Investigating and Researching HR Issues

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1 part 1 INTRODUCTION A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

2 chapter 1 Investigating and Researching HR Issues chapter outine Researching HR issues Getting started: the research process and the skis you need What is research in HR? What kind of a researcher are you? Requirements for student projects Writing your research proposa Working with your supervisor Managing the research project Working as a practitioner-researcher Summary Review and refect Expore further earning outcomes This chapter shoud hep you to: define what is meant by research in HR and how it contributes to effective poicy and practice identify the different components of an effective research project and the skis needed compare different approaches to HR research and the opportunities presented by an investigation of a business issue discuss the impications of being a practitioner-researcher. researching hr issues This book is aimed at peope who are undertaking an HR research project as part of a quaification-reated course. You may be a part-time student who is A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

3 4 Research Methods in HRM investigating a business issue in the roe of a practitioner-researcher or a futime student who wi be researching into an HR issue either inside or outside of a particuar organisation or group of organisations. You may be studying in your own country or abroad. The abiity to undertake good-quaity research which eads to reevant practica outcomes and contributes to the knowedge-base of the HR profession is an important ski. Quaified professionas shoud be abe to research reevant topics and write reports that can persuade key stakehoders in the organisation to change or adopt a particuar poicy and practice. Most peope who make use of this book are ikey to be: fina-year undergraduate students of management or HRM; students undertaking professiona HR courses such as the CIPD Intermediate or Advanced eve programmes or students undertaking a taught master s course (usuay an MSc or MA in HRM or a reated subject). Making a start with a big piece of work ike a research project is a daunting prospect and you may be tempted to put off the moment of making a start. This book is intended to hep you make a start and then to see the project through to a successfu and rewarding concusion. The book aims to be practica, accessibe and reevant. It shoud provide you with ideas and resources to appy to your research. I hope that you wi use it as a resource to deveop knowedge, understanding and the practica skis you need to make best use of the research process you are undertaking and to communicate what you have earned in a convincing and credibe way. The book is not a substitute for reguar attendance at research methods casses nor does it repace the need to communicate with your supervisor or project tutor. Research projects are rarey competed quicky and they compete for attention with many other important and urgent matters. Different chapters of the book wi be reevant at different stages of your project from initia project idea and research proposa to submission of the fina report or dissertation. When research is done we it can provide a win-win opportunity for you and the organisation or organisations that have participated in some way. Your organisation(s) can earn from the findings and decide whether to impement your recommendations. You can gain vauabe persona and professiona deveopment in a wide range of areas. Each chapter in this book ends with a seftest so that you can check your understanding and there is an opportunity to review and refect on your achievements so far. This can inform any continuing professiona deveopment (CPD) record that you wi maintain if you are a member of a professiona organisation, such as the CIPD. Ideas about usefu reading are aso incuded at the end of each chapter to enabe you to go further or deeper as appropriate. A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

4 Investigating and Researching HR Issues 5 getting started: the research process and the skis you need activity 1.1 A NICE PROBLEM TO SOLVE Imagine that a good friend contacts you and invites you to join them for a once in a ife time hoiday somewhere very specia. You are very keen to foow this up but you need to know what woud be invoved in terms of your time and money and the impications of such a trip for your work and other responsibiities. How wi you set about finding out more about the country your friend is keen to visit and the different options that might be appropriate for you? feedback notes In order to make decisions about whether to accompany your friend and, if so, how to organise the trip, there are a number of questions that you must find the answers to. These might incude: What are different parts of the hoiday destination country ike? What cimate might you expect at different times of the year? What woud be the impications for shopping in advance for cothes and equipment? What modes of trave are possibe? How much time woud be spent on getting there, getting around and getting back? What faciities does the country or different accommodation options have to offer? What is the opinion about the proposed destination by other traveers who have visited? What are the cost impications? What heath insurance and immunisation requirements are there? How safe is the country considered to be? To answer these questions there are a range of sources of information that you might draw on. These incude: Internet information sites trave brochures/pubicity materias opinions of others (either given to you face-to-face or through socia network media) recommendations of experienced traveers price comparison sites. With a situation ike this, the more sources of information you can draw on, and the more variety of types of information you can gather (opinions as we as saes brochures; statistics as we as recommendations), the more confident you are ikey to fee in your utimate decision. Merey booking a hoiday because it is cheap, it was suggested by an acquaintance you do not know that we and it was the first option you stumbed across are ess ikey to resut in a happy time. To enhance the fact-finding process you must first be cear what it is you are reay ooking for. Then it is necessary to find out what is aready known about the A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

