user_mobilelogo

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Recent blog posts

Posted by on in Uncategorized

As I was walking on the street today I noticed the endless amount of advertisements, encouraging me to sign in for a seminar, which will reveal the secrets of my business success. All the seminars are held by young men, in costumes, sitting in a big meeting room, having a presentation on how to motivate myself. They are popular on the streets, on television and on social media.

I don’t know about you, but I must say I am rather skeptical. I mean, if I need a stranger to tell me how amazing I am, that means that I have a problem. Firstly, because he doesn’t know me. I have friends and one of the reason they are existing is that I made an effort, I stood up for them and I am still doing it because they matter. So if this fact does not motivate me, and instead I am listening so some unknown person, who is trying to convince 150 people to love thieves, then I need to rethink my values once again. Secondly, I have my education and it is an ongoing process. It is no longer the case that the day I graduate high school is the same day I saw a book for the last time.

This means that every day I am learning something new and it inspires my curiosity. In other words, I get entertained. And the whole thirst for knowledge is bigger motivation than any PowerPoint encouraging presentation can give me. And finally- the reason why I am writing this is because I exist in the first place. And the whole idea that I have travelled so long, and did so much and I still have the freedom to share it, so more precious for keeping me motivated than any presentation will ever be.

Hits: 1292
0

While reading business guides about making a builders plan and a strategy, we often have the feeling that we are talking about the same thing. In both cases, there is a manner of imagination and creativity, position in front of our competitors and so one. So is there an actual difference between the two documents? Here I will present the three major differences between them.

1. The plan has a clear endpoint – it doesn’t matter how creative we are, still a plan cannot exceed the period of 2-5 years implementation. The short live of the plan, gives him the flexibility to deal with risks and uncertainties. On the other hand, strategy’s time frame looks like a vector. It is headed for the future, but it does not have an end. The reason for that is that as long as one organization has its purpose, there cannot be a time, even in the future, where this purpose does not exist. It is the ongoing process of thinking who am I and where I want to be.

2. The plan does not have and ideal- strategy on the other hand is something, which can be described in some words, but they will be only a part of the essence. To have a plan, is to know what to do, to have a strategy means to know why you are doing that.

3. The plan is the operational part of the process, the strategy is the vision- to illustrate it better, and you have to imagine a ship. It has a Capitan and he is in charge of everything. So his plan is to travel through the see, to calculate how much food he will need and how much sailors should he have on the boat. His strategy, on the other hand, contains the idea of which path to take, how should he act in case of a storm and where does he want to go.

Finally, I want to stress that both the plan and the strategy are essential for the functioning of an organization. And if only one of them is missing, the other becomes pointless.

Hits: 1222
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

I remember when I had created my Facebook profile. It was in 2009 and I was the first along my friends to make this step. Frankly, in the beginning I was not sure what should I do with it. So I started sharing my favorite songs, movies, joined groups with interesting topics and founded all my long lost high school friends. I was not thinking with will appear on my wall or not, as my friends list was made only from people which I knew and they were only friends and relatives.

As time went by, by circle started to enlarge. My friends on Facebook were colleges, employers, university professors, people, for which I desired to work and so on. At this point I realized that my wall became my cover letter, and it had to represent me in the best possible light. Which meant- no more pictures from parties, no more personal opinions, as I was not quite sure who could get offended.

Currently I don’t post anything. The reason is that everything went so complicated, that I am not sure what may be appropriate and what no. I don’t know what this profile represents anymore. So I was forced to make another one- just for friends, to be private, only few people could see it and so on. This was yet not a decision, as again this is not the meaning of social network in the first place.

At the end, I just gave up, I removed my private profile and started using my old one in the ways, which I found entertaining. And even if I may lose a job opportunity because of that, at least I will not what social means.

Hits: 1214
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Often this is quite controversial topic, as it is related with a big amount of subjectivity. The reason is that we are often willing not to be too critical over our own work, and it is likely is we missed an error which we had previously made. One of the actions which could be taken to avoid that is time management. It is more likely to be more critical if we not read out writing right after we finished with it.

So it is better to leave some time, put it aside, and come back to it in a week. It is surprising how we will start to find errors and mistakes, which were invisible by the time we were writing. Another useful tip is to look what has already been written.

It has nothing to do with copy writing, it is more like sharing experience with other scholars on the same topic. They may show you somethings, which you had underestimated or simply missed. In any case, it is always better to give it someone for proof writing. After all, even a kid could notice something, which we had skipped.

Hits: 1145
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

It is often the case when we are making our cross national analysis how many countries should we include. Well, it mainly depends on what do we want to measure and how many indicators we are using. In this articles I am going to present different types of case studies and when they can be useful.

Single case study Even though it is wide spread, it could actually be justified for few cases. Mainly because most of the trends are not unique only for one case, and therefore they could easily be compared. However, the single case studies are useful when we are making descriptive research, just explaining what happen where, without looking for causalities. Other situations, like when we are searching for the most likely place when even is about to occur, or the opposite- when it is least likely, are also suitable for this case. Small-n study (few cases)

Small-n studies are convenient for cases, when we are looking for particular causalities and the cases are similar in many ways. For example comparing Poland, Check republic and Slovakia, as they are both post-communist, Central European states, which now are part of the European Union.

 

Large-N study It is used when we want to find a global trend. This model is the most complicated one, as it involves deep research in many different countries, so it could take years of analysis. And having in mind that they are very few criteria, which is valid for all states, this kind of studies are not very thick.

Hits: 1144
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

AGE recruits Human Rights Intern for early 2016

AGE Platform Europe is looking for a Human Rights Intern starting from January 2016 for a 4-6 month period to assist AGE Policy Officer on Human Rights and Non-Discrimination.

His/her tasks will consist in:

· Helping develop an online handbook on the rights of older people in the Council of Europe;

· Conducting research on the legal database of the Council of Europe and related soft documents;

· Assisting in drafting policy, communication and information material for a wide audience;

· Collecting examples of age-discrimination in access to goods and services;

· Contributing to the organisation of events on ageing and human rights;

· Attending a number of policy/stakeholder/NGO meetings.

The deadline for application is 15 November 2015.

More information on the job description, required profile and application process is available here

Hits: 1182
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized
When making a research, there are several questions you should have in mind. Yes, the idea and the forming of thesis is very important, but it is only 1/3 of the work. Measuring and collecting information is sometimes underestimated by the scholars. With the development of technology and unlimited access to internet it is quite easy to get lost in all the sources of information. In this cases validity is essential, but how can we distinguish between the reliable and unreliable sources of information? First off all be sure that the time, when the information is published is reliable to your needs. We often tend to forget that internet contains information, which is preserved for decades and the one way had found may not be accurate anymore. It is always safe to use information from official webpage. In this manner, if the information is related to current events and analyzing particular dataset, try to avoid Blog posts or any other sources, which are not authorized. Another tool for checking the reliability is the editors of the sources you want to use. In this manner Cambridge university press is very unlikely to let you down with the information given. In general, using Google Scholar could be very helpful for finding the right concepts, definitions and debates for your paper. If you are looking for specific dataset, you can take advantage of the resource given at the end of each paper.
Hits: 1248
0

 

IPP — Polytechnic Institute of Porto (ISCAP – School of Accounting and

Alexandra Albuquerque

Administration), CLUNL/ CICE, Portugal

alexalb@iscap.ipp.pt

Abstract:

With this paper we intend to present a case-study on language management in

internationalized companies, showing and discussing some language management

strategies that might improve and optimize interlingual communication and talent

management on those companies. Moreover, we will try to argue that a proper

language management at internationalized companies can not only contribute to the

decrease of costs and to boost quality and sales, but also to a planned language offer

by the national education systems.

Keywords: language management, translation mediated communication, knowledge

management, economics of language

Biography

Alexandra Albuquerque has been teaching at the School of Accounting and

Administration of the Polytechnic Institute of Porto for 14 years. She is a language and

translation lecturer and has been the head of the International Office since 2004. She

graduated in Language and Literature in 1999 and holds a master’s degree in German

Studies. She is carrying out her PhD research in Linguistics at Universidade Nova de

Lisboa.

1. Introduction

Globalization and globality has allowed transnational business across the globe and

challenged interlingual communication to a great deal. In fact, even with the

widespread using of International English as corporate and global language,

international business cannot survive without being aware of their market’s languages

and cultures. Also inside a multinational company (MNC) a corporate language does

not, in any way, flatten completely language diversity and communication barriers. In

fact, in the context of MNCs, management is, for many different reasons, more

complex and demanding than that of a national company, mainly because of diversity

factors inherent to internationalization, namely geographical and cultural spaces, i.e.,

varied mindsets.

Regardless of the internationalization model followed by the MNC, communication

between different business units is essential to achieve unity in diversity and business

sustainability. For the business flow and prosperity, inter-subsidiary, intra-company and

company-client (customers, suppliers, governments, municipalities, etc...)

communication must work in various directions and levels of the organization. If not

well managed, this diversity can be a barrier to global coordination (Feely et al., 2002:

4).

However, language management and more specifically, translation mediated

communication are often seen as costs to avoid as much as possible and literature

provides various examples of lack of awareness of business managers of the impact

that language can have not only in communication effectiveness but especially in

knowledge transfer and knowledge management.

1. The research setting

Although language is definitely a fundamental element in international communication,

namely in multinational companies (MNC) which per se are “multilingual organizations”

(Bjorkman et al. 2004), and there are several research studies that stress its relevance

in international business (Marschan, Welch, and Welch, 1997; Marschan-Piekkari,

Welch, and Welch, 1999; Feely, 2003; Domingues, 2009; Harzing and Pudelko, 2013;

Ozolins, 2003; Janssens, Lambert, and Steyaert, 2004), both in (i) corporate

communication and (ii) in communication between company and other stakeholders in

foreign markets (clients, suppliers, etc), it is also true that:

a) Language management and the role of translation and of the translator in

companies operating in foreign environments has been few or nearly not at all

explored, neither by researchers in international business (IB), nor in translation

studies, nor by linguists (Ozolins, 2003);

b) Relevant studies in this domain are relatively recent (from the last 20 years) and

coming essentially from IB fields, rarely being inter-or trans-disciplinary;

c) Language management and the economy of languages  in international

communication are research topics with increasing interest in the last years

(Thomas, 2008).

d) Language management in IB seems to host some paradoxes that we consider

worth exploring:

Paradox 1: on the one hand, language is “almost the essence of international business”

(Welch and Welch, 2005:11) and, on the other hand, it is often a “forgotten factor”

(Marschan et al., 1997), being frequently overseen in academic research (Marschan,

Welch, and Welch, 1997; Ozolins, 2003).

In fact, we undertook a search in B-On (Online Knowledge Library) in Fall 2013 with the

keywords “language management”, “language planning” “language strategy” and also

“international communication management” and found very few books or articles on

these issues. However, as we mentioned before, this has been an increasing research

field, also in the framework of advanced training (masters and PhDs)1, both in IB,

Cultural Studies or Language Studies as we could conclude from searching in EBSCO

and ISI Web of Knowledge. This increasing interest has been measured in 2002

(Feely, 2002), and also incremented by another bibliometric study in 2009 (Domingues,

2009: 2), as we can see in the chart below:

Fig.1 – Bibliometric study of Domingues, 2009.

Also Domingues states that language has seldom be an independent object of study in

IB, being analysed in most studies mostly as a culture element, as also Thomas (2008)

and Marschan-Piekkari et al. (1999) have said. On the other hand, as we referred to

before, corporate language management has essentially been object of research by

researchers in the management field, especially Human Resources (HR), and by few

linguists focusing on language planning (Hagen, 1988; Phillipson, 2001).Most studies

focus on the language needs in MNC or on the dynamics resulting from language

policies in internal and external MNC communication networks in which language can

be a exclusion tool (barrier), an integration tool (facilitator) or a power tool (Marschan et

al., 1997; Marschan-Piekkari et al., 1999; D.  Welch & Welch, 2008; D. Welch, Welch,

Piekkari, & Denice Welch, Lawrence Welch, 2005). Therefore, in literature, although

sometimes overseen and underestimated in its influence and impact in international

communication, language has always been somehow taken as a pervasive agent.

However, in literature on IB, even more absent and overseen than “language” is

translation and its role and impact in MNC management, except for few works, as for

instance: (i) references in some articles on language management: (eg.Marschan et

al., 1997; Feely, 2002), (ii) an interdisciplinary paper from Janssens et al. (2004), that

designs language strategy models according to translation models and (iii) a case-

study on translation practices in a Nordic Bank (Peltonen, 2009).

Being aware that very often language skilled employees are “used” as language

mediators (Marschan et al., 1997; Marschan-Piekkari et al., 1999; D. Welch & Welch,

2008; D. Welch, Welch, Piekkari, & Denice Welch, Lawrence Welch, 2005), translation

mediated communication in companies operating in foreign markets may thus become

an extra function more or less regular of the activity of employees who master foreign

languages. However, this function and the impact of this type of translation are also not

in any way, thoroughly studied. Also, in Translation Studies, the concept of business

translation is not widely explored either, what could mean some gap among translation

market, academia and corporations (business centers).

This paper intends therefore to contribute to the research on language management in

IB and bring some insights to the sub-field2 of business translation. To this purpose,

we will present results of 2 studies carried out in several companies operating in

foreign markets (not only MNC), and discuss to what extent (1) assuming that language

is a self-sufficient communication tool can jeopardize costs and knowledge transfer (3)

investment in translation and terminology knowledge and tools can improve human

capital and business translation..

2. Methodology

As part of our ongoing PhD project on the market of specialized translation and

localization, we were invited by the consortium Business Intelligence Unit (BIU), from

AICEP Portugal Global, to develop studies in the 15th and 16th editions of the

International Internship program Inov Contacto3. The first study focused on language

management in international business communication (LMBC) and the second focused

on translation practices in companies operating in international environments (TPCIE).

Both studies were carried out by graduated Portuguese trainees, during their six-month

placement in a host company abroad, who collected data from the host company by

survey and, in some cases, by interview and wrote reports describing the placement

environment, the language and translation management styles and the way the study

had been carried out.

Therefore, we will discuss results from a quantitative research and a qualitative

analysis (reports) in an attempt to describe language management practices in different

organizations operating in foreign markets and propose some optimized practices.

2.1 Case Study 1 – LMBC:

83 trainees were involved in the study and collected data from the hosting companies

in an Excel survey. The study took place between December 2010 and September

2011, covering a total of 56 organizations, operating in 20 countries, which were

grouped and classified into seven types: (1) SMEs, (2) Multinational Companies

(Headquarters), (3)Multinational Companies (subsidiaries), (4) Portuguese companies

operating in Portuguese-speaking markets, (5) Portuguese companies operating in non

Portuguese-speaking markets, (6) mediators and (7) diplomatic organizations.

For the purpose of this paper we will only present the results concerning the first 5

types.

The objective of the study, as far as these company types are concerned, was to

describe and analyze language management practices from companies operating in

foreign markets.

Under the framework of these 5 types of companies, 46 companies in 20 countries

were surveyed.

2.1.1 Overview of Results:

The analysis of all the surveys and reports of the trainees involved in the study led us

to the following main results:

i. Language management from Portuguese companies in international markets

and from international companies in Portuguese-speaking markets is very alike

and confirms most of the common appointed policies in previously referred

studies.

ii. English is considered a lingua franca in international communication and is the

common corporate language in multinational teams.

iii. Language skills are considered very important to the internationalization

process and therefore, beyond English, speaking other languages is an added-

value, especially languages from the target markets.

iv. Rather than hiring professional Language Service Providers, companies

operating in foreign markets prefer selective recruitment (recruiting employees

with language and intercultural skills) or delegate inter-linguistic communication

and translation to mediators (normally employees with language skills, even if

new or temporary staff) in order to cut costs and increase speed of the

communication flow.

v. Professional language providers are almost only contracted when translation

cannot be performed internally, either because there is no employee speaking

the language, it is too demanding or translation is legally mandatory.

vi. More than a product, a service or a tool, language seems to be taken by

company managers as a natural asset of human capital as far as international

communication is concerned.

vii. In most of the companies, translation of several corporate documents4 is

regularly made by employees with language but no translation skills, hired for

specialized jobs (engineering, accounting, marketing, management and so on).

Around 90% of the 83 trainees have been asked to do translation tasks, mostly

to their mother tongue, although none had translation training. This finding led

us to conclude that companies operating in foreign markets silently develop a

specific kind of business translation, performed by language skilled experts or

employees with no translation training or translation tools. We have named this

type of translation ad hoc translation.

These results raise several issues, some of them already discussed in previous studies

(Marschan-Piekkari, Welch, and Welch, 1999; D. E. Welch and Welch, 2008; Björkman

and Marschan-Piekkari, 2002), namely (i) the role of language in knowledge transfer

and (ii) translation skills of employees with language knowledge. The first issue we

would like to address is another paradox:

Paradox 2: being language so pervasive and important in corporate knowledge

transfer, for some being even a “reconfiguration agent” (D. E. Welch and Welch, 2008)

it is also a very powerful tool. However, especially in companies Type 1 and Type 5 the

trainee was sometimes the only translation resource, being the only one skilled in the

target language (his mother language, most of the times). Therefore, s/he was used to

transfer corporate knowledge s/he had recently got to know and that, for this reason,

s/he was not yet very familiar with, with few or no revising control.

Besides this, after reading the trainees’ reports, other questions related to translation

mediated communication intra and inter companies and to knowledge transfer arise,

some of them also pointed out by Peltonen (Peltonen, 2009). For instance, ad hoc

translation practices, used for the main reason of increasing communication speed and

cut costs can suffer some drawbacks considering the lack of (i) translation skills of the

employee, (ii) lack of terminology (knowledge), and (iii) lack of translation and content

management tools. All these gaps can cost precious time to the company, since the

employee has no personal or corporate resources to develop the translation task

efficiently. Moreover, in his/her quest for solutions (linguistic, terminological or other)

s/he will probably ask for help to other employees (more experienced or that have

already done some translation work themselves or that are experts in the field) which

should also count as a translation cost. Moreover, ad hoc translation especially

performed by temporary staff but also by employees relying exclusively on their

language skills (even if they are native speakers) gives no guarantee of quality, if not

following the basic language transfer procedures. Also, translation can also be a

repetitive task, costing unnecessary time, when the right content, terminology and

translation tools could improve, optimize and speed up ad hoc translation.

Finally, another question that needs further research is the impact of ad hoc translation

in employees (hired to perform other tasks) and in the target public. How do they react

to this extra task?

Trying to find answers to these questions, we designed another study and carried out a

pilot project, from May 2012 to October 2012, again under the framework of the 16th

edition of Inov Contacto.

2.2 Case Study 2 – TPCIE

Taking into consideration the result from Study 1, with this pilot project we aimed at

getting more information on ad hoc translation practices in companies operating in

international environments, namely concerning methods, technological resources,

terminological resources and overall results.

This research was carried out by 22 trainees, in 19 companies in 12 countries. Eleven

of those companies have been already surveyed in study 1, and 5 of them were the

same companies but now operating in a different market. The typology of the

companies was, for this reason the same of Study 1. The results below are therefore

referring to the same 5 typologies of companies: (1) SMEs, (2) Multinational

Companies (Headquarters), (3) Multinational Companies (subsidiaries), (4) Portuguese

companies operating in Portuguese-speaking markets, (5) Portuguese companies not

operating in Portuguese-speaking markets.

Being the trainees new staff and not familiar to translation studies, the study was

divided into four parts:

Part I

i. acquaintance with language and translation mediated communication practices

in the host companies;

ii. survey to the employees who did ad hoc translation in the host company

(including the trainees, if that was also the case) on methods, technological

resources, terminological resources and overall results;

Part II

Several terminological and translation resources were presented to trainees for self-

study and self-test.

Part III

After having explored the suggested resources and the translation tools trainees should

promote them amongst the employees who were also translators.

Part IV

A new survey, on the result of using the translation tools was carried out.

A brief report describing the project implementation was also delivered.

2.2.2 Overview of results

Results of this small research project were not at all surprising. Through the first survey

(Part I), with answers from both the trainees and also from employees who regularly

act as translators in the company, we concluded that 89% of the companies carry out

ad hoc translation, and in 92% of the cases during working hours.

As far as translation tools and other translation resources are concerned, 89% use the

internet, 56% dictionaries and experts’ help and only 3% use computer assisted

translation.

Referring to the impact of the translation as an extra task, 44% does not feel bothered

by doing translation and 36% is even very pleased to do translation.

When asked about the main translation problems encountered, 47% mentioned the

lack of knowledge in terminology and 42% the need for better language knowledge. To

solve terminology doubts, 78% ask an expert in the same company, 38% ask someone

outside the company, whether 67% look it up in the World Wide Web.

In order to improve their translation results, the resources considered most important

were “better terminological knowledge” (69%) and “good translation tools” (56%).

In the second survey (Part IV), the same ad hoc translators were asked about the

impact of using terminological tools and computer assisted translation (CAT) tools.

63% stated that the translation work improved “a lot”, especially as far as terminology

(47%) and quality (41%) are concerned. However, after reading the reports, we could

see that most trainees could not promote the use of the suggested tools in a suitable

way, either by lack of time on their side or on the employees’ side. Moreover, there

seems to be a conceptual confusion between what is machine translation and CAT,

since respondents didn’t seem to understand that using CAT tools means that

translation depends on human performance, contrarily to machine translation,

completely performed by the computer.

Moreover, they all seemed to expect “magic” tools: that could fit their specific needs of

translation and terminology in a user-friendly and easy way. This is actually what

approximately all the trainees refer to: the need to find customized and user-friendly

tools, revealing that the concept of CAT was not clearly assimilated by the training

materials made available to them in Part II.

We could also conclude that most companies have over time developed some

terminology management, by elaborating glossaries and wordlists (in Excel or Word

format) but regularly use these resources in paper support and there was showed no

interest in optimizing this knowledge by managing the content in a more electronic way.

Also, these are not documents widely spread in the company, i.e., it is knowledge of

one or two departments in the company only. Moreover, in two of the cases, where the

employees have been translating for the company for some time, the advantages of

using CAT tools (like translation memories or terminological databases) were not

recognized, since they stated to have developed their own translation methods, seeing

no reason to change them.

