Quantitative research with spss

Once an enterprise decides to enter another market, it is wise to do a risk assessment. While analysing the risks in the country it is wise to investigate the macro performance of the country of interest, as compared to a group of comparable countries. How is the purchasing power of the population as compared to its neighbouring countries? And how bureaucratic is the export country? To compare, you will investigate the central tendency (typical performance) of similar countries and into the variability (difference in performance) of similar countries. Also, you will investigate whether there are relations between variables. For example: is it more expensive (in US$) to import goods to member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) than to non-OECD countries?


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The group of comparable countries can be one of the following aggregates:

  • East-Asia and Pacific
  • OECD countries
  • European Union countries
  • Sub-Sahara African countries
  • European and Central Asian countries
  • EU

As will be explained in this syllabus, you will work on a data set in Excel and SPSS, that you can get from the World Bank. You must use this data set to perform an analysis on macro-statistics of these countries. A starter data set can be found on LMS, but for your own research you possibly must download additional data. How to obtain this data efficiently, is explained in section 4.4.


Formal requirements for the research report:

  • Professional report (tone, style, lay-out)
  • Table of contents
  • Length of the report: 3,000 words (excluding tables/graphs and reference list)
  • All graphs and tables are captioned, with the caption placed on top of the table or graph
  • Lay-out: 1.5 line spacing, font size 11 (except headings)
  • Deadline: Friday, January 18th18:00, hand-in via LMS
  • Resit: retake report blocks 4. Those who fail will get resit details by email.


Template for the research report


Title page

This needs to contain:

  • the title of your report which captures the objective of your research project
  • the module code
  • full name
  • student number
  • class number
  • name of the lecturer
  • submission date


Chapter 1: Introduction

Introduce the chapter by giving a background description of the nature of your research project. Choose a theme that you find interesting and describe the risks that businesses can experience related to this macro- theme. Also choose a sample of countries (choose more than 25 countries to make the dataset sufficiently large for analysis).You need to check data availability later as well.


1.1 Problem description

Describe the main characteristics of the country-group (sample) that you selected, and you describe your scope/focus point.

Describe the main theme that you will be investigating. Choose one of the following:

  1. International trade
  2. Macro environment (choose one or two PESTLE elements)
  3. Greenfield investment

Explain why this theme is important for organisations. Refer to at least two desk sources by using the APA referencing style learned in block 1.


1.2 Research questions

Based on your problem description, formulate an overarching main research question and five sub-questions that are logically aligned with the main question. Check Box 1, which illustrate how you can develop a set of research questions for this module.


Choose three variables from the World Bank datafile: two independent variables (we refer to these here as X1 and X2) and one dependent variable denoted with the letter Y.

  • Sub question 1: univariate question involving X1
  • Sub question 2: univariate question involving X2
  • Sub question 3: univariate question involving Y
  • Sub question 4: bivariate question involving X1 vs. Y
  • Sub question 5: bivariate question involving X2 vs. Y


Choose at least one numerical and one qualitative variable. Explain how the variables that you have chosen are an appropriate proxy for answering your research questions. Look up the definitions for your variables as defined by the World Bank or another institute.


Close the introduction by describing what the reader can expect to read in the rest of the report.


Evaluation criteria chapter 1

a)       Proper introduction of your report stating the context of it and a research objective

b)       Problem description contains relevant facts with regards to the country selection (sample) and the selected theme, that are derived from quality sources that are properly referenced.

c)       Research questions and problem description are logically aligned

d)       The research questions are properly stated



Box 1 An example of a research questions framework

Theme: income inequality

Y: Gini coefficient (to measure income inequality)

X1: Population growth

X2: Population density


Main research question:

What is the relation between population statistics and inequality in the EU?


Sub questions:

1. What is the population growth in the EU? (X1)

2. What is the population density in the EU? (X2)

3. What is the Gini coefficient in the EU? (Y)

4. What is the relation between population growth and the Gini coefficient in the EU? (X1-Y)

5. What is the relation between population density and the Gini coefficient in the EU? (X2 – Y)



Chapter 2: Analysis


2.1 Data analysis plan

Describe what analyses you performed on your dataset. Follow the format of table 1 on the next page. Do not forget to add a proper caption to the table.


2.2 Data preparation

Explain what variables you exactly used and how you got them. Also describe the issues encountered in the data set with regards to missing values, errors, and outliers. Explain how you checked for these issues and what method you have used (if any) to address it. Did you check for outliers? Did you remove them? Based on what criteria? Did you exclude cases? It is important that you do not list steps using only Excel language, but transparently explain what you did and why you did so.


Evaluation criteria chapter 2

a)       Clear operationalization (variable selection) of the indicators addressed in the research question.

b)       Transparent description of the data issues encountered, and the treatment received.

c)       Correct data analysis plan.








