The identification and evaluation of factors influencing the use of quantitative methods in South African business

Master Thesis


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The objectives of this study are: to identify the factors which influence the use of quantitative methods to test the presence of those factors in South Africa's listed companies, and to survey the opinions regarding those factors among various categories of people. The factors may thus be evaluated as to the influence they have on the use of quantitative methods. This insight should be of use to people and organisations wishing to use quantitative methods. The identification of the factors was undertaken in the first part of the study and were found to fall within four broad educations, attributes. categories, organisation nature of application, and structure, personal in the second part these factors were. subjected to two questionnaire surveys. The first was directed at the managing directors of South Africa's listed companies who were asked to provide two answers to each question. Firstly, what the position regarding the particular factor is in their companies, and secondly what they would like the position to be. The results showed that by and large the factors identified in the literature are present in the companies surveyed. Furthermore, where there are differences, the desired position showed a tendency towards that suggested in the literature. One of the more ·important features identified by this survey was the difference shown in the desires among the international companies as opposed to the local and national companies. This showed that the influence from overseas had some bearing on the use of quantitative methods. The second questionnaire tested the opinions of people working in quantitative methods and of their managers. The opinions are mostly consistent between· the two groups. The major differences were found regarding the use of interactive models and the position of the quantitative methods person in the organisation. Managers wanted more use of interactive models and considered them to be more important than did the quantitative methods people. This difference· may be due to a lack of understanding of technical skills involved or simple a communication gap between the parties. The quantitative methods person is seen to be lower in the organisation structure and to have less potential for achieving top managerial positions by the managers than by the quantitative methods people themselves. The findings of this survey were generally compatible with those of that first survey. An important aspect to emerge from both surveys was the need for a masters level of education, and for a broader education. To place the factors in. their organisational context three post survey interviews were reported on in the third part of this thesis. Three companies were chosen which were different in size, industry, stage of development etc. The most important aspect to emerge from the interviews was the impact the use of computers had had on the permeation of quantitative methods within these companies.