Although training and promotion of the tools was not processed in the best way, since it

was done at distance and by the trainees (who were also trained at distance), we

believe that if the training had been done in a training workshop, concepts, tools and

benefits could have been better assimilated.

Nevertheless, surveys confirmed several of the research questions brought up by case-

study 1: translation tasks are carried out during working hours and sometimes other

Human Resources of the company are contacted to solve problems, increasing the

time spent in these ad hoc tasks. Moreover, language skilled employees and trainees

(even if temporary) are asked to translate several types of documents, even if they

have insufficient knowledge (terminology) and translation tasks are mostly done using

machine translation tools (90% referred to Google Translator) and manually. Therefore,

along with more terminology knowledge, translation tools are considered important to

improve translation tasks.

3. Some Conclusions

Although this research was conducted in a very small scale, in companies not chosen

by us, and as a secondary task of a Training Plan of young graduates of several

knowledge fields (and not languages), we believe that the data collected confirms, in

many ways, results from former studies already referred to, and gives us new insights

on language management practices in companies operating in foreign environments,

that can contribute to research on the role of language in international communication

and  knowledge transfer.

If we go back to paradoxes:

Paradox 1: There is no IB without language, but language is also often “a forgotten

factor” in IB.

Paradox 2: language is used to transfer knowledge, but often translators have

language skills but no sufficient knowledge.

We can say that very often and for too long already, language has been taken by

international management as a self-sufficient communication tool, able to convey

meaning in different communication situations, regardless of the cultural background of

the senders/receivers, complexity level of the message, specialization level and other

variables. Moreover, in an attempt to cut costs and delays, many companies operating

in foreign markets, have used their employees to translate several types of documents,

without proper training or tools,  in a practice that we have named ad hoc translation.

However, both studies presented showed that using language skilled employees does

not mean that all intra and inter-linguistic communication situations in international

contexts are covered. As we could see in the results of study 2, the main translation

problems reported were linked to terminology, i.e., knowledge of the specific field dealt

with in the communication situation. Therefore, in order to solve translation problems,

time from regular working hours was used by the ad hoc translator and sometimes

there was even the need to take time from other employees’ working hours to get the

right knowledge. Nevertheless, all this time investment does not guarantee

accurateness and quality.

Moreover, being ad hoc translation done without the support of content management

tools, in companies where longer or more complex documents are regularly translated,

working hours are also used to repeat translations and procedures that could be

avoided by the use of CAT tools. For these reasons, the company may be cutting direct

translation costs but is spending time of specialized employees in tasks that could be

optimized and speeded by the use of technology, which can be seen as an unseen

expense.

We believe that translation is unavoidable in today’s global world, where English is not

enough although being an international business language. We also believe that

considering the information flow and volume intra and inter-companies in international

environments it is impossible to outsource the translation of everyday use documents.

Therefore, translation skills should be part of the human capital of a company, together

with basic CAT tools and content management systems. Moreover, if corporate

knowledge (terminology) was managed in a common database, and made inter-

operational with writing and communication tools, corporate and business

communication could be more accurate, consistent and cost-effective.

Not to forget is also that strategic investment in languages, translation and terminology

management and tools can have a positive effect as far as national language policy is

concerned. In fact, regular and coherent need of investment in certain languages in

international business sites on account of economic trends will raise the need of

speakers of those languages and this need can certainly influence the promotion of

those languages at the national education system. This has happened already as far

as English and Spanish is concerned and is now happening with languages like

Portuguese and Chinese, for instance.

This promotion, stimulated by economic strengths will increase proficiency of potential

employees of multinational companies and, therefore, will in the future bring return to

the initial investment.

4. Present and Future Work

Based on the results and research paths these studies have provided, and they being

part of a broader research, we are now conducting another case study, similar to case

study 2, but in loco, in order to develop a training methodology for ad hoc translators in

order to propose an optimized practice of language management and translation-

mediated communication in multinational companies.

References:

Bookman, I. and Burner-Rasmussen, W. and Li, L. 2004. Managing Knowledge

Transfer in MNCs: The Impact of Headquarters Control Mechanisms. Journal of

International Business Studies 35 (5): 443–455.

Björkman, A, and R Marschan-Piekkari. 2002. Hiding Behind the Language: Language

Fluency of Subsidiary Staff and Headquarter Control in Multinational Corporations. In

European International Business Academy Conference, Athens: Greece.

Domingues, Madalena. 2009. Language Strategies by MNCs : an Empirical

Assessment. Universidade do Porto.

http://www.fep.up.pt/cursos/mestrados/megi/Tese_Madalena Domingues_final.pdf.

Feely, Alan J. 2002. Forgotten and Neglected – Language : The Orphan of

International Business Research. In 62nd Annual Meeting of the Academy of

Management, 1–32. http://www.harzing.com/download/orphan.pdf.

Feely, Alan J. 2003. LANGUAGE MANAGEMENT IN MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES.

Cross Cultural Management An International Journal 10 (2): 37–52.

Hagen, S. 1988. Languages in Business: An Analysis of Current Needs. Newcastle

Polytechnic.

Harzing, Anne-wil, and Markus Pudelko. 2013. Language Competencies , Policies and

Practices in Multinational Corporations : A Comprehensive Review and Comparison of

Anglophone , MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS : Journal of World Business 3.

http://www.harzing.com/papers.htm#langclusters.

Isager, Gitte. 2009. English as a Corporate Lingua Franca: An Exploratory Study of the

Strengths and Weaknesses of Using English as a Corporate Language. Master Thesis.

Aarhus University. Denmark.

Janssens, Maddy, José Lambert, and Chris Steyaert. 2004.“Developing Language

Strategies for International Companies: The Contribution of Translation Studies.

Journal of World Business 39 (4) (November): 414–430.

doi:10.1016/j.jwb.2004.08.006.

http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1090951604000355.

Marschan, Rebecca, Denice Welch, and Lawrence Welch. 1997. Language : The

Forgotten Factor in Multinational Management. European Management Journal 15 (5):

591–598.

Marschan-Piekkari, Rebecca, Denice Welch, and Lawrence Welch. 1999. In the

Shadow : the Impact of Language on Structure , Power and Communication in the

Multinational. International Business Review 8: 421–440.

Ozolins, Uldis. 2003. Current Issues in Language Planning Language and Economics :

Mutual Incompatibilities , or a Necessary Partnership ? Current Issues in Language

Planning (November).

Peltonen, Jukka-pekka. 2009. Translation Activities in MNEs - Case Nordea. Social

Networks. Helsinki School of Economics.

http://hsepubl.lib.hse.fi/FI/ethesis/pdf/12155/hse_ethesis_12155.pdf.

Phillipson, R. 2001. Global English and Local Language Policies: What Denmark

Needs. Language Problems & Language Planning 25 (1): 1–24.

Salomão, Ricardo. 2006. LÍNGUAS E CULTURAS. Innovation. Universidade Aberta.

Sorensen, Esben Slot. 2005. Our Corporate Language Is English. Master Thesis.

Aarhus University. Denmark.

http://issuu.com/esbenslotsorensen/docs/master_s_thesis_-

_our_corporate_language_is_englis/1

Thomas, Chris Allen. 2008. Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice: Language

Policy in Multilingual Organisations. Language Awareness 17 (4) (December 1): 307.

doi:10.2167/la466.0. http://www.multilingual-matters.net/la/017/la0170307.htm.

Voermans, W. (2011). Spread the word : Language matters - The Impact of Language

Diversity on Intra-Firm Knowledge Flows and the Moderationg Roles of language

Capabilities and Expatriate Deployment. Language. Tilburg University.

http://arno.uvt.nl/show.cgi?fid=114505

Welch, D, L Welch, R Piekkari, and Rebecca Piekkari Denice Welch, Lawrence Welch.

2005. Speaking in Tongues The Importance of Language in International Management

Processes. International Studies of Management and Organization 35 (1): 10–27.

Welch, Denice E, and Lawrence S Welch. 2008. The Importance of Language in

International Knowledge Transfer. Management International Review 48 (3): 339–360.

Hits: 1471
0

 

Nida Macerauskiene

Vilniaus kolegija/ University of Applied Sciences, Lithuania

n.macerauskiene@vvf.viko.lt

Danute Rasimaviciene

Vilniaus kolegija/ University of Applied Sciences, Lithuania

d.rasimaviciene@vvf.viko.lt 

Vilma Geguziene

Vilniaus kolegija/ University of Applied Sciences, Lithuania

v.geguziene@vvf.viko.lt

Abstract

Modern society is often referred to as the knowledge-based society (Cohendet, P., Stojak, L., 2005; Melnikas, B., 2008), as now company's success in the market and its future are not merely determined by its production or economic capital (investment, return on investment), but by its creativity, innovation and knowledge - ability to convert the intellectual capital into advantage (European Commission, 2009; Johnston R. E., Douglas Bate J., 2013). As noted by scholars and politicians, in this unsettled economic development period, the value of creativity and innovation becomes extremely important and significant (Meisinger, S., 2007; Shapiro, S. M., 2002). Europe must innovate if it wants to maintain its competitive advantage; framework is needed to "unlock the huge creative potential of small- and medium-sized enterprises" (Verheugen G., 2009). Lithuanian researchers reveal that business is impossible without a systematic, continuous development of creativity and innovative knowledge, understanding and management (Maceika, A., Janciauskas, B., 2012; Casas, R. Dambrauskaite, V. 2011). Changes in education are essential if we are to ensure that graduates are equipped with the innovative knowledge, necessary skills for a successful professional activity as well as creative and critical thinking and positive attitude towards continuous development (Management and Business Administration Study Field Regulations, Item 6). The results of the survey conducted by Vilniaus kolegija/ University of Applied Sciences to evaluate the need for the new study programme revealed that university and college study programmes preparing managers are geared to the preparation of executives, managers and administrators, while there are no study programmes, which are designed for the innovative businesses, products and services creators and developers. In addition, in the LR Education and Science National study programme, while analysing the state of higher education, among the deficiencies there are identified curricula "insufficiently encouraging and fostering students'' self-critical and analytical thinking, and creativity, thus preventing graduates'' professional career" (VGTU, 2011). In order to meet labor market demand and prepare students for employment in a complex world a new joint degree with multiple diplomas study programme Creativity and Business Innovations will be launched at Vilniaus Kolegija, Porto Polytechnic Institute and Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences in September, 2014. This paper reviews the development of the joint study programme, its content and the programmes central "axis" - Creative Platform paradigm developed by Research Group for Unlimited Knowledge Application, Aalborg University (Denmark).

Keywords:     Creativity, innovation, knowledge, innovative thinking

Biography:

Nida Macerauskiene

Business English and Business Ethics lecturer, JSP Creativity and Business Innovations coordinator at Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences. Member of the Language Teachers’ Association of Lithuania; participated in a number of national and international projects and conferences. Special professional interests include innovative teaching, ICTs in ELT, ELP-based learning.

Danute Rasimaviciene

Dean of the Faculty of Business Management of Vilniaus Kolegija/ UAS; President of the SPACE Network; a member of the Council of EURASHE; a member of the HETL Executive Advisory Board; an institutional and programme evaluation expert for Lithuanian Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education, Estonian Higher Education Quality Agency and a project evaluation expert for The European Social Fund Agency in Lithuania.

Vilma Geguziene

Sociology lecturer and curator of the Students Scientific Organization at Vilniaus kolegija/UAS. Member of the Sociologist Association of Lithuania. Participated in a number of national and international projects and conferences. Special professional interests include: sociology of education, sociology of organisation, development of rural communities, methods of sociological research.

1. Introduction

Frequently, discussions on internationalization in higher education focus predominantly on expansion of the supply of a joint, double or multiple degree study programmes. Joint and double degree programmes are a particularly successful aspect of the EU’s international cooperation activities, based on international networks of excellence for teaching, learning and research (Joint degree Survey Report, 2009). That way the student will gain a broader education and his/her employment opportunities and skills, to adapt to labour market changes, will be extended. Innovation and international exchange between HEIs and business partners will be enhanced, and learners and researchers will have the opportunity to work in another country and gain experience in both the academic and private sector. (European Higher Education in the world, 2013).

In the Integrated Development Strategy of Vilniaus Kolegija/ University of Applied Sciences until the year 2020, devised in 2012, a great emphasis is placed on the international studies organization related to the preparation and execution of modern programmes in a foreign language. One of the most important conditions, ensuring study quality, is the execution of modern, competence-based study programmes focussed on the needs of society. The international studies organization is also related to flexible forms of education and international partnership. Currently, the most popular form of studies becomes the joint form of studies. It is desirable that the joint studies would be available to every faculty student at Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences. It is foreseen that preparation of new study programmes will be focussed not only on current, but also on the future labour market requirements. Much attention has to be paid to the training (self-training) of general education competences as they not only increase the graduate’s employment opportunities, but are also important for the sustainable personality development (self-development) and professional improvement. Greater attention has to be paid to the creativity, critical thinking and team-work training, entrepreneurship teaching (learning), and student entrepreneurship promotion. (Integrated Development Strategy of Vilniaus Kolegija/ University of Applied Sciences until the Year 2020, 2012)

The paper reviews one of the decisions made by VIKO to meet labour market demand - the development of the joint study programme Creativity and Business Innovations.

2. Background of the Best Practice

In order to evaluate and substantiate the need for JSP programme, in 2011 “The Joint Programme of Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences and the University College of Northern Denmark on the Opportunity of Bachelor Degree in Creative Enterprise.“[ii].

The research results revealed that the following competences of Lithuanian higher school graduates are in high demand:

  • 53,3% of respondents agree that graduates lack entrepreneurial competences (responsibility, decision making, risk taking, innovative thinking, etc.);
  • 44% of respondents believe that graduates lack career development competences (to appropriately apply their skills and competences, create a career plan, etc.).

Half of respondents assume that graduates have high technological competences (this opinion was acknowledged by 51,4% of respondents). Furthermore, respondents admit that graduates of business programmes have sufficient professional competences (e.g., financial, managerial, engineering, etc.) (46,7%).

When evaluating the future perspectives most respondents (75%) admitted that those specialists who are capable of making unconventional decisions, initiating original activities, etc. are in demand and will be in demand in the future. 5% of respondents ignored the demand (1-2 respondents involved in service, trade and public sectors). (see fig.1)

                                       

Fig. 1 Evaluating the demand of specialists who are capable of making unconventional decisions, initiating original activities, etc. (%)

Most respondents, in particular, 86 %, agree that specialists who are capable of applying creative work methods would be beneficial for raising their company’s competitiveness. Almost half of all respondents (48%) agree that they are highly beneficial. This opinion was also acknowledged by all respondents involved in information technologies, trade and industry sectors. (see fig.2)

                

Fig.2 Evaluating the specialists capable of applying creative work methods (%)

The demand for specialists of the new study programme is confirmed by readiness to accept students of this programme for their professional practice. Respondents are willing to familiarize with the knowledge and skills of the students of the Creativity and Business Innovations study programme and their application in practice, therefore they (74% of respondents) would agree to accept them for their professional practice.

Consistent answers might be certified by statistically significant differences - those respondents who admit that the students of the Creativity and Business Innovations study programme capable of applying creative work methods are beneficial for their companies; therefore they are willing to accept them for professional practices. 86,3% of respondents are strongly determined compared to those who have a vague opinion (p=0,0<0,05 Pearson‘s Chi-Square).

It should be noted that statistically significant are differences between the company’s activity and professional practice possibilities (Pearson Chi-Square p=0,007<0,05). All the respondents involved in financial, law and insurance sectors, information technologies, medicine and pharmacy, advertising and publishing, transportation and shipping admitted that they would willingly take those students for their professional practice. However, respondents who had a vague opinion were involved in industry and production, trade, services and other sectors of public institutions.

The research results revealed the fact that respondents acknowledged the demand for the knowledge forecasted in the study programme in business practice – generally, over 80 % of respondents agree that it is very important or important.

Diverse opinions were recorded when evaluating the demand for “students capable of applying business development and innovation theories and methods in practice”. 36,4% of respondents admitted that the knowledge was very significant in business practice, 52,3% of respondents acknowledged it to be important,  8,4% of respondents had a vague opinion and 2,8% respondents denied it.

There is nothing surprising that in a rapidly changing world the majority of respondents (89,7%) agreed that “it is important to be original in making business-oriented decisions”.

Considering the skills to be developed in the study programme, respondents were requested to evaluate the demand of the forecasted skills in business practice. 5 skills were submitted for evaluation:

  • To apply innovative thinking techniques that foster business development in different economic areas.
  • To apply general innovative and business development skills in a rapidly changing labour market, to gain the knowledge of humanitarian, social and natural sciences.
  • To apply sustainable business principles to foster economic growth and competitiveness.
  • To communicate innovative and alternative concepts with internal and external stakeholders to support creative collaboration.
  • To apply the knowledge gained in the study process to improve products, services and strategic business operations (see fig. 3)

Fig.  3. Evaluating the demand for the skills forecasted in the study programme in business practices (%)

As it is evident in fig. 3, we can approve an overall support regarding the specified skills demand. However, some differences occurred. Communication skills are considered the most important ones: “to communicate innovative and alternative concepts with internal and external stakeholders to support creative collaboration” – 60,7% of respondents acknowledged that they are very important.

Diverse opinions were observed when: “to apply sustainable business principles to foster economic growth and competitiveness“- 20,6% of respondents admit that it is very important, 45,8% - important. We cannot deny that part of respondents is not aware of sustainable development and its relevance - 28% of respondents have a vague opinion. However, we may observe statistically significant differences (p=0,004<0,05 Pearson’s Chi-Square) according torespondents’ activities – evaluating skills related to theoretical and practical aspects of sustainable development – the importance of these skills was acknowledged by all respondents involved in medicine and pharmacy, information technologies and computers; their importance was admitted by representatives of public sectors, industry and production. However, the majority of respondents involved in service sector have doubts about their benefits to business practice and 45% of respondents have a vague opinion.

The following skills directly related to the new study programme: “to apply the knowledge gained in the study process to improve products, services and strategic business operations” were considered as very important (38,3%) or important (48,6%). This indicates the demand for innovative thinking, realization of original ideas and making urgent decisions.

Knowledge, skills and competences – the three components that are essentially important in training skilled and experienced specialists who can satisfy the labour market demands.  Respondents were requested to evaluate the forecasted skills (see table 1):

Table 1 Importance of skills in business practice (%)

  Very important Important Neither important, nor unimportant Not important No reply
Be able to act in complex situations in academic and work environment.

36,4

57,9

2,8

0

2,8

Be able to engage in inter-disciplinary professional communication, to apply the methods of humanitarian, social and natural sciences.

20,6

63,6

14

0,9

0,9

To identify personal learning needs and structure learning in different learning environments and seek necessary knowledge acquisition

40,2

53,3

4,7

0,9

0,9

Be able to use organizational resources when taking urgent decisions and implementing innovations.

49,5

46,7

2,8

0

0,9

Be able to create favourable conditions for business development and the implementation of innovative ideas.

41,1

50,5

7,5

0

0,9

The majority of respondents supported the forecasted skills – most respondents (84-96%) considered them as very important or important. Respondents had doubts regarding the forecasted skills: “the ability to engage in inter-disciplinary professional communication when applying methods of humanitarian, social and natural sciences.” - 14% of respondents had a vague opinion and their reply was “neither important, nor unimportant“. However, 63% of respondents considered this skill as very important. Half of respondents (49,5%) admitted that the following competence: “the ability to use organizational resources when making urgent decisions and implementing innovations“ is very important.

3. Outcomes

To meet market demand the joint international study programme (hereinafter - JSP) Creativity and Business Innovations was prepared by the International Expert Group of Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences: Aalborg University (Denmark), the scientists of the Unlimited Knowledge Application Centre, the “Creative Platform“ methodology developers and adopters, the Pulse philosophy implementers and national experts who gained expertise when implementing the projects supported by the European Social Fund and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania: “Establishing Partnership with the Higher Educational Institution of Nordjyland on the Joint Study Programme Preparation and Execution“ No. VP1-2.2-SMM-07-K-02-001 and “Preparation and Implementation of the Joint Study Programme of the Creative Enterprise to Increase the Study System Internationalization at Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences“ No.VP1-2.2-SMM-07-K-02-078, the Polytechnic Institute of Porto (Portugal), the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences (Estonia) and the University College of Northern Denmark. During the joint study programme preparation a close cooperation was established with European Network For Business Studies and Languages (SPACE), international Aalborg universities and international and national companies and their associations, particularly, UAB Brandworks, Kreativitetslaboratoriet ApS, Mærsk Foundation, A.P. Moller – Maersk network, Landbo Nord, Grobund ApS, UAB Active Learning, UAB BMK Publishing House, UAB BPC Travel, UAB West Express, UAB Ciklonas, the Lithuanian Hotel and Restaurant Association, the Association of Lithuanian Business Companies and the Knowledge Economy Forum.

An Innovative character of JSP is determined by an exclusive blend of creativity and entrepreneurship based on the “Creative Platform “methodology and Pulse philosophy. The integrated entrepreneurship is essential to ensure international competitiveness of Lithuania and Europe in a global market. In addition, it is evident that Lithuania and Europe can compete with other continents using their knowledge, creativity and entrepreneurship competences with regard to the fact that rapidly developing BRICS countries[iv] and by scientific and practical activities of his colleagues and himself that were carried out on the international level.  The methodology is aimed at developing creativity during regular practical tasks, which should make creativity an involuntary reflex. This methodology is particular useful in creativity sessions for groups. The “Creative Platform” is based on the principle emphasising that regular practical tasks develop creativity regardless of a person’s education, erudition or abilities; this can be achieved by employing four principles: parallel thinking, focusing on the task, no judgment and horizontal thinking (Byrge, S. Hansen, 2009).

It is supposed that graduates of JSP programme will handle business processes and the “Creative Platform“ methodology. Therefore, we can admit that JSP includes a strong inter-disciplinary element, which is becoming important in the social science studies in the 21st century. Graduates will be able to create new businesses, products and services as well as organize creative sessions for any company and find uncommon solutions for any problem. Students will think creatively, gain the habit of continuous creative thinking and be able to organize creative processes for any type of people by applying the “Creative Platform“ methodology. Graduates will know and apply in practice the principles of contemporary business management and development as well as the theories of innovative thinking and creativity. 