5 6 Research Methods in HRM destination and the trave process. Next you search for further information, obtaining as many different types of data as possibe. Finay, you make sense of a the information and make your decision. the research process Activity 1.1 is, at a basic eve, a sma and persona research activity. It invoves the systematic enquiry into an issue to increase knowedge and underpin effective decision-making. The activities it woud invove are, however, indicative of the components of any research process (see Figure 1.1). Figure 1.1 Components of the research process Often research is represented as a series of discrete and inear stages, and this book is structured in a simiar sort of way. However, the reaity of organisationa research is that each stage is often interreated with the others and experiences in ater stages often ead to reconsideration of earier ones (Saunders et a 2012). For research undertaken to meet the requirements of the CIPD Advanced eve quaifications, the genera mode in Figure 1.1 is eaborated on by the chief examiner, who emphasises the requirement for CIPD students to: diagnose and investigate a ive issue of significance to a work organisation ocate their work within a body of contemporary knowedge coect and anayse data derive supportabe concusions make practica and actionabe recommendations refect on impications for professiona practice. Each of these stages is considered in more detai in subsequent chapters of the book, but an indication of the skis you need to carry out these different eements is provided now. A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

6 Investigating and Researching HR Issues 7 the effective researcher Four interreated skis underpin any effective research project (see Figure 1.2). You wi need: Inteectua and thinking skis: knowing a ot about your topic is important, but other skis wi enabe you to undertake a more successfu project. When you undertake research you have to act as an independent earner and this invoves you being abe to ask questions, probe deepy into issues and deveop and justify your own thinking about the issues invoved. Persona effectiveness skis: HR professionas are aready aware of the importance of good interpersona effectiveness in peope management; the skis you have deveoped can be put to good effect in your research project, particuary your skis of time and stress management. Organisationa skis: a research project is very ike any other work-based endeavour: it has to be project-managed. Knowing how to break down components of a arge piece of work, estimating the time requirements for different task areas, undertaking more than one task in parae when appropriate and keeping track of progress are key skis that you can make use of and deveop further. Communication skis: much of your research project invoves you working on your own, but high-eve communication skis are aso necessary. In particuar, you wi need to oray articuate your ideas to your coeagues and tutors, isten activey (to get advice and aso when gathering your data), share your findings within the organisation through effective presentations and produce a engthy and we-written research report or dissertation. Figure 1.2 The skis of an effective researcher A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

7 8 Research Methods in HRM initia feeings about research It is possibe that you are very excited about getting started with your research project. However, most students have mixed feeings at best, or strong doubts at worst, about their abiity to compete a research project aongside a the other pragmatic and practica issues and probems facing them in their out of study ife. Tabe 1.1 Common objections to doing research Research is: just a way of proving what you aready know best eft to academics or to experts just a way of justifying what the CEO wants to do anyway too difficut too time-consuming removed from reaity unabe to change anything too scientific and statistica boring. (Baxter et a 2006, Jankowicz 2005) Tabe 1.2 shows some recoections by students about their feeings when they were just starting out on a work-based research project required for their CIPD course. Tabe 1.2 Feeings about getting started with a research project I fet overwhemed; I had never done anything ike it before; I was anxious about choosing a good topic. (Lee) I fet nervous and concerned about how to get going. (Jane) I was enthusiastic, but found it very daunting; where woud I start? (Mike) I fet daunted; I knew it woud be a ot of work; where on earth woud I begin? (Lisa) If these sentiments refect how you are feeing, read on (Tabe 1.3) to find out how much more positive the same students were once their projects had been competed. A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

