In today’s competitive market, where useful research is readily accessible to anyone willing to look for it, the question organizations should be asking themselves is not “Should we be performing research?” But, rather, “What is the best way for us to perform research?”
One of the largest obstacles for companies, when it comes to utilizing specialized research teams, is the price tag. Most small businesses struggle to absorb the cost of large scale research projects. On the other hand, larger companies argue that, in the long run, it’s more cost effective to hire their own on-site research staff. Though having a full-scale team constantly at your disposal may be enticing – with the theoretical promise of getting more work done over time – this set-up comes with its own string of issues.
The biggest caveat for a company performing their own research is the potential for bias. Cost may be a great argument for in-house research, but companies who have the budget for it generally opt to contract with third-party researchers and avoid potentially biased results. This bias comes from the sense of loyalty individuals feel towards the organization they are employed by. This allegiance makes them more likely to react in a defensive manner when given negative feedback, a surefire way to receive skewed results from your panelists. In-house researchers are also more likely to interpret results positively, succumbing to temptation to deliver the “right results” to upper management.
As you can see, this personal tie to the organization makes for bad researchers. Of course, there are still benefits to an in-house team. For example, employing your own research staff allows you to have full confidence in their understanding of the company. The individuals are already an integral part of you organization and, therefore, have a deeper understanding of how things are run than an outside party would. Unfortunately, this unified set of values can often limit the creativity of the research process. Outsourcing to a specialized company ensures both innovative thinking and effective results. Organizations with the sole focus of conducting research are constantly competing for improved methods and quality. Professionals in the research field have experience with the latest tools, have read up on the newest methods, and spend the majority of their time proving that their approach is better than everyone else’s.
Furthermore, organizations unfamiliar with conducting research have a tendency to underestimate the attention to detail vital to operating an effective study. Contracting out to a specialized research team ensures an advanced level of expertise. When making the decision between in-house and outsourced research, there may be a happy medium. Smaller projects can be performed by and internal team and larger, more advanced studies can be contracted out. Of course, every option has its own challenges. Whatever route your company decides to take, it’s important to consider all of your options carefully.
Also published on Medium.