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The material from Week 5 addressed the need for applied research, which is one form of ‘evidence from the organization’ (in Evidence-Based Management terms). This source of information is utilized to address whether or not a generic theory or practice that seems to work for some organizations actually would apply for a particular organization. That is, will it work for us? This written assignment (due end-of-week 7) is to write a paper that describes how a generic theory would be tested through applied research in a specific situation. The general theory used for this term addresses the relationship between the tempo of the background music in restaurants and how much patrons spend. While there seems to be an academic understanding of the general relationship (see the three articles listed below), the question remains as to whether or not that general relationship holds up in a specific instance. Can the tempo of the music played in a restaurant be changed to improve sales?
Assume, for the purpose of this assignment, that you are the regional manager for an upscale restaurant chain (say, Smith & Wollensky). You have heard that music tempo may have an impact on sales in certain types of restaurants. What applied research could be conducted to determine if you should set a fast or slow (or something in between) tempo in order to optimize sales?
Thinking back on the Pyramid of Evidence, what would a controlled, randomized longitudinal study look like if you were to conduct one at one or more Smith & Wollensky locations? What are the independent and dependent variables? How would they be measured? In what manner would the independent variable be altered/changed (to see if a resulting change appeared in the dependent variable)? How would some sense of ‘randomness’ be included in the design?
In a five to six page paper (of text), describe an applied research study that could be conducted to answer the research question: Can sales at Smith & Wollensky be influenced by a change in music tempo? To figure this out, you will need to at least peruse the foundational (e.g., basic) studies listed below. As a group, they will describe the current thinking on the subject. Also, each one conducted some kind of a study to reach their conclusion. And, if hard pressed, you might think about borrowing a research methodology from one of these for your Smith & Wollensky research (just remember that a study higher on the Pyramid of Evidence would be more conclusive). As the Regional Manager, you have the authority to direct various S&W locations to play music of different tempos for the study.
Use Evidence-Based Management, 1st Edition