The use of linear regression analysis is common in the social sciences. The purpose of this paper is to show the advantage of a qualitative research method, namely, structured qualitative analysis (SQA), over the linear regression method by using different characteristics of data.
Data were gathered from a study of online consumer behavior in Taiwan. The authors changed the content of the data to have different sets of data. These data sets were used to demonstrate how SQA and linear regression works individually, and to contrast the empirical analyses and empirical results from linear regression and SQA.
The linear regression method uses one equation to model different characteristics of data. When facing a data set containing a big and a small size of different characteristics, linear regression tends to provide an equation by modeling the characteristics of the big size data and subsuming those of the small size. When facing a data set containing similar sizes of data with different characteristics, linear regression tends to provide an equation by averaging these data. The major concern is that the one equation may not be able to reflect the data of various characteristics (different values of independent variables) that result in the same outcome (the same value of dependent variable). In contrast, SQA can identify various variable combinations (multiple relationships) leading to the same outcome. SQA provided multiple relationships to represent different sizes of data with different characteristics so it created consistent empirical results.
Two research methods work differently. The popular linear regression tends to use one equation to model different sizes and characteristics of data. The single equation may not be able to cover different behaviors but may lead to the same outcome. Instead, SQA provides multiple relationships for different sizes of data with different characteristics. The analyses are more consistent and the results are more appropriate. The academics may re-think the existing literature using linear regression. It would be interesting to see if there are new findings for similar problems by using SQA. The practitioners have a new method to model real world problems and to understand different possible combinations of variables leading to the same outcome. Even the relationship obtained from a small data set may be very valuable to practitioners.
This paper compared online consumer behavior by using two research methods to analyze different data sets. The paper offered the manipulation of real data sets to create different data sizes of different characteristics. The variations in empirical results from both methods due to the various data sets facilitate the comparison of both methods. Hence, this paper can serve as a complement to the existing literature, focusing on the justification of research methods and on limitations of linear regression.
The author thanks the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan, ROC, for financial support under project MOST 107-2410-H-035-025.
Huarng, K. and Yu, T. (2019), "A comparative study of online consumer behavior: a tale of two research methods", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOEM-06-2019-0417Download as .RIS
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