Longitudinal Thinking

Dr. Meenakshi Khemka, Principal, IQ City United World School of Business, Kolkata
longitudinal study is a type of correlational research study that involves looking at the same set of variables over an extended period of time. Such studies help to study the changes over time as also establish causal relationships by identifying the correct sequence of events. Medical practitioners, especially ayurveda and homeopathy, have been following this approach for times immemorial. Before administering any type of medicine, the doctors are in a practice of asking questions related to the lifestyle and daily routine of the patient. This helps them to understand the changed health parameters and possible causes of the same. While this is a very successful approach, its very time consuming as a result of which most of the other fields of research do not utilize it. The same applies to the research work conducted on corporates. With the advancements in the service sector and the technology boom, competition has increased multifold. Majority of the companies in a given vertical are engrossed in the mad rat race of luring customers. The smaller firms try to imitate the bigger firms by copying the strategy used by them to run their businesses successfully. It appears to be a tried and tested formula for success, waiting to be copied by the market. Reality dawns when inspite of the same strategy, the results are not as alluring as the other firm. Ever wondered why? A longitudinal study of the organization would show the data for the same set of parameters over different periods of time. More often than not, the successful firms would have identified, retained and capitalized on the strength points and worked around the weak areas with learnings captured from the industry. Blind copying of the strategy from the market might (unintentionally) alter the strength variable and weaken the foundation of the organization. This is surely not a desirable situation but a trap that most companies fall prey to and wonder why they are not successful inspite of trying to act like the leaders in the market. The fact is that no company can ever succeed with a weakened foundation!