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Research at Work

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  1. Research at Work Emergent Researcher Identities

  2. Academic Context • Part time Master Degree in Human Resource Management • Professional body (CIPD) accredited • Research Component (30 Credit dissertation) specified by professional body as an explicit requirement

  3. Employment Context • Students encouraged / supported to study programme (normally as a requirement of their current role) • Learners are typically in their first professional role after graduation – qualification seen as entry to higher level (second role) • Employer normally pays fees but provides little personal support

  4. The Study • Emerged from concerns from supervisors over student engagement and difficulties encountered • Focus on research processes and activities at work (particularly data gathering) • Data drawn from students own reflective accounts (CIPD requirement)

  5. Research processes • Defining the topic • Choosing methods and methodology • Gathering data (data types, data sources) access and confidentiality • Presenting findings to the university • Presenting findings back to the organisation

  6. Findings • Significant differences in the extent to which the student’s research was embedded in the organisation • Clear impact on data gathering processes • Effects on the students own sense of ownership and control • Emergent issues of ethics

  7. Analysis – patterns of engagement • 2 organisational based sets of research activities • Commissioned and role based • 3 students based sets of research activities • Self directed, student and covert

  8. Organisation centred • Commissioned • Typically championed by a senior manager features high level organisational access but low levels of student control • Role based • Emerges from the current work of the student as employee, relies heavily on day to day work relationships and is subject to managerial control on the same basis as the role

  9. Learner centred • Self directed • Project based around student interest in topic, typically self managed through informal contacts with low organisational control or influence. Access to data based on personal links • Student • Presented as a requirement of the university and therefore “outside” work, typically self managed through informal contacts with low organisational control of influence can enable access to data as less threatening “student”

  10. Learner centred • Covert • Not visible to the employer, data sought from informal contacts on the basis of strict non disclosure. Topic is often seen as threatening to the organisation or its reputation (e.g discrimination) Students sometimes express concerns about possible impact on themselves or colleagues. No organisational control or awareness of project.

  11. Significance • Problematises the research process • Foregrounds the choices available to students and their implications for conducting research • Provides a framework within which research can be managed – by students supported by supervisors

  12. Issues in research • Obvious data limitations – post submission self reflection rather than interviews during the process • Data is partial – no organisational perspectives available as a result of which no analysis is available about the use of the research by the organisation

  13. Professional issues? • Raises questions about the significance of formal research in relation to organisational practice and professional practices • How is HR research perceived or valued by / within organisations • How is research perceived or valued by professional HR Managers