8 Investigating and Researching HR Issues 9 Tabe 1.3 Persona benefits from undertaking a research project I discovered that I can be highy motivated and discipined. I found that once I fee passionate about a topic I can throw mysef into it. (Lee) How to dea with procrastination! Once I got going I enjoyed the work and found it interesting. I earned different ways to stop putting it off and to dea with the time pressures. (Jane) I discovered what I was capabe of! Sef-determination, dogged enthusiasm and perseverance to achieve a significant chaenge. (Mike) I fet reieved and proud to earn that I can be more discipined in my approach to time management than I ever thought possibe (I normay eave things to the ast minute!). (Lisa) It woud be fooish to say that doing research in HR is easy; chaenges are ikey for even the most confident and experienced practitioners and researchers. Persona quaities such as sef-motivation, sef-confidence and sef-centredness wi be important for your success (Biggam 2011): Sef-motivation: you wi need to maintain your interest and enthusiasm over quite a ong period of time. Choose a topic that you are genuiney interested in and try to tacke a the different stages in the process with a positive attitude and curiosity for what you can earn. Sef-confidence: sef-doubt is an occupationa hazard of a researchers at some point in the research process, so remember that your ideas are just as vauabe as those of an estabished researcher or a chief executive. If you are abe to earn from the advice of your tutor and student coeagues, there is no reason why your work shoud not be more than creditabe when the time for assessment comes around. Sef-centredness: the need to undertake your research over a sustained period means that, from time to time, you wi have to turn down requests from famiy members and friends. Wise judgement is required in these circumstances, but it is important to make cear to everyone from the beginning that your project is a priority and you wi appreciate their understanding and patience for its duration. Of course, after it is a over you can repay their patience many times over benefits from research activity 1.2 IDENTIFYING BENEFITS FROM RESEARCH Imagine that you sti have to decide what to do for your project. The chief executive of the organisation for which you work has been to a government-backed seminar on empoyee engagement, and your manager thinks that something to increase engagement woud be a good project for you to undertake. If you fee it woud be hepfu to find out more about engagement before tacking this activity, you might: isten to (or read the transcript of) the CIPD podcast on empoyee engagement, where four HR eaders from different types of organisation discuss what empoyee engagement means for their organisations A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

9 10 Research Methods in HRM and the issues raised for engagement when organisations are going through tough times: _artices/_empoyeeengagement37.htm? view=transcript skim-read some of the CIPD resources about empoyee engagement: access the MacLeod Report to the UK Government, Engaging for Success: Enhancing performance through empoyee engagement: webarchive.nationaarchives.gov.uk/+/ DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1 Identify three benefits of tacking a project ike this from your own perspective. 2 Identify three benefits from the perspective of your empoyer. 3 What probems might you foresee if you were to take on this project? feedback notes 1 There are a number of benefits that may have occurred to you. Undertaking this sort of high-profie project might be good for your career prospects. Engagement is a very hot topic in HRM and may we sound ike an area you coud get personay interested in. There shoud be a good eve of support for you from both managers and empoyees as both sets of stakehoders may fee they have something to gain. You know the organisation and can have access to a considerabe amount of information. Most of the work coud be undertaken in work time rather than at home at weekends. 2 Your organisation aso stands to benefit from such a project. Interest in empoyee engagement by senior managers and HR managers is high. Engagement seems to be right at the top of management s HR agenda. This may aso be an opportunity for the HR department to enhance the credibiity of its strategic contribution. 3 In spite of some benefits there are aso some probems that woud probaby occur to you in this sort of situation. Practica issues such as your own time constraints may be of concern as we as the extent to which this woud be a project that is interesting to you personay. Other questions you might pose incude: Over what timescae woud the empoyer expect you to work on this project? Is it possibe to satisfy both your empoyer and the requirements for your quaification? Given that you are (probaby) not a senior manager, how woud you go about identifying urgent action for senior peope in the organisation? Is the organisation reay interested in this project? Perhaps these concerns might be summed up with four questions: 1 What exacty woud this project invove? 2 Is it feasibe as a topic for a student project? 3 How woud it add vaue to HR practice in the organisation? 4 How might it add vaue to the HR community beyond your specific organisation? A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

