When conducting business research, the scientific method provides a model for those designing the study to gather data and form theories and conclusions that will stand up to scrutiny. Business owners looking for reliable information can use the scientific method to assess different theories about management, marketing and other aspects of business.


To use the scientific method for business research, you first determine the research goals. For instance, your goal could be to find out whether hard sell tactics or soft sell tactics produce better results. Without a clearly-defined goal, there's no way to draw conclusions from the data gathered in the research. Some research studies concentrate on gathering data to test an existing theory or model while others focus on trying to create a new model from the body of data other researchers have collected. Either way, the goal of the study should be clearly stated.


The second step in the scientific method is to formulate a model. For instance, the researcher may believe that retraining a sales team in a new salesmanship technique will increase sales. The research study will then attempt to determine whether this model is valid or not. If there's no way to test a model's validity, then it can't be evaluated through the scientific method and the results of the study won't be scientifically valid. The scientific method depends on falsifiability, which means that it must always be possible to determine whether a statement is true or false. For example, it is possible to test what people actually prefer but not what they ought to prefer. The question of which products people ought to prefer is not scientific.


The next step in the scientific method is to gather data. To determine whether a new sales process will result in higher sales, researchers would train one group of salespeople in the new process and one group according to the old process, then have them sell the same product at the same price to the same type of customer. This should produce reliable data about which sales process is more effective. If any other factors are different between the two groups, the results of the study might not be valid. For instance, if the control group was assigned to a less-affluent sales territory than the test group, then the validity of the entire study would be questionable.

Evaluation and Revision

After all the data has been gathered, the researchers can evaluate the validity of the model and make changes as needed. For example, if they find that the new sales process produces more sales but the old sales process produced fewer returns, then they would revise the model to accommodate the new information. They might conduct further research and experimentation to determine if a revised sales process incorporating elements of both methods might be more effective than either of them. This process of continuous improvement is the purpose of using the scientific method in business research.