Problem Solving for Performance Enhancement

Abstract

The research was carried out to determine the relationship between problem solving and performance enhancement with particular regard to routine, rational and creative problem solving approaches. The research was carried out by making use of the survey questionnaire as the primary data collection technique and peer-reviewed publications for secondary data. The research converged on line managers as the study continued. It was observed that modern day managers choose to give preference to the rationale problem solving over other problem solving approaches and generally seek to employ solutions based on the premises of the specific requirements of the problem at hand.

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Introduction

Context of the Research

Problem solving is an integral part of any manager’s responsibility. In essence, the position of a manager is one that is generally accredited with ensuring that problems do not become a source of inconvenience for the business process. It is imperative to realize that the presence of a problem in a business process – may it be internal or external, serves as a productivity sink (Leadership and management in the information age 2002). As a result, a problem can serve to reduce the output acquired from a business process.

Every business process is susceptible to problems. This is because continuous development requires the identification of problems. It is a universal fact that every business process runs into a problem at varying instances during the process. Regardless of the infinite possible causes that lead to these problems, a problem can come across as a threat to the productivity of business processes. If problems are allowed to remain for elongated periods of time, they can become a threat to the essential utility of the business process. The longer a problem continues to remain within the system, the more it expands in terms of the scope of its implications. As a result, it is imperative to address problems before they expand in terms of the scope of their implications (Dunoon and Wilson 2008). A key element about problems is that the origin of the problem in a business process does not serve to have an influence on the fact that the productivity of the problem will experience a decrease.

In any corporate structure, it is the manager’s responsibility to perform problem resolution. There are countless approaches to problem resolutions that modern day managers bring into use. However, it is imperative to realize that the position of a manager effectively incorporates the resolution of problems (Davis 2009). To a manager, anything that is a threat of a potential threat to productivity can be categorized as a problem.

In order to engage in effective problem resolution, it is imperative for managers to be capable of exercising effective managership. The requirement to be able to exercise effective managership comes into the scope if one considers the fact that most modern day business problems require the management of entire teams in order to ensure that the problems are resolved (Lewis 2004). This understanding holds valid for both line managers and staff managers.

In order to exercise effective managership in lieu of problem solving, it is important for the manager to be adequately aware of problem solving techniques. While a wide array of problem solving techniques are available, not all of them can be considered to be applicable on a given scenario. As a result, an assessment of the problem is necessary before a manager can implement any solution to resolve them (Grossman and Parkinson 2002, Francis and Woodcock 1996). The manager has to be adequately aware of the characteristics of the problem and the problem resolution techniques in order to ascertain which problem resolution technique will deliver the required results.

When problem resolution is placed in the context of performance enhancement, the resultant picture takes a completely different shape than that which would have been attributed to problem solving or performance enhancement alone. Performance enhancement, in the context of problem resolution, requires that the problem is solved to bring forth a degree of utility that can be trusted to sustain itself over time. The objective of most modern day problem resolution techniques is to bring forth a solution that can be expected to resolve the problem, so that it does not arise in the future and any damage caused by the problem is either reversed, replaced of fixed. For instance, if an assembly was to run into a problem that began hindering production rates for the assembly line, then the amalgamation of the demands of performance enhancement with problem resolution would require the solution to be of a nature such that the employees working on the assembly line are able to produce more units than they were able to before the assembly line ran into the problem. Hence, it can be observed that the concept of performance enhancement through problem resolution requires that a vast array of variables are addressed in order to develop a scenario, where the problem is resolved and no room is left for after-effects.

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Under normal conditions, performance enhancement is a question that requires the development of a clear understanding of a wide range of business management concepts. However, when considered through the frame of reference of problem resolution, performance enhancement becomes a question of addressing the issues that gave birth to the problem and the issues that contributed to the development of the problem. As a result, managers who choose to implement problem resolution techniques with the objective of bringing about performance enhancement are generally inclined to spend significant time and resources towards the resolution of the problem so that the solution can be comprehensive and reliable.

Performance enhancement is an extensively researched concept and is frequently studied in different areas including sports, business management, value chain management and the like. However, the approach towards performance enhancement that appears to be most adequately in line with the underlying objective of this research is those that have been stated by Rana (2002). “Performance enhancement is the optimization of the system, to encourage emulation of what the business world calls ‘best practices’, and to harness the energy and initiative of all, the star performers and those at average level” (Rana 2002, 248). It can be observed from this statement that the concept of performance enhancement as addressed by this study is that which has an umbrella like quality. It is not meant to capitalize on strengths and give regard to weaknesses. Performance enhancement cannot be considered to be a solitary concept and always requires that multiple areas are addressed in order to effectively study it. However, since this study shall be studying problem resolution as the primary area of concern and performance enhancement as the supplementary area of concern, attention to only those elements of performance enhancement shall be given that are related to or can be related to problem solving.

The central issue comes in when the focus moves from resolving the problem to the identification of the problem resolution method that is most suited to the problem. This creates a conflict in which the selection of the problem resolution technique becomes related to performance enhancement. It is important to note that modern day business management principles dictate that a problem resolution technique cannot be considered to be feasible unless they contribute to performance enhancement in the organization. As a result, managers seek to find problem resolution techniques that can be trusted to contribute to performance enhancement as well as resolve the problem adequately. However, each problem resolution technique has attributes and characteristics that are specific to it and may not always be compatible with the scenario. This creates a complication that can jeopardize the end-productivity of the problem resolution technique applied.

As highlighted earlier, there are countless problem resolution techniques and the seriousness of the subject compels researchers to bring forth new problem resolution techniques as time passes. Since it is not feasible approach to apply a problem resolution process that leads to a decrease in efficiency in the long run, managers have begun to give increased importance to the process that is incorporated in the problem resolution technique used. This has led to the development of a perception in which the process behind the problem resolution approach is given just as much attention as the actual problem is being given.

Aims & Objective

The study aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the manner in which a manager can serve as a problem solver for an organization. In the process, the study will explore the fundamental approaches to problem solving that are adopted by managers and the implications that these approaches have on the organization’s efficiency.

Relevance of Research

The preliminary research carried out for the purpose of this study showed that there is a large volume of research available on problem resolution techniques in a variety of contexts. In addition, it was also observed that most of the publications pertaining to performance enhancement are limited to the frame of reference of sports and relatively few studies address performance enhancement through the frame of reference of business management. When preliminary research was carried out to determine whether any significant studies had addressed the relationship between performance enhancement and problem solving, it was observed that while there were a few selective publications, most of the developments in this area are those that constitute services being provided by consultants. Furthermore, it was observed that the literature on problem solving is wide and varied and that there is a need to streamline this literature through the development of categories or classifications. Unless problem solving techniques are given a formal structure through which they can be approach, the wide array of currently available problem solving techniques will either become excessively generic or overly complicated.

It became clear at this point that the need for studies on performance enhancement through problem solving is steadily acquiring momentum and businesses are seeking out ways through which they can exercise performance enhancement through the same. In light of this observation, it would not be unfair to surmise that this study holds relevance on account of the deficiency of studies that perceive performance enhancement through the specific scope of problem solving.

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Research Hypothesis

The research shall be conducted while maintaining focus on the following hypotheses.

H0: Line managers generally seek to employ solutions that are based on tactical objectives. This leads to the implementation of problem solving measures that are meant to make use of former solutions; as is the case with the routine problem solving technique.

The hypothesis will be considered to be valid if the research comes to a conclusion that line managers generally seek out ways to resolve present problems by going through the solutions that had been implemented to resolve former problems. If the hypothesis is found to be valid, it will be considered that line managers prefer routine problem over other problem solving techniques. In contrast, they hypothesis will be considered to be invalid if it is concluded that line managers do not choose to give preference to the routine problem solving technique over other problem solving techniques.

The hypothesis has been designed so that it will contribute to the development of a comparative analysis between the three major problem solving techniques. In an attempt to test the hypothesis, the study will be able to probe into the intricacies of the three problems solving techniques; thereby allowing for the development of a thorough understanding of the three problem solving approaches.

H1: Problem solving techniques assist line managers in bringing about performance enhancement in their employees.

The above hypothesis will hold valid if the research findings conclude that problem solving techniques are feasible in the area of performance enhancement. In order for the above hypothesis to be valid, the research will need to identify a cause-and-effect relationship between problem solving and performance enhancement. The validity of this hypothesis will rest heavily on the primary data collected and analyzed during the course of the study. However, if the findings do not indicate a relationship between problem solving and performance enhancement in employees then the hypothesis will be declared to be invalid. In such case, the invalidity of the hypothesis will indicate that the usage of problem solving techniques cannot be targeted towards performance enhancement and the concept is not credible.

Research Questions

The research shall be structured to answer the following questions. It is necessary to realize that these questions will not be allowed to limit the study from delving into the subject of research; their central purpose is to ensure that the analysis proceeds in accordance with the subject of study.

  • How does the manager serve the role of a problem solver in the organizational context?
  • How does a problematic scenario qualify for either one of routine, rational and creative problem solving approaches?
  • How does a problem solving technique contribute to performance enhancement?

In the above given questions, it is essential to note that the first and second questions relate to the first hypothesis while the third question relates to the second hypothesis. Therefore, in effect, the answers to the first and second question will influence the validity of the first hypothesis while the answer to the second question will have an influence on the validity of the second hypothesis.

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Scope of the Research

The research will give special attention to the routine, rational and creative approaches and the primary study that is carried out will consider the manager’s role in the organization in the position of a manager of a group charged with problem solving. Furthermore, the scope of the study will be limited to the line managers in an organization and other areas of the traditional corporate hierarchy will not be explored. This limitation of scope is being adopted in an attempt to ensure that the study does not deviate from the central aims and objectives.

