Acta Universitatis Danubius. Œconomica, Vol 14, No 1 (2018)

Pilot Studies: Use and Misuse In South African SME Research

Chris Schachtebeck, Darelle Groenewald, Cecile Nieuwenhuizen


The utilization of pilot study methodology is often not in accordance with methodological principles and intentions. Further, reporting of pilot studies is reported as inadequate. The rise in the use of pilot studies in the social sciences, in particular in business research, prompts an examination of the correctness of the use of pilot study methodology in South African SME research. This article has made use of a qualitative research approach by systematically reviewing the use of pilot studies in South African SME research. Articles have been identified in prominent databases according to set inclusion and exclusion criteria. Accepted articles have then been screened according to a set of identified best practices. Findings reveal that only a small proportion of identified studies follow methodological best practices of piloting methodology. Few studies adequately report on piloting results and even fewer studies adequately describe or select a representative piloting sample. Only half of all identified studies describe the purpose for piloting. The article provides recommendations for researchers and businesses engaging in SME research and intending to utilize pilot studies.


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