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METHODOLOGY: A WAY TO DIFFERENTIATE SIGNIFICANT FROM INTUITIVE RESPONSES

A. Coelho1, J. Costa2, F. Pedro3, L. Francisco3, J. Simões3, O. Martins4

1Aveiro Institute of Accounting and Administration, University of Aveiro (ISCA-UA) and GOVCOPP-UA (PORTUGAL)
2Institute of Higher Studies of Fafe (PORTUGAL)
3Polytechnic Institute of Tomar (PORTUGAL)
4Polytechnic Institute of Tomar & CI2-IPT (PORTUGAL)
One of the most challenges that a marketing or management teacher face, it is teaching the theory´s application to practical problems. Whenever the teacher asks a student to identify a real company´s problem, normally all the student´s work is usually done in a very intuitive way. From the identification of the most significant problems to the proposal of contributions and solutions, these tasks are usually performed from the students' point of view, that is, based on his/her opinion about a certain phenomenon. No matter how much thought structuring is required, by their youth and their inherent lack of experience, students still do not understand the importance of structure the methodology plan. In this sense, this work has raised the following question: is it possible to develop a methodology to explore the identification of a significant company´s problem(s)?
To answer this question, the following objective was defined: to develop a methodology in order to explore the significant problem(s) of a company.
Considering that students do not work within a company, or do not have any contact before with the company, it was suggested that: (i) first the students need to choose a company to develop an academic work; (ii) after the students should contact the company in order to request its participation, even if it was in anonymous way.
Although it was not necessary for this article to apply a certain methodology, because it is not the purpose of this study, it was suggested to the students that they should develop a qualitative exploratory investigation, to be carried out through an in-depth interview, which may be complemented by other sources such as: observations, document analysis or other methodology considered significant.
In order to develop the interview, a methodological tool needs to be developed that relates the interview guide questions to what needs to be investigated. That is, the student must define the objective of his work and then define the variables of the study.
Considering that variables can be conceptualized in different ways, it was suggested that for each variable, the students should define the variable concept and the questions should be raised to explore the variable identification. In other words, the questions should be raised from a basic concept.
This methodology allows to increase the assertiveness of the interview. Defining the objective, the variables and their concepts, allows to explain the importance of using a guide in order to obtain a significant result. This process increases the effectiveness and efficiency of the interview. The optimization of scarce resources, such as time, add value to the methodology, because the planning allows the student to reflect on the process and to anticipate possible barriers or lack of information.
Among the main outcomes, it is expected that students understand the importance of planning, but above of all, it is expected that students apply a methodology for considering the evaluation of results. It is possible to have excellent results, but without a methodology plan, it is also possible that do not have the impact expected.
The main contribution of this article is to reduce the students´use of their intuition when they are evaluating a companys´problem, and teaching some notions of reflections that can be validated, even scientifically. The main practical implication is the validation of results according to its significance.