Personal Development Objectives

The study will allow the researcher to develop a practical understanding of the manner in which managership requires the exercising of problem solving techniques. By doing so, the study will enable the researcher to understand the intricacies of problem solving that a manager must face in order to increase the efficiency of the organization. Furthermore, it can be observed from the hypothesis that the study aims to develop a comprehension of the routine, creative and rationale problem solving approaches in light of their popularity with line managers. This will allow the researcher to come into contact with practical approaches to the three problem solving techniques as exercised by line managers. It is expected that the development of this understanding will facilitate the researcher in functioning as an effective manager in the researcher’s professional capacity.

Disclaimer

The study will be carried out with complete and unwavering adherence to copyright laws and ethical considerations. Every proactive attempt shall be made to ensure that the study does not intentionally or unintentionally engage in any plagiarism or plagiarism related instances. Furthermore, it is important to note that while the study will provide a comprehensive insight into the subject of research, it has not been designed to present an exhaustive account on the subject. Therefore, it would be appropriate to ensure that an in-depth analysis is carried out before any of the findings presented by the research are brought into use in the development of a managerial decision.

Structure of the Report

The dissertation for the study will constitute a total of five chapters.

The first chapter will present the context to the research and will serve to outline the aims and objectives of the study. In addition, the chapter will also present the scope of the research and a disclaimer to the study. The chapter will serve to provide the skeletal structure for the research process. The second chapter will present a literature review on the peer-reviewed publications associated with the subject of the study. The chapter will play the dual-purpose role of providing an exploratory insight into the routine, rational and creative approaches to problem solving, while simultaneously assisting in the establishment of a comprehensive understanding of the research variables. The most integral part of the second chapter will be that which will be presented towards the end of the chapter. This part will constitute the conceptual framework for the study and will assist in research process.

The third chapter will outline the research methodology and present a detailed elaboration on the research design that the study shall be adopting. While the fundamental research design has already been established, this chapter will provide a detailed elaboration of the characteristics of the research design; including the primary and secondary research approaches, justification of the research methodology adopted and the research limitations. Once the research methodology has been outlined, the findings from the application of the research methodology shall be presented in the fourth chapter. The fourth chapter will present the findings of the research and will assist in giving the acquired data a structured form that can be processed to derive the required information. Once the findings have been acquired and given an organized structure, the information derived will be used to answer the research questions and satisfy the aims and objectives of the study.

Literature Review

Introduction

The purpose of this chapter is to satisfy the exploratory requirements of the study. For this reason, the contents of this chapter shall constitute data derived from secondary sources. This chapter is not meant to establish a stand on the research hypothesis and will essentially assist in the analysis of the findings. For this reason, the chapter shall converge to form a conceptual framework that will be considered to be of key relevance during data analysis in the later stages of the research.

This chapter will present a detailed discussion on performance enhancement through problem solving before moving on to provide an insight into prioritizing problems. This will then be followed by an elaboration of problem resolution and opportunity derivation as observed in the frame of reference of the relabeling and reframing techniques. The chapter will then highlight the role of problem solving in the context of Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM). In this regard, special attention will be given to the manner in which problems can distract from goals and create internal conflicts. This particular section of the chapter will also take an exploratory approach to the relationship between problem resolution and resource usage. The chapter will then provide a discussion on the challenges in reframing problems for productivity enhancement with regard to the challenge of problem identification and problem creation. Internal and external organizational issues as well as the perception of performance enhancement demands a multilateral approach shall also be addressed. The chapter will also take an exploratory approach to the three problem resolution techniques of routine, rationale and creative problem solving.

Performance Enhancement through Problem Solving

The essential purpose of problem solving is to facilitate performance enhancement. By resolving problems, it becomes possible to eliminate distractions and hindrances that may otherwise serve to reduce productivity (Aken, Berends and Bij 2007). Needless to highlight, an employee’s performance is influenced by a vast array of internal and external variables. In this regard, it stands to reason that in order to facilitate performance enhancement, the manager has to engage in a strategy that addresses as many of these variables as possible to improve performance.

In order to bring about performance enhancement through problem solving, it is important for managers to monitor the solution once it has been implemented. In essence, performance enhancement through problem solving can only be derived when the manager keeps track of how the solution helped resolve the problem. In this regard it becomes important for the manager to develop an accountability system that enables the manager to judge if the solution delivered the outcome that it had been expected to deliver (Raisel and Friga 2002). Unless the manager maintains a close account of the status of the problem before, during and after the resolution of the problem, it becomes significantly complicated to judge whether the problem has contributed to performance enhancement.

For instance, it would be pointless to go through the trouble of implementing a solution if the results acquired from the implementation were not monitored to ensure that the problem did not come forth again. Consider a hypothetical situation in which a line manager has to deal with a conflict between two employees on the assembly line. The conflict between them is causing a bottle neck to be created and the resultant miscommunication is slowing down production. If the manager resolves the problem by sending the two employees home for a little while, the problem will come up once more when the two employees return or the same problem may multiply when the two interact with other employees (Richards 1997). It is therefore important in that the manager seeks out a way to resolve the problem so that the problem does not come forth again. This will require the identification of the root cause of the problem and the development of a regulatory approach through which a repeated incidence of the problem can be prevented.

Problem Resolution and Opportunity Derivation

Perceiving problems as opportunities can help derive productivity from problems. In order to perceive problems as opportunities, managers generally study the problem at hand until they manage to acquire enough knowledge about the problem such that they become capable of reframing the problem. In this regard, managers become capable of giving the problem an appearance so that employees begin to feel enthusiasm and ambition towards the resolution of the problem. Managers do so by doing more than simply relabeling the problems characteristics; they engage in a process that enables them to understand how each characteristic of the problem can help to contribute to the organization’s productivity once it is resolved (Froeb and McCann 2008). Once the manager acquires a comprehensive understanding of the problem in this perspective, the manager then becomes capable of presenting the problem and its characteristics in a way such that they develop an appeal for the employees of the organization.

For instance, a manager can study a problem’s characteristics and ascertain how resolution of the problem will give the individual resolving the problem an opportunity to experience growth in the organization. A common example of this approach can be found in scenarios where the manager has an unpleasant or highly complicated task at hand and the resolution of the task is integral to the organization’s objectives. In such scenarios the manager can make use of this approach to generate interest in employees (Heijden, Bradfield, Burt, Cairns and Wright 2009). This approach not only ensures that the problem will be resolved effectively but also helps ensure that the employee/employees assigned to the problem will learn from the problem resolution process.

Relabeling

In contrast to reframing, the relabeling approach sheds light on the problem at hand. The relabeling of the problem enables the manager to take an approach that borders on the significance of the problem to the individual (Hepworth, Rooney, Rooney, Strom-Gottfried and Larsen 2010). In this approach the employee is made to realize how the resolution of the problem can help the employee get through a difficulty that the employee is experiencing. In essence, the resolution of the problem is associated with a difficulty that the effected party is experiencing.

Relabeling requires the manager to be in complete control of the situation in order to adequately resolve it. This is necessary because the manager needs to persuade the involved parties that the resolution of the problem to experience an increase in productivity.

While relabeling has the advantage of motivating the employee to take an active approach towards the resolution of the problem, it also creates the challenge of ensuring employee concentration on the problem. Since relabeling allows the line manager develops a relationship between the problem at hand and a difficulty that the employee is facing, the manager becomes faced with the challenge of driving the employee to resolve the fundamental problem instead of setting out to address the difficulty (Frasson, Gauthier and Lesgold 1996). In addition, relabeling also has the disadvantage of placing managers in a position where they have to develop a relationship between the employee’s difficulty and the problem at hand. The complication comes in when the manager has to force the establishment of this relationship or where the employee is indifferent to the difficulty he/she is facing. In such cases the practice of relabeling can become highly ineffective.

Reframing

Reframing is generally carried out in cases where the problem at hand is of a nature where the parties involved are not inclined and/or ready to bring the problem to a resolution. In such cases, it becomes increasingly complicated to resolve the problem. Reframing facilitates the problem resolution process by allowing the parties involved to perceive the problem as an opportunity to improve and avoid further damage (VanGundy 2005). Reframing enables the manager to highlight how the resolution of the problem can save the organization and/or the involved parties from running into an increasing degree of complication.

For instance, consider a problem in the supply chain that is having a negative influence on inventory management (Hepworth, Rooney, Rooney, Strom-Gottfried and Larsen 2010). If the line manager is not willing to address the problem to resolve it, reframing can be exercised by highlighting the manager’s role in the organization and how the resolution of the problem will enable the manager to function better and get the most from his employees in the future.

This example illustrates how a manager can be encouraged to strive towards the resolution of the problem. This move can be supplemented by contacting the organization’s supplier and highlighting how the resolution of the issue at hand will help develop the supplier’s track record with the organization and how that can bring incentives for the supplier in the future.

Needless to observe, the reframing approach functions by highlighting the benefits of the problem. The parties involved are invited to realize how the problem can lead to productivity once it is resolved (Vandenbosch 2003). In essence, the problem is associated with a secondary benefit that can be derived once the problem is resolved.

Reframing can come in handy when relabeling is not applicable. However, the usage of reframing has certain disadvantages and limitations that need to be kept in perspective when applying or considering the application of the reframing technique. The reframing technique requires that the problem is related to a benefit that can be achieved by resolving the problem. This creates the challenge of having a reward of sorts once the problem is resolved.

Problem Solving Approaches

There are a number of problem solving approaches that have evolved over time. However, there are three specific problem solving approaches that come to light when problem solving is considered in the organizational context. According to research by (Whetten and Cameron 1998) and (Georgiou 1994), “The most common approaches to problem solving are the routine, the rational and the creative” (Georgiou 1994).

