How to Conduct Organizational Surveys: A Step-by-Step Guide
Publication Year: 1997
Organizations are increasingly turning to surveys to solve many business-related problems. This book provides those who want to plan organizational surveys with a step-by-step, ‘how-to’ guide. The authors describe the issues that must be addressed at each step in the process, the advantages and disadvantages that result from many of the choices that must be made, and practical lessons learned from their years of experience in designing and conducting surveys.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Organizational Surveys: An Overview
- Uses of Surveys in Organizations
- Gathering Information
- Improving Communication
- Monitoring and Evaluating the Effects of Organizational Change
- Factors to Consider before Initiating the Survey Process
- Is a Survey within the Organization's Budget?
- Are Personnel with Survey Expertise Available?
- Are There other Ways to Answer the Question?
- Are Organizational Personnel Being Oversurveyed?
- Setting the Table: Presurvey Issues
- The Survey Team
- Using Internal versus External Personnel to Conduct the Survey
- Writing a Statement of Purpose
- Conducting Organizational Surveys: A Look Ahead
- Chapter 2: Identifying Survey Content
- Methods for Identifying Survey Content
- Developmental Interviews and Focus Groups
- Past Surveys in the Same Organization
- Published Scales
- Archival Sources
- Theory and Academic Findings
- Other Sources of Survey Content
- Chapter 3: Creating the Survey, Part I: Writing Survey Items
- Item Formats: Closed- and Open-Ended Questions
- Closed-Ended Questions
- Open-Ended Questions
- Should the Survey Team Use Closed- or Open-Ended Questions?
- Item Content: Demographic, Factual, and Attitudinal Questions
- Demographic Items
- Factual Items
- Attitudinal Items
- Writing “Good” Items: Some Basic Rules
- Ask What You Want to Know
- Keep Items Simple and Short
- Ask about Only One Topic per Item
- Avoid Ambiguous or Vague Questions
- Use Appropriate Language
- Be Specific
- Double Negatives: Not!
- Avoid Biased Items
- Take Care with Sensitive Items
- Chapter 4: Creating the Survey, Part II: Response Alternatives, Item Order, Survey Length, and Response Biases
- Getting Good Answers: Choosing Closed-Ended Response Formats
- Multiple-Choice Response Format
- Yes-No and True-False Response Formats
- Likert Rating Scales
- Thurstone Scaling
- Semantic Differential Scaling
- Response Biases: The Downside of Using Closed-Ended Items
- Response Order Effects
- Yea-Saying or Nay-Saying
- Socially Desirable Responding
- How Many Survey Items?
- What are the Goals of the Survey?
- How Much is the Company Willing to Pay?
- Who Will Complete the Questionnaire?
- Are the Items Open or Closed Ended?
- What is the Administration Method?
- How Fast are Data Needed?
- Are Fatigue Effects an Issue?
- What is the Bottom Line on Survey Length?
- Ordering the Items, or Putting it all Together
- Clustering versus Scattering the Items for a Single Dimension
- Item Order Effects
- Some Practical Advice
- Chapter 5: Selecting Survey Respondents
- Identifying the Target Population
- Should the Population or a Sample Be Used in Data Collection?
- Probability Sampling
- Simple Random Sampling
- Stratified Sampling
- Nonprobability Sampling
- Convenience Sample
- Quota Sampling
- Sampling Error and Sample Size
- Sampling Error
- Sample Size
- Chapter 6: Organizational Survey Administration
- Self- versus Group-Administered Surveys
- Modes of Survey Administration
- Paper Surveys
- Computer-Administered Surveys
- Face-to-Face Interview Surveys
- Telephone Interview Surveys
- Chapter 7: Fielding the Survey
- Adding the Finishing Touches to the Survey Instrument
- Survey Introduction
- Survey Instructions
- Pretesting the Survey
- Obtaining Organizational Approval
- Top Management
- Institutional Review Boards
- Preparing, Assembling, and Distributing the Survey Packet
- Preparing the Contents of the Survey Packet
- Distributing the Survey Through the Mail
- Chapter 8: Monitoring and Maximizing Response Rates
- Monitoring Response Rates
- Calculating Response Rates
- What is an Acceptable Response Rate?