Table 1: Data analysis plan


Sub research question Variables of interest

(X and Y).

Measurement level of variable(s) involved Analysis method Chart Hypotheses testing Assumptions for test


      Not tested Not tested
X2         Not tested Not tested
Y         Not tested Not tested
X1 – Y            
X2 – Y            

The table is a quick overview for the reader of the report, to see what statistical tools you used to answer the research questions.



Chapter 3: Findings

In the findings chapter you answer the five sub questions one by one. Give each question its own section. In other words, you need to have 5 sections in this chapter (for easy checking label them from 3.1 shortly stating the purpose of the question etc.).


In answering your univariate questions, you start by describing the variable involved using proper descriptive statistics, tables and a graph. Make sure that you select the correct statistics and graphs. Answer the sub-question before moving on to the next one.


After having described the main variables of your research question you continue with the bivariate questions.


The answer to the bivariate questions (sub question 4-5) starts with stating the null hypothesis (there is no difference) and the research hypothesis (also called the alternative hypothesis).

Then summarise what test you have employed to answer the question (drawing from the information in chapter 2.1) and motivate your choice for this test.

The answer to each bivariate question should be presented in at least:

  • 1 correctly formatted table (Excel output)
  • 1 correctly formatted chart (Excel output)
  • 1 (or 2) statistics, assumptions and level of significance.

Interpret your output and answer the question while correctly referring to your tables, graphs and statistics.

Evaluation criteria chapter 3

a)       Statistics, tables and graphs are correctly formatted / stated.

b)       Output is correctly interpreted.

c)       Research questions are answered using the output presented.

d)       It is transparent how the answer was obtained.


Chapter 4: Conclusion

In the conclusion you answer the main research question. Please refer explicitly to the findings described in chapter 3.


Evaluation criteria chapter 4

a)       Clarity with which the main research question is answered.

b)       Your understanding of the role of the findings in identifying opportunities and threats in the external environment of a company.


Chapter 5: Discussion

Discuss the results of your study. What are the implications of your findings? Pay attention to the validity and reliability of quantitative secondary data bases. How is the data collected? What are weak points in the data collection method? Is the data really representing what you want to know? Are the variables used good proxies to answer your investigative questions? Check the slides to get insight in how to evaluate the validity and reliability of quantitative research. What further research should the organisation do (if any) before deciding on the investment?


Evaluation criteria chapter 5

a)       Clarity with which the implications of the results for the company are explained

b)       Reliability and validity are correctly discussed

c)       Suggestions for further research



Reference list

Report your references in APA style, also see the videos on LMS.


In preparing your references the following steps are helpful in arriving at a correct format. This is also required when using ENDNOTE:

  1. Identify the type of source (report, online article, visual, website or a dataset)
  2. Check the video about this source type, and fill out the correct fields in ENDNOTE (according to the instructions in the video)



1         Frequently identified problems


1.1        I do not get Excel!

To do the tasks and the produce a good research report, it is important to know the basics of Excel. If you do not know these basics, you are strongly requested to do the online course Excel for Starters through this link:

It is a huge time-investment, but it will be worth the costs knowing that all business worldwide uses Excel intensively.

1.2        Excel is Dutch

Change the language by going through the following steps:

  1. Click ‘Bestand’ at the top of the screen
  2. Click ‘Opties’ at the left bottom of the screen
  3. Click ‘Taal’ at the left of the menu
  4. Choose ‘English’ as Editing Language and Display Language (set default on English)
  5. Restart Excel

1.3        There is no Data Analysis option on the Data tab

Add the data analysis tab by going through the following steps:

  1. Click File at the top of the screen
  2. Click Options at the left bottom of the screen
  3. Click Add-ins at the left of the menu
  4. Manage Excel Add-ins, click on Go
  5. Select Analysis Toolpak and click on OK

1.4        I need (new) data from the World Bank

  1. Go to this website: http://databank.worldbank.org/data/databases
  2. Choose the database that fits best with your research theme (e.g.: Doing Business, or Gender Statistics)
  3. Select the countries to be included
  4. Select the series (= variables) to be included
  5. See which year has the most recent data, select one year to ease analysis
  6. At the right top of the screen, choose Download options
  7. Download the Excel file
  8. In the Excel file, go to the tab ‘Data’
  9. Remove all the absent values (i.e. “…”) by sorting the year column and deleting the rows without a value
  10. On the top of the screen, click ‘Insert’ and choose ‘Pivot Table’
  11. Select all the data in the table, click on OK
  12. In the menu at the right, drag the ‘Country Name’ in the ‘Row’ window; the ‘Series Name’ in the ‘Column’ window and the year in the ‘Values’ window.
  13. Make sure that these values have the Sum setting (not count). You can change this in the menu of ‘Value Field Settings’. See example à
  14. Now your dataset is ready to use!


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