10 Investigating and Researching HR Issues 11 The purpose of this chapter is to expore these genera questions so that you are in a better position to understand the contribution of research to rea organisationa situations and consider the roe of the practitioner-researcher. This shoud hep you to work out how to use this book to pan and execute your own research project. what is research in hr? There are many different ideas about what research actuay is (see, for exampe, Yin 2009 Siverman 2009). A usefu and simpe definition to start with is: finding out things in a systematic way to increase knowedge. Research is a key function of higher education and informs much of what goes on in work organisations. As a resut, universities and coeges as we as professiona bodies are increasingy requiring eements of research-based or enquiry-based earning at a eves of study. HRM invoves practica appication of up-to-date understanding in the context of rea word organisations. Reiabe knowedge buit on accurate information is needed. To undertake effective HRM, it is important that good-quaity information underpins decisions and informs the actions of those invoved in the empoyment reationship, such as trade unions, individua empoyees, outsourced service providers and professiona organisations (Bamber et a 2004, Therborn 2006). The definition of research in HR in this book is: the systematic enquiry into HR issues to increase knowedge and underpin effective action. hr research the vaue of appied research Many writers about research methods distinguish between pure and appied research (see, for exampe, Van de Ven 2007, Starkey and Madan 2001), athough the distinction is not aways cear-cut and is best seen as a continuum reating to the purpose and context in which the investigation occurs. The main focus of pure research (sometimes referred to as mode 1 research ) is on gaining knowedge to describe and expain phenomena, deveop and test generaisabe theories and make predictions (van Aken 2005, Burgoyne and James 2006). Appied research (sometimes referred to as mode 2 ), by contrast, is more concerned with deveoping knowedge that can be used to sove probems, predict effects and deveop actions and interventions that are appicabe in particuar organisationa contexts. Athough appied research is not aways accorded high academic prestige, it may require greater ski across a broader range of areas than pure research demands. A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

11 12 Research Methods in HRM Figure 1.3 Pure and appied research (Robson 2011, Easterby-Smith et a 2003, Saunders et a 2012) Most HR research that is undertaken as part of a taught course of study is at the appied research end of the continuum, invoving a reativey sma-scae investigation in one organisation or using information from a reativey sma sampe of peope or organisations. This book works from the position that, in HR at east, appied research is at east as vauabe as pure research. HR research that is carried out in a rigorous way can ead to more effective practice than decisions based mainy on intuition, common sense or persona preferences. Common sense tends to take many features of organisationa situations for granted. A systematic process of research, however, makes it possibe to chaenge taken for granted assumptions and so generate new ways of understanding situations that can form the basis for innovative approaches to soving compex probems. A key capabiity for effective HR practitioners is the anaysis of HR situations and the use of systematic investigative techniques to underpin decision-making and probem-soving. The basis of this book is that HR research is about advancing knowedge in a way that is reevant to changing organisationa priorities, soution of HR probems and the continuous deveopment of organisations invoved in the research process itsef. activity 1.3 WEB-BASED ACTIVITY Visit the website of an HR magazine such as Peope Management ( Personne Today ( HR Zone ( or Training Zone ( Run a search using the word research. If you can, imit the dates of the search to the most recent one or two caendar months. A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

12 Investigating and Researching HR Issues 13 feedback notes An activity such as this demonstrates how important research is to the deveopment of HR practice. Research evidence is used to justify why certain HR practices are beneficia and is aso used to evauate the success (or otherwise) of HR poicies and practices. Research contributes to the deveopment of HR at strategic, poicy and operationa eves. what kind of a researcher are you? Modes of the research process and figures showing ski requirements can ead to an assumption that there is one right way to undertake research. This is not the case and every individua HR practitioner or student is ikey to undertake research in their own unique way. Indeed, research in the HR and management arena is characterised by diversity and it is important, at an eary stage in your project panning process, to carify for yoursef a response to the question: what kind of a researcher am I? This wi hep you to think more ceary about potentia topics that you might investigate and how you might go about it (Brown 2006, Fox et a 2007). insider or outsider? Are you an insider or an outsider? There are two possibe types of insider. One type is the person who wi be invoved in researching their own area of work in their own pace of empoyment. The second type of insider is the researcher who is keen to find out what is going on inside the peope that they are researching; their meanings and understandings. Two types of outsider are aso possibe. Outsiders are those who wi be invoved in researching in their own organisation but in a different pace or part of it, or those who wi undertake research into situations and/or organisations where they truy are an outsider. Your position as an insider or an outsider wi have impications for your research. Outsiders may find it easier to estabish facts and to discuss universas rather than particuars. Insiders, by contrast, may be ed to research that contains more narrative than numbers. Exampes of the different ways that a topic might be taken forward by peope who are insiders or outsiders are shown in Tabe 1.4. The exampes in this tabe use the iustration of taent management, but the same principes woud appy to most HR projects. A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

