the learning organisation – research without respondents

I'm still pondering the discussion paper put out by the Market Research Society as well as CASROs which ESOMAR has co-operated with. And the deeply unhelpful thought that research always requires a respondent who is fairly represented and has given permission for their data to be used. Putting the kibosh on a lot of emerging online practice where we treat online space as a public arena and help ourselves to the posted content without getting permission from the person posting first. Annie Pettit has just put out a really interesting post pointing out that this removes observation from the territory of market research. We don't have to get permission from people to watch them in public places. If the internet is public (and this is being debated also) then its fair to watch what people post without breaking the rules.

Learningcircles Here's an alternative way out of the dilemma. Which is to focus on research project teams as learning organisations. Who don't have to identify their sources any more than a newspaper has to. But who form their opinion without needing to go through an elaborate structure of accountability involving respondents. We all form our views from a whole variety of sources. Newspapers, trying the product ourselves, conversations with retailers, browsing online. And the list of sources would need to be auditable so it didn't all turn into a puddle of subjectivity.  CAll this superbricolage this would be a blend of desk research and personal discovery by different members of the research team. Of course to call it market research we would have to find a client willing to pay for it without the conventions of formal interviews or discussion groups. Which is not to say that they wouldn't take place (under the current research code) but that there would be no requirement for other data sources to come from designated sources which had given their permission. And the outcome would be a report much more like something a marketing consultancy would produce.

What do you think? Arguably this is what marketing consultancies do all the time. They mostly don't belong to research trade organisations. And they bill their time which is a lot more expensive than the charge out costs of researchers. So there you go researchers.  Reinvent yourselves as marketing consultants!  Expert in gathering and synethising the customer perspective.

 

 

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