Business Administration and Business Economics

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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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