13 14 Research Methods in HRM Tabe 1.4 Insiders and outsiders? Exampes of different options for research projects Insider/outsider Exampe of research project topic Insider who is undertaking research into their own organisation Insider who wants to know about what is inside the peope that they are researching; their meanings and understandings Outsiders who wi be researching in a different part of their own organisation Outsiders who wi research into situations and/or organisations where they have itte or no connection An evauation of taent management at XYZ Ltd An assessment of perceptions and attitudes towards a taent management programme at XYZ Ltd An investigation into the impementation of taent management in the information systems division Research into the appication of taent management programmes in retai organisations in the UK detective, doctor or exporer? In addition to the distinction between research as an insider or as an outsider, most HR researchers have different menta pictures of the purpose of their research. Brown (2006) characterises three different idea types, which are depicted in Tabe 1.5. Many researchers find that they identify with more than one type. Which of these are you most ike? Tabe 1.5 Researcher simies Researcher as detective Researcher as doctor Researcher as exporer You have a cear idea about the research probem; for exampe: taent management programmes favour younger workers over oder empoyees. The researcher as detective gathers reevant information to get the cues needed to sove the probem and then marshas the evidence to prove that the soution that they have reached is the correct one. (Brown 2006) The researcher as doctor recognises the need to work from the symptoms they are presented with to diagnose the cause of the situation before any appropriate treatment can be prescribed. The researcher as doctor ooks for the reasons behind the research issue;for exampe: what factors ead empoyees to be negative about taent management programmes? The researcher as exporer oves to enter unknown territory and keep a record about what they find; for exampe: what happens in an organisation that has been acquired and is required to impement the taent management programme of the new parent company? Descriptive research If you see yoursef mainy as a detective or perhaps as an exporer, it is ikey that you wi be interested in carrying out descriptive research where you set out to provide an accurate profie of situations, peope or events. A descriptive research project focuses on what, when, where and who. Having investigated and described the issue, you can then go further and anayse the data to ask why? A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

14 Investigating and Researching HR Issues 15 and so what? Both quaitative and quantitative data are usefu in descriptive studies. Expanatory research If you see your roe as a researcher to be ike that of a doctor or perhaps as a detective, it is ikey that you wi undertake expanatory research by setting out to expain a situation or probem, usuay in the form of causa reationships. Your focus wi be on why and how, seeking to expain organisationa probems and, through assessment of the causes, to recommend changes for improvement. Both quaitative and quantitative data may be usefu for achieving these research purposes. Exporatory research If you see your roe as a researcher as more ike that of an exporer, exporatory research wi appea to you. The purpose of exporatory research is to seek new insights and find out what is happening. There is an attempt to ask questions and assess phenomena in a new ight. A more quaitative approach often (but not aways) underpins this sort of research and the focus is on obtaining new insights into new or current situations and issues. activity 1.4 HOW REAL IS REALITY TV? Reaity TV (as distinct from documentaries or other non-fictiona TV programmes such as sports coverage and news) is a form of teevision programming that has become prevaent in amost every TV network since the beginning of the twenty-first century. Exampes from UK channes incude taent searches such as: The Apprentice and documentary-type programmes such as The Ony Way is Essex and Masterchef. Reaity TV shows caim to show ordinary peope in unscripted and rea situations. Identify and think about three different reaity TV shows that you know about. If you do not watch reaity TV shows yoursef, you can find out about them from friends or from broadcasters websites. You might aso enjoy reading commentary on The Apprentice in John McGurk s (CIPD Adviser for Learning and Taent Deveopment) bog at defaut.aspx DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1 How rea is reaity TV? 2 In what ways is reaity TV rea and in what ways is reaity TV not rea? 3 To what extent is heartbreak rea? 4 In what sense are dreams rea? feedback notes Discussion about reaity TV can evoke strong reactions. Some peope watch reaity TV programmes with enthusiasm and commitment; they want to decide for themseves about the quaities shown by those invoved and may aso identify strongy for or against one or more of the participants. Other peope might describe reaity TV as tedious, worthess and manipuative. The extent to which the programme that is broadcast is contrived or the effect of the editing A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