Routine Problem Solving

Routine problem solving techniques are those that have been developed over a period of time. When an individual exercises routine problem solving, he/she makes use of knowledge and experience that has been acquired through observation of scenarios in the past. As a result, the solutions used in routine problem solving procedures are generally those that had been used in the past and were found to be adequate. In this regard, routine problem solving can be perceived as a problem solving procedure that makes use of pre-established solutions to solve new problems.

Routine problem solving is also referred to as non-creative problem solving because this technique does not require the development of new solutions and alternatives. The manager simply considers solutions that have been used in the past and picks the one that is most suitable for the scenario at hand (VanGundy 2005). As a result, this problem solving procedure does not require the manager to exercise any creativity.

It is imperative to realize that in the case of routine problem solving, the efficiency of the manager is reflected in the retention of the solutions that had been used in the past; and the efficiency with which the solutions are applied on the problem at hand.

Routine problem solving is generally used in cases where the scenario allows room for adaptation. This is because it is not always possible to implement a formerly implemented solution on a new problem. In most cases the scenario requires that the former solution is subjected to some changes that can be trusted to allow an adequate application of the solution. This brings the issue of applicability to light.

Routine problem solving is generally carried out in cases where the modus operandi is clear and unambiguous. This enables managers to categorize problems as they come forth. Every time a new problem comes forth, the manager makes sure that the problem is addressed and the dynamics of the problem as well as the solution are committed to memory. As problems arise, they are categorized and this categorization eventually contributes to the establishment to a comprehensive collection of solutions.

The manager begins routine problem resolution by realizing the problem and observing it closely. The comprehension of the problem is then placed in comparison to former problems and the manager judges to decide if any former problem was similar to the current problem. If a similar former problem is found, then the solution that had been implemented on that problem is considered for implementation on the problem at hand (Whinston, Holsapple, Jacob and Rao 2002). The role of the manager in routine problem solving is most prominent when the manager addresses applicability issues during routine problem solving procedures. However, since this form of problem solving does not require any creativity on the part of the manager, this problem solving technique is often also referred to as non-creative problem solving.

Rationale Problem solving

Rationale Problem solving is a problem solving methodology that rests on the use of systematic and logical methods to solve problems. This problem solving technique is generally used in cases where the problem in hand provides the capacity to take out time and assess the problem in detail. The rationale problem solving technique entails solving problems by using a scientific method.

“The systematic comparison approach has many applications in day- to-day business—from choosing a site for a new plant, to hiring a job applicant, to selecting a supplier, to adopting a business strategy— all from among many possibilities. Each of these situations constitutes a problem to be solved, though the solutions may be products, people, places or programs. In a myriad of business contexts, it is useful to know how to structure a systematic comparison of such alternatives, based on weighted criteria, and how to transform the analysis into a written or oral business report. Business environments always involve uncertainty, but systematic analysis allows us to understand clearly and be able to explain to others the reasons behind decisions” (Jameson 2009).

Managers who choose to engage in rationale problem solving are those who choose to approach problems with a careful approach. This approach entails spending time in studying the problem at hand in order to understand the causes that brought forth the problem. This approach is generally used in cases where the problem at hand requires attention to detail and the problem does not demand an instantaneous solution (Richards 1997). When a manager is engaged in rationale Problem solving, he/she carefully evaluates the problem and evaluates the possible solutions. In this problem resolution technique the manager generally chooses to follow a pre-established methodology.

A common approach to Rationale Problem solving is to develop a set of steps that can be followed every time a certain problem comes forth. These stages do not necessarily have to be fixed and can be designed to present varying outcomes with reliance on the problem at hand. In the organizational context, Standard Organizational Procedures are often designed to follow rational problem solving approaches so that the decision taken is not only in line with the strategic goals of the organization but is also in coherence with the needs of the problem at hand. This enables organizations to develop solutions that are customized to the problem at hand while supporting accountability through a systematic and organized approach. It is perhaps because of the same reason that rational problem in the organizational context often involves a setting in which the manager has to communicate with a group of pre-established personnel before proceeding to implement the final decision (Greyling and Müller 2006). However, it is a common practice for managers to skip a stage or two. This skipping of stages is generally attributed to the needs of the problem at hand.

Under normal circumstances, rational problem solving begins when the manager identifies the problem. It is essential to note that the problem can also be perceived at an opportunity for improvement and development at this stage. The manager then looks into the company goal and how the resolution of the problem can have an impact on the organization’s development. In this stage, it is traditional for the manager to gather information from the departments affected by the problem/opportunity. In the third stage, the manager seeks to familiarize him/her with the problem at hand.

He/she studies the problem closely and seeks to familiarize himself/herself with the causes and effects that the problem incorporates (Rae 2009). Once the manager has become adequately aware of the dynamics of the problem, the next stage is that in which the manager attempts to develop solutions. In this stage the manager simply collects all the solutions that can be possibly used to resolve the problem at hand. It is only once all the potentially applicable solutions have been collected that the manager begins to evaluate them in order to determine which solution fits the problem at hand. Once all the solutions have been analysed the manager than selects the solution that is most suitable and implements it. In the final stage the manager engages in a follow-up analysis to determine if the solution achieved its objectives.

Creative Problem Solving

“One of the most important features of the creative problem solving process is the fact it turns a problem into an opportunity to improve the organization. Instead of just relying on traditional ideas or past practices to resolve a problem, the creative approach encourages people to participate in a dynamic setting which encourages new ideas and approaches. The fact is that most organizations have the creative power within their own setting among the staff. The creative process brings together various people including managers, office personnel, line workers or supervisors, and many others. The people chosen to participate depend on the problem being solved” (Millett 2009).

Creative problem solving follows a six step process. The process begins when the individual establishes a sense of alertness that seeks to find challenges to counter and opportunities for improvement. Under normal circumstances, the first stage of the creative problem solving process kicks in as soon as the individual realizes that there is an area that requires his/her attention; that a certain function is not yielding the best of its productivity. Once a problem/opportunity is realized, the next stage is observed when the individual sets out to establish facts (Stanish and Eberle 1996). In this situation the manager seeks to acquire a comprehensive understanding of the context of the problem and the source of the problem. A commonly adopted approach in this stage is one that seeks to acquire an understanding of the problem by inquiring from the people involved.

The third stage of the process comes in when the individual takes a step back from the problem to take a look at the bigger picture. The individual seeks to figure out how the problem fits into the larger context and how it can be addressed so that it can manage during problem resolution. The purpose of this stage is to take out time to make the problem more manageable.

The fourth stage, also referred to as Idea Finding, comes in when the individual begins to collect ideas that can be used as solutions. The individual seeks to think out of the box and challenges himself/herself to come up with solutions that would not come forth under normal circumstances. This is followed by the fifth stage in which the individual once more steps back from the problem at hand; this time the individual seeks to acquire a better understanding of the solutions that have been collected. The individual evaluates the solutions to decide which solution fits the bill. Subsequently, the individual either chooses the idea that is most adequate or uses the best ideas to form a hybrid idea of sorts (Vandenbosch 2003). This is seen in the last stage of the creative problem solving process. In this stage the individual develops a road map to implement the idea and considers the odds that are present in the implementation of the idea.

It can be observed that unlike the rational problem solving approach, the creative problem solving approach requires that a certain process is followed for problem resolution. Unlike rational problem solving, stages cannot be skipped out. This is mainly because the creative problem solving process is formed so that each stage comes forth as an extension of the preceding stage.

Performance Enhancement Demands a Multilateral Approach

It is because of the above presented reasons that problem resolving for performance enhancement demands a multilateral approach. This is because of the fact that at any given time, any given problem can be present because of multiple reasons. A problem at hand may also be the product of a problem that was not dealt with or was not adequately addressed in the past. Because of this, most problem solving approaches demand that the problem is studied extensively before a decision is taken and a solution is implemented.

Prioritizing problems

In essence, modern day problem resolution does not simply demand that the problem is resolved effectively with minimal usage of resources; in fact, modern day problem resolution requires that the problem is resolved so that it contributes to the effectiveness and/or efficiency of the organization. In this regard, it has become necessary for the problem to be addressed as an opportunity. This approach comes from a pro-active perspective on problem resolution which dictates that while problems are being resolved they can be treated as warning signs for future complications (Whinston, Holsapple, Jacob and Rao 2002). As a result it is recommended that the modern day manager has to ensure that the problem does not simply come to a resolution but the solution implemented also adds to the efficiency of the organization. In order to do so, managers often engage in problem resolution by prioritizing problems.

Since it is virtually impossible for all problems to be resolved in unison and it is similarly impossible to create a system that is completely invulnerable to problems, managers tend to adopt an approach that prioritizes problems.

One approach is that which entails taking an active account of the problems at hand and the upcoming problems in order to ascertain which problem should be resolved first and which problems should be resolved afterwards. While criteria for prioritizing problems may vary, a general understanding inculcates that the problem that has the potential to cause the most deficiency in productivity should be resolved before others.

A common approach that managers adopt is to sort out problems with reliance on the manner in which the organization’s strategy dictates. In this approach managers seek to go by a pre-determined and generally pre-established roadmap that allows them to prioritize their problems. Such approaches genially tend to follow standard operating procedures or departmental objectives. In such scenarios managers do not attribute priorities to problems; in fact this approach entails that priorities are established beforehand and then each priority is dealt with by identifying the problem that has an influence on it.