The project was designed not merely on the basis of international and national labour market demands, but also on the Bologna Process and the European Union documents and legal acts of Lithuania, Denmark, Portugal and Estonia that regulate the joint study programme preparation and implementation. Furthermore, the international and national practice experience, regarding JSP preparation, implementation and evaluation, was considered as well.

JSP shall be executed in the English language. Duration – 3 years of Full-time studies, that is, 180 ECTS. International academic mobility of students shall be 40% of all the study programme scope; the tripartite mobility of teachers shall be encouraged and developed. The objective shall be pursued by employing funds  allocated for the project “Preparation and Implementation of the Joint Study Programme of the Creative Company to Increase the Study System Internationalization at Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences“, the EU structural funds for 2014 – 2020 (SF) and the funds of Erasmus+ and other EU programmes. In addition, the implementation of the valorisation plan of the project “Preparation and Implementation of the Joint Study Programme of the Creative Company to Increase the Study System Internationalization at Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences“ shall provide opportunities for attracting funds of private companies and other institutions, including scholarships for the tripartite mobility of JSP programme graduates. It is evident that international mobility shall be encouraged not only through JSP partners but also through companies and universities of other countries. (Ketinamos vykdyti studiju programos aprasas, 2014)

4. Conclusion

The implementation of the joint degree and tripartite diploma study programme Creativity and Business Innovations and its continuous improvement shall have a long-term positive impact on the socio economic development of the Republic of Lithuania, the Portuguese Republic and the Republic of Estonia. Innovative and completely creative changes in the company establishment and its processes shall cause rapid economic development; therefore the government will be able to allocate more funds that will guarantee social welfare and loan decrease. Furthermore, setting up companies under the “Creative Platform“ methodology and implementing it in currently existing companies shall increase the number of attractive work places, since favourable conditions will occur for generating creative decisions, which will involve all employees regardless of their position, education, gender, etc.   

The quality of the programme was additionally certified by the interim expert assessment, which was carried out in January, 2014.

References

Byrge, S. Hansen The creative platform: a didactic approach for unlimited application of knowledge in interdisciplinary and intercultural groups// European Journal of Engineering Education Vol. 34, No. 3, June 2009, 235–250

Cohendet, P., Stojak, L. The digital divide in Europe. The economic and social issues re­lated to “knowledge-based” Europe. Futuribles: Analyse et Prospective,Vol. 305, pp. 5–28., 2005

Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education. Leuven & Louvain-la-Neuve, April 28-29, 2009. “The Bologna Process 2020. The European Higher Education Area in the new decade.” Communiqué of the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education.

Curaj, A., Scott, P., Vlasceanu, L., Wilson, L. European. Editors. 2012. Springer Science. Higher Education at the Crossroads: Between the Bologna Process and National Reforms.

European Higher Education in the World, European Union, 2013

Integrated Development Strategy of Vilniaus Kolegija/ University of Applied Sciences until the Year 2020. 2012. Vilnius. Available at: http://www.viko.lt/uploads/files/2012/11/2012112301.pdf

Johnston Robert E. J. Bate D., The Power of Strategy Innovation: A New Way of Linking Creativity and ... 2013

Joint degree Survey Report, 2009New Survey Examines Global Academic Collaboration IIE-FUB Research Report Provides Data on International Joint and Double Degree Programs http://www.iie.org/Who-We-Are/News-and-Events/Press-Center/Press-Releases/2011/2011-09-12-Joint-Degree-Report

Meisinger, S. Creativity and Innovation: Key Drivers for Success. HR Magazine: on Human Resource Management, 52(5), 10, 2007.

Melnikas, B. The Knowledge-based Economy in the European Union: innovations, networking and transformation strategies. Transformations in Business and Economics, Vol. 7, No. 3(15): pp. 170–192, 2008.

Shapiro, S. M. 24/7 Innovation: A Blueprint for Surviving and Thriving in an Age of Change. New York: McGraw Hill, 2002.



[ii]It should be noted that JSP was identified during the internships of teachers of Vilniaus kolegija/University of Applied Sciences at the University College of Northern Denmark in June, August and September of 2011 and which were implemented in accordance with the project “Establishing Partnership with the Higher Educational Institution of Nordjyland on the Joint Study Programme Preparation and Execution“ No. VP1-2.2-SMM-07-K-02-001.   

[iv] Defended at Aalborg University in  2011 

Hits: 1551
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

 

 

Dr Julia Claxton

Leeds Business School

Leeds Metropolitan University

United Kingdom

j.claxton@leedsmet.ac.uk

Abstract

This paper is about valuing people at work and students as they are future employees. “The strongest driver of all (drivers) for engagement is a sense of feeling valued and involved” (Robinson, et al 2004). Instinctively it is clear that employees want to ‘feel valued’ at work or have a ‘sense of value’ and they report that this makes them feel engaged.   However, it is not necessarily straightforward as to what factors they are thinking about when they decide they are 'valued' or 'not valued'. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), feeling valued is a key indicator of job performance.  Employees who feel valued are more likely to be engaged in their work and feel satisfied and motivated and be less stressed. Feeling valued is therefore a construct which is of interest concerning employees and how they relate to their work, their colleagues and their organisations and how their skills and careers develop.  How do they deduce or learn that they are valued?  What do they identify as factors which make them feel valued?  How do these factors moderate their feeling of being valued over time?  What part does emotion play in determining which factors are important?  We want all employees to feel valued throughout their careers and students to feel valued while studying and transferring into employment.  This research is the first part of a bigger study looking at ‘how’ different groups of people in different contexts ‘feel valued’.  It is a theoretical grounding on this important area and reports on some early results.

Key words: being valued, engagement, grounded theory

Dr Julia Claxton is Principal Lecturer in Organisational Development at Leeds Business School.  She has consulted for organisations for 30 years in developing their leadership and learning programmes.  She is particularly interested in employee engagement and the concept of ‘being valued’, action learning, team coaching and student experience. 

1 Research Aim and Context

The purpose of this paper is to provide a theoretical grounding and preliminary research on the construct of being valued and how it relates to students as students and as current and future employees.  Many full-time students work at the same time as studying and have experiences of being valued at work.  All students have experiences of being valued (or not valued) as a student.  It aims to give insight into how people experience being valued which then relates to their engagement at work and at study.

1.1 So what is engagement?

The construct of employee engagement is still being developed.   Multiple definitions exist and continue to come forward which shows the strong interest from academics and practitioners alike though the academic and the practitioner often define it differently (Robinson et al., 2004).  ‘Engage for Success’, the movement led by David MacLeod and Nita Clarke, deliberately does not define employee engagement for this reason.  In the academic literature the construct can be seen to relate to the constructs of ‘work engagement’, ‘organisational commitment’, ‘job satisfaction’ and ‘organisational commitment behaviours’. Saks (2006) and Robinson et al (2004), however, both argue that engagement is different to all of these other constructs.  Commitment usually means an individual’s attachment and obligation to the organisation (Allen and Meyer, 1990) so the term commitment is usually meaning ‘organisational commitment’ which is specific to the organisation and not the work or the role, although of course, these should, in theory, at least be leading one to the other.  Work engagement is narrower than employee engagement but then a definition of work would be required to show the extent of the difference.  The term employee in employee engagement is highlighting the person and the act of being engaged rather than a relationship with the organisation or the job. 

The construct of employee engagement was first put forward by Kahn which he described as personal engagement; “the harnessing of organization members' selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances.”  (Kahn 1990, p. 694).  Schaufeli et al define engagement “as a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption.” The idea is that the individual is so absorbed in the work that time flies.  (Schaufeli et al, 2002, p. 74).  It also emphasises a positive state of mind and willing effort, “being positively present during the performance of work by ­willingly contributing intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions and meaningful connections to others.” (Truss et al., 2006).  Employee engagement is both a ‘state’ of being engaged and an ‘outcome’ of being engaged.

Studies that have perhaps created the most interest in employee engagement are those that support the notion that engagement leads to higher productivity (Gruman and Saks, 2011) and leads to discretionary effort, innovation, customer loyalty, quality, profitability, earnings per share and productivity (Blessingwhite, 2008).  It is agreed that organisations want their employees to be engaged. 

1.2 The driver of Being Valued

So why is being valued so important? Being valued is a construct that is amorphous and individually held.  It is also a very common way of describing a key experience and is used in multiple questionnaires when organisations are trying to find out how their employees feel about their jobs and their employers.  Just as engagement can be a driver and an outcome so too can being valued be a driver and an outcome.  In this paper the construct of ‘being valued’ is being explored particularly as a key driver to ‘engagement’.  Robinson et al (2004) in their research on the NHS found that “The strongest driver of all (drivers) for engagement is a sense of feeling valued and involved” (Robinson, et al., 2004, IES Report 408). This means feeling valued and feeling involved and is not seen here to include the notion of participation which has a literature of its own.  The author has gathered anecdotal evidence and has seen conference presentations showing that participation can actually lead to disengagement as employees can become weary of being asked to participate.

Robinson et al, discovered that feeling valued and involved was an overarching driver for engagement.  It comprised ten other drivers which all fed into it.  The ten drivers are: training, development and career; immediate management; performance and appraisal; communication; equal opportunities and fair treatment; pay and benefits; health and safety; co-operation; family friendliness; and job satisfaction (Robinson et al., 2004).  

The authors explain their findings by saying “our Phase 1 findings included the fact that the main driver of engagement in the NHS was found to be feeling valued and involved. The extent to which it was the main driver was so overwhelming that all other drivers, even if significant statistically, appeared relatively unimportant. (Robinson et al., 2004). 

In Phase 2 of their work they found that the driver of feeling valued and involved was no longer seen as the overarching driver but one of eight drivers.  These were established as:  job satisfaction; equality of opportunity; health and safety; length of service; ethnicity; communication; and co-operation.  Our Phase 2 findings show that, although feeling valued and involved is very important in driving engagement, it is not the only key driver – in overall terms, it contributes approximately on a par with job satisfaction.” (Robinson et al., 2007).  So we can see that being engaged is a driver and an outcome and also being valued is a driver and an outcome.   In America, the Harris Interactive online survey organised by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) gave results for 1,714 adults questioned in January 2012. It showed that in answer to the question“my company makes me feel valued”only 52% in 2011 and 54% in 2012 of workers agreed or strongly agreed with this statement.(Employment Experience section of the APA Workplace Survey 2012).  Just over half of all those surveyed worked for SMEs and three quarters of all of them were in the private sector.  There is a specific feeling valued section of the report which shows that “employees who report feeling valued are significantly more likely than those who do not feel valued to report that they are satisfied with their job overall and are also more satisfied other key aspects like employee involvement, growth and development and recognition.” (Feeling Valued Section of the APA Workplace Survey 2012).  For example; the question “I am motivated to do my very best for my employer” gained responses of agree or strongly agree by  93% of workers who felt valued and only 33% of those who did not feel valued.  For the question “I am satisfied with my job” it was 70% of those who felt valued compared to 40% of those who felt undervalued and for the question “I am satisfied with the employee recognition practices of my employer” it was 76% compared to 6%.  Those feeling valued are also significantly less likely to say that they intend to seek employment outside of their company within the next year, 50% compared to 21%.  Also “employees who report that they do not feel valued are significantly more likely than those who feel valued to report that a variety of factors significantly affect their stress levels at work.” (Work Stress and Feeling Valued at Work section of the report).  Low pay is a significant stress factor for 72% of those who feel undervalued but only 32% of those who feel valued.  Lack of participation in decision making was a significant factor for only 16% of those who felt valued but 57% of those who felt undervalued. Feeling stressed from lack of opportunity and growth was significant for 75% of those who felt undervalued but only 26% of those who felt valued.  So ‘feeling valued’ is a moderator to the perception of many other factors of work.

Figure 1 illustrates the driver-outcome relationships provided by these studies. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: Drivers and Outcomes: Being Valued

The research here is attempting to answer the question of what drives being valued? Because it is an individually held construct and everyone knows what they personally mean when they say they feel valued it is important to consider to what extent commonalities can be found.  If not then this is not a problem.  It simply means that everyone holds a different perspective as to what makes them feel valued.  This means that effort should be placed on treating people as individuals and listening to their specific needs and aspirations rather than concocting organisational interventions. What makes one person feel valued may be the complete opposite of what makes another feel valued, so an organisational intervention, based on one, may inadvertently have the opposite effect on the other.  However, if commonalities can be found then this will aid the design of organisational practices.  To seek commonality it seems sensible to look for this is specific contexts and then to compare these contexts.  The author has already carried out research to seek drivers of being valued in a UK manufacturing SME.  The context of this paper here is students.  There is a lack of research studies on being valued.  One paper provides a definition of being valued as “a positive affective response arising from confirmation, within a congruent set of criteria, of an individual’s possession of the qualities on which worth or desirability depends” (White and Mackenzie-Davey, 2003 p.228). 

 

 

1.3 Being Valued as a Student/Learner

The only study related to learning is a study on student nurses.  This study found that students were valued for being a learner, valued as being a team leader and valued as a person (Bradbury-Jones et al., 2011).   Of course questionnaires abound to try to find out if students are satisfied and the main one for higher education in the UK is the National Student Survey (NSS) which is independently run by the Government every year.  These, however, focus on asking students how satisfied they are with facilities eg library, and teaching provision eg learning materials.  These do not contain any questions concerning feeling valued.

2 Methodology

To fulfil the aims of this research an inductive approach was needed where rich data could be collected and analysed.  A grounded theory (GT) methodology (GTM) was chosen as this focusses on providing a conceptual account of how people perceive what is going on in the matters that concern them.  Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2005) was also used as the approach for data collection.

Grounded theory appeared to be particularly good at answering the how question in which the author was interested eg how did employees perceive they were valued? How did they know they were valued? How did they learn they were valued?  What was it that told them this?  The term feeling valued is a common way to express a perception, an understanding and it does not necessarily relate to an emotion as such.  The term feeling valued is used to mean a knowing, a believing that one is valued.

         

One of the issues around choosing grounded theory as a methodology is the different forms it takes.  The methodology was first developed by Glaser and Strauss in the 1967.  Since then it has been developed and used in different ways.  The three most well-known approaches are:  Classical Grounded Theory by Glaser and Strauss; Evolved Grounded Theory by Strauss and Corbin and Social Constructivist Grounded Theory by Charmaz.

All of these were considered with the classical approach being selected.  The reasoning for this was because the Glaser approach emphasises discovery and emergence of concepts from the data (as opposed to creation of the concepts through social constructionism between participants and researcher). Glaser advocates no literature review prior to data gathering (which the other methods use) to allow the data to speak without confines. Data is collected in field notes, not taped, and there is no need to use verbatim data though quotes can be used as ‘in vivo’ codes.  The emphasis is not on interpreting the experiences of people but recording what they say about their thoughts and behaviour, which is constructivist data, and finding the concepts in it.

Although there was no specific literature review prior to data collection, to avoid confining the data, the researcher did have prior knowledge of employee engagement theory from which this interest evolved and clearly this may have some effect on the coding of the data. Glaser says “researchers are human beings and therefore must to some degree reify data in trying to symbolize it in collecting, reporting and coding the data. In doing so they may impart their personal bias and/or interpretations—ergo this is called constructivist data. But this data is rendered objective to a high degree by most research methods and GT in particular by looking at many cases of the same phenomenon, when jointly collecting and coding data, to correct for bias and to make the data objective. (Glaser, 2002). 

2.1 Data Collection

As mentioned earlier, Appreciative Inquiry was used as the approach for data collection.  Data was collected from a class of full-time master degree students; through an email sent to undergraduate students; online through the world’s largest student forum (studentroom), and through three in-depth interviews.  This gave both scope and depth to the data.  All participants were voluntary and anonymised.  A few simple questions were posed in order to obtain as open a response as possible.  An open response was important as the purpose was gain inductive data.  

The class participant questions:

As a student how to you feel valued?  What makes you feel valued?  Who makes you feel valued?  Do any particular processes or systems make you feel valued?  Do any particular organisations make you feel valued?  Are there any particular times you have felt valued as a student?  Why was this?

For the class exercise the data collection was straightforward where notes were made on a flipchart for all to see and some comments were coded at this stage of the process.  Clearly students could develop their ideas in response to the ideas of others which was an advantage as the purpose was to explore, reflect on and create definition thus providing socially constructed data.  

The email data collection and the on-line forum was less successful in providing pertinent and rich data.  The on-line posting was particularly unsuccessful in that although over 100 students read the posting only five responded and found it difficult to grasp what was being asked.  The information that can be posted on the forum is limited.  The text was:

I am doing research on how students are valued. This is not the same as being satisfied. I would welcome any comments to help the understanding of this concept. What makes you feel valued as a student? Who makes you feel valued? Have you got an example of feeling valued - what happened? Why did it make you feel valued? Thanks for your help.

One response was “define valued!” and another “valued in what way?” each to which an explanation was given to clarify and then the responder gave a more helpful response.  This showed that although the researcher felt she was clear in her questions that this was not the case in this medium.  One of the benefits of the in-class personal approach is that when the respondent starts to mention something that the researcher identifies as a helpful response they can ask the participant to explain it in more depth or more clearly.  For example, in one interview the participant responded “I feel valued because my course is on diversity and social work so all the tutors know how important people are because that’s what they teach” and the researcher could prompt “so how exactly does that make you, personally,feel valued?”  The personal approach also ensure adherence to appreciative inquiry.  It is only natural to think of reasons we do not feel valued.  It is harder to think about reasons we are valued.  For example, in class one participant stated “I need someone to talk through my work with me and advise me but when I feel I have reached a point that I need this help it is difficult to find someone who has the time to do this”.  I asked the participant to consider how he could be valued in this context and he immediately replied “I would feel valued if I was given a mentor”.  This appreciative inquiry approach using ‘what would help’ or ‘what works well’ brings about more concrete suggestions than focusing on what is not working as this tends to lead to objects of defense eg lack of resource.

2.2 Data Analysis

For the data analysis the Constant Comparative Method was usedThis is where the data is coded as data is collected and then these codes arecompared codes to one other and amalgamated, reduced and filtered so that they become broader substantive categories.   These are sometimes termed themes.  Throughout the process of coding and developing the categories, theoretical memos (reflective notes) were written. "Memos are the theorizing write-up of ideas about substantive codes and their theoretically coded relationships as they emerge during coding, collecting and analyzing data, and during memoing" (Glaser, 1998). These were used to reflect on theoretical connections, focus on particular statements that seemed to carry weight with the research question and record ideas linking different concepts together.  As part of this process the research questions were revisited and the precipitated abstract categories were evaluated against them to decide what further data was needed.  This process of theoretical sampling is where the next set of data is selected according to how the categories are developing.  As a response to this process three in-depth interviews were used to gain extra data for the categories which were emerging as the most important.  The aim in Glaserian grounded theory is to find a core category that links all the others and this is the precipitative theory.  Glaser and Horton advise that “the core variable can be any kind of theoretical code—a process, a condition, two dimensions, a consequence, a range and so forth…….The core variable reoccurs frequently in the data and comes to be seen as a stable pattern that is more and more related to other variables (Glaser and Holton 2004, section 3.9).  Figure 2 illustrates some of the coding.


Class Discussion Data Codes

Recognising my potential

Social and esteem needs are being met – these are interconnecting

Seeing my peers recognised and their contributions valued in class

Giving me voice – listening to the things I say I want

Being asked to be involved – asking for my opinion – letting me be involved in decision-making in class

communication that is prompt, open and meaningful

responsive communication – answering emails

responding to my needs

style of communication – supportive

following through on communication

appreciating my concerns as legitimate

giving me an individual response – not what is policy and reflect and check on whether it is really policy

transparent communication – not fogging

recognition of progress and improvement (valued added) rather than absolute achievement

actively involving participation in the class

social groupings – going out socially – bonding – facebooking – mutual appreciation

“I miss people when I don’t see them”

“Everybody is important to me”

“We check up on each other in a nice way”

We value each other and the things that are important to each one of us

relationship with tutors (versus interaction with bureaucracy)

get-togethers specifically for constructive learning

Recognising individual potential

Meeting social and esteem needs

Seeing others supported

Contributions valued

Listening to voice

Involvement

Valuing opinion

Responsive communication

Meaningful communication

Open communication

Supportive style of communication

Follow-through on communication

Respecting concerns

Individually based response

Thoughtful response

Transparent communication

Recognition of progress

Recognition of individuality

Involvement in class

Participation in class

Social bonding

Mutual appreciation

Emotional closeness

Holding others as important

Mutual support

Mutual affirming

Tutor relationship

Purposive support

                                                Figure 2: Illustration of some of the In-Class Data Coding

The three interviews provided more in-depth data and in particular provided a deeper understanding of the importance of individually orientated support that was already emerging from the class data.

An illustration of some of the coding of the interview data is shown in Figure 3 below.


Interview Data Codes

I feel valued when I am treated as an individual – when it is based on my needs – built on what is important to me and not on the whole group

When the tutors understand your learning style, your home problems, mark work as you as an individual instead of stereotyping, treated equally with others.

I am valued because my course is all about diversity and social work and so the tutors uphold that everyone is valued because that is what the course is all about.

I am valued by the tutors – one example is when everyone in the class understands something except me.  The tutor will explain something again even if I am the only one in the class who doesn’t understand it.  That makes me feel valued.

I felt valued at interview, they ask you if you have any difficulties or need support like childcare and what they offered matched up because they even fill in all the childcare forms for you.

The tutors are very good at keeping us informed and keeping everyone like tutors and placements informed.  When you get to placement they know your needs.

For me, valued as a student would mean I feel that I am treated as a paying customer and that lecturers work for me, not the other way round.

My tutors are really helpful – they will have a chat over a coffee and really help you work out what to do.  Even if they have to say your work is poor you can have a good relationship with them.

I see the tutor as a sort of colleague because they are on an equal footing (being similar age and experienced in business) and therefore journeying with me in my learning.

I feel valued when the tutor has time to see me, talk to me and tell me exactly where I need to improve my work.