15 16 Research Methods in HRM process on what we watch might, however, be seen to make reaity TV ess rea than its name woud impy. The discussion about the reaity of reaity TV makes us wonder how we can know about reaity and this is an important issue for everyone who aims to carry out research in the rea word. When discussing the extent to which heartbreak is rea, your opinion might be different depending on your current emotiona circumstances and reationships. For others their view woud not depend on their context or circumstances they woud argue that heartbreak is a feeing rather than a rea thing. Others might say that they know what is rea when they come across it and are abe to distinguish between what seems rea (dreams and/or heartbreak) and what actuay is rea as evidenced by the behaviours that they experience. Even those of us who prefer to rey on the evidence of our senses to identify what is rea find ourseves chaenged by the digita and technoogica opportunities of the twenty-first century to re-master or ater what we see and hear. This can ead us to wonder whether reiance on the evidence provided by our senses or on our experience is a sufficient basis from which to know about the rea word (Saunders et a 2012). what is your rea-word view? Work in HR, and this incudes research work in HR, takes pace in the rea word and is about rea word issues (Robson 2011). Most of the time most of us do not troube ourseves with thinking much about the nature of the rea word; we just get on with our ives and our jobs. Before you start with your research, however, you wi need to think about your own take on the nature of the rea word. When addressing the question what is rea? there are three prominent options (Brown 2006, Fox et a 2007). One answer is that reaity is out there and this corresponds to what is termed an objective word-view. If your view is that reaity is in here (that is, a feature of your perceptions and feeings), you may fee more comfortabe in what might be caed an individuay constructed wordview. You might think that reaity is in here but infuenced by out there. This woud be represented by what is often caed a sociay constructed word-view. The extent to which you subscribe to an objective, sociay constructed or individuay constructed word-view may we be infuenced by your own persona and professiona background. Economists, for exampe, tend to operate within an objective word-view; socia and care workers tend to be most comfortabe with a sociay constructed word-view. HR researchers are difficut to generaise about: some adopt a sociay constructed word-view and others work from an objective word-view. Your assumptions about these issues, therefore, may we be different from other HR practitioners and researchers that you come into contact with. The nature of your thinking in response to these issues, however, is ikey to be important for the way that you tacke your project. If you are most comfortabe with an objective word-view, it is ikey that you wi want to estabish objective facts that can be generaised independenty of the beiefs, perceptions, cuture and anguage of different individuas and groups. This perspective is often associated with what is termed a positivist approach to research, which is outined in Chapter 2. If you are more comfortabe with a A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

16 Investigating and Researching HR Issues 17 sociay constructed word-view, it is ikey that you wi vaue information from observation or interviews mosty gathered in the form of words and meanings, pictures and other artefacts and vaue quaitative rather than quantitative data. This word-view is often associated with the interpretivist approach, which is aso introduced in Chapter 2. Research into the psychoogica contract case iustration 1.1 Aex was a part-time student in a retai organisation where performance and the achievement of targets were key features of organisationa cuture. Anecdota evidence ed her to be concerned about the way sickness absence was managed in her organisation, the extent to which management responses to sickness absence affected eves of empoyee engagement in her organisation and whether managers understanding of the preventative effects of their actions with regard to sickness absence was perceived by empoyees as punitive and the effect this had on engagement. For her research project, Aex decided to measure empoyees and managers perceptions of the absence management process and indicators of engagement, and to compare these with indicators of preventative and punitive approaches to absence which she found in the iterature. From her reading of the iterature, Aex identified questionnaire items reated with measures of engagement and absence management. These items incuded such things as: different features of managing absence (which she obtained from CIPD surveys on absence management); factors that maximise attendance at work; perceptions of absence review processes; and engagement measures (which came from her company s reguar staff satisfaction survey). Aex set out to gather and anayse the data from a range of different peope who worked in a sampe of the retai outets to make some generaised concusions about the effects of the organisation s approach to managing sickness absence. Kingsey was aso interested in taking forward research into empoyee engagement. However, he took a different approach. He focused on finding out about the beiefs, vaues, expectations and aspirations of empoyees through a series of in-depth interviews. Kingsey wanted to find out about the different feeings of engagement peope might have even if they worked in jobs at the same eve and in the same organisation. Through conducting interviews, therefore, Kingsey set out to gather information that was grounded in the experiences and perspectives of those invoved to provide an in-depth understanding of the issues from the different participants perspectives. Discussion Questions 1 What word-view underpinned the approaches to their research adopted by Aex and Kingsey? 2 To what extent (and why) is it possibe to decide which approach is superior? A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