Modern day business practices are giving increasing relevance to the economy in decreasing resource expenditure. As a result it becomes necessary to take into account the amount of resource usage that a problem will require to achieve resolution when prioritizing problems. In this perspective, it may not always be productive to prioritize problems on the basis of the deficiency in productivity that will come forth as a result of the problems since excessive resource usage may mean the resolution of the problem gives no benefit to the organization (Jeffery and Linsenbach 2006). As a result, the question of problem prioritization in the modern day perspective requires managers to ensure that problems are prioritized so that the resolution of one problem facilitates the resolution of the next problem. This creates a cyclic effect of efficiency in which the last problem to be resolved requires the least amount of resources whereas the first problem to be resolved requires an optimal amount of resources. This approach brings the literature analysis to the body of research that tends to perceive problems as opportunities.

Problem Solving and SHRM

“Strategic HRM can be regarded as a general approach to the strategic management of human resources in accordance with the intentions of the organisation on the future direction it wants to take. It is concerned with longer-term people issues and macro-concerns about structure, quality, culture, values, commitment and matching resources to future need. It has been defined as: All those activities affecting the behaviour of individuals in their efforts to formulate and implement the strategic needs of business. The pattern of planned human resource deployments and activities intended to enable the forms to achieve its goals” (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development 2010).

Problem solving is an integral part of SHRM practices (Fisher, Schoenfeldt and Shaw 1996). The relevance of problem solving with regard to SHRM comes forth through the fact that a problem in an organization generally shows up through the employees of the organization. It is a common practice for a newly detected problem to be reported by communicating through an inter-office memo. Once the problem has been identified, the resolution of the problem is generally carried out by assigning specific human capital to the problem. More specifically, the organization’s SHRM strategies tend to come into direct contact with the tactics created to resolve the problem. It is perhaps because of the same reason that SHRM principles now consider problem solving to be a key component of SHRM activities.

Problems can distract from goals

One of the most important ways that problems can impact the organization is by distracting the organization’s human capital from the organization’s strategic goals. As a result, effective problem resolution requires that the problem is addressed while the strategic focus of the organization does not suffer. It is important for managers to perceive problems as parts of the organization’s functioning that need to be addressed so that the organization can continue to function effectively (Heijden, Bradfield, Burt, Cairns and Wright 2009). A common mistake made in this regard is that managers tend to over-concentrate on the problem at hand and lose focus of the strategic objective as a result.

Problems can create internal conflicts

One of the most sensitive implications of problems in the organizational context is that problems can create internal conflicts when they come forth. The generation of internal conflicts takes on a serious priority when internal conflicts come into play in the setting of a team. Internal conflicts in a team-setting can serve to bring down the team’s productivity levels (Froeb and McCann 2008). Therefore it is of the utmost importance to develop a mechanism that identifies problems and addresses them so that the problems are not given the capacity to generate internal conflicts.

Problems can waste resources

A common implication of problems is that problems require resources in order to be addressed and resolved. Time-based projects can suffer extensively as a result of this particular characteristic. The complication arises from the fact that problems can have long term consequences if left unaddressed (Rasiel and Friga 2002). It stands to reason that if a problem is ignored on a continuous basis, it may require an extensive degree of resources when it is addressed in its evolved form.

Challenges in Reframing Problems for Productivity Enhancement:

It can be observed that problem resolution often requires managers to present problems in an optimistic light. A common mistake made in this regard is that which pertains to the presentation of the problem in a manner such that it is over-simplified or the sensitivity of the problem is not adequately presented. In such cases, the employees assigned to the resolution of the problem may exercise a somewhat non-serious behaviour. This may lead to the creation of a deficiency in the degree of commitment that employees are willing to give to the problem. Exercising an unrealistically positive approach to the problem may prove to be counter-productive.

Similarly, managers sometimes make the mistake of skipping out on the integral stages of problem resolution in which the problem is studied closely and the characteristics of the problem are adequately comprehended. In such cases, the managers move directly to relabeling of the problem’s characteristics (Vandenbosch 2003). This approach can add redundant difficulty to the problem resolution process and may even discourage employees to take on challenges in the future once they come across the fact that the complications in the problem have been under-estimated by the manager. In this regard, it is imperative for managers to ensure that the problem at hand is treated carefully and the characteristics of the problem are realized and given the relevance that they merit.

The challenge of problem identification and problem creation

A commonly observed complication that arises in problem recognition is when the organization moves from problem identification to complication generation (Cox and Hoover 2007). In such cases the organization moves from a position from where it can identify problems, to a position from where it tends to create complications in otherwise stable scenarios. This scenario is created when the organization moves from learning from its problems to a form in which the organization begins to consider the identification of problems to be the objective rather than the resolution of the problem. In such cases it becomes common to find a large collection of problems waiting to be resolved with additional problems piling up. This may create a scenario in which the resolution of problems is delayed beyond acceptable extents and problems evolve into crises situations.

Internal & External Organizational Issues

Assumptions lead managers to presume elements that may or may not be present in real life. Decisions made on the basis of assumptions cannot always be trusted since assumptions tend to rely heavily on routine problem solving techniques whereas modern day problem solving demands a more broad approach. Assumptions can lead personnel to make decisions based on inconclusive judgments (Okes 2010). It would not be unfair to state that assumptions are generally brought into use in areas where there is a deficiency of facts (Frasson, Gauthier and Lesgold 1996). Needless to highlight, the absence of facts can present a complicated scenario. However, assumptions can also serve a productive purpose if they are used adequately and their usage is not exploited. Generally such assumptions are derived from forecasted projections and studies of the organization’s performance.

For instance, the availability error is a commonly found problem in organizations. Employees tend to take the route that they consider to be most convenient for them. More responsible employees tend to find a route that provides them with a rationalized balance of commitment to the organization and ease of execution. This tendency can be considered to be an internal factor that contributes to the increase in the degree of complication of problems. While the causes for the incidence of availability error may be relative, debatable and widely varied, there is little doubt in the fact that availability error is generally observed in cases where a problem requires resolution. Employees tend to adopt an approach according to which the easiest route is that which will resolve their problem (Okes 2010). It can be observed that at this point the employee considers the task of problem resolution to be a problem in itself; rather than as an opportunity through which improvement can be derived. Such characteristics are generally observed in organizations with a weak corporate culture and an un-committed human capital. Elements such as these are not problems but add to the severity of the problems and pose a challenge when the topmost priority is the resolution of the problem. Availability error can hinder an employee from carrying our creative problem solving effectively if the employee chooses to implement the easiest solution rather than seeking out the most adequate solution.

Similarly, organizational culture may also suffer if employees are prone to exercise confirmation bias. Confirmation bias can be observed in team-based settings where team members attempt to make contributions by putting forth ideas that can be developed into solutions for problems (Aken, Berends and Bij 2007). If a team member was to suffer from confirmation bias, much of the teams time and resources would be taken up in ascertaining whether the member’s recommendations are genuine recommendations or if the member is exercising confirmation bias and is mainly insistent upon the authenticity of his/her recommendations.

When considered in the context of the modern day organization, problem solving can be addressed through the classification of problems into internal and external problems. Internal problems are those that tend to deal with internal aspects such as those that deal directly with the organization and are within the authoritative jurisdiction of the organization. External problems are those that are spread out across the organization’s value chain to areas that do not necessarily allow the organization to exercise authority. However, in both these context, the organization’s culture plays a highly significant role.

“Organizational culture also can impact how well problem solving works. If problems are seen as negative, then people do not want to be involved for fear they will be blamed when things do not go well. A culture that sees problems as inherent to life and the opportunity to learn and self-correct will be much more open to exploring the multitude of issues that may cause them” (Okes 2010).

Summary

It can be observed that all three problem resolution approaches entail the acquisition of a comprehensive understanding of the problem at hand before the solution is decided upon. Problems can become difficult to identify and address; this often requires the problem to be subjected to a critical analysis to determine the nature of the problem before attempting to resolve it.

The manager’s responsibilities generally entail the development of solutions to problems. While the manager’s responsibilities may be varied with dependence on the job description, the essential purpose of the manager remains rooted in the responsibility of problem resolution. The manager’s position in an organization is generally perceived as a position that holds significant authority over the organization’s functions. In essence, the position of authority comes as a result of the responsibility that the manager is assigned. By serving as a problem resolution mechanism for the organization, the manager is placed in a position where he/she continues to contribute to the effectiveness of the organization.

Since problems cause deficiency in productivity in an organization, it can be inferred that the manager’s function and position as a problem resolution mechanism helps ensure stable productivity. It can also be observed that the manager has the liberty to take advantage of a wide variety of approaches in order to engage in effective problem resolution. The literature review makes it clear that problem resolution approaches are diverse and are present in generalised forms to enable adaptability to differing problems.

The literature asserts that performance enhancement in employees has a definitive relationship with employee motivation and enthusiasm towards problem resolution. As a result the manager’s objective to exercise problem resolution techniques has its roots deep in employee management. In essence, the manager needs to resolve problems by actively making sure that the employees are a part of the problem resolution process in order to resolve the problem so that performance enhancement can be achieved. It was observed that literature pertaining to problem resolution tends to frequently highlight the necessity of employee involvement. This is reflected through the necessity of a comprehensive understanding of the problem and/or the manner in which the manager has to ensure that the employees approach the problem with a positive perspective.

Research Methodology

Introduction

The establishment of the research methodology is the most important part of the study. It not only dictates the roadmap that the study will follow but also has a direct influence on the data collection, handling and analysis techniques that will be exercised during the course of the study (Walden 2006). It is because of this reason that the research design is only established once a clear and comprehensive insight into the intricacies and demands of the study has been developed (Trochim 2006). This chapter will present a discussion that is meant to explore the research-based requirements of the study and the research design that is most suited to the research.

“Well-conducted research is vital to the success of global heath endeavours. Not only does research form the foundation of program development and policies all over the world, but it can also be translated into effective global health programs. Research draws its power from the fact that it is empirical: rather than merely theorizing about what might be effective or what could work, researchers go out into the field and design studies that give policymakers hard data on which they can base their decisions. Furthermore, good research produces results that are examinable by peers, methodologies that can be replicated, and knowledge that can be applied to real-world situations. Researchers work as a team to enhance our knowledge of how to best address the world’s problems” (Unite For Sight, Inc. 2010).