- Nonresponse Bias
- Dealing with Nonresponse Bias
- Ways to Maximize Response Rates
- Prenotification: The Survey is Coming! The Survey is Coming!
- Follow-up until You Drop
- If They Won't Respond, Bribe Them
- Make the Survey Meaningful
- It's as Easy as TDM
- What Works: A Summary
- Practical Suggestions for Increasing Response Rates
- Chapter 9: Data Processing
- Preparing for Data Entry: Data Coding for Closed-Ended Questions
- Naming and Labeling Variables
- Assigning Values to Responses
- Designating Code(s) for Missing Values
- Entering Data
- Data File Organization
- Data Entry for Computerized and Scannable Surveys
- Manual Data Entry
- Cleaning the Data File
- Types of Data File Cleaning
- Missing Data
- Reasons for Missing Data
- Assessing the Missing Data Problem
- Handling Missing Data
- Categorizing and Coding Open-Ended Answers
- Creating Categories
- Content Coding
- Chapter 10: Analyzing Data and Interpreting Results
- Planning the Analyses
- Analyzing the Data
- A Review of the Sample and a Description of the Data
- Describing the Respondents
- Frequencies and Percentages
- Means and Standard Deviations
- Analyzing Subgroup Differences
- Other Data Analysis Procedures
- Poststratification Weighting
- Interpreting the Results: What Do all the Findings Tell the Organization?
- Comparing Findings with other Findings from the Same Survey
- Using Norms: Comparing Survey Findings to other Standards
- Chapter 11: Presentation of Survey Findings
- Oral and Written Presentations of the Survey Process
- Organizing the Presentation
- Introduction: Why Was the Survey Done?
- Method: What Was Done and with Whom?
- Results and Discussion: What Did the Survey Reveal?
- Conclusions and Recommendations: What are the Next Steps?
- A Hodgepodge of other Advice
- Visual Aids
- Handling Questions
- How to Handle Negative News
- Handling a Hostile Audience
- Linking Survey Results to Action
Copyright © 1997 by Sage Publications, Inc.
The opinions expressed in this book are those of the authors, are not official, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the Navy Department.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Main entry under title:
How to conduct organizational surveys : a step-by-step guide / authors, Jack E. Edwards … [et al.].
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-8039-5512-X (cloth : acid-free paper). — ISBN 0-8039-5513-8 (pbk.: acid-free paper)
1. Employee attitude surveys—Methodology. I. Edwards, Jack E.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
00 01 10 9 8 7 6 5
Acquiring Editor: Harry Briggs
Editorial Assistant: Frances Borghi
Production Editor: Sherrise Purdum
Production Assistant: Karen Wiley
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Cover Designer: Lesa Valdez
Print Buyer: Anna Chin
A manufacturing company is downsizing and wants to know the effect of the downsizing on employee morale. A computer corporation is considering moving its headquarters and needs to determine how many employees it would need to relocate. A multinational consulting firm has had a rash of sexual harassment complaints and seeks to determine the extent of the problem. An automobile company is planning to redesign its line of sports cars and wishes to see how its loyal customers will react to the changes.
To answer these and many other business-related questions, organizations are increasingly turning to surveys. Developing expertise in the organizational survey process is by no means an easy task. It is a process that can reap great benefits if the steps are correctly executed, but it can cause harm if done improperly.
Although conducting an organizational survey can be a difficult, expensive, and labor-intensive effort, it also has its rewards. Survey designers have the satisfaction of seeing a need for information turn into items; these items elicit data that, in turn, provide answers to the original questions (Rosenfeld, Edwards, & Thomas, 1993). For management, surveys can suggest ways to increase productivity, improve morale, and reduce costs. Through organizational surveys, employees can communicate their concerns and questions to management. Surveys can also provide a vehicle for employees to participate in the company's decision-making process and involve them in solving problems rather than simply griping or suffering in silence (Carney, 1994; Salemme, 1995).
