outcomes and how those employee outcomes in turn influence customer perceptions of organizational performance in a service sector setting” (p. 503). He terms it the management-employee-customer triad. It is the “relationships between constructs (in the dyad between any two in the triad) that provide the framework for understanding and managing employees” (p. 503). He also contends that it is “imperative that management scholars better understand the role of management practice in increasing employee service performance” (p. 502). Terms such as process of delivery, flexible reaction to unique situations and emotional labor are used in the context of contrasting customer service sector against long held manufacturing sector management techniques.
For a little historical perspective, customer service satisfaction is based on “understanding and responding to customer expectations” (Parasuraman et. al., 1991, p. 40). The foundation for their research is based on several simple concepts. First, that “customers are reasonable” and only expect what you commit to providing. Second, customers expect the fundamentals, not fanciness; performance, not empty promises”. Lastly, “customers compare perceptions with (their) expectations when judging a firm’s service” (p. 39).
Considering the breadth of knowledge required to consciously deliver a satisfied customer, it is incumbent on the public utility customer service manager to better understand and continuously compensate for the customer’s perceptions and expectations of a customer service experience that is satisfying. In addition, they need to understand the base of knowledge regarding service delivery expectations existing amongst the customer service representatives. The final step would be to implement new service delivery techniques and tools aimed at improving both customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction.
In our research we will explore the correlation between satisfactory customer perceptions and expectations against customer service delivery methods which are influenced by management. If this will aid the public utility customer service delivery experience, then it can be tested in the specific public utility seeking more positive customer service experiences. The dependent variable is customer satisfaction. The independent variables to be measured include customer cognitions (perception of the organization), communication responses to unique situations, management influence on the employee’s perception of the organization, customer perceptions about the service and actual customer service level experienced.
The hypotheses for research testing on the public utility organization are as follows:
1. If the employee understands customer expectations of service delivery and what management will support, the employee can aim to deliver the service expected.
2. If the employee can recognize the varying customer cognitions unique to each individual transaction, the employee can adjust communication methodologies and styles to achieve increase customer service satisfaction and reduced negative perceptions.
3. If the employee understands other factors that make customer interaction positive or negative, the employee will seek to execute a more positive customer service experience.
To evaluate the hypothesis that customer service satisfaction is related to the recognition of customer perceptions and expectations of service delivery there must be a definition of the factors. Customer expectation is defined as the minimal level of service delivery the customer thinks the organization should provide. Customer perception of the organization is defined as what they know about the organization and whether or not that knowledge is factual. Customer cognition for this study is the background and basis of how customers think, perceive or remember.
One method of determining what customers perceive and/or expect from the organization in terms of service delivery is to ask them. We must also gage the existing base of knowledge amongst the employees servicing customers. Therefore the research will be designed and focused on those two groups: customer service employees and the customers of the public utility organization being evaluated.
To determine what customers expect to obtain from the public utility they will be asked to rate a series of statements aimed at defining basic and advanced service delivery provisions. To determine a customer’s perceptions about the public utility they will be presented a series of facts about the public utility and they will be asked to confirm or disconfirm their knowledge of such facts. To understand basic customer cognitions, customers will be asked a series of questions regarding living conditions such as income, family size, etc. They will also be asked to rate a series of life stressors to determine what conditions affect the customer base on a personal level (eg. substance abuse, mental diseases, etc.). By asking in such a way, the respondent is not divulging personal issues just relationally what has a stressful affect on their lives. Lastly, customers will be asked what they generally like and dislike about their customer service experiences with the organization. Answers will be obtained through a mail-in survey distributed to the entire customer base of the public utility of focus. This is a one-time cross-sectional survey. The survey will be mailed with instructions and a return postage-paid envelope. There will be no identifying features on the survey that could link it to a specific customer. Obviously, this survey would be voluntary.
During the same sampling period, the customer service employees in the public utility will also be surveyed. To determine their understanding of what actions management will support they will be asked to confirm or disconfirm a series of questions designed as response scenarios to defined customer service problems. The scenarios will be related to both transaction completion and communication methodologies. The customer service representatives will also be interviewed to determine the range of customer perceptions and cognitions that they personally experience on the job. This would be a voluntary, confidential written survey but management would first meet with the focus group (customer service providers) to promote and encourage participation in an effort to show support for improving the customer service experience for all.
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