The chapter will shed light on the available broad categories of research approaches that are available for the study. In this regard, the chapter will seek to take on an approach in which an evaluation of sorts will be carried out before finalizing the research design (Thomas 2006). The chapter will come to a conclusive note by highlighting the potential limitations of the research design that is eventually adopted and the manner in which the researcher sought to overcome those limitations.

Research Paradigms

“Research paradigms are rooted in philosophy paradigm, determine the direction of researches; how the researches reach to the reality, how they answer the questions of the seeking mind. [There are] four main research paradigms distinguished so far are: Positivism, Constructivism, Critical theory and Post structuralism. These paradigms create not only the mindset of the researcher -what the reality is and how it can be accessed – but also help him/her use the research methodologies, research methods, and apply the research findings” (Salmani and Akbari 2010).

Positivism Paradigm

The positivism paradigm entails that every question can be answered through the process of fact collection and subsequent analysis. The paradigm insists that once facts have been collected and the question has been answered, the answer to the question can be considered to be valid in the capacity of scientific law. The application of the positivism approach in social dimensions such as business management entails the usage of an approach that demands quantitative precision. This is reflective of the characteristics of the paradigm to give consideration and relevance to facts. In addition, the paradigm also calls for the development of an objective criterion in order to bring down the role of human intervention in the study. The researcher is considered to be a purely external and unattached element to the research. Also, this paradigm also calls for problems to be broken down into their simpler components so that fact collection can be carried out effectively (Salmani and Akbari 2010). It is customary for this paradigm to be exercised in cases where the research is meant to facilitate further study in the field since a research carried out with the positivism paradigm as the essential groundwork allows the study to be related to other researches that are grounded in the same paradigm.

Constructivism

“Constructivism is a perspective in philosophy that views all of our knowledge as ‘constructed’, under the assumption that it does not necessarily reflect any external ‘transcendent’ realities; it is contingent on convention, human perception, and social experience” (Salmani and Akbari 2010). The paradigm is frequently used in the application of the qualitative approach since it gives considerable regard to the social relationships and their attributes. In essence, this particular paradigm seeks to deviate from ontological reality and choose to focus on constructive reality instead.

Critical Theory

“Critical theory is social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole, in contrast to traditional theory oriented only to understanding or explaining it. Horkheimer wanted to distinguish critical theory as a radical, emancipatory form of Marxian theory, critiquing both the model of science put forward by logical positivism and what he and his colleagues saw as the covert positivism and authoritarianism of orthodox Marxism and communism” (Salmani and Akbari 2010).

Post Structuralism

Post structuralism is rooted in twentieth century philosophy as presented by French philosophers. This paradigm tends to go against structuralism and argues that the separation of aspects relating to culture from those that pertain to meaning is a futile exercise and is one that should be avoided by researchers. In addition, the research also contends that researches should not be based on absolution and should give regard to ambiguity and variance (Salmani and Akbari 2010). This is because the paradigm calls researchers to consider the broad implications of the individual in their studies instead of focusing on the characteristics and behaviour of the individual in isolation.

Research Approaches

Considering the sensitivity that is attributed to the development and determination of an adequate research design in order for the study to be credible, certain perimeters have been established to bring about a broad standardization across research approaches. These perimeters function by allowing the researcher to ascertain the nature of the study and the kind of data collection, handling and evaluation techniques that the research should consider and eventually employ.

Qualitative Approach

The qualitative approach is characterized by an unstructured nature of data. The approach is generally used when the data that has to be collected cannot be attributed to any specific scale or gradient of measurement.

“A qualitative approach is a general way of thinking about conducting qualitative research. It describes, either explicitly or implicitly, the purpose of the qualitative research, the role of the researcher(s), the stages of research and the method of data analysis” (Trochim 2006).

Data for the qualitative approach can be collected from a wide variety of sources because it does not require the establishment of specifics. As a result, data collection can be carried out by using interviews, surveys, observations, television broadcasts, radio broadcasts and other sources. However, in order to ensure effectiveness in the implementation of the qualitative approach, it is necessary for the data evaluation and data handling procedures to be given concern before they are implemented. The qualitative approach is generally brought into implementation when the purpose of the research is to develop an understanding of a cause behind an affect. In this regard, it is customary for a qualitative approach to have a somewhat exploratory element to it.

Qualitative data is generally composed of attitudes, expressions, opinions, ideas, perceptions and principles. The data is recorded and then subjected to an analysis based on a pre-determine analysis procedure. There are a number of data analysis procedures that are applicable on qualitative data such as the grounded theory and the like.

“Often qualitative data will form the basis of a pilot study, where the aim is to get the best possible feel for the situation through broadly defined data. The results from the pilot study are then used to produce a relatively more quantified approach – e.g. from an open ended interview to a partially structured questionnaire” (Computing Education Research Group 2009).

However, it is imperative to note that the qualitative data does have certain disadvantages to it. The use of the qualitative approach makes it considerably difficult to make use of former approaches. This is because the compatibility of the perimeters of former researches with the current study comes into question. As a result, there is a significant margin of ambiguity in studies that involve the qualitative approach. The use of the qualitative approach also becomes questionable when the data in hand is of a numerically expressible nature. In such cases, it can become significantly difficult to translate the quantitative data into qualitative and explanatory terms.

Quantitative Approach

“Quantitative research uses methods adopted from the physical sciences that are designed to ensure objectivity, generalizability and reliability. These techniques cover the ways research participants are selected randomly from the study population in an unbiased manner, the standardized questionnaire or intervention they receive and the statistical methods used to test predetermined hypotheses regarding the relationships between specific variables. The researcher is considered external to the actual research, and results are expected to be replicable no matter who conducts the research” (Weinreich 2006).

The quantitative approach is a highly structured approach and is characterized by a significant degree of certainty. The approach is generally used when there is a need to make use of data that is numerically expressible and hence measurable in specific and precise terms. As a result of this, the quantitative approach leaves little room for ambiguity.

The quantitative, on account of its specific nature, allows the researcher to make use of statistical formulae and techniques to carry out data analysis. Because of this particular characteristic, it becomes possible for the scope of the study to be expanded to the degree to which the statistical formulae allow. It is therefore customary for the quantitative approach to be used in cases where there is a need for increased specificity and accuracy. The quantitative approach is also used when the purpose of the study is to establish an absolute position on a pre-established hypothesis. The specific nature of the quantitative approach allows it to establish in clear terms whether a particular is valid or not based on the collected observations.

“The strengths of the quantitative paradigm are that its methods produce quantifiable, reliable data that are usually generalizable to some larger population. Quantitative measures are often most appropriate for conducting needs assessments or for evaluations comparing outcomes with baseline data. This paradigm breaks down when the phenomenon under study is difficult to measure or quantify. The greatest weakness of the quantitative approach is that it de-contextualizes human behaviour in a way that removes the event from its real world setting and ignores the effects of variables that have not been included in the model” (Weinreich 2006).

However, much like the qualitative approach, the quantitative approach also harbours particular limitations and/or disadvantages that should be kept in consideration when applying or considering the application of the quantitative approach. The quantitative approach demands that the data is numerically expressible. This often encourages researchers to collect data through the survey questionnaire or interview approach with closed-ended questions. However, this generates a scenario in which the data has to go through a strenuous process before it can be subjected to the qualitative. It can be observed that the relevance of the proper designing of data collection instruments takes on a critical relevance in this approach.

Inductive Approach

The inductive approach is generally used in cases where the research seeks to work in a direction that is essentially in opposition to the deductive approach. The inductive approach is used when the research is being carried out to make use of a specific understanding to comprehend the characteristics of a broader generalization. For instance, an inductive approach can entail the assessment of an organization to determine if a particular theory relating to the respective industry is valid or not. In this regard, the inductive approach takes root when the researcher begins to collect data in lieu of the theory. Unlike the deductive approach, the hypothesis comes forth as the third stage of the process; once the collected data has been subjected to an evaluation and analysis to derive patterns and trends. In essence, the collected data serves to develop a hypothesis that essentially brings forth a theory. It can be surmised that there is a particular element of uncertainty that the inductive approach incorporates on account of its bottom-up structure.

“The purposes for using an inductive approach are to (a) condense raw textual data into a brief, summary format; (b) establish clear links between the evaluation or research objectives and the summary findings derived from the raw data; and (c) develop a framework of the underlying structure of experiences or processes that are evident in the raw data. The general inductive approach provides an easily used and systematic set of procedures for analyzing qualitative data that can produce reliable and valid findings. Although the general inductive approach is not as strong as some other analytic strategies for theory or model development, it does provide a simple, straightforward approach for deriving findings in the context of focused evaluation questions” (Thomas 2006).

Deductive Approach

Deductive approach begins with general ideas (such as theory, laws, principles) and based on them, you form specific hypotheses which can be tested in order to support the general ideas. If the hypothesis is supported, you may want to say that the initial (general) idea was indeed correct” (Kim 2000).

The deductive approach is generally used when the purpose of the research is to develop an understanding form a generalized scenario and then making use of the understanding to study a specific case. In this regard, the deductive is often perceived to be a highly convergent approach. It is customary for a deductive approach to begin by the establishment of a theory. The theory can also be pre-established theory that is selected for the development of a hypothesis. It is the development of the hypothesis from the theory that is considered to be the first step of the deductive approach. Once a hypothesis has been developed, the deductive approach moves on to collect observations with consideration to the perimeters of the hypothesis. This leads the research to develop a clear insight into the hypothesis; which eventually translates into a definitive position regarding the validity of the theory from which the hypothesis had been derived. It is perhaps because of the same reason that the deductive approach is also commonly referred to as the top-down approach when the approach is expressed in terms of the process that it incorporates.

