Saturday, April 23, 2011

First Post and First Assignment!

So here I am thinking that a PhD is both a great idea and a horrible idea yet I am again falling asleep on my assignment.  Not that it's boring but that I am a bit depressed at how long this is going to take me... okay, yes, a little boring.  I mean, I have QWERTY on my forehead right now.

My homework is due this Monday.

Discussion Threads
The discussion forum portion (the online equivalent of participation in a classroom setting) was done last week.  I am also required to answer someone's post as well, which I did today.

The teacher's thread starts off with this:
Research Priority and Justification

Research requires resources, and resources are always scarce things in organizations. So allocating resources to research of any sort requires deciding that its results are potentially more valuable than the results that might be obtained by spending the resources on something else (such as advertising, or executive bonuses, etc.) Such decisions are difficult enough when the research is technical and the results potentially translatable into bottom-line dollars. But when we're talking about behavioral science research, tracing and quantifying possible results and relating them to organizational goals and priorities may be almost impossible.

So -- here's the question. What sort of justification can you offer as to why an organization -- any organization -- should expend resources on the kind of social/behavioral science research that you're learning about here? You are invited to pose possible rationales you might offer to a potential sponsor -- and/or to poke holes in the rationales offered by your colleagues. Preferably both. Creative tearing into each other -- all in a spirit of good collegial fun, of course -- is encouraged strongly.

GENERAL NOTE ON TD POSTINGS: I'm looking for original, thoughtful contributions, plus equally thoughtful critiques of other student postings. Simply agreeing with a previous posting doesn't count for much.

Also, personal sharing is encouraged. The experience of research involves you bringing all that you are to the experience, and it's not possible to evaluate research without knowing something about the researcher (and who funded the research and why, which of course brings us back to the issue at hand...)
My answer was:
In the organization I work with, I am a web product manager. I was discussing how and why an organization would benefit from social/behavioral science research with one of my peers. We both pretty much felt that researching the social/behavioral sciences can benefit an organization in a few ways.

The first way is that it allows us to facilitate better communication between the people that we work with. This allows us to remove any confusion due to misinterpretation. I especially find this helpful in managing the projects with the developers I work with because it is important that they understand the project to do it correctly.

The second is to learn and understand conflict resolution. Anyone within the organization can benefit from a program such as this. This will help keep the projects and processes moving along and provide employees with the knowledge to resolve any issues efficiently.

Lastly, it also provides the organization with a sense of synergy. When employees are happy, they are generally willing to do more and are more loyal. This actually benefits the company in reducing any additional costs, especially in the realm of hiring and training new people.
I got two responses from the class but I will only post one here:
Conflict resolution is a complicated matter, especially in organizations that have a global presence or a global workforce, or even a local workforce that employs people from a variety of cultures. To me, conflict resolution is related to negotiation. Many of the negotiation studies by Brett and by Salacuse, both of whom dealt with cross-cultural negotiation, can be applied to conflict resolution as well. Understanding how other cultures communicate is important as well as understanding how that communication style is changing, especially in emerging economies. A significant issue in negotiation and conflict resolution is having a little bit of knowledge about a culture and then overgeneralizing about the population from that knowledge. Research by Brett and Salacuse has shown, over time, that cultural communication styles change, evolve, and adapt as those cultures begin to interact more frequently and intimately with other cultures. The only way to track these changes is with ongoing research; this type of research can be very valuable to organizations as they strive to stay competitive.
My response to him was:
Very true. Although I did consider grouping conflict resolution and negotiations together, I kept them separate because as manager, you do not necessarily negotiate with your employees on the project/s you give them and saw negotiations as more of resource outside from the organization, even if the organization can benefit it. Additionally, a client is not someone you want to have a conflict with and therefore negotiations with clients can be in and of itself a separate challenge.

Although I do not disagree with him, I needed to post a somewhat substantial response anyway so there it was.

Case Assignment
Topic: Differentiate between good and mediocre research in terms of specific criteria.

For some reason I thought it was about organizational commitment because of the first article's subject matter.  Needless to say, I didn't prepare for it all that well.  I mean, I had two weeks to do this and so far all I've done is read one of the two articles I was required to analyze last week.  I did happen get to read the other one today and find some other additional resources to use in my essay.  I wrote short notes on everything that I will need to formulate this into an actual essay, which I will be able to write tomorrow along with my session long project.

Since this is my first PhD-based essay, I'm worried that I won't do as well as I did in the masters.

