# Purposive Sampling : Data Analysis Explained

Purposive sampling, also known as judgmental, selective, or subjective sampling, is a type of non-probability sampling technique. Non-probability sampling focuses on sampling techniques where the units that are investigated are based on the judgement of the researcher. This article will delve into the intricacies of purposive sampling, its types, advantages, disadvantages, and its application in data analysis, particularly in the context of business analysis.

Purposive sampling represents a group of different non-probability sampling techniques. Also known as judgmental, selective or subjective sampling, purposive sampling relies on the judgement of the researcher when it comes to selecting the units (e.g., individuals, groups of individuals, institutions) that are to be studied. Usually, the sample being investigated is quite small, particularly when compared with probability sampling techniques. Unlike probability sampling techniques, where you have some assurance of the representativeness of the sample, with purposive sampling, you have to be cautious about making broader generalizations from your sample because it may not be representative of the population as a whole.

## Types of Purposive Sampling

There are several types of purposive sampling, each with unique methods for selection. This type of sampling is used when the researcher wants to include certain characteristics in the sample population. The researcher decides what needs to be known and sets out to find people who can and are willing to provide the information by virtue of knowledge or experience.

The main types of purposive sampling are: (1) Homogeneous sampling, (2) Heterogeneous sampling, (3) Maximum variation sampling, (4) Expert sampling, (5) Quota sampling, (6) Snowball sampling, and (7) Convenience sampling. Each of these types of sampling has a different approach and application, depending on the nature of the research question and the goal of the research.

### Homogeneous Sampling

Homogeneous sampling involves selecting a very specific group of people that have very similar characteristics or experiences. This type of sampling is often used when the researcher wants to identify patterns that emerge in a specific group. For example, a researcher might use homogeneous sampling to study the experiences of senior managers in a large corporation.

Homogeneous sampling is useful when a researcher wants to describe some phenomena specific to a particular group. However, it is not useful for making broad generalizations about the population because the sample is not representative of the population.

### Heterogeneous Sampling

Heterogeneous sampling, on the other hand, involves selecting a diverse group of people—all of whom have experienced the phenomenon of interest. The purpose of this type of sampling is to get a broad overview of the phenomenon of interest. For example, a researcher might use heterogeneous sampling to study the experiences of people who have immigrated to a new country.

Heterogeneous sampling is useful when the researcher wants to understand a phenomenon that is experienced by people from a wide range of backgrounds. However, like homogeneous sampling, it is not useful for making broad generalizations about the population because the sample is not representative of the population.

Purposive sampling has a number of advantages. It allows researchers to use their judgement to select cases that will best answer the research question and meet the objectives of the study. This can provide a wealth of detailed qualitative data, although it will not be representative of a larger population.

Purposive sampling is also useful when you need to reach a targeted sample quickly and where sampling for proportionality is not the main concern. With a purposive sample, you are likely to get the opinions of your target population which you are interested in understanding. Plus, purposive sampling can be very cost and time effective because it requires a smaller sample size.

### Cost and Time Effective

One of the main advantages of purposive sampling is that it can be very cost and time effective. Because the researcher is selecting the most productive samples to answer the research question, time and resources are often saved. For example, if a researcher is studying the impact of a new policy on small businesses, it would be more productive to select a sample of small businesses directly affected by the policy, rather than a random sample of all businesses.

This cost and time effectiveness can be particularly useful in exploratory research, where the goal is to identify trends, generate hypotheses, or gain a deeper understanding of a phenomenon. In these cases, the ability to quickly and economically gather data can be a significant advantage.

### Rich, Detailed Data

Another advantage of purposive sampling is that it often results in rich, detailed data. Because the researcher is selecting samples that are particularly informative or relevant to the research question, the data gathered is often very valuable. For example, if a researcher is studying the experiences of breast cancer survivors, selecting a sample of women who have survived breast cancer will likely yield more detailed and relevant data than a random sample of women.

This rich, detailed data can provide a deep understanding of the phenomenon being studied. It can reveal patterns, generate ideas, and provide insights that may not be possible with a larger, more representative sample. However, it is important to remember that the data from a purposive sample cannot be used to make generalizations about a larger population.

Despite its advantages, purposive sampling is not without its disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that purposive sampling may not be representative of the population. This means that the findings of the study may not be generalizable to the larger population. This is a significant limitation, particularly in quantitative research where the goal is often to make generalizations from the sample to the population.

Another disadvantage of purposive sampling is that it can be subject to researcher bias. Because the researcher is selecting the samples, there is a risk that the samples may be selected in a way that supports the researcher’s expectations or hypotheses. This can lead to biased results and limit the validity of the study.

### Non-representative Sample

The main disadvantage of purposive sampling is that it may not provide a representative sample of the population. Because the researcher is selecting the samples based on their judgement, there is a risk that the sample may not accurately represent the larger population. For example, if a researcher is studying the experiences of university students, and they only select students from one university, the findings may not be representative of all university students.

This lack of representativeness can limit the generalizability of the findings. In other words, the findings may only apply to the specific sample studied, and not to the larger population. This is a significant limitation, particularly in quantitative research where the goal is often to make generalizations from the sample to the population.

### Researcher Bias

Another disadvantage of purposive sampling is the risk of researcher bias. Because the researcher is selecting the samples, there is a risk that they may select samples that support their expectations or hypotheses. This can lead to biased results and limit the validity of the study. For example, if a researcher has a hypothesis that small businesses are negatively affected by a new policy, they may be more likely to select samples of small businesses that have been negatively affected.

This risk of bias can be mitigated by using a clear and transparent process for sample selection, and by being aware of and acknowledging potential biases in the research report. However, it is always a potential limitation of purposive sampling.

## Application of Purposive Sampling in Data Analysis

Purposive sampling can be a very effective tool in data analysis, particularly in qualitative research. It allows the researcher to focus on specific characteristics of a population that are of interest, which can often provide valuable insights into the phenomenon being studied.

In business analysis, purposive sampling can be particularly useful. For example, if a business analyst wants to understand the impact of a new policy on small businesses, they can use purposive sampling to select a sample of small businesses that are directly affected by the policy. This can provide a wealth of detailed information about the impact of the policy, which can be used to inform decision-making and policy development.

### Qualitative Research

In qualitative research, purposive sampling can be a very effective tool. It allows the researcher to focus on specific characteristics of a population that are of interest, which can often provide valuable insights into the phenomenon being studied. For example, a researcher studying the experiences of homeless individuals could use purposive sampling to select a sample of individuals who have been homeless for different lengths of time, in different locations, and with different backgrounds. This could provide a wealth of detailed information about the experiences of homelessness, which could be used to inform policy and practice.

However, it is important to remember that the findings from a purposive sample cannot be generalized to the larger population. Therefore, while purposive sampling can provide valuable insights, it should be used with caution in qualitative research.