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Business Problem Research: Problem Statement Research

Start with a broad topic

To keep your sanity, it's best to start with a general area of interest. Once you've reviewed the literature on your general area of interest, it'll be easier to create a problem statement from what you've found. Basing your business problem off of the literature is going to save you a lot time and energy further down the road.

Students run into two major problems when they choose a business problem without looking at the literature first. ​

  • There is no or limited literature containing the data or statistics to support your problem statement.
  • The literature may not support your assumption.

Example research topic & search strategies

If you work for a company that has high employee turnover and you'd like to find more information about how to retain employees, these are the steps you could take.

  1. Research whether high employee turnover is an actual problem in the industry your company falls under.
  2. Determine if there is enough literature to support your topic and that the literature supports your business problem. 
  3. Now you can locate articles that support a more specific research topic.

Keep an open mind while reviewing the literature

While reviewing the literature, look for the statistics or data that interest you. It's easier to use something you've already found than to search for something that may not exist.

Trying to locate data or statistics based on what you'd like see instead of what's available can be tricky. Your preconceived ideas for data or statistics may or may not exist. If they do exist, they may not exist in the way you expect.

Review the literature for gaps and business problems

The easiest way to locate a gap in the literature is to review the literature related to a topic you're interested in. While reviewing the literature, do you notice any themes, industries, or groups that aren't being addressed? Below are instructions for locating a gap in the literature.

  1. Research your topic in the library databases and beyond, and review the literature.
  2. To help locate research gaps, try to identify any topics that might not have been addressed. I've provided a list of subtopics that might not be addressed in the broader research of a topic.
    • Geographic location
    • Industry
    • Business size
    • Non profit
    • Demographics (Age, Gender, Ethnicity, Disability, Veterans)
  3. Review relevant studies for opportunities for future research. Many authors will discuss what research could be done based of the work they have done.
  4. Include any of these subtopics in to your search to help you limit your results and to locate a gap in the literature.

Look at completed dissertations

Most dissertations will have a section discussing opportunities for further research. Those students have already done the leg work and have insight into the literature. If their idea for further study intrigues you, go out and research to confirm that there is still a gap in research.

DBA business problem tutorial

Video: Walden DBA Problem Statement Tutorial (YouTube)

Recorded September 2013 (15 min 20 sec)