Welcome to the research guide for BADM 499. This guide contains sources for information and research in the field of sustainable business as well as information for specific assignments you will complete, like an annotated bibliography and literature review. Please contact the library for more information or to set up a research appointment.
Use these subject headings as keywords when searching for books about sustainability or CSR:
To effectively use our databases when you are researching business topics, it is best to think about these three questions.
1. What is it that you are researching? Is it a company, an industry, a management concept, a regulation, etc.?
2. What is the context? Are you looking for internal (e.g., financial numbers, reports or press releases) or external (e.g., newspapers, analyst reports, consumer behavior) information? Do numbers or opinions matter?
3. What is the scope? Are you looking at an organization? An industry? A country? What is the time frame? Today? Last five years? Next ten years?
4. What kinds of sources will you need? Your company's website will have good information on their initiatives as well as documents like annual financial reports. Grey literature from professional associations can provide useful information about sustainable and CSR trends in the greater industry. The databases will have peer-reviewed articles about trends and industries as well as profiles of companies and SWOT analyses.
When crafting your research questions, think try to avoid the following:
Too Narrow: What was the profit margin of green cleaning goods company Seventh Generation in 2015?
This question is too narrow because it can be answered with a statistic. If a research question can be answered with a simple piece of information, or a "yes" or "no", the question should be broader. You could broaden this question by asking about the sector in general, by looking at a longer period of time, or by comparing and contrasting multiple companies. For example, "how do Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer's performance in the green cleaning goods market compare?" This question opens you up to researching multiple companies and different avenues of growth.
Too Broad/Unclear: Are green companies successful?
Broad research questions are difficult to research and write about because there are so many aspects you could cover. How is success being defined and measured? Which companies are green companies? Are you looking at every single green company? A better question would be "which companies listed on the Dow Jones Sustainable Index have demonstrated profit increases over the most recent 5 years, and what characteristics do they share?"
Has Bias: Does the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility prove that this is the best strategy for businesses to adopt?
It's important that your research question is free of bias or assumptions- these can influence your results when researching and could prevent you from accessing important information. With this example, the question has confirmation bias, which means that a researcher uses evidence to prove assumptions rather than honestly assessing the available information. The potential keywords for researching this question are also automatic- they presume that CSR is already determined to be the best way of doing business. Remember, we want research to answer questions, not confirm what we think we know.