Treated as individual

Needs orientated

Individual learning style

Flexible assessment

ethos of course - diversity

High personal value expected

Valued by tutors

Individual needs vs group needs

Supportive interview process

Need identification

Helping hand for processes required

Keep us informed

Keep important others informed

Valued as paying customer

Tutor as staff

Tutor-student relationship

Approachability

Tutor as colleague.

Tutor journey alongside.

Access to tutor

Talking to tutor

Purposive communication

                                          Figure 3: Illustration of some of the Interview Data Coding

All codes were then conceptualised further to form categories.  See Figure 4 below for an illustration.


All Codes Categories

Treated as individual

Needs orientated

Individual learning style

Flexible assessment

ethos of course - diversity

High personal value expected

Valued by tutors

Individual needs vs group needs

Supportive interview process

Need identification

Helping hand for processes required

Keep us informed

Keep important others informed

Valued as paying customer

Tutor as staff

Tutor-student relationship

Approachability

Tutor as colleague.

Tutor journey alongside.

Access to tutor

Talking to tutor

Purposive communication

Recognising individual potential

Meeting social and esteem needs

Seeing others supported

Contributions valued

Listening to voice

Involvement

Valuing opinion

Responsive communication

Meaningful communication

Open communication

Supportive style of communication

Follow-through on communication

Respecting concerns

Individually based response

Thoughtful response

Transparent communication

Recognition of progress

Recognition of individuality

Involvement in class

Participation in class

Social bonding

Mutual appreciation

Emotional closeness

Holding others as important

Mutual support

Mutual affirming

Tutor relationship

Purposive support

                       Supportive, responsive and meaningful communication

                                                                                    

                                

                                              Legitimising/Supporting individualised need 

                   

                                         

                                                     Participation and involvement

                                            

                                   Respectful, upholding relationships

           

                   

                                                                                  

                                                          Figure 4: Illustration of Developing Categories from Codes

3 Findings and Discussion

Having conceptualised and compared all the data, four categories emerged as the strongest from the data and they were overlaps across all four so they could be seen to be related. 

                                         

  • Supportive, responsive and meaningful communication
  • Legitimising and Supporting individualised need 
  • Respectful, upholding relationships
  • Participation and involvement

Supportive, responsive and meaningful communication emerged from codes relating to a broad range of communication spoken and written and communicated on paper and virtually.  Students felt valued when communication was clear and when it was shared appropriately.  For example “what I found really good was that when I went to placement they knew about my <personal situation> so I didn’t have to explain it all again – they took account of it already”.  Another said, “I told the leader of the course about <personal difficulty> and they made sure all the other tutors knew which meant they valued me”.  Communication is seen as meaningful when it is relevant and addresses the point in question or illustrates a means of assistance.  Responding to emails for help was seen as a crucial factor in making a student feel valued.

Legitimising and Supporting individualised need was where individuality was seen as legitimate, that personal concerns were respected and that an individualised response was emphasised in terms of needs and individual difference.  For example “I am valued by the tutors – one example is when everyone in the class understands something except me.  The tutor will explain something again even if I am the only one in the class who doesn’t understand it.  That makes me feel valued.”  Another example was “they know I have a baby and so if I need a bit longer to do my work they understand this”.  The desire to recognise  individual progress rather than attainment and the meeting of personal learning needs was strong.  In an academic environment where external verification of standards of achievement is strongly regulated there perhaps needs to be thought around how tutors and the organisation can validate and celebrate progress more effectively as well as attainment.

Respectful, upholding relationships emerged from a number of codes which related to relationship with all significant others eg administrators, career advisers; but was particularly about relationships with tutors and peers.  In particular, emotional ties illustrated in ‘I miss people when they don’t come to class or don’t come when we go out socially’ and ‘everyone in this class is important to me personally’ and ‘we always check up on each other to see if we are ok’ brought a feeling of being valued.  Feeling valued because each person affirms another when they are contributing ideas in class shows a level of respect and upholding of each other.

Participation and involvement was a category which was broad and many codes could have been part of this.  However, the emphasis here was on participation and involvement in the learning process and, in particular, in the classroom situation.  The classroom situation is where learning was seen as most prevalent and the extent to which students were listened to, given voice and their views seen as contributing made them feel valued.  “I feel much more valued when we have this sort of discussion where everyone can talk about their experience than when someone stands there and delivers a powerpoint and expects me just to listen to them” illustrates how teaching methods can directly affect how people are valued.

Two-factor Theories

It was interesting to see that in the findings there were factors that were hardly mentioned at all eg timetabling, feedback on assessment, marking systems, catering facilities, accommodation.  The sorts of things that are asked in the National Student Survey were not mentioned.  This study took a deliberately appreciative enquiry approach where students were asked how they knew they were valued and not whether they felt unvalued.  Rather like Herzberg’s two factor theory (Herzberg, 1987) determines that motivation is different from satisfaction, this study shows that being valued is not the same as being satisfied.  There needs to be a clear distinction between the two.  If the appreciative inquiry approach had not been used and the questions related to “what makes you feel you are not valued?” then perhaps the satisfiers may have been listed.  So not being valued may be linked to dissatisfaction but being valued is not linked to satisfaction.  Indeed, taking this one step further, being valued may not be the opposite of not being valued.  This will be the subject of another study.

4 Conclusion

This inductive study has sought to understand how students feel valued because feeling valued is a key driver to engagement and has particularly been shown to lead to positive affect in employees.  All students are future employees and as such will engage in their future work.  The extent to which they do this will depend, partly, on how valued they feel.  It will also impact on how stressed they are and on their perception of other factors of working eg how well they are supported and developed.  While they are still students with us we want them to feel valued as this should lead to similar benefits as shown for employees.  Universities have been asking students how satisfied they are for many years.  It is now time to ask them how they feel valued.  This study has done this and has begun a process of understanding this construct more clearly.  As academics and learning support staff we can consider the factors emerging from this study and start to consider how we, as individuals and as organisations, can help our students to feel valued and therefore access the benefits this brings. 


 

References

Allen N.J. and Meyer J.P., (1990), The measurement and antecedents of affective continuance and normative commitment to the organization, Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology, Vol. 63, Iss 1: pp.1–18

American Psychological Association (A.P.A.), (March 2012), The Workplace Survey, Harris Interactive, available at: www.apa.org/news/press/releases/phwa/workplace-survey.pdf

(accessed 24th January 2014)

BlessingWhite, (2008), The State of Employee Engagement 2008: Highlights for U.K. and Ireland, 3. 12.

Bradbury-Jones C., Sambrook S. and Irvine F., Empowerment and being valued: A phenomenological study of nursing students’ experiences of clinical practice, Nurse Education Today, 31, pp. 368-372

Charmaz K., (2006), Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis, Thousand Oaks, C.A., Sage.

Cooperrider D.L. and Whitney D., (2005), Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change, Berrett-Koehler, CA.

Corbin J. and Strauss A.L., (2008), Basics of qualitative research, Thousand Oaks, C.A., Sage  

Glaser B.G. and Strauss A.L., (1967), The discovery of grounded theory: strategies for qualitative research, Chicago, Aldine.

 

Glaser B.G. (1992), Basics of grounded theory analysis, emergence vs forcing, Mill Valley, C.A.: Sociology Press

 

Glaser B.G., (1998), Doing grounded theory: Issues and discussions, Mill Valley, C.A., Sociology Press

 

Glaser B.G. (2002) Constructivist grounded theory? Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Volume 3, No. 3, Art. 12 available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/viewArticle/825/1792 (accessed on 11th February 2014)

 

Glaser, B.G. and Holton J. (2004), Remodeling Grounded Theory, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 5(2), Art. 4, available at: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs040245 (accessed on 11 February 2014)

 

Glaser B.G., (2005), The Impact of Symbolic Interaction on Grounded Theory, Grounded Theory Review, Vol. 4, Iss. 2, Wordpress

 

Gruman J.A. and Saks A.M., (2011), Manage Employee Engagement to Manage Performance, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 4, Iss. 2, pp. 204–207, Wiley

Herzberg F., (1987), One more time: How do you motivate employees?, Harvard Business Review, pp. 5-16

Kahn, W.A., (1990), Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 692-724

Macleod D. and Clarke N., www.engageforsuccess.org

Robinson, D., Perryman, S. and Hayday, S. (2004), The Drivers of Employee Engagement, Report 408, Institute for Employment Studies, Brighton

Robinson D., Hooker H., and Hayday S., (2007), Engagement: The Continuing Story, Report 447, Institute for Employment Studies.

 

Saks M.A., (2006),  Antecedents and consequences of employee engagement, Journal ofManagerial Psychology, Vol. 21, No. 6 , pp. 600-619  

Schaufeli W.B., Salanova M., Gonzalez-Roma V., and Bakker A.B., (2002), The measurement of engagement and burnout: a two sample confirmatory factor analytic approach, Journal of Happiness Studies, Vol. 3, pp.71-92

Strauss A. and Corbin J., (1998), Basics of qualitative research: techiques and procedures for developing grounded theory, Thousand Oaks, C.A., Sage

Truss C., Soane E., Edwards C., Wisdom K., Croll A. and Burnett J., (2006), Working Life: Employee Attitudes and Engagement 2006, London, CIPD.

White M. and Mackenzie-Davey K., (2003), Feeling valued at work? A qualitative study of corporate training consultants, Career Development International, Vol. 8, Iss. 5, pp. 228-234

Hits: 1467
0

 

Marius Brazdauskas, Lina Gaigalaite

Abstract

This article promotes an on-going academic discussion on the importance of developing student intercultural competence to understand and implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and strategies in different cultural contexts and cross-border business activities. Currently, CSR gains momentum as a complex global trend with diverse approaches and perspectives. Despite that the academic theory of CSR is mostly characterized by global trends of Western influences, the interpretation and understanding of CSR concepts is highly culture-specific. Academic research points out that there is no well-defined consensus on CSR definition since the understanding of this evolving concept requires an in-depth reflection on its culture-specific complexity and assessment of many culture-driven factors: deep-rooted values, traditions of philanthropy, pro-environmental affinity, previous practices of business ethics, history of community solidarity, etc. Therefore, the understanding of CSR seems to have different meanings around the world and, in turn, different versions of its implementation. By introducing country-specific cases of comparative analysis, this article stresses the importance of developing student intercultural knowledge and competence in order to understand the multicultural dimension of CSR and its extending and developing theory-building dynamics.

Keywords: CSR, multicultural dimension, intercultural competence

Introduction

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has emerged as a complex and multi-level global business trend in different countries with diverse policy, culture, development level and CSR perspective. Indeed, CSR is a complex and multi-dimensional concept, covering an ever-widening range of relevant issues. Academic research points out  that CSR covers many topics, covering employment practices like diversity, gender equality, employee well-being, human rights, environmental issues like pollution, climate change, biodiversity, resource efficiency, life-cycle, and promoting transparency by preventing bribery, malpractice and corruption.  A number of researchers have developed approaches for linking sustainability and CSR to more complex global issues, which implies that CSR has broadened its scope to include not only social, environmental and human rights issues, but also the role of business in relation to poverty reduction in the developing world. In this context it is important to note that CSR is an evolving concept and its interpretation tends to gain more directions and possible development scenarios. Following this perspective, different organizations have framed different definitions of CSR and sustainability. Although all definitions have considerable common ground, their interpretation dynamics are highly context-dependant.  It has been advocated by a number of authors that there is no strong consensus on a definition of CSR (McWilliams, Siegel, and Wright, 2006). Its definition dynamics are highly dependant where CSR issues are placed by assessing not only internal organizational contexts, but also many external factors including the specificity of a country where CSR is practiced and its surrounding culture. Therefore, researchers and practitioners following this perspective suggest that the meaning of CSR can be explored not only in organizational contexts, but also in different national and culturally-specific contexts. This perspective implies that the understanding and interpretation of CSR seems to have different meanings around the world and, in turn, different versions of its implementation practices.

With respect to this debate of multicultural dimension of CSR, researchers emphasize the theoretical and practical importance and impact of a particular culture on CSR interpretation and conceptualization. Following this perspective, the literature review suggests that CSR is mostly characterized by global Western influences where the concept of CSR was actively developed in business literature and practice; however, it has different interpretation dynamics and implementation approaches in different national contexts, depending on cultural peculiarities and traditions. In this context it could be argued that interpretation and conceptualization of CSR is country-specific and highly characterized by deep-rooted cultural traditions of philanthropy, ethics and community building. Therefore, multicultural dimension of CSR understanding is a big challenge in today’s global world and places emphasis on the growing importance of intercultural competence development, especially for future business workforce operating in foreign countries with unfamiliar cultural backgrounds. A relatively well-developed body of research suggests that intercultural competence refers to behaving and communicating appropriately and effectively in cross-cultural situations by taking into consideration intercultural knowledge, skills and attitudes. In turn, the conceptualization of intercultural competence refers to promoting respect and understanding of different cultures and values and the ability and willingness to behave accordingly (Deardorff, 2004). In turn, this concept also includes the in-depth understanding of intercultural sensitivity and value differences as a basis for effective communication (Hammer, 2008).

As more organizations are operating internationally in different culture-specific contexts, CSR-based issues tend to increase in terms of cultural understanding and specificity. Therefore, following this perspective it could be argued that the development of CSR intercultural competence is a key priority in preparing business graduates for the global workforce to seek careers in cross-cultural contexts and be able to adjust CSR practices in parallel with cultural background and heritage. The intercultural knowledge and competence suggests that business students should develop a systematic way to identify cultural patterns, to be able to compare and contrast different cultural backgrounds and, in turn, develop a deeper multi-dimensional understanding of the complexity of cultural elements to assess the country-specific situations in relation to its history and political context.

This article aims at contributing theoretically to the research stream on multicultural dimension of CSR by examining some of its implications from a wider range of perspectives. It seeks to promote an on-going academic discussion on the importance of developing student intercultural competence to understand and implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and strategies in different cultural contexts and cross-border business activities.

This article is an exploratory study presenting a theoretical analysis and synthesis of scientific literature targeting the multicultural dimension of CSR. Methods of systemic analysis along with the comparative analysis and generalization were used to assess the concepts under analysis and determine the contextual factors that might impact CSR conceptualization.

Multicultural Dimension of CSR: Research Overview

In the discussion on the multicultural dimension of CSR understanding, first of all, it is important to address the issue of the very understanding and interpretation of “doing good“ among different cultural backgrounds. Academic research points out  that many CSR concepts and tools originates from western ideas and practices, but different countries have their own norms and practices for CSR since their conceptualization of  “good business” differs depending on local contexts. “Doing good” or “doing the right things” tend to have slightly different meanings around the world, especially when it comes to placing emphasis on certain practices (Baughn et al, 2007). The previous studies suggest that there are different regional patterns concerning the way CSR is interpreted and implemented, since many researchers elaborated cross-country comparisons addressing CSR practices in Europe, Asia and Latin America, Therefore, following this perspective it could be argued that Western-centric approaches towards CSR conceptualization and definition is inaccurate and oversimplified since the conceptualization of CSR , for instance,  in Asia is slightly different that in other continents. A relatively well-developed body of research implies that understanding what is beneficial in one cultural context does not necessarily transfer across other contexts (Wright and Ferris, 1997).

The literature review suggests that there are different approaches towards research attempts to investigate country-specific CSR and conduct cross-cultural comparisons. Some studies addressed differences of CSR between countries by focusing on the situation in Europe (Silberhorn and Warren, 2007) or between Europe and the U.S. (Maignan and Ralston, 2002). In turn, some cross-cultural or cross-national studies indicated that the differences in the cultural and social backgrounds  result in different views on CSR in different culture-specific contexts. Following this perspective, some investigatory comparisons were made among Asian countries (Chapple and Moon, 2005) and among countries in Europe, Asia, North America and other regions (Baughn et al, 2007). With respect to countries of northern Europe, the previous research indicates that there is more CSR activity in Northern than in Southern Europe with the most philanthropic companies were found in Norway (Welford,2004, 2005). Some authors researched the ethical perceptions of manager from China and the US showing that, for instance, Chinese managers believed that stakeholder’s interest was more important than any other considerations, but it was also noted that Chinese managers believed that ethics and social responsibility were necessary for businesses to survive in the long-term (Shafer et al., 2007). In turn, in this context it could be argued that the research of cross-cultural comparisons is highly context dependant, depending on many individual and cultural factors.

It has been advocated by a number of authors that the assessment of the country context, nevertheless, plays a key role in CSR conceptualization. The literature review suggests that every country has different CSR contexts and challenges, such as poverty and wealth distribution, labor standards, development of civil society, lack of education and environmental challenges. When CSR activities in Asia are compared to those in Europe and the U.S., strong contrasts emerge in regard to policies regarding fair wages, freedom of association and equal opportunities for employees (Baughn et al, 2007). Following this perspective, in a comparative survey of CSR in 15 countries across Europe, North America and Asia, Welford (2005) speculated that slow CSR practices in the countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico, and Thailand may be an indicator of CSR being less prevalent in developing countries. Therefore, it could be argued that developing countries tend to have less CSR practices, especially in terms of environmental protection since social challenges like labor rates, social disparity play a more important and immediate role on CSR understanding and priority-making.  However, the study by Diekmann and Franzen (1999) shows that the issue is more complicated. The researchers used data from two different surveys that when people from poorer countries are asked to rank the most pressing problems, environmental issues, indeed, ranked lower. However, when the people were asked to rate the severity of different problems, pro-environmental issues ranked high, no matter if the country is affluent or poor. Diekmann and Franzen (1999) concluded that ranking therefore reflects more the reality of scarce economics, but not that people in poorer countries care less about the environment.

The research on cultural dimension of CSR in particular is not abundant. However, there is a stream of research indicating that CSR is very much tied to localized issues encompassing cultural traditions and historical events. The influence of religion in CSR practices was mentioned by some researchers (Chapple and Moon, 2005; Baughn et al, 2007). The literature review suggests that there are differences of CSR conceptualization and interpretation between individualistic societies and collectivistic, communitarian societies. Jackson (2000) suggests that a high level of individualism and universalism in US society is likely to lead to a need to regulate individual behavior in an explicit way; therefore, codes of ethics are more common in the US than in Europe (Palazzo 2002).  Unlike the US, the European values tend to be more communitarian by nature by emphasizing the needs of the community and the benefits of consensus (Maignan and Ferrell, 2003). In more communitarian societies, ethical decisions are typically made on the basis of shared values based on a network of social obligations and relationships (Palazzo, 2002). Therefore, recent research suggests that European CSR is more driven by society-wide shared views on CSR, and less by company-specific codes of ethics. In this discussion on the multicultural dimension of CSR understanding, it is important to note that individualism is defined as the cultural belief or a corresponding social pattern that individuals should take responsibility primarily for their own interests and those of their immediate family. Therefore, unless it is in their recognized self-interest, highly individualistic societies tend to demonstrate less concern about the role of business on society. In contrast, collectivism promotes values such as respect, social responsibility and the well-being of society and collective priorities. In this context, responsibility refers to being accountable for your individual and community’s actions towards yourself, others and the environment in general. In turn, collectivism embraces such values as cooperation and participation. Participation refers to being a proactive and productive individual and group member, having pride in and contributing to the social and economic wealth of the community and the nation, whereas cooperation refers to working together to achieve common goals, providing support to others and initiating change by involving collaboration of all stakeholders (Hofstede, 1980).

Context-dependant CSR: Regional Comparative Analysis

Despite that the academic theory of CSR is mostly characterized by global trends of Western influences, the interpretation and understanding of CSR concepts is highly culture-specific. This section overviews major regional CSR conceptualizations and developments in order to better illustrate the diverse multi-cultural CSR approaches and implementation practices. It contributes to the current scholarly debate by comparing and synthesizing regional disparities and cultural peculiarities.

It has been advocated by a number of authors that Scandinavian countries are among the top CSR implementing countries in the world.. Scandinavian companies have been practicing strong environmental regulation since the 1980s, therefore, they not only explore CSR on the academic research but also push CSR to be a “soft law” (May S., 2007). Many sustainability reports, evaluating countries on their environmental policies, emissions, energy use, energy sources, risk mitigation and biodiversity, top Sweden as number one in terms of sustainable development, usually followed by Australia, Switzerland, Denmark Norway, the United Kingdom, Canada, Finland, the US and the Netherlands.

The literature review suggests that Swedes feel their obligation to environment protection, therefore they are highly conscientious of the environment. Traditionally Sweden has been in the forefront in CSR movement and responsible performance. The success of CSR in Sweden could also be influenced by its cultural context. Sweden, like other Nordic countries, has a strong culture of environmental protection and sustainability which is deeply rooted in their cultural background and history. The Swedish culture of consensus could also be another reason for CSR success since in Sweden people tend to engage others in making decisions via consensus. In addition, one of key reason for Sweden’s success in CSR is active role of government in coordinating and promoting CSR policies and integrating sustainability and CSR-driven standards into trade and foreign policy strategies. In turn, the Swedish public policy encourages businesses to follow the OECD’s guidelines for multinational companies in terms of CSR development and to apply the UN Global Compact ten business responsibility principles regarding respect for human rights, employee rights, environmental responsibility and anti-corruption. Following this perspective, the state-owned companies of Sweden and non-state companies are encouraged to present sustainability reports to different stakeholders in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) guidelines.   

Researchers emphasize the theoretical and practical importance of CSR practice in US history for the development of CSR discourse. Although the US is often regarded as the birthplace of CSR, the public sector has not been the major driving force behind CSR practices. Traditionally in the US, CSR has been defined much more in terms of a philanthropic model where they donate a certain share of the profits to charitable causes. Maignan and Ralston (2002) have compared CSR self-presentations of companies located in the US and Europe and concluded that countries located in both regions hold substantially different perspectives on CSR conceptualization, directions of CSR practices and priorities. At this point, it is important to note that many research findings are quite contradictory in their nature. According to this research, few European companies used organizational values to justify their commitment to CSR since European corporations often presented CSR as an activity enhancing the firm’s success and survival, whereas companies based in the U.S. introduced CSR practices as part of their organizational culture. Another finding of this research was that U.S. companies focused their CSR processes in terms of philanthropic programs and volunteerism, while European firms focused much of their attention on processes aimed at reducing the negative impacts of their activities on the environment and emphasized environmental protection in general. This European approach could be explained by the high political influence of the environmental movement at the national and European Union levels. Previous research of Matten & Moon (2004) indicates that the US concept of CSR represents its philanthropic aspects and low inclination towards state involvement in promoting CSR issues. Following this perspective, the researchers suggested that the strong explicit flagging of CSR may occur in countries with weak social embedding of the economy, as in the US.

The literature review suggests that Asia has a very diverse CSR practice. The Journal of Corporate Citizenship special issue on CSR in Asia, edited by Birch and Moon (2004) provides a good overview on the status of this debate, where editors note that CSR performance varies greatly between countries in Asia, with a wide range of CSR issues being practices in accordance to local priorities. For instance, Japan is the leader in of CSR activities adoption in Asia, and most CSR activities in the country are linked to environmental programs rather than social issues (Tanimoto and Suzuki, 2005). The majority of Japanese businesses tend to have international environmental standards such as ISO, which, in turn, makes Japan significantly ahead of the Western industrialized countries. The history of Japanese environmental policy also plays a huge role of CSR development in the country. Literature review suggests that Japan’s environmental movement is  differed from that of the United States in that Japanese environmental issues are rooted in “the history of pollution” (McKean, 1981). Muramatsu (1998) states that there are two aspects in the Japanese environmental movement. One is the anti-pollution movement that started in the 1950s, in which pollution victims sued pollution companies and the national government. These cases often emerged in rural areas. Another was environmentalism movement in urban areas where antipollution movement provided a pivotal position for emerging environmentalism based on post-materialism.

With respect to China, the development of CSR has many different research implications. For instance, Lu (2009) found that in the emerging countries such as China, CSR is still in its development stage and Chinese society is still struggling with issues such as corruption, labor rights, inequality, corporate malpractice, product safety and environmental pollution. Rapid economic growth in Asian countries since 1970 has created a variety of environmental problems associated with development. China’s economic development is often accompanied by images of poor business practices: growing number of business scandals, labor inequality, overworked and underpaid employees, faulty low quality consumer products, toxic emissions and water pollution. The proactive transition of China to a market economy and global trade motivates China to adopt CSR more proactively due to growing consumer demands and society expectations. However, some studies indicate that social responsibility and social reputation are two sides of the same coin, especially with respect to China (Chen, 2008). Some of shareholders of Chinese corporation see CSR as a tool to increase their reputation and boost sales rather than trying to understand and deeper integrate the real meaning behind CSR concept. Although CSR is receiving more attention in China, it still plays a marginal role for the majority of Chinese companies; nevertheless, the growing societal pressures and consumer demand play their role in China’s adoption of CSR practices. 

With respect to Latin America, CSR conceptualization in Latin world has a long tradition of corporate philanthropy in where the private sector has a paternalistic view of its role in society (Peinado-Vara, 2006). CSR in Latin America and the Caribbean has always been more focused on social issues than on environmental issues, probably because social issues have always been more acute and tends to be prioritized. The previous research of De Oliveira (2006) suggest that the CSR agenda in Latin America has been heavily shaped by socio-economic and political conditions, which tend to be aggravated by many environmental and, in particular, social problems. The research of Schmidheiny (2006) positions this situation in a constructive way by claiming that CSR is seen by many Latin Americans as the hope for positive change in the background of poverty, inequality, environmental pollution and degradation, corruption and economic stagnation. In this discussion on the multicultural dimension of CSR understanding, it is important to mention Vives’s (2006) survey of over 1,300 small and medium-sized enterprises in Latin America which concludes that religious beliefs play a huge role for CSR development in Latin countries.

This section emphasizes the fact that multicultural dimension of CSR understanding is a complex issue in today’s diverse world and places emphasis on the growing importance of intercultural competence development, especially for future business workforce operating in foreign countries with unfamiliar cultural backgrounds. In the intercultural global reality, it is important to be able to identify cultural patterns in order to understand and adjust to local specificity of CSR and sustainability.

Cultural Complexity of CSR Conceptualization: Assessment of Factors

A number of theories on sustainability and CSR emphasize the importance of the concept of culture for CSR development. A relatively well-developed body of research emphasized that culture is an inextricable part of the complex notion of sustainability. In this context it could be argued that the meanings or perspectives underlying a particular culture influence our worldviews and the ways in which we view our connection to this world, to the nature and to the people. In turn, these aspects of culture affect our understanding of sustainability and the role of CSR in our society. Following this perspective, it is important to note that culture as a concept refers to the rich complex of meanings, beliefs, practices, norms, symbols, and values prevalent among people in a society. Furthermore, cultural values shape and justify individual and group beliefs, actions, and goals. The concept of culture is highly important in parallel with CSR discourse, since our cultural perspective affects our CSR conceptualization and understanding. It has been advocated by a number of authors that person’s values are most influenced by the microsystem, which is comprised of the immediate social surrounding—family, neighbors, peer-groups, followed by the macro system - the cultural context in which the individual lives in.

In this discussion of multicultural dimension of CSR understanding it is also important to address the importance of the role of religion. In this context it could be argued that religion is among the major influences of culture in many parts of the world. First of all, a religion is a combination of spiritual beliefs about two key aspects of life, which is our concern with the ultimate meaning of human existence and our identification with a supernatural power beyond the limits of the human and natural worlds. In turn, we use our beliefs to help explain reasons for human existence and to guide personal relationships and behavior. As it was mentioned previously, “doing good” or “doing the right things” tend to have slightly different meanings around the world and religions play a considerable role in our understanding of “being good”. In turn, following this perspective, religions affect our understanding of CSR and sustainability since they affect the underlying logic of justifiable reasons why individuals should be responsible.  Therefore, religious beliefs have a strong influence on the culture of a community. Indeed, for many people around the world, religious beliefs are central to their culture and provide the moral codes by which they live and behave. The influence of religion in CSR practices has also been mentioned by some authors (Chapple and Moon, 2005; Baughn et al, 2007). The previous study of Vives (2006) presented a survey of over 1300 small and medium-sized enterprises in Latin America and indicated that religious beliefs are one of the major drivers for CSR practices. Nelson (2004) investigated how Buddhist traditions in Asia are aligned with CSR. Visser and Macintosh (1998) explored ethical condemnation of business malpractices in developing countries that practice Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. In parallel to this research, Frynas (2006) noted that business practices based on moral principles were advocated by the Indian statesman and philosopher Kautilya in the 4th century BC, which implies that CSR ideas have been intertwining with cultural contexts for many centuries.

Some researchers have developed different approaches for linking sustainability and CSR to the issue of spirituality which is the underlying sphere of religions. Spirituality impacts our life in both material and non-material ways, since as a concept, spirituality provides the foundation for decisions on how we conduct and behave in our lives. The integrity of our actions is deeply rooted in our spirituality since it affects choices we make in all directions of life: the way we behave with others and nature, the way we consume and value products and use resources. With an integrated life with purpose and meaning, increasing material wealth might sound less desirable, thus indirect linkage might be supposed between spirituality and ecological impacts.  Schroeder (1996) in his work entitled “In Spirit of the Forest: Integrating Spiritual Values into Natural Resource Management and Research” defines spiritual values as referring “to the experience of being related to an ‘other’ that is larger or greater than oneself and that gives meaning to one’s life at a deeper than intellectual level”. The issue of spirituality and sustainability have been debated by politicians, psychologists, philosophers, and scientists (Orr, 2002).

An insightful research was conducted by Chawla in 1998. Chawla interviewed numerous professional environmentalists in the US and in Norway about the experiences and people who shaped and influenced their decisions to become environmentalists. In her study, she investigated in retrospect what factors influenced the environmental affinity of respondents and their environmental sensitivity, which she defined as “a  predisposition to take an interest in learning about the environment, feeling concern for it, and acting to conserve it, on the basis of formative experiences” (Chawla, 1998). Her research suggests that there is no single experience that sensitizes people’s awareness but a combination of factors. She made insights that during childhood, the most influential were experiences of natural areas and family, during adolescence and early adulthood the importance of education and friends was emphasized, and during adulthood the role of pro-environmental organizations was highlighted. Among the most frequently mentioned factors are the following in terms of relevance sequence:

-        Childhood experiences in nature;

-        Experiences of pro-environmental destruction;

-        Pro- environmental values held by the family;

-        Pro-environmental organizations ;•

-        Role models (friends or teachers) ;

-        Education.

Following this perspective, researchers recently considered the theoretical and practical importance of examining different types of environmental attitudes that are underlying people perspective and environmental behavior. The research made by Schultz (2000) indicates that environmental attitudes may be   of egoistic, altruistic, and biospheric directions.  Egoistic attitude is based on concerns that are focused on the individual and reflect a concern about environmental problems for the interests of the self. These concerns include personal health, quality of life, financial well-being, availability of resources. Altruistic attitude is based on concerns that focus on people other than self, including family, community, friends, future generations and humanity in general. Finally, biospheric attitude is based on concerns that focus on all living things, including plants, animals, ecosystems, and the biosphere and it is closely related to human connection with nature. This research indicates that pro-environmental behavior is a complex and multi-level phenomenon, deeply rooted on individuals personal background and surrounding culture.

In this context it could be argued that personal motivation is a key driver in pro-sustainable and responsible behavior. Following this perspective, the literature review suggests that motivation is the reason for a behavior or a strong internal stimulus around which behavior is organized (Moisander, 1998). Moisander distinguished between primary motives and selective motives in terms of pro-environmental behavior. It was noted that primary motives are the larger motives that let people engage in a whole set of behaviors, for instance, striving to live an environmental lifestyle.  In turn, selective motives refer to the the motives that influence one specific action; for instance, whether I should take a bike to work today, even though it rains, or do I drive? (Moisander, 1998). This research indicates that the primary motives (environmental values) are often overridden by the selective motives (personal comfort). The previous studies of researchers Borden and Francis (1978) stated that people with strong selfish and competitive orientation are less likely to act ecologically, whereas  people who have satisfied their personal needs are more likely to act ecologically because they have more resources (time, money, energy) to care about bigger, less personal social and pro-environmental issues.  In parallel to the mentioned research, it would be worthwhile to mention the previous work of Hines, Hungerford and Tomera (1986), where they published their Model of Responsible Environmental Behavior based on the results of their meta-analysis of 128 pro-environmental behavior research studies. This research indicates the following variables associated with responsible pro- environmental behavior:

-        Knowledge of issues: Individual’s familiarity with the environmental problems and environmental knowledge stimulate pro environmental behavior.

-        Knowledge of action strategies: Individual’s knowledge on how to make an impact or influence environmental realities stimulates pro-environmental behavior.

-        Locus of control: Individual’s perception of whether he or she has the ability to bring about change through his or her own behavior. The researchers distinguish between individuals who feel they can change the world, and the individuals who feel they can’t change the world and this role belongs to the superior, more powerful others.

-        Attitudes: Individuals with established pro-environmental attitudes were noted to be more likely to engage in pro-environmental behavior.

-        Verbal commitment: The communicated willingness to take is positively associated with individual’s willingness to engage in pro- environmental behavior.

-        Individual sense of responsibility: People with a greater sense of personal responsibility are more likely to be engaged in responsible pro-environmental behavior.

This section illustrates that culture is a highly complex phenomenon, encompassing multi-level aspects in order to promote CSR and sustainability. It refers to the multi-dimensional dynamics of values, attitudes, behaviors patterns and motivational stimulus. Nevertheless, it is important to note that ongoing academic research tend to place more and more emphasis on investigating different directions of what stimulates pro-environmental affinity and social responsible behaviors. In turn, the factors affecting individual responsibility directly affect the development and conceptualization of CSR and sustainability in business environments and society at large.

The Role of Higher Education in the Discourse of CSR development

It has been advocated by a number of authors that education has a major role to play as a force for the future also. UNESCO (1997) stated that education is the most effective means that society possesses for confronting the challenges of the future. Indeed, education will shape the world of tomorrow. Indeed, progress increasingly depends upon the products of educated minds: upon research, invention, innovation and adaptation. In this context it could be argued that education by being the transmission, acquisition, creation and adaptation of information, knowledge, skills and values, is a key lever of sustainable development. Education creates a ripple effect for cultural mind-shift since it affects the development of families, in turn, it affects local and national communities and the world at large. Following this perspective, Orr (1994) that we need such education that recognizes the crisis of global ecology and a crisis of values, ideas, perspectives, and knowledge, that makes it a crisis of education, not one in education. Education is a far wider concept, not limited to educational institutions, but encompassing other macro high-impact factors as consumers advertising, shopping malls, supermarkets etc. (Orr, 2002).

In this context it could be noted that higher education institutions bear a profound, moral responsibility to increase the awareness, knowledge, skills, and values needed to create sustainable future and promote unified value orientation towards sustainable development. It has been advocated by some authors that higher education has unique academic freedom and potential to develop new ideas.  Higher education has a unique position to forward the discussion of society and environment and promote discussion of sustainability (Meadows 1997). Therefore, the curriculum on CSR should emphasize both the evolving, multi-cultural aspect of CSR and the need to find joint positions in CSR development in order to promote balanced and equally-supported global development. If universities in some countries will stress the importance of environmental issues, and other universities – the importance of social issues, it will be quite difficult to maintain balanced development in the future. The future needs unified understanding of developmental concepts and universities play a key role by uniting those concepts among different countries and cultures.

Culture shapes the way we see the world, therefore this discussion calls for addressing the issue of cultural sustainability mind-shift. Universities are positioned uniquely to support this cultural transition in societies. Culture has the capacity to change attitudes needed to ensure peace, equality and sustainable development. If humanity doesn’t manage to make a cultural shift towards sustainable development, our further evolution will be marked by increasing poverty and inequality in our economically, socially and environmentally asymmetrical world. The lack of cultural shift will further reinforce environmental degradation and short-sightedness in policy-making. Therefore, culture is a key to solving global crisis. The World Commission on Culture and Development (1987) defines culture as ‘ways of living together’ and emphasized that this positions culture as a core element of sustainable development by stating that sustainable development requires changes in values and attitudes towards environment and development and that education plays a central role in achieving those changes in values and attitudes as well as the skills and responsibilities that go along with those changes.

To make a cultural shift is not an easy task. Today we live in a diverse world of multicultural diversity, therefore it is important to find and even forward unifying touch points in shifting our cultural understanding towards sustainable development. Capra (1982) in his work entitled “The Turning Point” put forward the idea of a future turning point, or crossover, between a new rising value system and another waning value system. Capra's schematic diagram of two intersecting curves provides a useful conceptual model for the dynamic of a transition between old and new cultural values as the inter-dynamics between the “rising culture” and the “declining culture”. What is going to be the rising culture of humanity? This rhetorical question calls for the discussion of value orientation. In the background of environmental crisis, humans need to find unifying values to forward world’s development. In this context it could be argued that the multicultural dimension of sustainability and CSR needs to address unifying scenario of values and priorities for global development. In the globalized world of today, cultural diversity has to find a touching point with the other side of the continuum – the unity for development.

The literature review suggests that value orientation, first of all, should be directed towards consumerism culture. It is important to note that population growth and consumption are directly linked. Therefore, as the population continues to increase, under the current consumer mindset, consumption of resources will continue to increase (Brown, 2001), since the larger the population, the more people are consuming. In this context value orientation plays a key role by urging individuals and businesses better assess their consumption patterns and needs, seek better solutions to consumption needs by taking into consideration the needs of present and future generations. Therefore, humanity needs a new mind shift towards more sustainable world and smart value orientation towards joint global needs. Researchers and practitioners following this perspective suggest a new concept of cultural sustainability. Indeed, cultural sustainability is a new interdisciplinary approach, which objective is to increase the significance of culture and its factors in local, regional and global levels of sustainable development. As it was stated in UNESCO (1997) document “Educating for a Sustainable Future: A Transdisciplinary Vision for Concerted Action” achieving sustainability will need to be motivated by a shift in values. Without change of this kind, even the most enlightened legislation, the cleanest technology, the most sophisticated research will not be able to succeed in directing society towards the long-term goal of sustainability. Education in the broadest sense will by necessity play a pivotal role in bringing about the deep change required in both tangible and non-tangible ways.

A number of theories on sustainability and CSR emphasize the importance of transformative learning - a model of progressive change (Hicks, 2002; Rogers, 1994). Hicks suggested that learning should involve ‘three awakenings – of the mind, the heart and the soul. This type of transformative learning puts basis for individual responsibility and value integrity.  In addition, Rogers suggested that learning should include cognitive, affective, existential, empowerment and action dimensions. In turn, cognitive dimension is seen as the core of teaching, which involves the intellect and thinking. The affective dimension connects knowing with the emotions. The existential dimension questions values and ways of living and challenge the reconstruction of own sense of self. If the existential crisis is resolved, then follows the empowerment dimension which involves a sense of responsibility, commitment and direction. Finally, the action dimension, which, if the questions raised by the first four dimensions have been resolved, involves the development of informed choices at personal, social and political levels. To make the change globally, we have to act locally. However, as the previous research suggests, the understanding of this locality can be tracked down into out very hearts, our surrounding culture imprints, our individual values and attitudes.

Conclusions

This article extends the argument that CSR is an evolving concept. The literature review of this analysis points out that there is no well-defined consensus on CSR conceptualization since the understanding of this evolving concept requires an in-depth reflection on its culture-specific complexity and assessment of many culture-driven factors: deep-rooted values, traditions of philanthropy, pro-environmental affinity, previous practices of business ethics, history of community solidarity, the individual value dynamics etc. Therefore, the understanding of CSR seems to have different meanings around the world and, in turn, different versions of its implementation. This argument is of special importance for higher education institutions preparing business leaders and professionals of tomorrow, who will have operate in different multi-cultural contexts and adapt to local issues with professionalism and cultural competence. In this context it is important to note that student curriculum on CSR and sustainability should present those concepts as evolving ones and promote student analytical thinking to better assess the multi-dimensional, culture-dependant meaning of CSR. In addition, students should be continuously encouraged to evaluate what CSR trends really impact, where it comes from, where it is heading and who the leading actors and factors are.

This article covered the multi-directional issues of CSR cultural dimension. The first section of this article attempted to make a deeper insight into intercultural complexity of CSR by assessing the ongoing research in this field and by covering such aspects as diverse understanding of doing good among different cultures The second section of this article presented a comparative analysis of regional peculiarities in terms of CSR development and cultural conceptualization by emphasizing the pioneering role of Scandinavian countries in this discourse, the basic differences between European and the US approaches towards CSR and the paternalistic approach of CSR in Latin countries. The third section of this article assessed the cultural complexity of CSR conceptualization and concluded that culture is a highly complex phenomenon, since it refers to the multi-dimensional assessment of values, attitudes, behaviors patterns, motivational stimulus, religion, spirituality, pro-environmental attitudes and personal motivation dynamics. The forth section of this article assessed the role of of higher education in the discourse of CSR development by emphasizing the need not only to develop student intercultural competences, but also promote unifying sustainability values  necessary for the joint dialogue underlying future global development. This section stresses that the future needs unified understanding of developmental concepts and universities play a key role by uniting those concepts among different countries and cultures.

Hopefully, this discussion on multicultural dimension of CSR provided some insights on CSR concept as a global macro trend with many cross-cultural characteristics and culture-specific interpretations in all its complexity. By introducing country-specific cases of comparative analysis and multi-directional insights of culture impacts and factors, this article attempted to stress the importance of developing student intercultural knowledge and competence in order to understand the multicultural dimension of CSR and its extending and developing conceptualization.

References

Baughn, C. C. 2007. Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility in Asian Countries and other Geographical Regions. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 14 pp. 189-205. 

Birch, D. and Moon, J. 2004. Introduction: Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia. Journal of Corporate Citizenship,13, spring:18–23.

Borden, D. and Francis, J.L. 1978. Who cares about ecology? Personality and sex difference in environmental concern. Journal of Personality, 46, pp. 190–203.

Capra, Fritjof. 1982. The turning point. London: Wildwood House.

Chapple, W. and Moon J. 2005. Corporate social responsibility CSR in Asia: a seven-country study of CSR web site reporting. Business and Society, 444, pp. 415–441.

Chawla, L. 1998. Significant life experiences revisited: a review of research on sources of pro-environmental sensitivity. The Journal of Environmental Education, 293, pp. 11-21.

De Oliveira, J. A. P. 2006. Corporate Citizenship in Latin America: New Challenges to Business. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 21 spring:17–20

Deardorff, Darla K., ed. 2009. The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage publications Inc.

Diekmann, A. and Franzen, A. 1999. The wealth of nations. Environment and Behavior, 314, pp. 540–549.

Frynas, J. G. 2006. Corporate Social Responsibility in Emerging Economies. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 24, winter: 16–19.

Hammer, Mitchell R. The Intercultural Development Inventory IDI: An Approach for Assessing and Building intercultural Competence. In: M.A. Moodian, ed. Contemporary leadership and Intercultural Competence: Understanding and Utilizing Cultural Diversity to Build a Successful Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008. 

Hicks, D. 2002. Lessons for the Future: the missing dimension in education, Futures and Education Series. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Hines, J.M., Hungerford, H.R. and Tomera, A.N. 1986–87. Analysis and synthesis of research on responsible pro-environmental behavior: a meta-analysis, The Journal of Environmental Education, 182, pp. 1–8.

Hofstede, G. 1980. Culture's consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications

Jackson, T. 2000. Management Ethics and Corporate Policy: A Cross-Cultural Comparison. Journal of Management Studies, Vo. 37, No. 3, pp. 349-369.

Lu, X. H. 2009. A Chinese perspective: Business ethics in China now and in the future. Journal of Business Ethics, 864, 451-461.

Maignan, I. and Ferrell, O.C. 2003. Nature of corporate responsibilities: Perspectives from American, French and German consumers. Journal of Business Research, Vol. 56, No. 1, pp.55-67.

Maignan, I. and Ralston, D. 2002. Corporate social responsibility in Europe and the US: insights from businesses self- presentations, Journal of International Business Studies, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 497-514.

Maignan, I., and Ralston, D. A. 2002. Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe and the U.S.: Insights from Businesses Self-presentations. Journal of International Business Studies, 333, 497-514.

Matten, D. and Moon J. 2004. Implicit and explicit CSR:A conceptual framework for understanding CSR in Europe. ICCSR Research Paper Series, No. 29.

McKean, M. 1981. Environmental Protest and Citizen Politics in Japan. University of California Press.

McKean, Margaret A. 1981. Environmental Protest and Citizen Politics in Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press. 

Meadows, D. 1997. Places to Intervene in a System. Whole Earth 91: 78–84. 

Nelson, J. A. 2004. A Buddhist and Feminist Analysis of Ethics and Business. Development, 473:53–60.

Orr, D. 2002. The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention. New York: Oxford University Press.

Palazzo, B. 2002. U.S.-American and German Business Ethics: An Intercultural Comparison Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 41, No. 3, pp. 195-216.

Rogers, M. 1994. Learning about Global Futures: an exploration of learning processes and changes in adults, Thesis. Toronto: University of Toronto.

Schmidheiny, S. 2006. A View of Corporate Citizenship in Latin America. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 21, spring: 21–4.

Schultz, P. W. 2000. Empathizing with nature: The effects of perspective taking on concern for environmental issues. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 391-406.

Shafer, W. E., Lee, G. M. and Fukukawa, K. 2007. Values and the perceived importance of ethics and social responsibility: the U.S. versus China. Journal of Business Ethics, 703, 265-284.

Tanimoto, K. and Suzuki, K. 2005. Corporate Social Responsibility in Japan: Analyzing the Participating Companies in Global Reporting Initiative.

UNESCO. 1997. Educating for a Sustainable Future: A Transdisciplinary Vision for Concerted Action.

Visser, W. and Macintosh, A. 1998. A Short Review of the Historical Critique of Usury Accounting, Business and Financial History, 82:175–89.

Vives, A. 2006. Social and Environmental Responsibility in Small and Medium Enterprises in Latin America.Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 21, spring: 39–50.

Welford R. 2005. Corporate social responsibility in Europe, North America and Asia. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 17, pp. 52. 

Welford, R. 2005. Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe, North America and Asia.Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 17, spring: 33–52

World Commission on Environment and Development. 1987. Our common future. New York: Oxford University Press.  

Hits: 5657
0

Handling project budget management – tricky but possible

A project isn’t static, it’s more a shape shifter. As a project progresses through its weeks, months and years, its budget can begin to overspend. It’s the task of a project management team to stop (or control) that before it happens. Even if your project completes on time, and is satisfactory to the business, a project that overspends will not be seen as a successful one. This is why the budget must be managed carefully by your team.

Some tips for succesful project budget management:

1. Keep tabs on scope change

Once unplanned work begins to add up, man hours that should have been billed can begin to spiral out of control. Instead, cost controllers can manage scope change by creating budget changes. Budget changes can be raised against your budget to cover for expenditure which wasn’t initially anticipated. As an added bonus, any additional funding requested by the project via a budget change must be authorized by a project lead. This will keep scope change under control and correctly sanctioned.

2. Communication with your team

A project is only as good as its team, and a team with poor communication is one doomed for failure. A team that talks is more likely to see success and take ownership of their project. This communication will fuel a sense of belonging, causing them to keep a better eye on their aspect of the project. Informal chats, as well as weekly and monthly progress meetings will help keep your team together and help the project succeed.

3. Forecast the budget

Do not approach forecasting with a ‘do it once and forget’ attitude. Updating and managing an evolving forecast is mandatory for any project. Make it a point to discuss budget management and forecasting at your team meetings. Without control, your project will likely be destined for failure or major overspends. Talking to your team about upcoming spends frequently can stop it from getting out of hand before it starts. In the end, a small and controlled overspend is better than a larger, unexpected one.

4. Future resources planning

It is important to keep track of your resource usage. The people working on a project, such as contractors, may well have their own costs associated with the project. Cost control teams should frequently review the number of staff and contractors working on a project, as the changes in their numbers will feed into future resource requirements. This information will help feed into other potential forecasts and further inform you of any future overspends on your project.

Remember to regularly review with your team, keep tabs on scope creep, forecast your budgets, plan for future resources and manage progress to ensure your project has the best possible chance.

Hits: 1303
0

Project monitoring is a necessary component of all project management plans. Without project monitoring, organizations may fail to understand why projects go wrong, and even successful projects may have insufficient impact.

Within the project monitoring feedback loop, the information and results from the ongoing project should not only be reported back up the chain (to supervisors e.g.) on a regular basis, but also back down to the project participants.  When necessary, information should also go out to the frontline employees as well. It is the role of the project coordinator to monitor project information and use this two-way flow of project monitoring to ensure the implementation of projects as efficiently and effectively as possible.

1. Plan for project monitoring

Project leaders must begin with at least a basic plan for how, when, and what about the project they plan to monitor. The plan should be based on realistic targets - starting from bi-weekly basis reporting results to monthly basis. The project leader should make sure to consider the resources they will need to monitor adequately and report back information about the progress of the project.

2. Report to management

Most important is that there is a regularly scheduled time each week, month, or quarter when results or progress about on-going projects is expected.

Regular monitoring enables the project leader to identify actual or potential problems as early as possible so that they can make timely adjustments to project plans and move forward.

3. Recommending the actions to improve on the project

Project leaders should think in terms of priorities—reference the project plan or the mission statement to keep focus on the ultimate goals of the project. Recommendations could include corrective actions, preventative actions, or changes in the plan or the project execution, and guidance should be as specific as possible.

4. Confirmation that the actions are being followed

The project leader must verify that recommendations are being followed and the project as a whole is staying on track.

Project leaders should consider the use of automated tools and technologies in order to track team members’ performance and response; share documents, feedback, on-going recommendations and suggestions, and forecasts; and communicate among team members about meetings and activities, and updates in the project management plan.

Hits: 1170
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

An elevator pitch is a short and simple speech used to present a product, a service, a project or a person (usually, the speaker him or herself). Its aim is not selling something or somebody, but catching audience´s attention to create them the need to know more about. That is to say, the goal is to achieve a second meeting.

Thus, this tool is not only used by entrepreneurs to get investment for their business project, but also to find partners or employees, and also to inform bloggers or media, or to introduce yourself as the right candidate for a job.

Given that, it is always important to adapt your speech to the audience in terms of language and coherence with their activity and objectives. You have to express a problem or a difficulty, and the solution you have to solve them. And the key is to create a need in your audience.

And you must go to the point. Because everybody is busy. Only by doing that will you get the attention of the audience and even have a chance of getting a second meeting to continue to talk about your speech or about your CV.

In order to achieve your final objective, your elevator pitch should answer three questions: Who are you? What do you do? Where do you want to go, or what are you looking for? You need to know exactly what you want to achieve and to be able to communicate it in a concise, clear and credible way.

There are no magic recipes for the perfect elevator pitch, due to the fact that each project and each person has its own personality and its own way to tell things. But there are some points every speaker mustn´t forget: being confident in what you have to offer and set goals.

Hits: 1280
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized
Before you start to write it is essential to have clear idea what is your topic and aim. Sometimes it gets really hard to think of the things you want to include, and generally what would you like to write about. Unlike the format and the structure of your text, the idea is not something which follows specific patterns and is being standardized. So if you are close to deadlines and you still don’t have idea about what do you want to say you are under stress and pressure. They are ones of the biggest enemies of creativity. So be sure, that you must take your time, go somewhere quiet and try not focus on your task. Think of general things that makes you happy or you have interest in them. Follow different authors which already have explored this fields and may give you some useful tips. Communication is also very important. While discussing your interests with others, you may find a fresh resource of new ideas. Arguing is quite useful, as it opens your thinking in a way, which provokes new ideas and ways to defend them. Walking is another way to provoke your creativity. Different sights and people can make your mind work in ways, you have not expected. You may even decide to take notes about the impressions you have collect and read them later on. Every time something new bumps in your head, put it in a sticky note. Even if you consider it pointless or insufficient, it may still lead to other analogies which will be useful. Don’t exclude options just because you think that they are meaningless. You should have in mind that they as well are a product of your imagination and thinking process. So ones you started provoking your creativity, you will be surprised how many new fields you will explore.
Hits: 1153
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

As soon as you have your idea, and you want to represent it in a paper, there are certain tips which will help to create an easy-readable and understandable text.

  1. Unless you are writing a criminal novel, it is a good idea to present your case and outcomes in the beginning. That won’t make your article less interesting, it is just the opposite. It will make it clear to the reader.
  2. Try to separate the different paragraphs- it is good idea to present your arguments separately. You could even try to put them small titles, which will focus the attention of the reader of the essence of the text.
  3. If a sentence if bigger than a line, why might think of shortening it. Otherwise you may lose the interest of the reader
  4. When choosing a title, do not try to make it provocative, adding hits for information, which is not actually in the text.
Hits: 2085
0

As we have already learned at school, there are different types of texts, which structure depends on their ends. For poetry, for example, it is quite common to use metaphors, rimes and symbolic expressions, this is valid for some extend for literature essays and creative writing. And yet it is quite common to forget sometimes that this rules are not valid for scientific texts. Therefore, I am presenting 5 things, which cannot be used, while writing scientifically. 1. Questions- rhetorical or not, questions ought not to exist in a scientific paper. The reason is that one of the aims of such text is to present something or to say something new. So the author must present their idea, whiteout creating quizzes for the general public. For example the question: “Could electoral system cause difference in the political representation?” can be changed with “Some scholars (and here is a good idea to mention who) argue about the causation between electoral system and political representation.” 2. Opinion- Forget the phrases “I think, in my opinion, I would argue” as long as you are not university professor with long years of precise and recognized authority. Otherwise you are just presenting cold facts and causations and they have nothing to do with your opinion; 3. Any form of slang or jargon – for obvious reasons; 4. Any form of pathos- I mentioned the questions, but you ought to forget the exclamation marks as well. 5. Any evaluation of facts- your job is only to present them. Words such as good, bad, unappropriated, or any other which may present your own position have to be removed from the text; In general every kind of writing has its restrictions and characteristics. It is important to distinguish them and leave the metaphors to the poets, and the dataset- to the researchers.

Hits: 1424
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

For work or for pleasure, writing always makes us think in different directions. It develops our imagination, analytical thinking as well as creativity and possibility to structure our thoughts.

It is often the case that we write on so many topics and so many different occasions, that we often forget what we had in mind when we were writing an article this morning. Even though our mind cannot just memorize everything, and we shouldn’t take under additional consideration all of our writings, making a writing diary is never a bad idea.

It could include abstracts or the full versions of all you wrote. It is good to add everything- don’t be judgmental because you may exaggerate that something is not worth it at the moment, and yet find it quite useful six months from now.

And even if the knowledge that it brings won’t be put in practice, you may always evaluate how your writing style has changed through the years and what can be improved.

Hits: 1152
0

Despite the differences in the style of managing, communication on the work place is always important. In order to keep pleasant and productive atmosphere, I will give you some types which you may find helpful in managing human resources.

First of all, be aware that you simply cannot know everything and predict everything. In this manner frequent group discussions with the employees can bring up some new fresh ideas. This action is positive from two prospective- it motivates the others, as their opinion is being taken into account and helps you in different aspects such as risk management, creativity and innovation.

Secondly, be present during meetings. This doesn’t mean that you should occupy the floor with your speeches, because you never know when a fresh suggestion could be proposed. It will both show respect towards your colleagues and will help you in your everyday activities.

And last but not least- be aware that a fresh idea may always appear through a casual dialog. Spend as much time as you can communicating and discussing in order to search for further development and new opportunities.

Hits: 1067
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

In many of the scientific writing it comes to the part when we study different cases in order to analyses different processes. It looks quite easy to say that my personal budget for this month is to some extend similar to the one of my company for 2012, and yet when writing a scientific paper we cannot just start comparing them as they are.

Following the idea of Van Evra each scientific paper has its own methodology, which helps us in understanding and analyzing. Therefore conceptualization is presented as the first step towards the good scientific research.

And what does it mean? If we look at the example with my budget and this of my company, I can guess that in both cases we are talking about some form of accounting. In order to do so, we have to see what accounting is and what its main features are.

Only then we can start comparing both of the examples with the term and we can see how they are fitting into it.

This pattern is valid for almost all fields of social sciences and humanity studies and can be applied both for your business plan or scientific research. 

Hits: 1198
0

Posted by on in Creative Writing

Good preparation is essential for a successful job interview. Preparing for a job interview can take you a long way… from making a good first impression to ultimately getting the job!

A few crucial tips to keep in mind for your next job interview so as to make the most out it are:

Make you research

Before going on an interview it is important to have understood the employer and the requirements of the job. You should conduct research on the industry, the products and the services the company provides. The more you know about the employer and the job, the better you will understand the questions and you'll be able to give interesting answers during your interview. Information sources include the organization's website and other published materials, search engines, research tools, and your network of contacts as well.

Manage stress

A job interview can be a really stressful experience and it is common for candidates to suffer from anxiety and panic during important interviews. Stress can impair the way you communicate, disturb your capacity to think clearly and creatively or have an off-putting nonverbal communication style towards the recruiter. However, stress in small doses can actually be helpful since many people perform under pressure. If you are not one of these kind of people though, you should devote some time on learning stress relief techniques. By learning to manage stress and quickly reduce it you will feel more at ease, energized, alert and focused even if you are faced with challenging questions during your job interview.

Present yourself

“So tell about yourself” is the most common and probably the oldest question of a job interview. This question is not an invitation to talk about your pet or your childhood friends but instead it is a request to describe what you can offer the company. Author Ron Fry suggest in his influential book “101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions” that you should focus on:

  • Your key accomplishments at previous jobs.
  • The strengths demonstrated by those accomplishments.
  • How these relate to the job for which you're applying.

Remember that you don t have to summarize your resume since the recruiter already has a copy. Instead, you can describe how you became interested in this particular company and position, and show examples of past accomplishments so as to demonstrate why you are the perfect candidate for the job.

Getting the job is not always about the skills. In order to distinguish yourself from the candidate pool you need to be able to communicate and respond as effectively and as interestingly as possible and ultimately… be your best self!

Good luck!! 

Hits: 1248
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

It was a few years ago, I first heard of video interviewing and recruiting. They told me “it’s all about new technologies. Everything goes digital nowadays and makes creating your team effective”. That thought was not that clear to me at that moment. Questions, like “how does this work”, “What tools do they use?”, “what’s the feeling out of it?”.

I quickly searched this on the Internet and discovered the real power of tools, such as Skype. Learning about the chances and benefits offered through a video interview instead of organising real time and face-to-face recruiting processes was extremely interesting. Investigating the reasons why employers are using this type of recruiting by exploiting social networking, mobile technology and online methods could explain me why every human resources department’s procedure could “go digital”.

Web recruiting methods allow for effectiveness, reduction of time needed and cost. However, this applies to both sides, as it significantly eliminates travel costs for out of town candidates and reduces stress and anxiety, as it gives the freedom to the candidate of choosing the personal place where he will take the interview.

Regarding employer’s and entrepreneurs point of view, video interviews seem to minimize several delays that come up as a result of internal difficulties in scheduling hiring process. Moreover, this method helps potential employers to find and get in touch with international labour supply and enrich their network.

Although, nowadays many organizations use similar to video interview techniques, technology is growing much faster than the people’s adaptation to new. It was a few months ago, I came up with an unexpected situation. Following, a test for job skills in an organization I applied for a job position, I was called for taking part in a video interview. However, the surprise for me was when I did not see a interviewer behind the screen. It was just an online tool that gave me a few directions and I had to record myself answering questions shown up in the screen. What did I have to do? A different feeling, further anxiety and stress than expected! This was my first pre-recorded/ asynchronous video interview!

Right after this experience, I started asking people about it, searching on several available sites and career support centers and I realized this was a new process that it has actually so many advantages for both the potential recruiter and the candidate.

Overcoming the first surprise and shock, I realized that apart from the fact that there is no need to travel and the chance of expressing myself more effectively than with telephone interviews alone, an general advantage of all types of video and online interviews, I had some extra benefits. There was no need of leaving my work for the interview, no difficulties of scheduling of finding the best time of meeting my future employers and the stress was totally reduced, as I was not talking to a person, but just to a “machine”.

However, I tried to find out what is the benefit for the recruiter too. Apart from reduced initial expenses and no scheduling conflicts, the HR department could have access to more candidates, it had the chance of evaluating a lot of candidates before face-to –face interviews, as videos are used for short and brief discussions/ presentations that speed-up the process. Moreover, the recruiter had the chance to watch the video many times and present it to a colleague of him for a second opinion.

All these ideas and experiences helped me understand the ongoing and continuous need of exploring and searching for new methods and techniques in every single business process!

Hits: 1211
0

Offering a credible forecast for the near-future trends might be a daunting task. Still, here are some of the trends that are are going to have a big impact on the future of marketing.

Mobile is going to become the centre of marketing. The number one possession people have is their smartphone. Not surprisingly, there are more mobile devices than people on the planet. From cell phones to smartphones, tablets to wearable gadgets, the evolution of mobile devices is one of the main factors influencing the world of marketing. The way people look at content is shifting to small screens and successful brands will create a more personalized experience with consumers.

Transparency will dictate brand-customer relationships. Consumers will expect more information from the brands they use and they will expect brands to do good. They want to know who the brands are and what they stand for. They will ask the question: Is the brand good for me and is it good for society as a whole? Brands will have to be more transparent in a genuine and authentic way.

The need for good content will not slow down. Content, in particular visual content, will rule in the online marketing world, evolving into various forms. In addition, the speed at which a brand can create amazing content will play a significant part in their success.

User-generated content will be the new hit. Most branded content will come from consumers. User generated content will far exceed branded content. Brands will have to accept they aren’t in complete control of their own brand. From online reviews, to social media posts and blogs, there will be a strong need for brands to create a positive impact in their consumers’ minds. Content co-creation between brands and consumers will become a popular trend.

More money will be allocated in online ads. The web is a place, where people spend their time while working and free time as well, giving marketers great opportunities for targeting, segmentation and tracking options.Internet advertising is predicted to rise by 10%. Furthermore, mobile ads are also expected to grow by 48% in 2015. Consequently, online ad spending will increase during the next couple of years. This trend will continue further on.

Hits: 1195
0

You have been shortlisted for a job and invited to a job interview. Interviewers have read your CV and cover letter but at the interview they will want to clarify some points and hear more details. As this is your unique chance of selling yourself, you should prepare and possibly rehearse what you are going to say. So what questions can you expect?

Tell us about yourself.

Sum up your most important skills, experience and characteristics. Try to think of something that sets you apart from other candidates.

Tell us about your last job.

Don’t just list your responsibilities – these should be in your CV and/or cover letter. Add what skills you have developed, what accomplishments you have made, and mention how you have worked in a team. Never complain about your previous employer.

Why should we hire you?

This question wants to discover what you can bring to the company. Therefore, do not focus on what a great career move it would be for you or how badly you want the job. Instead, tell the employer how your qualifications, skills, and experience match the position you are applying for.

We’re looking for someone with good communication/presentation/analytical/organizing skills.

Give specific examples of when, where and how you used such skills, be it during studies, at internship, summer job, employment, volunteering activities, or even hobbies, if relevant. Describe how you have organized particular events, negotiated with business partners, or to whom you have given presentations.

What are your weaknesses?

Avoid saying “I have no weaknesses” – you will look as lacking self-reflection. Don’t say clichés like “I am workaholic”, either. Instead pick something that you are actively working on already. For instance: I am not very good at written communication in English. That’s why I have recently taken course Effective Writers and Communicators, which helps SME employees improve their ability to write and communicate in the business world.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

With this question you should remain general. Show that you have a vision for the future that aligns with the company’s objectives.

Do you have any questions?

Yes, you do. Always prepare at least two questions regarding the position, responsibilities, the company culture, opportunities for learning, etc. Do not ask about salary and benefits at this point, unless the interviewers raise these issues themselves.

Hits: 1250
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, a motive is “something a need or desire that causes a personto act”. “Motivate, in turn, meansto provide with a motive,” and motivation is defined as “the act or process of motivating”.

Among financial, economic and human resources, the last one is more essential and has the capability to strengthena company with a competitive edge compared to others. Employee Performancefundamentally depend on many factors: performance appraisals, employee motivation, employeesatisfaction, compensation, training and development, job security and organizational structure.

Organizational effectiveness is defined as the extent to which an organization, by the use of certain resources,fulfils its objectives without depleting its resources and without placing undue strain on its members and/or society.

One of the factors affecting Employees’ Motivation is satisfaction of the employee which directly influences performance of the employee. Leadership is about getting things done the right way, to do that you need people to follow you, you need to have them trust you and Empowerment provides benefits to organizations and makes sense of belonging to and pride in the workforce of the company.

Especially in Social enterprises recognized and respected personal values ​​and the opportunity to be together with like-minded people is important.

Our Hypothesis are:

1.There is an effect of recognizing employees’ work on their motivation to work

2.There is an effect of empowering employees in tasks on their motivation to work

3.There is a relationship between employees’ motivation and organizational effectiveness

Recognition and Employee Motivation

Rewards and recognition are essential factors in enhancing employee jobsatisfaction and work motivation which is directly associated to organizational achievements.

Empowerment

  • Empowerment is defined as an approach to leadership that empowers subordinate as a main constituent of managerial and organizational effectiveness.
  • Empowering is giving authority and liberating potential of employees.
  • Empowering makes employees feel that they are appreciated and for making it possible continuous and positivefeedback on their performance is essential.

Empowerment and Employee Motivation

Employee empowerment and participation consists of contribution of employees in administration and decisionmaking associated to policies, objectives and strategies of the organization.

  • Increased autonomy enhances work productivity, amplifiesemployees’ wisdom of self-efficacy and their motivation to do and complete certain tasks.
  • Empowerment creates motivation and energy in the workforce

Employee Motivation and Organizational Effectiveness

  • Employee satisfaction and motivation towards work refers to prospects of the employee in the organizationand his approach providing his service.
  • Organizational effectiveness refers to locating targetsand attaining them proficiently in spirited and energetic surroundings.
  • An internally happy and motivated worker or employee is actually a productive employee in an profit.

Conclusion

Recognition and empowerment play an essential part in enhancing employee motivation towards organizationaltasks. By appreciating the employees for their work and giving them participation in decision making,creates work satisfiaction with their job, organization and organizational environment, And hence their enthusiasm andmotivation towards accomplishment of differnet tasks increases.

Personal Beliefs, Values, Basic Assumptions and Attitudes

Personal and professional beliefs - Connection and impact.

  • Beliefs are about how we think things really are, what we think is really true and what therefore expect as likely consequences that will follow from our behavior.

Values

Define and Prioritize your personal values and find out what is your employees values.

  • Values are about how we have learnt to think things ought to be or people ought to behave, especially in terms of qualities such as honesty, integrity and openness.

Basic Assumptions

What is the organisation team members basic assumptions?

Basic assumptions are usually rooted in our infancy, early family life and social context. Basic assumptions are our long-learnt, automatic responses and established opinions. We are, ourselves, almost always unaware of the nature of our own basic assumptions, but they are enacted through our behavior - what we say and do.

Attitudes

Why and how?

The importance of employees attitudes.

  • Attitudes are the established ways of responding to people and situations that we have learned, based on the beliefs, values and assumptions we hold. Attitude become manifest through our behavior.

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn”

Hits: 1569
0

There are many articles on how to prepare a job interview. Even you can get this kind of information from your friends or from your job colleagues. But do not be tempted to use all of them. Just keep it simple and focus on the essential.

These are basic tips you already know, but do you know the five questions you should always have in mind before a job interview? Let´s discover them.

  • Before the interview, gather as much information as possible on the company and on the job post.
  • Anticipate potential questions and study your own answers.
  • Have a clear idea about your career goals.
  • Be punctual.
  • And above all, ask yourself these five questions:
    1. Which are the personal characteristics, skills, experience, knowledge I needed to get this job.
    2. Among my previous answers, which ones I have and which don´t?
    3. Which aspects I can improve? Among those I don´t have, how can I get them?
    4. Which are my career goals? Which is the job I would like to work in now? And which one in the medium and long term?
    5. What can I contribute to the company?
Hits: 1230
0

Posted by on in Project Management

Successful start-ups are ensured by business plan.

Without it you can not expect to find potential partners or get financial support.

The business plan clearly shows the entrepreneur's ability to sell the project before his goods appear on the market.

A business plan is an important and beneficial not only to future partners, financiers, but for the entrepreneur for the following reasons:

Business Plan makes to rethink everything, allows to better evaluate the potential problems.

Plan preparation makes to rewrite it several times, because some things can be changed and improved.

Support and assistance to the company developer typically does not depend on one person, so all the stakeholders will be introduced to the project.

Needless to rely solely on verbal information, confirmed not only experience, but also specific studies proving the following:

  • This is what the person wants to say, equivalent to 100%.
  • In fact, he says 80%.
  • While listening person hears 70%.
  • The listener perceives 50%.
  • The listener remembers 20%.
  • The listener to another person conveys 10% of what he was told.

The ultimate goal of the business plan - to convince partners that the project is well thought out, selected activities has the market, the only what is left just to wonder why this highly interesting market is still not on.

What should be the business plan?

  • It has to be clear.
  • Comprehensive, but not too long.

First, the plan must be user-friendly and clear to those who will use it.

Second, because the plan will be read by anyone, everyone will expect to find the information that interests them, so everything has to be made as comprehensive as possible.

Business Plan with attachments should not exceed 40 pages.

Third, the business plan should be presented in such a way that it attracts the reader, bends him to the developer’s side and lit him.

BUSINESS PLAN STAGES

Set the final business plan target, created a business profile, specifically what the plan is for: partner or investor. To foresee basic business plan sections and the issues to be dealt with.

To predict which issues will be discussed in general, and which - in detail.

Write a business plan.

Check the business plan and submit for evaluation by persons with experience in business planning; after assessment of their comments and suggestions, plan is revised, improved and presented to prospective partners or investors.

BUSINESS PLAN STRUCTURE

  • Plan development objectives.
  • Whom it is addressed.
  • Company size.
  • Business Plan Summary.
  • Business Information.
  • Industries analysis.
  • Marketing

BUSINESS PLAN SUMMARY

Concisely and specifically identify the essence of the whole plan, highlighting the company's future products or services will be different from those already on the market, what benefits will you put your money investor or prospective business partner. All this should be so arranged that the business plan for a person who have an interest to promote read the entire plan.

BUSINESS PROFILE

What are the characteristics of the product (service) stand out in the market, what needs does it meet and why consumers will want to buy just the company's products?

What are patents, copyrights or trademarks using the developed markets of the products?

What are the disadvantages of the product? Whether the product will be improved in the future? In what ways?

What kind of product design, the packaging features the expected service?

Product manufacturing profitability. It is advisable to provide the product drawing, photographs, to be able to better visualize the future product.

BUSINESS ANALYSIS BRANCH

An entrepreneur should note that the goods can only be sold on the market if:

  • Customers are aware of its affective advertising.
  • Required by the clients.
  • Are offered for sale at affordable price.
  • Which differ from other goods in the market in characteristics or in the way of presentation.

Before starting a business, it is important to gather as much detail about the material and potential competitors, including:

  • What types of products they produce?
  • What kind of feedback received about the quality of the products, their prices, terms of sale?
  • What is' weak 'and' strong 'competitors' activities.
  • How it is expected to beat competitors.

If after the analysis of competitor information, it turns out that you can not resist, it should be better to take a different action. The key is to take a profitable business, gain acceptance.

Describe the business which you intend to take, give the reasons which led to just this business.

Business Information.

Business reasons for the choice.

Try to summarize and present information:

  • Of the market (which is the consumer of the estimated size of the market and how many products can be sold, why these products the consumer will buy?).
  • About the business environment (political-legal, economic, social, cultural) and provided opportunities for market development.
  • About the competition (which is the most important competitors, who characterized their activities as the market shares they are interested in and why?).

In particular, it is important to know the strengths and weaknesses of competitors operating locations.

Manufacturing - the preparation of a business plan intends to engage in the production company must:

  • Describe the key manufacturing processes.
  • Provide the necessary equipment and facilities, indicating where all this will be available and at what price.
  • Consideration, where, under what conditions will be derived raw materials for complete details.
  • Predict whether we can place any restrictions on the receipt of production resources.
  • Indicate whether the co-operation of the production.
  • Based on the expected volume of production now and in the near future.
  • Describe how the guaranteed high output quality.
  • To provide for the pooling of staff, which has to be qualified, what will their salaries.
  • Specify how compliance with environmental regulations.
  • Predict production costs.
Hits: 1337
0

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service, which, at the moment, constitutes the largest

professional networking social platform. Many of us have a personal account on LinkedIn to connect with

colleagues, classmates, business contacts and most importantly with people who we may not have met yet,

but would like to interact with. 

For anyone looking to expand his/her influence and network, actively using the LinkedIn social media tool for

business can help him avidly and effectively raise the visibility of his business - especially for entrepreneurs

and startups- across the local community, reach new contacts and potential customers.

Here you can find some useful tips to make the most from your LinkedIn profile:

Take time to fully complete your profile

According to LinkedIn statistics “Users with complete Profiles are 40 times more likely to receive

opportunities through LinkedIn”. Thus, it is important to devote some time to fully complete your profile by

using a professional photo, writing an informative headline about yourself or your business and mentioning

your industry and location. Only a 100% completed profile will be visible in the search engine and it is

advisable to provide to your network a summary about your own skills, expertise, interests, ambitions,

accomplishments, etc. The more detailed your profile, the more likely people are to respond to your connect

request.

Connect with your local community and join groups related to your business and personal interests

As an individual, entrepreneur or a small business, networking is critical to growth and business

development. Connecting with the local community will make your profile recognizable to local businesses

and help you to keep up with local events, new trends, key players within your industry and the rest of

competition. Small business is all about networking, building relationships and taking action. Moreover,

joining interest groups will help you find experts, insiders, customers and influencers on your business field.

It is an easy way to find, follow and connect with leaders that matter to you and your business.

Be active, ask questions and give feedback

Since LinkedIn is a tool, you need to use it in order to work! Being active can translate into many ways, like

asking or answering questions to group members, sharing your opinion and knowledge, advice a fellow

connection, or even “like” a status and “congratulate” an achievement on your home page. Your aim on your

online presence is to boost your profile without selling yourself and meanwhile engage in conversations,

learn, create ideas and opportunities. 

Overall, LinkedIn can help raise your business visibility, but it should be approached as a platform for ideas,

industry news and of course professional announcements with ultimate purpose to market and network

yourself and your entrepreneurial activities.

Hits: 1279
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Report writing is a necessary and integral part of the work, as

it serves multiple needs of any project, company or

organization. Many people find report writing to be a tedious

and bureaucratic task, but, if done correctly, it can be really

interesting, challenging and contribute to project’s success.

Tips to report effectively:

Determine its purpose and its audience. What should it accomplish?

Understanding the purpose of the report is crucial to execute it. Read the request for a report, relate

information and think about the purpose of the report - what's it about, what's required and why is it

needed? Moreover, think about your audience: who and when is going to read it?

Follow a methodology: Research, Write, Summarize

Before start writing make sure you have collected all the information needed to create your first draft.

The relevant to the report information might be other documents or reports, background readings,

statistics and available secondary data, which you can use by always keeping in mind references and

copyright issues. However, research is not only limited in secondary sources, it expands itself by

allowing the researcher to see the world through his own eyes by conducting primary research. You can

collect this information by talking to colleagues, observing people or activities and gathering new

information to complete your findings. Always remember to consider your audience, so as the

information you will find is interesting, relevant and appropriate and can be used to create a coherent

and straightforward text.

Following the presentation of the relevant information, analyze your findings, draw conclusions and

make recommendations! Useful in interpreting your findings is to ask yourself: What have I found? How

these findings can be used by the reader? What's significant or important about my findings? What do

my findings suggest for the project’s or company’s future? Is the recommendation I am making

practical? Can it be applied? Do I provide all the information needed to the reader, in order to apply my

recommendation? What actions should the reader of the report carry out?

Another important factor to consider is the length and the flow of your text. Length matters, so try to

cover your point, provide all necessary information and findings and then quit, so as not to “exhaust or

confuse” the reader. Additionally, let your text flow logically, leading the reader from start to end.

Watch the visual appearance of your report

The visual appearance of your report can destroy or enhance your work. Use a clear structure, a

common and easy to read font and a coherent color pallet. If you have quantitative data try to visualize

them in tables and charts to give a quick glance of the data at the reader and highlight the main

findings. Be careful not to go overboard with pictures, graphs and colors by using your critical scope and

continuously revising your work.

Report writing skills are crucial for young professionals and are highly appreciated by employers. It is a

skill that can be developed and ultimately make a substantial difference to multiple processes, like

project management, quality control, monitoring and evaluation.

Hits: 1299
0

Abstract:

With this paper we intend to present a case-study on language management in

internationalized companies, showing and discussing some language management

strategies that might improve and optimize interlingual communication and talent

management on those companies. Moreover, we will try to argue that a proper

language management at internationalized companies can not only contribute to the

decrease of costs and to boost quality and sales, but also to a planned language offer

by the national education systems.

Keywords: language management, translation mediated communication, knowledge

management, economics of language

Biography

Alexandra Albuquerque has been teaching at the School of Accounting and

Administration of the Polytechnic Institute of Porto for 14 years. She is a language and

translation lecturer and has been the head of the International Office since 2004. She

graduated in Language and Literature in 1999 and holds a master’s degree in German

Studies. She is carrying out her PhD research in Linguistics at Universidade Nova de

Lisboa.

1. Introduction

Globalization and globality has allowed transnational business across the globe and

challenged interlingual communication to a great deal. In fact, even with the

widespread using of International English as corporate and global language,

international business cannot survive without being aware of their market’s languages

and cultures. Also inside a multinational company (MNC) a corporate language does

not, in any way, flatten completely language diversity and communication barriers. In

fact, in the context of MNCs, management is, for many different reasons, more

complex and demanding than that of a national company, mainly because of diversity

factors inherent to internationalization, namely geographical and cultural spaces, i.e.,

varied mindsets.

Regardless of the internationalization model followed by the MNC, communication

between different business units is essential to achieve unity in diversity and business

sustainability. For the business flow and prosperity, inter-subsidiary, intra-company and

company-client (customers, suppliers, governments, municipalities, etc...)

communication must work in various directions and levels of the organization. If not

well managed, this diversity can be a barrier to global coordination (Feely et al., 2002:

4).

However, language management and more specifically, translation mediated

communication are often seen as costs to avoid as much as possible and literature

provides various examples of lack of awareness of business managers of the impact

that language can have not only in communication effectiveness but especially in

knowledge transfer and knowledge management.

1. The research setting

Although language is definitely a fundamental element in international communication,

namely in multinational companies (MNC) which per se are “multilingual organizations”

(Bjorkman et al. 2004), and there are several research studies that stress its relevance

in international business (Marschan, Welch, and Welch, 1997; Marschan-Piekkari,

Welch, and Welch, 1999; Feely, 2003; Domingues, 2009; Harzing and Pudelko, 2013;

Ozolins, 2003; Janssens, Lambert, and Steyaert, 2004), both in (i) corporate

communication and (ii) in communication between company and other stakeholders in

foreign markets (clients, suppliers, etc), it is also true that:

a) Language management and the role of translation and of the translator in

companies operating in foreign environments has been few or nearly not at all

explored, neither by researchers in international business (IB), nor in translation

studies, nor by linguists (Ozolins, 2003);

b) Relevant studies in this domain are relatively recent (from the last 20 years) and

coming essentially from IB fields, rarely being inter-or trans-disciplinary;

c) Language management and the economy of languages  in international

communication are research topics with increasing interest in the last years

(Thomas, 2008).

d) Language management in IB seems to host some paradoxes that we consider

worth exploring:

Paradox 1: on the one hand, language is “almost the essence of international business”

(Welch and Welch, 2005:11) and, on the other hand, it is often a “forgotten factor”

(Marschan et al., 1997), being frequently overseen in academic research (Marschan,

Welch, and Welch, 1997; Ozolins, 2003).

In fact, we undertook a search in B-On (Online Knowledge Library) in Fall 2013 with the

keywords “language management”, “language planning” “language strategy” and also

“international communication management” and found very few books or articles on

these issues. However, as we mentioned before, this has been an increasing research

field, also in the framework of advanced training (masters and PhDs)1, both in IB,

Cultural Studies or Language Studies as we could conclude from searching in EBSCO

and ISI Web of Knowledge. This increasing interest has been measured in 2002

(Feely, 2002), and also incremented by another bibliometric study in 2009 (Domingues,

2009: 2), as we can see in the chart below:

Fig.1 – Bibliometric study of Domingues, 2009.

Also Domingues states that language has seldom be an independent object of study in

IB, being analysed in most studies mostly as a culture element, as also Thomas (2008)

and Marschan-Piekkari et al. (1999) have said. On the other hand, as we referred to

before, corporate language management has essentially been object of research by

researchers in the management field, especially Human Resources (HR), and by few

linguists focusing on language planning (Hagen, 1988; Phillipson, 2001).Most studies

focus on the language needs in MNC or on the dynamics resulting from language

policies in internal and external MNC communication networks in which language can

be a exclusion tool (barrier), an integration tool (facilitator) or a power tool (Marschan et

al., 1997; Marschan-Piekkari et al., 1999; D.  Welch & Welch, 2008; D. Welch, Welch,

Piekkari, & Denice Welch, Lawrence Welch, 2005). Therefore, in literature, although

sometimes overseen and underestimated in its influence and impact in international

communication, language has always been somehow taken as a pervasive agent.

However, in literature on IB, even more absent and overseen than “language” is

translation and its role and impact in MNC management, except for few works, as for

instance: (i) references in some articles on language management: (eg.Marschan et

al., 1997; Feely, 2002), (ii) an interdisciplinary paper from Janssens et al. (2004), that

designs language strategy models according to translation models and (iii) a case-

study on translation practices in a Nordic Bank (Peltonen, 2009).

Being aware that very often language skilled employees are “used” as language

mediators (Marschan et al., 1997; Marschan-Piekkari et al., 1999; D. Welch & Welch,

2008; D. Welch, Welch, Piekkari, & Denice Welch, Lawrence Welch, 2005), translation

mediated communication in companies operating in foreign markets may thus become

an extra function more or less regular of the activity of employees who master foreign

languages. However, this function and the impact of this type of translation are also not

in any way, thoroughly studied. Also, in Translation Studies, the concept of business

translation is not widely explored either, what could mean some gap among translation

market, academia and corporations (business centers).

This paper intends therefore to contribute to the research on language management in

IB and bring some insights to the sub-field2 of business translation. To this purpose,

we will present results of 2 studies carried out in several companies operating in

foreign markets (not only MNC), and discuss to what extent (1) assuming that language

is a self-sufficient communication tool can jeopardize costs and knowledge transfer (3)

investment in translation and terminology knowledge and tools can improve human

capital and business translation..

2. Methodology

As part of our ongoing PhD project on the market of specialized translation and

localization, we were invited by the consortium Business Intelligence Unit (BIU), from

AICEP Portugal Global, to develop studies in the 15th and 16th editions of the

International Internship program Inov Contacto3. The first study focused on language

management in international business communication (LMBC) and the second focused

on translation practices in companies operating in international environments (TPCIE).

Both studies were carried out by graduated Portuguese trainees, during their six-month

placement in a host company abroad, who collected data from the host company by

survey and, in some cases, by interview and wrote reports describing the placement

environment, the language and translation management styles and the way the study

had been carried out.

Therefore, we will discuss results from a quantitative research and a qualitative

analysis (reports) in an attempt to describe language management practices in different

organizations operating in foreign markets and propose some optimized practices.

2.1 Case Study 1 – LMBC:

83 trainees were involved in the study and collected data from the hosting companies

in an Excel survey. The study took place between December 2010 and September

2011, covering a total of 56 organizations, operating in 20 countries, which were

grouped and classified into seven types: (1) SMEs, (2) Multinational Companies

(Headquarters), (3)Multinational Companies (subsidiaries), (4) Portuguese companies

operating in Portuguese-speaking markets, (5) Portuguese companies operating in non

Portuguese-speaking markets, (6) mediators and (7) diplomatic organizations.

For the purpose of this paper we will only present the results concerning the first 5

types.

The objective of the study, as far as these company types are concerned, was to

describe and analyze language management practices from companies operating in

foreign markets.

Under the framework of these 5 types of companies, 46 companies in 20 countries

were surveyed.

2.1.1 Overview of Results:

The analysis of all the surveys and reports of the trainees involved in the study led us

to the following main results:

i. Language management from Portuguese companies in international markets

and from international companies in Portuguese-speaking markets is very alike

and confirms most of the common appointed policies in previously referred

studies.

ii. English is considered a lingua franca in international communication and is the

common corporate language in multinational teams.

iii. Language skills are considered very important to the internationalization

process and therefore, beyond English, speaking other languages is an added-

value, especially languages from the target markets.

iv. Rather than hiring professional Language Service Providers, companies

operating in foreign markets prefer selective recruitment (recruiting employees

with language and intercultural skills) or delegate inter-linguistic communication

and translation to mediators (normally employees with language skills, even if

new or temporary staff) in order to cut costs and increase speed of the

communication flow.

v. Professional language providers are almost only contracted when translation

cannot be performed internally, either because there is no employee speaking

the language, it is too demanding or translation is legally mandatory.

vi. More than a product, a service or a tool, language seems to be taken by

company managers as a natural asset of human capital as far as international

communication is concerned.

vii. In most of the companies, translation of several corporate documents4 is

regularly made by employees with language but no translation skills, hired for

specialized jobs (engineering, accounting, marketing, management and so on).

Around 90% of the 83 trainees have been asked to do translation tasks, mostly

to their mother tongue, although none had translation training. This finding led

us to conclude that companies operating in foreign markets silently develop a

specific kind of business translation, performed by language skilled experts or

employees with no translation training or translation tools. We have named this

type of translation ad hoc translation.

These results raise several issues, some of them already discussed in previous studies

(Marschan-Piekkari, Welch, and Welch, 1999; D. E. Welch and Welch, 2008; Björkman

and Marschan-Piekkari, 2002), namely (i) the role of language in knowledge transfer

and (ii) translation skills of employees with language knowledge. The first issue we

would like to address is another paradox:

Paradox 2: being language so pervasive and important in corporate knowledge

transfer, for some being even a “reconfiguration agent” (D. E. Welch and Welch, 2008)

it is also a very powerful tool. However, especially in companies Type 1 and Type 5 the

trainee was sometimes the only translation resource, being the only one skilled in the

target language (his mother language, most of the times). Therefore, s/he was used to

transfer corporate knowledge s/he had recently got to know and that, for this reason,

s/he was not yet very familiar with, with few or no revising control.

Besides this, after reading the trainees’ reports, other questions related to translation

mediated communication intra and inter companies and to knowledge transfer arise,

some of them also pointed out by Peltonen (Peltonen, 2009). For instance, ad hoc

translation practices, used for the main reason of increasing communication speed and

cut costs can suffer some drawbacks considering the lack of (i) translation skills of the

employee, (ii) lack of terminology (knowledge), and (iii) lack of translation and content

management tools. All these gaps can cost precious time to the company, since the

employee has no personal or corporate resources to develop the translation task

efficiently. Moreover, in his/her quest for solutions (linguistic, terminological or other)

s/he will probably ask for help to other employees (more experienced or that have

already done some translation work themselves or that are experts in the field) which

should also count as a translation cost. Moreover, ad hoc translation especially

performed by temporary staff but also by employees relying exclusively on their

language skills (even if they are native speakers) gives no guarantee of quality, if not

following the basic language transfer procedures. Also, translation can also be a

repetitive task, costing unnecessary time, when the right content, terminology and

translation tools could improve, optimize and speed up ad hoc translation.

Finally, another question that needs further research is the impact of ad hoc translation

in employees (hired to perform other tasks) and in the target public. How do they react

to this extra task?

Trying to find answers to these questions, we designed another study and carried out a

pilot project, from May 2012 to October 2012, again under the framework of the 16th

edition of Inov Contacto.

2.2 Case Study 2 – TPCIE

Taking into consideration the result from Study 1, with this pilot project we aimed at

getting more information on ad hoc translation practices in companies operating in

international environments, namely concerning methods, technological resources,

terminological resources and overall results.