So far my version of an outline for the case assignment looks like this:

Research and Resources Stage
Concentrate on design, methods, and findings

Shepherd, D., Douglas, E., Fitzsimmons, J. (2008).  MBA admission criteria and an entrepreneurial mindset:  Evidence from "Western" style MBAs in India and Thailand.  Academy of Management Learning & Education, 7 (2): 158-172.  Retrieved April 24, 2011, from:

My Thoughts:

Design of assessment is the use of the "7-point Likert scale" (very low is 1, very high is 7) & experimental design called "orthogonal fractional factorial design" which is "used to reduce the number of attribute combinations to 16 and thus make the decision-making task more manageable".

Methods used was a "postexperiment questionnaire" to determine if the students with a higher GMAT score was more or less likely to be motivated and committed as a manager.

GMAT vs. Work Experience
·         Findings show that students who scored high GMAT scores had low motivation and commitment in their work experience example.
·         GMAT testing is supposed to evaluate if the student is suitable for becoming a manager.
·         Work experience is supposed to provide a student with insight to management.
·         GMAT is only valid to non-US students (Koys, 2005)
·         Being a manager is closely related to being an entrepreneur.
·         GMAT does not support "motivation" or "commitment" or independent thinking and "strategic adaptation".  Cognitive ability is not the same as work-related motivation

GMAT score vs. GPA
·         GMAT scores add an additional value to the student's MBA GPA.
·         GMAT is too predictable.
·         GMAT has a good reputation.
·         Getting a GMAT is considered the "safer route"

Things the article does not mention
·         GMAT is not a requirement in all schools.
·         GMAT is used if the student's GPA or work experience is insufficient to get into some MBA programs.

Disputable information
·         " Ireland and colleagues (2003) proposed that success in a management career in the 21st century economy will require an entrepreneurial mind-set to enhance firm performance while competing in turbulent and unpredictable environments—turbulent and unpredictable environments like those of emerging economies (Appiah-Adu, 1998; Luo, 2007). " Yet Ireland's economy has now been labeled at "junk status".  So how valuable is their predicted information?:
·         Mintzberg (2004) concludes that academics is not enough to support a management position, even though he only has 2-3 years of work experience.
·         "Perhaps students with higher GMAT scores perceive themselves as special, belonging to an elite group of intelligentsia, and as such, should not be expected to work as hard as others." - opinion leading the reader to believe that this is the real reason the students will never succeed as a manager if they have a high GMAT score and automatically have a pompous attitude.
·          Article research does not factor in cultural differences and motivations between the US, Indian, and Thailand organizations or even within a group or organizational setting.  For example, examines how individual motivation can be different if they are in a group setting.
·         Article assumes that students intend to become managers.
·         Article uses an unrealistic scenario "When making these assessments, assume you have savings that are equal to one year’s salary.”  If people don't even have enough money in their retirement funds, they most likely will not have a year's salary in their savings account.  Additionally, in providing the students with saved money can influence the statistics negatively towards motivation and commitment.  It allows the students to perceive that they can quit the job because they have backup funds to last them a year -- which shows lack of commitment.
·         The statistics in Table 1 (GMAT average is 650.30) is different than their explanation "with average GMAT score of 689".
·         Hypothesis 1 was found to be unsupported as well as Hypothesis 2b (less independence seeking).

Oz, E. (2001), Organizational commitment and ethical behavior: An empirical study of information system professionals, Journal of Business Ethics, Nov 2001. Retrieved April 24, 2011 from

My Thoughts:

·         " Measurement of organizational commitment" - commitment, level of "effort", "membership"
·         " Measurement of ethical hehavior" - analyzing professionals to see which unethical behaviors they do the most or least.  

Design:  "5-point Likert-type scale"