Data Collection

Data collection techniques tend to involve the development of data collection instruments and criteria. The development of these two elements is crucial for effective data collection. Unless the data collection instruments have not been designed to be adequate and the criterion for data collection has not been established, data collection can serve to be a futile and pointless exercise.

As highlighted earlier, primary data collection can be carried out by making use of any of the various data collection methods that are available. However, there are certain characteristics that need to be defined before adequate primary data collection can be carried out. In this regard, primary data collection instruments need to be designed so that they are capable of providing the researcher with the exact nature of data that is required. For instance, the observation approach for primary data collection can become jeopardized if the observer is not adequately aware of the precise perimeters that need to be observed carefully. Therefore, data collection for primary data requires a comprehensive understanding of the variables of the study and the nature of the research.

Secondary data collection techniques are relatively simpler than primary data collection techniques since they generally require the involvement of former studies and publications. However, when collecting secondary data it is important to ensure that the data is being acquired from a credible resource and is reliable in nature. In this regard, the reliability of the research is not simply a question of the scope of the former research but relies more heavily on the extent to which the former study is compatible with the present study.

Chosen Research Methodology

The chosen research design is a combination of primary and secondary data. The research methodology was established after poring over a large volume of literature pertaining to the subject of the study and the available research approaches. The above discussion on research design is indicative of the degree to which the research design was established after carefully considering the characteristics and demands of the study.

Primary Research

The primary research was be conducted by making use of the survey questionnaire approach. For this purpose, a survey questionnaire was developed to carry out data collection. The survey questionnaire was designed to acquire a comprehensive insight into the respondents’ approach to problem solving and the perceptions that the respondents’ hold about problem solving. The questionnaire used the Likert scale. The Likert scale was chosen to ensure that the respondents’ observations could be taken into consideration and computed adequately.

The survey was designed to be filled out by mid-level managers because mid-level managers are actively involved in problem solving in organizations. In fact, mid-level managers are often the first decision makers to address the problem once the problem has come forth. In addition, the implementation of the survey questionnaire was designed so that most of the managers had received education that involved the development of an awareness regarding problem solving techniques.

The questions in the questionnaire used the Likert scale to explore different aspects of the respondents’ approach and perception of problem solving. In particular, the questionnaire was designed to carry out a cross-analysis to determine weaknesses in the respondents’ approaches to problem solving and the conflict between practical approaches and perceptions to the same. In addition to the Likert scale, the survey also contained a set of open-ended at the concluding stages of the survey questionnaire to allow the respondents a chance to elaborate on their responses.

The survey questionnaire was developed to explore the three critical decision making approaches. The questionnaire was divided into sections to facilitate the respondents in providing accurate answers. The survey questionnaire began by asking the respondent to provide basic and demographical information. This was followed by delving into the three approaches to problem solving.

The first approach to be explored was the routine problem solving approach. This section of the survey questionnaire allowed the respondent to answer questions that were designed to evaluate the respondent’s perception regarding the fundamentals of the rationale problem solving approach. The questionnaire began by asking whether the respondent considers it possible to customize former solutions for new problems. This was followed by a hypothetical question that sought to inquire if respondent considers it adequate to use former solutions on new problems. The third question in this regard was that which sought to inquire if the respondent considers routine problem solving to be a non-creative approach. It can be observed that the section was explored through a three-question structure in which each question was designed to highlight a key attribute of the subject problem solving approach. This approach was adopted to ensure that the respondent’s memory about the problem solving approaches could be jogged as the questionnaire proceeded. This approach was utilized throughout the survey questionnaire.

The next section was designed to explore the respondent’s perceptions regarding the rationale problem solving approach. The first question sought to determine the participant’s position on the need for the evaluation of a problem before it can be resolved. This was followed by asking the respondent to express his/her opinion on whether a problem should be perceived as an opportunity. This question was important because the consideration of a problem as an opportunity is a key element of the rationale problem solving process. The last question in the area of rationale problem solving sought to determine the respondent’s position on the necessity of the alignment of a problem’s solution to the company strategy.

The questionnaire then proceeded to explore creative problem solving by inviting the respondent to provide his/her opinion on the relevance of the collection of facts for effective problem solving. This was followed by inviting the respondent to present his/her opinion on the necessity of planning for effective problem solving. The section designed to address creative problem solving came to an end by inquiring upon the necessity of the larger picture before implementing the solution.

Having explored the three key approaches to problem solving, the survey questionnaire then moved on to explore the respondent’s general perceptions regarding problem solving. The respondent was asked to express his/her opinion on whether he/she seeks out clarification from a superior when a complication arises. This was followed by inquiring upon the participant’s opinion on the effectiveness team-based problem solving strategies. The survey questionnaire also inquired from the respondent if the respondent feels good when he/she is part of the solution of a problem. This was followed by inquiring upon the degree to which the respondent feels elated when he/she resolves a problem. The final question in this section and in the survey questionnaire was that which sought to inquire upon the respondent’s position on the significance of the evaluation of the solution after it has been implemented.

The questions in the survey questionnaire were fashioned so that they allowed the respondent to place himself/herself in the hypothetical scenarios that the questions presented. This approach was adopted because the questionnaire was designed for mid-level managers who had either been in decision making capacities that demanded problem resolution or were currently in such positions.

Sampling

The sampling technique employed for the purpose of this study was essentially based on the random sampling technique. A number of sampling techniques were considered before it was decided that the random sampling technique was the most justifiable technique for this research.

“Simple random sampling is the basic sampling technique where we select a group of subjects (a sample) for study from a larger group (a population). Each individual is chosen entirely by chance and each member of the population has an equal chance of being included in the sample. Every possible sample of a given size has the same chance of selection; i.e. each member of the population is equally likely to be chosen at any stage in the sampling process” (Department of Statistics – University of Glasgow 2010).

Secondary Research

Secondary research for the study was carried out by making use of former studies that pertained to the subject of the study. Journal articles and books were given special consideration in this regard. The secondary research played a significant role in satisfying the exploratory requirements of the research process (Badke 2004). In addition, a considerable part of the secondary research was carried out before the establishment of the research questions in order to equip the study with an adequate knowledge of the nature of the study. In this regard, a significant volume of secondary research was carried out (Blaxter, Hughes and Tight 2006).

Limitations of Research Methodology

The primary research is being conducted by making use of a survey questionnaire and the survey questionnaire has been designed to function as a combination of closed ended and open ended questions. While the survey questionnaire is a commonly used approach in research conduction, it is not one without its host of limitations (Castillo 2010). The first limitation of the survey questionnaire comes in through the researcher’s end. The credibility of the survey questionnaire is reliant heavily on the ability of the researcher to put together the questions effectively. In addition, another limitation that comes forth as a result of the use of the survey questionnaire approach is that which pertains to the ability of the respondents to understand the questions (Computing Education Research Group 2009). Regardless of the time and effort that the researcher places into the development of the survey questionnaire, the eventual results can jeopardize the entire study if the results are based on inaccurate responses.

In order to overcome this limitation and other related limitations pertaining to the survey questionnaire, the researcher took special care to ensure that the questionnaire was implemented only after it had been drafted and corrected multiple times (Goddard and Melville 2004). In addition, the respondents were given a briefing about the study and the context and objectives of the study before they were invited to fill out the survey questionnaires. The respondents were briefed about the purpose of each question and the context in which the question had been asked in the survey questionnaire (Healey and Prus 2009). The respondents were also allowed to ask questions about the questions while they filled them out if they had any questions, queries or confusions about the questions.

There is another limitation that comes forth because of the increased role of former studies in a research process such as this particular one. When using secondary studies, there remains the ever-present risk that certain limitations may have been present at the time when former studies were carried out (Healey and Prus 2009; Ketchen and Bergh 2006). As a result, former studies may have had implications on the findings of those studies. Using such studies may have an influence on the findings of the current study. In order to counter this limitation, the secondary data used in the research was carefully selected (Kim 2000). The selection was carried out based on criteria. The criteria required that the former studies used were peer reviewed publications.

Yet another limitation is that which is present in the sampling of the population. “There are two types of sampling risks, first is the risk of incorrect acceptance of the research hypothesis and the second is the risk for incorrect rejection. These risks pertain to the possibility that when a test is conducted to a sample, the results and conclusions may be different from the results and conclusions when the test is conducted to the entire population. The risk of incorrect acceptance pertains to the risk that the sample can yield a conclusion that supports a theory about the population when it is actually not existent in the population. On the other hand, the risk of incorrect rejection pertains to the risk that the sample can yield a conclusion that rejects a theory about the population when in fact, the theory holds true in the population” (Castillo 2010).

Findings & Analysis

Introduction

The implementation of the survey questionnaire began by providing the respondents with a comprehensive briefing on the subject of the study and the context of the research. The respondents were reassured repeatedly that their responses would be used solely for the purpose of this research and no secondary use shall be made without their permission. In addition, the respondents were also given the liberty to remain anonymous while contributing to the study. It is imperative to realize that the involvement of the respondents in the study was on a voluntary basis and every attempt was made to ensure that the respondents did not experience any form of discomfort during the study. The respondents were also given the right to refuse participation in the study at any time during the collection of information after going through the survey questionnaire. In order to ensure that the respondents answered the questions as accurately as possible, the respondents were given a significant amount of time to answer the questions.

Demographics

The survey questionnaire was implemented on around 25 managers. Once the responses had been collected, it was observed that 2 of the collected responses were not usable and therefore the findings for the study were built on the results collected from 23 respondents.

The survey findings revealed that 47% of the respondents were male while 53% of the respondents were female.

