Best Practice Companies in Research Methods

By: Craig W. Roggow

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Introduction

Best Practice Companies in Research Methods

Research is the process of discovering knowledge (Greener, 2008). Research is an essential process in any business. Research methodology is an important aspect in today’s highly competitive business environment because it enables an organization to assemble facts that can be helpful in improving its products, processes, culture, and mitigates risk. It is an essential process for enabling an organization to identify and solve problems. However, business research can be a messy undertaking, since businesses deal with complex issues and problems. This article explores the research activities inside Siemens and Toyota companies, with the aim of establishing practices that make the research process a success in these organizations (Greener, 2008). This post further identifies the best business research practices within these companies and how they have worked for the organization. Then discussed are the differences and connections between the two compared organizations.

Objectives of the post

  • Analyze and explain what these best practice companies do within research methods.
  • Define the similarities between Siemens and Toyota.
  • Describe major differences between Siemens and Toyota.
  • Critique Siemens and Toyota best practices.
  • Implementing best practices.

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Analysis

Siemens Corporation

Siemens is German company that provides technology solutions to a variety of industries including; communication, healthcare, energy, transport, and many others (Siemens, 2011). It is one of the most successful companies in Europe having recorded a net income of over 4 billion Euros in 2012. Research is one of the elements that have contributed to the success of Siemens. The company has promoted a culture of research so as to drive innovation within the company. In 2010, Siemens registered over 8,800 inventions and applied for over 4,300 patents (Siemens, 2011). Siemens research activities focuses on social economic trends and market trends. Siemens operations are faced with numerous uncertainties. Trends in the economic, ecological, and political environments have significant implications on Siemens’ operations. Research helps the organization paint the future thus making strategic recommendations for action (Siemens, 2011). Siemens research activities also focus on technological trends. Changes within the technological environment have significant impacts on Siemens operations. Research enables Siemens to forecast these changes and identify ways of responding to them. Best practices in Siemens operations include the following.

Decentralized Approach. One of the best practices that are demonstrated in the Siemens’ research activities is the decentralized approach. Siemens is a multinational organization (Siemens, 2011). However, the firm’s research activities are not managed centrally. Each business operation and each business unit is encouraged to conduct its own research activities in order to enhance their operations. This has enhanced participation of the entire organization in the business research process.

Focus on Interdisciplinary Research. Siemens also focuses on interdisciplinary research (Siemens, 2011). The firm encourages collaboration between various business units during research activities. The research teams cut across all departments. Focusing on interdisciplinary research has enabled Siemens to develop technologies with multiple impacts on the organization (Siemens, 2011). The research process is also focused on the customer.

Partnership. Embracing partnership in the research process is another best practice that is visible in Siemens.The global and diverse nature of Siemens operation requires cooperation in its research activities (Achatz&Rombach, 2007). The company notes that it is not sufficient to rely on internal competency to drive innovation within the company. Thus, the company has established partnerships with over 1000 universities, research institutions and industrial institutions. Establishing strategic partnerships has facilitated technology transfer and enhanced innovation within the company.

Networking. Networking is also an essential strategy in Siemens research operations (Achatz&Rombach, 2007). Network enables the firm’s employees from different geographical locations to share information. This makes the process of discovering knowledge easy. Siemens networks also go beyond the firm’s employees. It encourages professionals from outside the organization to make contributions towards the development of the organization’s products and processes.

Focus on Ecological Sustainability. Siemens research activities are also directed towards developing environmentally friendly technology. Siemens recognizes that apart from delivering profits to its shareholders, the company has an ethical responsibility towards other stakeholders. Thus, promoting environmental sustainability is one of the key areas of concern in Siemens research process.

Toyota Corporation

Toyota Corporation is another company that is acknowledged for best research practices. Toyota is Japanese automobile company (Morgan & Liker, 2006). The company is among the largest automobile manufacturers in the globe. The company acknowledge for its operational model that emphasize on lean manufacturing and total quality management. Best practices in Toyota operations include the following.

Customer Focus. Total quality management is a holistic approach of managing quality within the organization. Total quality management has been the main driver of research activities within Toyota (Morgan & Liker, 2006). One aspect that makes research essential in total quality management is that it places the customer at the center of the quality improvement processes. This means that the organization has to explore the wishes and liking of the market

before embarking on the product design process. Thus, research becomes an essential part of total quality management.

Emphasis on Statistics. Total quality management also emphasizes on the need to establish statistical control over organizational processes (Voss, 2005). Statistical control is essential in total quality management as it enables quality teams to make use of data to forecast future performance of the organization. This system emphasize on development of adequate systems for collecting and analyzing statistical data in order to monitor the performance of various processes.

Continual Process. Total quality management also emphasizes on continual improvement. This means that the quality improvement process should be in going within the organization (Betrand&franszpp, 2002). Since data is an essential part of quality improvement process, then research is a continuous activity within the company. The total quality management process also emphasizes on proactive approaches of identifying quality problems and implementing corrective measures. Thus, the organization must carry out research so as to identify potential harms and create effective solutions.

Focus on Ecological Sustainability. Environment sustainability is also a key area of concern for Toyota. The company’s research activities emphasize on developing technologies that promote environmental sustainability (Betrand&franszpp, 2002). Toyota has made significant efforts towards developing vehicles that consume less fuel and which rely on energy sources that are least harmful to the environment.

Similarities between Siemens and Toyota

One of the similarities between Siemens and Toyota is that their research processes are customer focused (Morgan & Liker, 2006). Ensuring customer satisfaction is integral goal for both companies. Thus, most research activities are designed to evaluate the needs of the customers. The research activities seek to generate customer driven information so as to make the company process responsive to customer’s needs.

Another similarity is that both companies focus on promoting sustainability. Business establishments have a social responsibility towards the society and the planet. Toyota and Siemens have embraced this responsibility by directing research activities towards developing technologies that are friendly to the environment. Siemens develop energy solutions that renewable and least hazardous to the environment. Toyota has also focused its research process towards developing products that consume least energy and causes least pollution.

Emphasis on the decentralization of research activities is also an element that is visible in both Siemens and Toyota. Toyota and Siemens are both corporate giants that operate in massive scale. Thus, it would be less effective to centralize research activities. This is because different markets present different risks and opportunities to these organizations. Decentralization of research activities has enabled Siemens and Toyota to develop solutions that respond to the precise needs of each market. It has also enabled these two companies to tap into the local knowledge thus introducing diversity into their strategies and operations.

Differences between Siemens and Toyota

There are many similarities between research practices at Siemens and Toyota. There are also a few differences. One of the significant differences between the research practices in the two companies is that Siemens research activities mainly pronounced at the design stage of the production process. Siemens research activities are mainly directed towards promoting innovation within the company. The research activities are preoccupied with establishing gaps within the market and developing new products to fill these gaps. Conversely, research activities are visible across all the production process in the Toyota. Research is used to gather information for use in various stages including design, manufacturing, quality control, marketing and many others (Morgan & Liker, 2006).

Conclusion

Research methodology is an important aspect in today’s highly competitive business environment because it enables an organization to assemble facts that can be helpful in improving its products, processes, culture, and mitigates risk.Siemens and Toyota are among the best practices companies when it comes to business research. This paper has explored the best practices in these companies. Siemens has placed the research process at the center of its product development strategies. Some of the best practices that are visible in Siemens research processes include; a decentralized approach, focus on interdisciplinary research, partnership, networking and focus on sustainability. Research is also at the center of Toyota lean manufacturing approach. The best practices that are visible in Toyota’s research processes include; focus on customer, emphasis on statistics, continual process and focus on sustainability.


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