Disputable information/Findings:
IT professionals vs. any other type of professional
·         assessment focuses on behaviors that only go against company policy but the first part of the  questionnaire makes it sound like it's neutral to their participants: "The first part contained an established instrument for determining the organizational commitment of the participant's organization" however "all of the acts described in these statements are explicitly prohibited by all of these organizations".
·         focuses on IT-related, unethical statements -- very few of the professionals  that were participating were in IS-related positions (71 were in IS, 250 were not), which makes the bias towards IS even more visible.  The questions should have had more ethical variety or a standard type of participant. 
For example, if the ethical questions are IT/IS-related, then the participants should also be of IT/IS otherwise it is possible that the other professionals may not understand the full terminology or meaning of the statement.
Another example, one of the "ethics statements" mentioned was "Sometimes, for my work, I copy software without permission."  But what if the user does not know what "software" actually is?  There are several professionals out there that do not know the difference because they are not tech savvy. (go into detail about how this is derived from personal experience with working with the parents at GW HS and some of them are professionals that work on computers)
·         one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA)
·         " the organizational commitment of IS professionals was greater than that of the other professionals"
·         "Apparently, IS professionals are more likely to "hack" than other professionals." - opinion bias because "hack" is not defined.  "Social engineering" is a form of hacking and many people know how to do this, IS or not, but they may not know that that is what it actually is.
·         Article indicated that " the first two statements address behavior that requires some technical knowledge."
·         Article indicates that " Further research, perhaps with larger samples, may shed more light on the reasons for IS professionals' ethical attitudes."
·         Referring to the personal data statement, "This may partially explain why other professionals are as likely as IS professionals to commit these acts." or they don't know realize that the data they have access to is not for distribution to anyone.

I don't think that many people really realize that research and analysis takes up more time then actually writing the essay.  It takes me a couple of days just for one essay usually.

Session Long Project (SLP)
The session long project is typically a compilation of what I've written for the entire session of the course, however, I am required to submit a few pages along with the case assignment.

  • Identify organizational problems in terms of objective variables.
  • Explain how solving these problems could benefit the organization.
My outline for this is not yet done but I will have it done tonight, even if it kills me...  maybe.

I had to sleep so I decided to post the requirements of the SLP here and give short answers to them before I write up the essay as a guideline for myself.

For this part of your project, you are to prepare an introduction.  (Remember, this is a first draft.  You'll have plenty of chances to revise it as we go along).  In Introduction, please address the following issues:
  1. What is your organization?  What does it do?
    My organization caters to businesses that wish to create a professional website.  We offer services that create and maintain their database, web designs, and web site maintenance so that they don't have to.
  2. Identify at least one, but no more than three, important problems facing the organization.  Some suggestions:  Employee job satisfaction, productivity, turnover, morale, training, training effectiveness, citizenship behaviors, training and training effectiveness.  As we will see, these are the areas within which we will be defining your DEPENDENT VARIABLES (DVs) -- that is, the things that we'd like to change or improve.(a) new project changes/turnover: clients often love to make changes to their website, big and small.  Of course it is their website, however, there also needs to be some control on our side as to how those changes take place.  This includes unrealistic time frames and changes (ie. changes to functional and design elements within a day that took weeks to develop initially) that the clients insist on.
    (b) employees being overworked can often be a big problem as well and lowers morale.  Many of the employees feel that they are underpaid for the amount of work that they dedicate to the company.  The company doesn't seem to appreciate them and always seems to expect more.  Several people have left the organization because they feel this way and have found better opportunities elsewhere.
  3. For each DV, identify at least one factor that is probably having either a negative effect, or a less-than-optimal positive effect on it.  Examples: environmental factors (heat, noise pollution), pay, training, performance appraisal procedures or lack thereof, occupational stress, and supervisory styles.  These are the areas from which we'll identify your INDEPENDENT VARIABLES (IVs) - things that we might be able to change or manipulate, or at least observe to be systematically varying.(a) occupational stress: the individuals that work in this organization typically go above and beyond the normal business hours to complete the extra work that is requested of them.  However, they are very stressed and this will often be obvious when they need to take unpaid sick days (the employees receive 5 sick days, 10 holidays, and 8 vacation days throughout the year and are required work hours are from 9pm to 6pm. No rollovers allowed.  No overtime pay.). 
    (b) pay: the employees often complain about the amount of pay they get versus the amount of time and effort they put into the organization.  They complain that they do not get raises but deserve them because they have done so much for the company.
  4. State how it could benefit the organization if the exact relationships between one or more problem areas (DVs) and one or more presumed causes or sources of those problems (IVs) could be identified.  Example:  If noise (the IV) is increasing employee turnover (the DV), then it may be cost-effective to invest in sound-suppressing panels and ceiling tiles.(a) if the organization would be more strict or develop better client to business policies, the employees would not need to do extra work or any overtime or they could hire an additional person or intern to do any extra work without loosing any money or time. 
    Additionally, since there are already training sessions going on, this would also be the best time to do so.
    (b) pay raises or some sort of incentives should be normal and on a yearly basis if the employee is providing the organization with the best architecture and services possible.  The only employees that seem to get a raise are the managers.  All other employees do not get raises and they are the ones that are primarily doing the bulk of the work.
Ok!  Now to write up the essays. :)