We have written this book as a resource for conducting surveys within organizational settings. It is designed to provide those who desire to conduct organizational surveys with step-by-step, how-to instructions. In the chapters that follow, we describe the issues that must be addressed at each step in the survey process, the advantages and disadvantages that result from many of the choices that must be made, and practical lessons that we have learned (often, the hard way). This book should be a useful and practical tool even for people with little or no experience with the survey process. Moreover, we have attempted to identify sound survey [Page x]practices in other professions (e.g., marketing and public opinion research) that generalize to organizational surveys.
We intend this book to be an easy-to-understand guide to the technical and practical considerations that arise when conducting surveys in real-world organizational settings. In particular, our book is written for the manager who has little experience conducting an in-house survey or contracting external survey consultants. Similarly, our book should be a useful introduction to graduate students (e.g., in business and industrial-organizational psychology) who must make the transition from theory to practice. Toward this end, we address most common survey issues with both references to the survey research literature and real-life examples. Although a book this size cannot address every issue in depth, we provide citations to survey literature that we have found helpful.
We are indebted to a number of people for their professional and personal support. At Sage, we will always be grateful to Harry Briggs for his faith in our abilities and his patience with the pace of our productivity. Comments from two anonymous reviewers helped us focus an earlier draft of the book and identify areas of improvement. Some of the comments were so articulate that we included them with little modification.
We also benefited greatly from the continued support of many current and former colleagues and friends. Thanks to David Alderton, Dan Landis, Nambury Raju, Larry Waters, Paul Crawford, Catherine Riordan, Bob Giacalone, Zannette Perry, Steve Knouce, Amy Culbertson, John Sheposh, Mike White, Aileen Conroy, John Kantor, Patricia Thomas, Edmund Thomas, Carol Newell, Kristin David, Sharon Le, Richard Sorenson, George Edward Seymour, Tim Elig, Anita Lancaster, and, of course, Walt Peterson. On a personal level, we would like to thank Deborah McCormick, Mary Edwards, Harold Edwards, Susie Hoke, Patti Groves, Jerry Larson, Edward Thomas, Fred Thomas, Barbara Rooney, Abraham and Judes Rosenfeld, the Shanskes, Mary Sellen, Brian Kewley, Andrew Kewley, Norman and Joyce Booth, and Donna Booth for their continued love, support, and encouragement.
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About the Authors[Page 163]
Jack E. Edwards is Chief of the Personnel Survey Branch at the Defense Manpower Data Center in Arlington, VA. His prior positions include Personnel Research Psychologist at the Navy Personnel Research and Development Center and Associate Professor of Industrial/Organizational Psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He has examined theoretical and practical concerns in survey methods, personnel selection, performance evaluation, and utility analysis. He also coedited Improving Organizational Surveys: New Directions, Methods, and Applications (Sage, 1993). He received a Ph.D. from Ohio University.
Marie D. Thomas is Assistant Professor of Psychology at California State University at San Marcos. Previously she was Research Psychologist with the Navy Personnel Research and Development Center and Associate Professor at the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York City. Her research interests include gender and ethnicity issues and the role of women in the military. She has authored and coauthored numerous publications and coedited Improving Organizational Surveys: New Directions, Methods, and Applications (Sage, 1993). She received a Ph.D. from Fordham University.
Paul Rosenfeld is Personnel Research Psychologist at the Navy Personnel Research and Development Center in San Diego and an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology. He coauthored two books: Impression Management in Organizations (Rout-ledge, 1995) and Introduction to Social Psychology (West, 1985) and coedited four other books. He received a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Albany.
Stephanie Booth-Kewley is Research Psychologist at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego. Her research interests include personality, [Page 164]survey methodology, and health psychology. She has published articles in Psychological Bulletin, American Psychologist, and the Journal of Applied Psychology. She received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside.