Saturday, 14 May 2016

Making a start on the 3rd module of the DBA course

Loyal readers will remember that last September I embarked on the Doctoral Business Administration part time degree course offered through the University of Winchester.   Incidentally,  if you harbour an interest in a challenging but rewarding program of study like this, then I believe there will be a new cohort starting this September.  Check out their website for more details or get in touch with me and I'll be happy to talk about my experience thus far.

The DBA program starts with a set of 6 taught modules - one a term for the first 2 years.  Each of the modules follows the same pattern with 2 taught "weekends" and then time to produce an assignment. Yesterday and today saw the 2015 cohort at the Business School for the first weekend of the 3rd module - "Maximising Engagement and Impact".

Under the expert and enthusiastic leadership of Dr Martina Hutton we have spent two full days exploring questions of scholarship,  identifying the "conversations" that we want to be a part of, our identity as researchers, ideas around what our contribution will be through our DBA thesis.   As usual the days have been a mix of content to get us thinking, practical exercises, and discussion amongst the group.   As the modules progress the cohort gets to know each other ever better and the richness of questioning, challenging and support of each other increases.  Considering the comparatively short time it is since we started this journey it really is amazing to see just how far we have all progressed in our thinking about what our area of research will be.   It is a privilege to be a part of the research journey that my fellow cohort members are taking and I am very excited to see what they come up with in the coming months and years - indeed I think one of my challenges will be keeping the focus on my own research and not getting distracted and intrigued by some of the things the others are looking at.

The assignment for this module is to write a short paper ( up to 3000 words) on a topic of our choice ( the most obvious being to choose something aligned with our research interest) and then to create a presentation that allows us to share the findings with any audience that we choose.  The final element is then a short reflection on that process and our success at disseminating our findings through both the paper and presentation.

As part of today's module we had some writing exercises including spending a short amount of time to come up with a possible title and abstract for our paper.   An interesting exercise in that it forces you to conceive what it is that you may end up writing.  Pretty much a given that, as we engage with the process of research and thinking about the topic, what we come up with will differ from what we imagined today but it was a powerful technique for helping to at least crystallise some initial lines of enquiry.

Here's what I came up with...

Computer says "yes" but what happens next? Understanding the impact on employee engagement when HR Analytics are used to determine employee compensation.


Have you ever felt if only the decision had been based on data rather than taken by failible human beings you'd have got the pay rise you deserved? What if we had the ability to take those decisions at an organisational level removing scope for bias and prejudice? The increasing ability to harvest employee data and application of HR Analytics offers the promise of just such a nirvana but does it work in practice?   Every action has a reaction, and this paper will explore both the art of the possible and some of the potential consequences of taking a data driven approach to compensation decisions.  Models of Employee Engagement are used to provide a framework for the discussion, looking at both the short and longer term impacts on staff and managers. The paper concludes with an initial exploration of how the mere act of taking an Analytic based approach can lead to changed behaviour as employees seek to maximise their chances of a favourable personal outcome.

I'm really looking forward to working on the paper over the coming months ( due date is in September).   Any comments you have on the topic or indeed suggestions of areas I could look into as part of the assignment will be gratefully received.

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