In the area of age distribution, it was observed that 17% of the respondents were present in the age bracket of 18 years of age to 20 years of age. 35% of the respondents were present in the age bracket of 21 years of age to 30 years of age while 24% of the respondents were in the age bracket of 31 years of age to 40 years of age. 21% of the respondents belonged to the age bracket of 41 years of age to 50 years of age. The remaining 3% of the respondents were over 50 years of age.

Specific Problem Solving Techniques

This section will provide an insight into the observations made from the section of the questionnaire that sought to identify the perception of the respondents regarding different problem solving techniques.

Routine Problem Solving

Former solutions can be customized to apply them on new problems

It was observed that 37% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that former solutions can be customized to apply them on new problems, while 31% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that 2% of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 22% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea that former solutions can be customized to apply them on new problems. It was also observed that the remaining 8% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

Using former solutions on new problems is an effective problem solving approach

It was observed that 21% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that using former solutions on new problems is an effective problem solving approach, while 7% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that 1% of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 39% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea that using former solutions on new problems is an effective problem solving approach. It was also observed that the remaining 32% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

Using formerly applied solutions is a non-creative approach

It was observed that 21% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that using formerly applied solutions is a non-creative approach, while 9% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that none of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 39% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea that using formerly applied solutions is a non-creative approach. It was also observed that the remaining 31% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

Rationale Problem Solving

A problem cannot be solved until it is adequately evaluated

It was observed that 23% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that a problem cannot be solved until it is adequately evaluated, while 53% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that none of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 15% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea that a problem cannot be solved until it is adequately evaluated. It was also observed that the remaining 9% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

A problem should be perceived to be an opportunity

It was observed that 28% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that a problem should be perceived to be an opportunity, while 32% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that 2% of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 21% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea that a problem should be perceived to be an opportunity. It was also observed that the remaining 17% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

The solution to a problem should always be in line with company strategy

It was observed that 13% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that the solution to a problem should always be in line with company strategy, while 72% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that none of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 11% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea that the solution to a problem should always be in line with company strategy. It was also observed that the remaining 4% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

Creative Problem Solving

It is imperative to collect facts into account before setting out to resolving a problem

It was observed that 23% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that it is imperative to collect facts into account before setting out to resolving a problem, while 38% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that 1% of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 21% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea that it is imperative to collect facts into account before setting out to resolving a problem. It was also observed that the remaining 17% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

Problem solving cannot be carried out effectively unless significant planning is carried out

It was observed that 30% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that problem solving cannot be carried out effectively unless significant planning is carried out, while 49% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that none of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 13% of the respondents was observed to be in disagreement to the idea that problem solving cannot be carried out effectively unless significant planning is carried out. It was also observed that the remaining 8% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

A problem cannot be adequately resolved unless the manager takes the larger picture into account

It was observed that 33% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that a problem cannot be adequately resolved unless the manager takes the larger picture into account, while 38% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that 3% of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 20% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea that a problem cannot be adequately resolved unless the manager takes the larger picture into account. It was also observed that the remaining 6% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

General Perceptions regarding problem solving

Seek clarification from a superior if you run into complications

It was observed that 17% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that they seek clarification from a superior if you run into complications, while 31% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that none of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 27% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea of seeking clarification from a superior if they run into complications. It was also observed that the remaining 25% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 17%
Strongly Agree 31%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 0%
Disagree 27%
Strongly Disagree 25%
Total 100%

Table 12. Seek clarification from a superior if you run into complications.

Team-based problem solving techniques are effective

It was observed that 34% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that team-based problem solving techniques are effective, while 42% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that 1% of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 7% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea that team-based problem solving techniques are effective. It was also observed that the remaining 16% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 34%
Strongly Agree 42%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 1%
Disagree 7%
Strongly Disagree 16%
Total 100%

Table 13 Team-based problem solving techniques are effective.

Involvement in a solution to a problem feels good

It was observed that 23% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that they feel good when you are involved in a solution to a problem, while 33% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that none of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 22% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea that you feel good when you are involved in a solution to a problem. It was also observed that the remaining 22% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 23%
Strongly Agree 33%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 0%
Disagree 22%
Strongly Disagree 22%
Total 100%

Table 14 Involvement in a solution to a problem feels good.

Sense of achievement through problem resolution

It was observed that 21% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that solving a problem brings a sense of achievement, while 34% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that 1% of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 24% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea that solving a problem brings a sense of achievement. It was also observed that the remaining 20% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 21%
Strongly Agree 34%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 1%
Disagree 24%
Strongly Disagree 20%
Total 100%

Table 15 Sense of achievement through problem resolution.

Evaluation of the status of a problem after a solution has been implemented

It was observed that 39% of the respondents strongly agreed with the assertion that they evaluate the status of a problem after a solution has been implemented, while 38% of the respondents simply agreed with the idea. Furthermore, the implementation of the survey showed that 1% of the respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the hypothetical question while 13% of the respondents were observed to be in disagreement to the idea that they evaluate the status of a problem after a solution has been implemented. It was also observed that the remaining 9% of the respondents strongly disagreed with the hypothetical question.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 39%
Strongly Agree 38%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 1%
Disagree 13%
Strongly Disagree 9%
Total 100%

Table 16 Evaluation of the status of a problem after a solution has been implemented.

Analysis

The age distribution was observed to be in line with the fact that the survey questionnaire had sought to target mid-level managers. It was observed that the share of the sample that chose to neither agree nor disagree with the questions in the survey questionnaire was significantly small. In fact, this part of the respondents was so small that even if this share of participants chose to take a definitive side to the question, their responses would still make very little to no difference to the overall study findings.

It can be observed that a majority of respondents agree to the idea of the use of former solutions on new problems but they made sure that they highlighted the necessity of the customization of the former solutions. It can be surmised that a majority of the respondents did not consider it adequate to apply former solutions on new problems without customizing them before application. In addition, the fact that respondents consider routine problem solving to be a non-creative process makes it clear that a majority of the respondents did not approve of the idea of the utilization of former solutions. This can be interpreted as a trend that encourages the development of new solutions and discourages the usage of former solutions. Discussions with the respondents during the implementation of the survey questionnaires revealed that respondents consider older solutions to be obsolete in nature. The general perception holds that once utilizing a former solution can contribute to the development of complications which can result in the origination of new problems. In summary, it can be concluded that managers disapprove of the utilization of the routine problem solving approach in problems that are sensitive and require creativity on the manager’s part in order to be resolved effectively.

The responses received with regard to rationale problem solving show that a majority of the respondents consider it necessary for problem solutions to be in line with company strategy. They also consider problems to be potential opportunities and strongly agree with the idea that extensive planning before problem engagement is necessary for effective problem resolution. It was observed as a result of a discussion with the respondents during survey implementation that the respondents consider it pointless for a manager to engage in problem resolution unless the solution is in line with company strategy. Respondents expressed that decisions that are not in line with company strategy have the potential to come forth as problems in the future. They also noted that the development of a solution in line with company strategy could be exactly what is needed to make the most of the solution. According to the respondents, every solution is a change and the change can be aligned to address the problem while taking advantage of the problematic scenario to derive utility from the solution. This gives the solution a two-dimensional purpose that not only allows the solution to address the problem but also enables the problem to assist in increasing the organization’s productivity.

The section that was designed to explore creative problem solving showed that respondents do not believe that a problem can be adequately resolved unless the manager channels time and resources towards planning for the resolution of the problem before engaging the problem head-on. The respondents are also in favour of taking facts into account before setting out to resolve a problem. It was observed during a discussion with the respondents that the respondents consider it important for facts to be collected so that the manager can acquire a better understanding of the broader context. According to the respondents, it is the necessity of an understanding of the larger picture that diminishes the utility of former solutions. Respondents highlighted that they had experienced that once facts are collected and the larger picture is considered it becomes clear that each problem is completely unique and therefore requires a solution in order to come to a credible and reliable resolution.

It can be observed through the above discussion that not only do the respondents favour the creative problem solving approach but also consider the rationale problem solving approach to be of relatively less relevance than the creative problem solving approach. The respondents appeared to be somewhat critical of the routine problem solving approach whereas the acceptance towards the creative problem solving approach appears to be relatively high.

In response to the question that was designed to identify the respondents’ position on the perusal of assistance in cases where a complication comes forth, the findings were analyzed in terms of the responses that held an overall positive attitude and the responses that held an overall negative attitude. It was observed that most of the respondents do not seek to seek clarification when they run into complications. This can be observed to be the area where the problem resolution approaches begin to face hindrances in their productivity. Upon inquisition, it was observed that the respondents were usually in positions where they did not have the time to seek clarification from the senior and problem resolution decisions had to be made on an ad-hoc basis. The respondents highlighted that while seeking clarification from a senior is a positive element of corporate culture, it is one that is often considered to be an indication of the mid-level manager’s incompetency. As a result, most mid-level managers attempt to resolve problems on their own.

Furthermore, it can be observed that mid-level managers consider team work to be beneficial to problem resolution techniques. Respondents believe that the problem resolution techniques that are built on the basis of team work are more prone to achieving success because this approach enables the problem to be resolved comprehensively. According to the respondents, the team based approach enables the problem to be resolved in its complete form since the presence of multiple individuals creates a productive problem-solving environment.

It was also observed that managers feel good when they are involved in a problem solving strategy. It was revealed during a discussion with the respondents that managers consider it an opportunity to learn and grow when they are made part of problem solving strategies. They usually choose to volunteer for such assignments since doing so not only allows them to learn about the dynamics of problem solving but also allows them to come across opportunities for progression in the organization.