17 18 Research Methods in HRM feedback notes The approach adopted by Aex was indicative of the objective word-view. She sought to measure features of absence management and engagement as indicated through generaised patterns of questionnaire responses. Kingsey s approach was indicative of the constructed word-view and he was interested in the way in which empoyee engagement is differenty fet by different peope on the basis of their unique experiences and contexts. The different research word-views described here are distinct, but you may aso have highighted that there are overaps between them. No experience (of empoyee engagement) is whoy individuay and uniquey experienced; some aspects wi be shared between individuas and groups. Aso, sociay derived views (about executive pay, for exampe) can become so universay accepted that they can be researched as an objective fact. You may fee that both objectivist and constructivist perspectives are usefu ways forward, and research that works from more than one word-view is quite common (athough not required or compusory) within HR. The important thing is to be cear about your word-view to yoursef and to those who wi read your work so that this can be taken into account in making sense of your research and the concusions that you draw. You may we be refecting at this point that you can see the benefit of both objectivist and constructivist word-views, and you may be thinking about incorporating both approaches into your research. Within research in HR there is a strong tradition of what is sometimes caed a mixed methods approach, characterised by eements of both word-views within a project. Such approaches are discussed in Chapter 2. However, bringing insights from both word-views together can have impications for your research project that can be very time-consuming and difficut to express within a word imit of 7,000 words (which is often appied for CIPD management or business research reports). activity 1.5 WHAT KIND OF A RESEARCHER ARE YOU? Think about yoursef: your situation, your word-view, your preferences and your interests. Write your comments to the questions on the eft in the spaces provided on the right. About you Are you ikey to undertake research in your own organisation or one where you might be considered an outsider? Response A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

18 Investigating and Researching HR Issues 19 About you Are you interested in genera facts and universa trends or are you more interested in getting inside the meanings behind particuar issues and experiences? To what extent is your preferred research roe simiar to that of a doctor/ exporer/detective (or a combination)? Which word-view do you fee most comfortabe with: objectivist wordview or constructivist word-view? Response Your responses to these questions might be usefu to share with your tutor or supervisor as you discuss potentia research topics and the way you might take your research project forward. Figure 1.4 Factors affecting the empoyment reationship A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

19 20 Research Methods in HRM the audiences for hr research activity 1.6 AUDIENCES FOR HR RESEARCH 1 Use Figure 1.4 as a prompt and write down a ist of different groups of peope who may be interested in the impications of research into HR issues in your organisation (or one you are famiiar with). 2 For each group of peope that you identify, try to work out how they might find out about reevant research that has been undertaken. feedback notes Your ist of ikey audiences for HR research might incude: individua practitioners; individua managers; members of trade unions; peope in centra government departments; members of your oca authority; speciaist organisations/pressure groups; professiona associations; academics; consutants; empoyer/trade bodies; trade union members; students; providers of outsourced HR services. When it comes to finding out about research, there is an equay wide range of pubications and opportunities that different groups might use. These incude: newspapers webpages specific reports (may be interna or externa) books trade journas professiona journas attending conferences/seminars academic journas socia networking sites unpubished research (dissertations, projects, etc). Each of these different vehices for communicating knowedge wi do so in a different way to meet the needs of its audience. As a resut they wi engage to different extents with both theory and practice and with the genera or the specific. A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

20 Investigating and Researching HR Issues 21 Figure 1.5 Orientation of different research outputs activity 1.7 ASSESSING DIFFERENT RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS Study one copy of the foowing types of HR pubication: academic peer-reviewed journa (for exampe, Human Resource Management Journa, Human Resource Deveopment Internationa or Internationa Journa of Human Resource Management) professiona journa (for exampe, Peope Management or Personne Today) practitioner report (for exampe, IDS Report or a CIPD Research Insight report ( Skim-read the pubications and try to pot each of the features of the research artices/ reports guided by the two axes shown in Figure 1.5. feedback notes It is ikey that different artices from each of the first two types of pubication may need to be potted differenty. Some studies, even within one pubication, are very concerned with one specific situation and others are more genera. What is easier to characterise is the different eves of engagement with theories, modes and concepts. Papers in a peer-reviewed academic journa such as HRMJ wi be significanty concerned with evauating theories as we as with practicay focused investigations. Practitioner reports, by contrast, are more concerned with describing practice than with expicity ocating it within any conceptua framework. Feature artices in practitioner journas vary somewhat, athough theory is rarey a major feature. requirements for student projects If you are working towards a professiona or educationa quaification, the principa readers of your work wi be interested in its academic features as much as the practica outcomes for the organisation(s) in which your research project is situated. Therefore it is important that your work corresponds to the characteristics shown in Figure 1.6. A sampe chapter from Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue, by Vaerie Anderson. Pubished by the CIPD. Copyright A rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced, stored in a retrieva system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, eectronic, mechanica, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except in accordance with the icence issued by the CIPD.

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