This findings show that problem resolution is perceived to be an achievement by the respondents. This observation is in perfect coherence with observation that highlighted that respondents feel good when they are made part of problem resolution strategies. It can therefore be observed that a majority of the respondents do not refrain from engagement in problem resolution but continue to seek out opportunities through which they can engage in problem resolution. Respondents contributed that it is because of the same reason that most of them choose to engage in a post-implementation assessment of solutions.

Conclusion

The research began by establishing a clear context for the study before moving on to establish the aims and objectives of the study. This was followed by a brief but comprehensive discussion on the relevance of the study and an establishment of the research hypotheses. The research questions were framed and the scope of the study was developed in order to outline the personal development objectives. A disclaimer was provided and an outline of the dissertation was plotted out for the study. The study then moved on to carry out the literature analysis. The literature analysis was a key part of the study and began with an introduction to the chapter.

The chapter provided a detailed insight into performance enhancement through problem solving and the relationship between problem resolution and opportunity derivation from the problem. Key areas such as relabeling and reframing were highlighted in this regard. This was followed by a discussion on the three key problem solving approaches. The literature analysis then presented a discussion on performance enhancement through a multilateral approach and went deeper into the subject by elaborating on the prioritization of problems. This chapter of the dissertation also covered problem solving with regard to the SHRM in detail. Furthermore, literatures pertaining to the challenges that are present in the reframing of problems for productivity enhancement were also elaborated. The literature analysis also highlighted internal and external organizational issues in problem solving before moving on to present the summary for the chapter.

The research then proceeded to form the research design. However, this was preceded by a detailed discussion on the relevance of an effective research methodology and a discussion of the research paradigms. The chapter also constitutes a brief but comprehensive discussion on qualitative and quantitative research approaches. Inductive and deductive approaches were also given relevance in this regard. The chosen research methodology was explained in detail and the limitations of the study were highlighted along with an elaboration of the precautionary approaches that were exercised during the course of the research to prevent allowing the study to fall victim to the limitations. In this regard, perhaps the only limitation that may have had any influence on the study was that of limited time. The study proved to be highly demanding in nature and it was felt that there were numerous areas that merited an extended study but care was taken to ensure that the research process remained within the scope of the research as established earlier.

The research was carried out to determine how managers serve the role of problem solvers in the organizational context and how a problematic scenario qualifies for either one of routine, rational and creative problem solving approaches. In addition, the research also sought to establish the manner in which a problem solving technique contributes to performance enhancement. In order to do so effectively, the study was build on the basis of two hypotheses. The first hypothesis stated that line managers generally seek to employ solutions that are based on tactical objectives. This leads to the implementation of problem solving measures that are meant to make use of former solutions; as is the case with the routine problem solving technique. The second hypothesis invited the study to test the assertion that problem solving techniques assist line managers in bringing about performance enhancement in their employees.

It was observed through the findings that managers serve the role of problem solvers in organizations at a degree where one of the key responsibility areas assigned to managers is that of problem solving. Not only are managers expected to engage in intensive problem solving but they are also expected to ensure that the problem does not come forth once more in the future. Furthermore, it was observed that managers tend to take a critical approach towards problem solving techniques and frequently customize problem solving techniques to the requirements of the problematic scenario at hand. In this regard, it would be reasonable to conclude that managers serve the role of problem solvers by

It was observed that managers tend to evaluate each scenario individually in order to ascertain which problem resolution technique should be implemented. However, while managers were not found to be particularly partial towards any particular problem solving technique, it was observed that modern day managers have developed a particular approach that entails the avoidance of the routine problem solving approach. Modern day managers proceed with a dynamic approach that is based on the establishment of priorities and the identification of problems that have an influence on those priorities. As a result, if a deductive perception was to be exercised, it can be concluded that there is a preference for the rational problem solving approach amongst modern day managers. In addition, it was observed that managers did not show significant exposure and/or preference towards the exercising of the creative problem solving approach. In essence, it was observed that managers do not evaluate each scenario to determine which problem solving technique it qualifies for; instead, they tend to make use of a derivative of the rational approach to resolve their problems.

With regard to the question that sought to analyze the relationship between problem solving and performance enhancement, it was observed that problem solving relates to performance enhancement through the perspective that a problem can take on the form of a productivity sink. In this regard, the demand for the removal of the problem not only generates a need to bring the process back to the intended productivity level but also creates an opportunity to bring about a change in the process. The concept of synergy was observed to be prevalent in this regard. Managers choose to identify problems and address them with the objective of over-shooting formerly optimal capacity of productivity of a process. As a result, every problem that is resolved not only fixes an error but also creates an improvement in the organization. The essence of using problem solving techniques as performance enhancement instruments lies in the understanding that a process that was performing optimally before the generation of the problem now needs to be brought to a level where it can yield a level of productivity that is higher than the previous optimal.

With regard to the hypothesis that sought to prove that line managers generally seek to employ solutions that are based on tactical objectives, it was observed that the hypothesis does not hold true because modern day managers tend to maintain a strategic perspective towards their departments. They tend to place problems in the context of the impact that the problems will have on the organization and department’s productivity in the long-run. Hence it can be surmised that modern day managers do not use a tactical approach; thereby negating the validity of the hypothesis.

With regard to the hypothesis that sought to identify if problem solving techniques assist managers in bringing about performance enhancement in organizations, it was observed that managers generally tend to seek out ways through which they can improve the performance of their departments. The findings of the survey have revealed that managers indeed perceive problem resolution techniques as performance enhancement instruments.

Recommendations

During the course of the study, it was felt at numerous times that there are numerous areas that are related to this study that merit further study. However, since such areas did not fall into the perimeters of the scope of the research and the research design had been designed to maintain focus on a specific set of variables, these areas were not subjected to in-depth analysis. Therefore, this study will attempt to contribute to the process of research by recommending these areas for further research.

One of the key elements of this research was that it sought to acquire data from line managers and the relationship between problem solving and performance enhancement; it would be feasible if further studies sought to explore this relationship as it is present at different levels of the hierarchy. Yet another area that can be subjected to further study is that which comes forth if the current study was to be carried out from the employees’ perspective. Since this study was limited to the managers’ perspective, an extended study can explore the sub-ordinates’ perspective of the manner in which problem solving helps enhance their problems. Such a study would be a grass-root level study and may be able to take help from this research and its findings.

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Appendix I

Survey Questionnaire

    1. Gender
  • Male
  • Female
    1. Age
  • 18-20
  • 21-30
  • 31-40
  • 41-50
  • Over 50

Routine Problem Solving

    1. Former solutions can be customized to apply them on new problems
  • Agree
  • Disagree
    1. Using former solutions on new problems is an effective problem solving approach
  • Agree
  • Disagree
    1. Using formerly applied solutions is a non-creative approach
  • Agree
  • Disagree

Rationale Problem Solving

    1. A problem cannot be solved until it is adequately evaluated
  • Agree
  • Disagree
    1. A problem should be perceived to be an opportunity
  • Agree
  • Disagree
    1. The solution to a problem should always be in line with company strategy
  • Agree
  • Disagree

Creative Problem Solving

    1. It is imperative to collect facts into account before setting out to resolving a problem
  • Agree
  • Disagree
    1. Problem solving cannot be carried out effectively unless significant planning is carried out
  • Agree
  • Disagree
    1. A problem cannot be adequately resolved unless the manager takes the larger picture into account
  • Agree
  • Disagree

General Perceptions regarding problem solving

    1. You seek clarification from a superior if you run into complications
  • Agree
  • Disagree
    1. Team-based problem solving techniques are effective
  • Agree
  • Disagree
    1. Involvement in a solution to a problem feels good
  • Agree
  • Disagree
    1. You feel a sense of achievement through problem resolution
  • Agree
  • Disagree
    1. You evaluate the status of a problem after a solution has been implemented
  • Agree
  • Disagree
    1. Which of the three techniques above do you think is most effective? Why?

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

    1. How do you approach problems when assigned with the task of resolving them?

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

Appendix II

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Male 47%
Female 53%
Total 100%

Table 1. Gender Distribution.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
18-20 17%
21-30 35%
31-40 24%
41-50 21%
Over 50 3%
Total 100%

Table 2. Age Distribution.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 37%
Strongly Agree 31%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 2%
Disagree 22%
Strongly Disagree 8%
Total 100%

Table 3. Former solutions can be customized to apply them on new problems.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 21%
Strongly Agree 7%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 1%
Disagree 39%
Strongly Disagree 32%
Total 100%

Table 4. Using former solutions on new problems is an effective problem solving approach.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 21%
Strongly Agree 9%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 0%
Disagree 39%
Strongly Disagree 31%
Total 100%

Table 5. Using formerly applied solutions is a non-creative approach.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 23%
Strongly Agree 53%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 0%
Disagree 15%
Strongly Disagree 9%
Total 100%

Table 6. A problem cannot be solved until it is adequately evaluated.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 28%
Strongly Agree 32%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 2%
Disagree 21%
Strongly Disagree 17%
Total 100%

Table 7. A problem should be perceived to be an opportunity.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 13%
Strongly Agree 72%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 0%
Disagree 11%
Strongly Disagree 4%
Total 100%

Table 8. The solution to a problem should always be in line with company strategy.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 23%
Strongly Agree 38%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 1%
Disagree 21%
Strongly Disagree 17%
Total 100%

Table 9. It is imperative to collect facts into account before setting out to resolving a problem.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 30%
Strongly Agree 49%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 0%
Disagree 13%
Strongly Disagree 8%
Total 100%

Table 10. Problem solving cannot be carried out effectively unless significant planning is carried out.

Response Respondents’ Percentage
Agree 33%
Strongly Agree 38%
Neither Agree nor Disagree 3%
Disagree 20%
Strongly Disagree 6%
Total 100%

Table 11. A problem cannot be adequately resolved unless the manager takes the larger picture into account.

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