This research was carried out by 22 trainees, in 19 companies in 12 countries. Eleven

of those companies have been already surveyed in study 1, and 5 of them were the

same companies but now operating in a different market. The typology of the

companies was, for this reason the same of Study 1. The results below are therefore

referring to the same 5 typologies of companies: (1) SMEs, (2) Multinational

Companies (Headquarters), (3) Multinational Companies (subsidiaries), (4) Portuguese

companies operating in Portuguese-speaking markets, (5) Portuguese companies not

operating in Portuguese-speaking markets.

Being the trainees new staff and not familiar to translation studies, the study was

divided into four parts:

Part I

i. acquaintance with language and translation mediated communication practices

in the host companies;

ii. survey to the employees who did ad hoc translation in the host company

(including the trainees, if that was also the case) on methods, technological

resources, terminological resources and overall results;

Part II

Several terminological and translation resources were presented to trainees for self-

study and self-test.

Part III

After having explored the suggested resources and the translation tools trainees should

promote them amongst the employees who were also translators.

Part IV

A new survey, on the result of using the translation tools was carried out.

A brief report describing the project implementation was also delivered.

2.2.2 Overview of results

Results of this small research project were not at all surprising. Through the first survey

(Part I), with answers from both the trainees and also from employees who regularly

act as translators in the company, we concluded that 89% of the companies carry out

ad hoc translation, and in 92% of the cases during working hours.

As far as translation tools and other translation resources are concerned, 89% use the

internet, 56% dictionaries and experts’ help and only 3% use computer assisted

translation.

Referring to the impact of the translation as an extra task, 44% does not feel bothered

by doing translation and 36% is even very pleased to do translation.

When asked about the main translation problems encountered, 47% mentioned the

lack of knowledge in terminology and 42% the need for better language knowledge. To

solve terminology doubts, 78% ask an expert in the same company, 38% ask someone

outside the company, whether 67% look it up in the World Wide Web.

In order to improve their translation results, the resources considered most important

were “better terminological knowledge” (69%) and “good translation tools” (56%).

In the second survey (Part IV), the same ad hoc translators were asked about the

impact of using terminological tools and computer assisted translation (CAT) tools.

63% stated that the translation work improved “a lot”, especially as far as terminology

(47%) and quality (41%) are concerned. However, after reading the reports, we could

see that most trainees could not promote the use of the suggested tools in a suitable

way, either by lack of time on their side or on the employees’ side. Moreover, there

seems to be a conceptual confusion between what is machine translation and CAT,

since respondents didn’t seem to understand that using CAT tools means that

translation depends on human performance, contrarily to machine translation,

completely performed by the computer.

Moreover, they all seemed to expect “magic” tools: that could fit their specific needs of

translation and terminology in a user-friendly and easy way. This is actually what

approximately all the trainees refer to: the need to find customized and user-friendly

tools, revealing that the concept of CAT was not clearly assimilated by the training

materials made available to them in Part II.

We could also conclude that most companies have over time developed some

terminology management, by elaborating glossaries and wordlists (in Excel or Word

format) but regularly use these resources in paper support and there was showed no

interest in optimizing this knowledge by managing the content in a more electronic way.

Also, these are not documents widely spread in the company, i.e., it is knowledge of

one or two departments in the company only. Moreover, in two of the cases, where the

employees have been translating for the company for some time, the advantages of

using CAT tools (like translation memories or terminological databases) were not

recognized, since they stated to have developed their own translation methods, seeing

no reason to change them.

Although training and promotion of the tools was not processed in the best way, since it

was done at distance and by the trainees (who were also trained at distance), we

believe that if the training had been done in a training workshop, concepts, tools and

benefits could have been better assimilated.

Nevertheless, surveys confirmed several of the research questions brought up by case-

study 1: translation tasks are carried out during working hours and sometimes other

Human Resources of the company are contacted to solve problems, increasing the

time spent in these ad hoc tasks. Moreover, language skilled employees and trainees

(even if temporary) are asked to translate several types of documents, even if they

have insufficient knowledge (terminology) and translation tasks are mostly done using

machine translation tools (90% referred to Google Translator) and manually. Therefore,

along with more terminology knowledge, translation tools are considered important to

improve translation tasks.

3. Some Conclusions

Although this research was conducted in a very small scale, in companies not chosen

by us, and as a secondary task of a Training Plan of young graduates of several

knowledge fields (and not languages), we believe that the data collected confirms, in

many ways, results from former studies already referred to, and gives us new insights

on language management practices in companies operating in foreign environments,

that can contribute to research on the role of language in international communication

and  knowledge transfer.

If we go back to paradoxes:

Paradox 1: There is no IB without language, but language is also often “a forgotten

factor” in IB.

Paradox 2: language is used to transfer knowledge, but often translators have

language skills but no sufficient knowledge.

We can say that very often and for too long already, language has been taken by

international management as a self-sufficient communication tool, able to convey

meaning in different communication situations, regardless of the cultural background of

the senders/receivers, complexity level of the message, specialization level and other

variables. Moreover, in an attempt to cut costs and delays, many companies operating

in foreign markets, have used their employees to translate several types of documents,

without proper training or tools,  in a practice that we have named ad hoc translation.

However, both studies presented showed that using language skilled employees does

not mean that all intra and inter-linguistic communication situations in international

contexts are covered. As we could see in the results of study 2, the main translation

problems reported were linked to terminology, i.e., knowledge of the specific field dealt

with in the communication situation. Therefore, in order to solve translation problems,

time from regular working hours was used by the ad hoc translator and sometimes

there was even the need to take time from other employees’ working hours to get the

right knowledge. Nevertheless, all this time investment does not guarantee

accurateness and quality.

Moreover, being ad hoc translation done without the support of content management

tools, in companies where longer or more complex documents are regularly translated,

working hours are also used to repeat translations and procedures that could be

avoided by the use of CAT tools. For these reasons, the company may be cutting direct

translation costs but is spending time of specialized employees in tasks that could be

optimized and speeded by the use of technology, which can be seen as an unseen

expense.

We believe that translation is unavoidable in today’s global world, where English is not

enough although being an international business language. We also believe that

considering the information flow and volume intra and inter-companies in international

environments it is impossible to outsource the translation of everyday use documents.

Therefore, translation skills should be part of the human capital of a company, together

with basic CAT tools and content management systems. Moreover, if corporate

knowledge (terminology) was managed in a common database, and made inter-

operational with writing and communication tools, corporate and business

communication could be more accurate, consistent and cost-effective.

Not to forget is also that strategic investment in languages, translation and terminology

management and tools can have a positive effect as far as national language policy is

concerned. In fact, regular and coherent need of investment in certain languages in

international business sites on account of economic trends will raise the need of

speakers of those languages and this need can certainly influence the promotion of

those languages at the national education system. This has happened already as far

as English and Spanish is concerned and is now happening with languages like

Portuguese and Chinese, for instance.

This promotion, stimulated by economic strengths will increase proficiency of potential

employees of multinational companies and, therefore, will in the future bring return to

the initial investment.

4. Present and Future Work

Based on the results and research paths these studies have provided, and they being

part of a broader research, we are now conducting another case study, similar to case

study 2, but in loco, in order to develop a training methodology for ad hoc translators in

order to propose an optimized practice of language management and translation-

mediated communication in multinational companies.

References:

Bookman, I. and Burner-Rasmussen, W. and Li, L. 2004. Managing Knowledge

Transfer in MNCs: The Impact of Headquarters Control Mechanisms. Journal of

International Business Studies 35 (5): 443–455.

Björkman, A, and R Marschan-Piekkari. 2002. Hiding Behind the Language: Language

Fluency of Subsidiary Staff and Headquarter Control in Multinational Corporations. In

European International Business Academy Conference, Athens: Greece.

Domingues, Madalena. 2009. Language Strategies by MNCs : an Empirical

Assessment. Universidade do Porto.

http://www.fep.up.pt/cursos/mestrados/megi/Tese_Madalena Domingues_final.pdf.

Feely, Alan J. 2002. Forgotten and Neglected – Language : The Orphan of

International Business Research. In 62nd Annual Meeting of the Academy of

Management, 1–32. http://www.harzing.com/download/orphan.pdf.

Feely, Alan J. 2003. LANGUAGE MANAGEMENT IN MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES.

Cross Cultural Management An International Journal 10 (2): 37–52.

Hagen, S. 1988. Languages in Business: An Analysis of Current Needs. Newcastle

Polytechnic.

Harzing, Anne-wil, and Markus Pudelko. 2013. Language Competencies , Policies and

Practices in Multinational Corporations : A Comprehensive Review and Comparison of

Anglophone , MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS : Journal of World Business 3.

http://www.harzing.com/papers.htm#langclusters.

Isager, Gitte. 2009. English as a Corporate Lingua Franca: An Exploratory Study of the

Strengths and Weaknesses of Using English as a Corporate Language. Master Thesis.

Aarhus University. Denmark.

Janssens, Maddy, José Lambert, and Chris Steyaert. 2004.“Developing Language

Strategies for International Companies: The Contribution of Translation Studies.

Journal of World Business 39 (4) (November): 414–430.

doi:10.1016/j.jwb.2004.08.006.

http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1090951604000355.

Marschan, Rebecca, Denice Welch, and Lawrence Welch. 1997. Language : The

Forgotten Factor in Multinational Management. European Management Journal 15 (5):

591–598.

Marschan-Piekkari, Rebecca, Denice Welch, and Lawrence Welch. 1999. In the

Shadow : the Impact of Language on Structure , Power and Communication in the

Multinational. International Business Review 8: 421–440.

Ozolins, Uldis. 2003. Current Issues in Language Planning Language and Economics :

Mutual Incompatibilities , or a Necessary Partnership ? Current Issues in Language

Planning (November).

Peltonen, Jukka-pekka. 2009. Translation Activities in MNEs - Case Nordea. Social

Networks. Helsinki School of Economics.

http://hsepubl.lib.hse.fi/FI/ethesis/pdf/12155/hse_ethesis_12155.pdf.

Phillipson, R. 2001. Global English and Local Language Policies: What Denmark

Needs. Language Problems & Language Planning 25 (1): 1–24.

Salomão, Ricardo. 2006. LÍNGUAS E CULTURAS. Innovation. Universidade Aberta.

Sorensen, Esben Slot. 2005. Our Corporate Language Is English. Master Thesis.

Aarhus University. Denmark.

http://issuu.com/esbenslotsorensen/docs/master_s_thesis_-

_our_corporate_language_is_englis/1

Thomas, Chris Allen. 2008. Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice: Language

Policy in Multilingual Organisations. Language Awareness 17 (4) (December 1): 307.

doi:10.2167/la466.0. http://www.multilingual-matters.net/la/017/la0170307.htm.

Voermans, W. (2011). Spread the word : Language matters - The Impact of Language

Diversity on Intra-Firm Knowledge Flows and the Moderationg Roles of language

Capabilities and Expatriate Deployment. Language. Tilburg University.

http://arno.uvt.nl/show.cgi?fid=114505

Welch, D, L Welch, R Piekkari, and Rebecca Piekkari Denice Welch, Lawrence Welch.

2005. Speaking in Tongues The Importance of Language in International Management

Processes. International Studies of Management and Organization 35 (1): 10–27.

Welch, Denice E, and Lawrence S Welch. 2008. The Importance of Language in

International Knowledge Transfer. Management International Review 48 (3): 339–360.

1 Peltonen, 2009; Sørensen, 2005; Isager, 2009; Salomão, 2006; Domingues, 2009; Voermans,

2011.

2 Sub-field of specialized translation, on the one hand, and of international language

management in companies operating  in foreign markets, on the other.

3 “INOV Contacto is a programme that promotes internships abroad of Portuguese talented

graduates with a view to fostering the internationalisation of the economy and links between

local firms and multinational companies.”. In: A review of local economic and employment

development policy approaches in OECD countries –© OECD 2008.

4 Document typology can go from simple emails to presentations, flyers, contracts and other

official documents.

Hits: 1361
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Abstract

This paper is about valuing people at work and students as they are future employees. “The

strongest driver of all (drivers) for engagement is a sense of feeling valued and involved”

(Robinson, et al 2004). Instinctively it is clear that employees want to ‘feel valued’ at work or

have a ‘sense of value’ and they report that this makes them feel engaged.   However, it is

not necessarily straightforward as to what factors they are thinking about when they decide

they are 'valued' or 'not valued'. According to a survey by the American Psychological

Association (APA), feeling valued is a key indicator of job performance.  Employees who feel

valued are more likely to be engaged in their work and feel satisfied and motivated and be

less stressed. Feeling valued is therefore a construct which is of interest concerning

employees and how they relate to their work, their colleagues and their organisations and

how their skills and careers develop.  How do they deduce or learn that they are valued? 

What do they identify as factors which make them feel valued?  How do these factors

moderate their feeling of being valued over time?  What part does emotion play in

determining which factors are important?  We want all employees to feel valued throughout

their careers and students to feel valued while studying and transferring into employment. 

This research is the first part of a bigger study looking at ‘how’ different groups of people in

different contexts ‘feel valued’.  It is a theoretical grounding on this important area and

reports on some early results.

Key words: being valued, engagement, grounded theory

Dr Julia Claxton is Principal Lecturer in Organisational Development at Leeds Business

School.  She has consulted for organisations for 30 years in developing their leadership and

learning programmes.  She is particularly interested in employee engagement and the

concept of ‘being valued’, action learning, team coaching and student experience. 

1 Research Aim and Context

The purpose of this paper is to provide a theoretical grounding and preliminary research on

the construct of being valued and how it relates to students as students and as current and

future employees.  Many full-time students work at the same time as studying and have

experiences of being valued at work.  All students have experiences of being valued (or not

valued) as a student.  It aims to give insight into how people experience being valued which

then relates to their engagement at work and at study.

1.1 So what is engagement?

The construct of employee engagement is still being developed.   Multiple definitions exist

and continue to come forward which shows the strong interest from academics and

practitioners alike though the academic and the practitioner often define it differently

(Robinson et al., 2004).  ‘Engage for Success’, the movement led by David MacLeod and Nita

Clarke, deliberately does not define employee engagement for this reason.  In the academic

literature the construct can be seen to relate to the constructs of ‘work engagement’,

‘organisational commitment’, ‘job satisfaction’ and ‘organisational commitment behaviours’.

Saks (2006) and Robinson et al (2004), however, both argue that engagement is different to

all of these other constructs.  Commitment usually means an individual’s attachment and

obligation to the organisation (Allen and Meyer, 1990) so the term commitment is usually

meaning ‘organisational commitment’ which is specific to the organisation and not the work

or the role, although of course, these should, in theory, at least be leading one to the other. 

Work engagement is narrower than employee engagement but then a definition of work

would be required to show the extent of the difference.  The term employee in employee

engagement is highlighting the person and the act of being engaged rather than a

relationship with the organisation or the job. 

The construct of employee engagement was first put forward by Kahn which he described as

personal engagement; “the harnessing of organization members' selves to their work roles;

in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and

emotionally during role performances.”  (Kahn 1990, p. 694).  Schaufeli et al define

engagement “as a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by

vigor, dedication, and absorption.” The idea is that the individual is so absorbed in the work

that time flies.  (Schaufeli et al, 2002, p. 74).  It also emphasises a positive state of mind and

willing effort, “being positively present during the performance of work by willingly

contributing intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions and meaningful connections

to others.” (Truss et al., 2006).  Employee engagement is both a ‘state’ of being engaged and

an ‘outcome’ of being engaged.

Studies that have perhaps created the most interest in employee engagement are those that

support the notion that engagement leads to higher productivity (Gruman and Saks, 2011)

and leads to discretionary effort, innovation, customer loyalty, quality, profitability, earnings

per share and productivity (Blessingwhite, 2008).  It is agreed that organisations want their

employees to be engaged. 

1.2 The driver of Being Valued

So why is being valued so important? Being valued is a construct that is amorphous and

individually held.  It is also a very common way of describing a key experience and is used in

multiple questionnaires when organisations are trying to find out how their employees feel

about their jobs and their employers.  Just as engagement can be a driver and an outcome

so too can being valued be a driver and an outcome.  In this paper the construct of ‘being

valued’ is being explored particularly as a key driver to ‘engagement’.  Robinson et al (2004)

in their research on the NHS found that “The strongest driver of all (drivers) for engagement

is a sense of feeling valued and involved” (Robinson, et al., 2004, IES Report 408). This

means feeling valued and feeling involved and is not seen here to include the notion of

participation which has a literature of its own.  The author has gathered anecdotal evidence

and has seen conference presentations showing that participation can actually lead to

disengagement as employees can become weary of being asked to participate.

Robinson et al, discovered that feeling valued and involved was an overarching driver for

engagement.  It comprised ten other drivers which all fed into it.  The ten drivers are:

training, development and career; immediate management; performance and appraisal;

communication; equal opportunities and fair treatment; pay and benefits; health and safety;

co-operation; family friendliness; and job satisfaction (Robinson et al., 2004). 

The authors explain their findings by saying “our Phase 1 findings included the fact that the

main driver of engagement in the NHS was found to be feeling valued and involved. The

extent to which it was the main driver was so overwhelming that all other drivers, even if

significant statistically, appeared relatively unimportant. (Robinson et al., 2004). 

In Phase 2 of their work they found that the driver of feeling valued and involved was no

longer seen as the overarching driver but one of eight drivers.  These were established as: 

job satisfaction; equality of opportunity; health and safety; length of service; ethnicity;

communication; and co-operation.  “Our Phase 2 findings show that, although feeling valued

and involved is very important in driving engagement, it is not the only key driver – in overall

terms, it contributes approximately on a par with job satisfaction.” (Robinson et al., 2007). 

So we can see that being engaged is a driver and an outcome and also being valued is a

driver and an outcome.   In America, the Harris Interactive online survey organised by the

American Psychological Association’s (APA) gave results for 1,714 adults questioned in

January 2012. It showed that in answer to the question “my company makes me feel valued”

only 52% in 2011 and 54% in 2012 of workers agreed or strongly agreed with this statement.

(Employment Experience section of the APA Workplace Survey 2012).  Just over half of all

those surveyed worked for SMEs and three quarters of all of them were in the private

sector.  There is a specific feeling valued section of the report which shows that “employees

who report feeling valued are significantly more likely than those who do not feel valued to

report that they are satisfied with their job overall and are also more satisfied other key

aspects like employee involvement, growth and development and recognition.” (Feeling

Valued Section of the APA Workplace Survey 2012).  For example; the question “I am

motivated to do my very best for my employer” gained responses of agree or strongly agree

by  93% of workers who felt valued and only 33% of those who did not feel valued.  For the

question “I am satisfied with my job” it was 70% of those who felt valued compared to 40%

of those who felt undervalued and for the question “I am satisfied with the employee

recognition practices of my employer” it was 76% compared to 6%.  Those feeling valued are

also significantly less likely to say that they intend to seek employment outside of their

company within the next year, 50% compared to 21%.  Also “employees who report that

they do not feel valued are significantly more likely than those who feel valued to report

that a variety of factors significantly affect their stress levels at work.” (Work Stress and

Feeling Valued at Work section of the report).  Low pay is a significant stress factor for 72%

of those who feel undervalued but only 32% of those who feel valued.  Lack of participation

in decision making was a significant factor for only 16% of those who felt valued but 57% of

those who felt undervalued. Feeling stressed from lack of opportunity and growth was

significant for 75% of those who felt undervalued but only 26% of those who felt valued.  So

‘feeling valued’ is a moderator to the perception of many other factors of work.

Figure 1 illustrates the driver-outcome relationships provided by these studies. 

Equal to ‘being valued’:

 job satisfaction

 equality of opportunity

 health and safety

 length of service

 ethnicity

 communication

 co-operation

(Robinson et al 2009)

Drives Drives Drive

  What

Drivers? Being Valued  Engagement

Outcomes

 discretionary effort

 innovation

 customer loyalty

 quality

 profitability

 earnings per share

 productivity

(Blessingwhite 2008)

Comprise ‘being valued’:

 training, development and career

 immediate management

 performance and appraisal

 communication

 equal opportunities and fair treatment

 pay and benefits

 health and safety

 co-operation

 family friendliness

 job satisfaction

(Robinson et al 2004)

Outcomes

 satisfied

 involved

 developed

 recognised

 motivated

 less stressed

 satisfied with pay

 less stressed

 shared decisions

(APA 2012)

Figure 1: Drivers and Outcomes: Being Valued

The research here is attempting to answer the question of what drives being valued?

Because it is an individually held construct and everyone knows what they personally mean

when they say they feel valued it is important to consider to what extent commonalities can

be found.  If not then this is not a problem.  It simply means that everyone holds a different

perspective as to what makes them feel valued.  This means that effort should be placed on

treating people as individuals and listening to their specific needs and aspirations rather

than concocting organisational interventions. What makes one person feel valued may be

the complete opposite of what makes another feel valued, so an organisational intervention,

based on one, may inadvertently have the opposite effect on the other.  However, if

commonalities can be found then this will aid the design of organisational practices.  To seek

commonality it seems sensible to look for this is specific contexts and then to compare these

contexts.  The author has already carried out research to seek drivers of being valued in a UK

manufacturing SME.  The context of this paper here is students.  There is a lack of research

studies on being valued.  One paper provides a definition of being valued as “a positive

affective response arising from confirmation, within a congruent set of criteria, of an

individual’s possession of the qualities on which worth or desirability depends” (White and

Mackenzie-Davey, 2003 p.228). 

1.3 Being Valued as a Student/Learner

The only study related to learning is a study on student nurses.  This study found that

students were valued for being a learner, valued as being a team leader and valued as a

person (Bradbury-Jones et al., 2011).   Of course questionnaires abound to try to find out if

students are satisfied and the main one for higher education in the UK is the National

Student Survey (NSS) which is independently run by the Government every year.  These,

however, focus on asking students how satisfied they are with facilities eg library, and

teaching provision eg learning materials.  These do not contain any questions concerning

feeling valued.

2 Methodology

To fulfil the aims of this research an inductive approach was needed where rich data could

be collected and analysed.  A grounded theory (GT) methodology (GTM) was chosen as this

focusses on providing a conceptual account of how people perceive what is going on in the

matters that concern them.  Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider & Whitney, 2005) was also

used as the approach for data collection.

Grounded theory appeared to be particularly good at answering the how question in which

the author was interested eg how did employees perceive they were valued? How did they

know they were valued? How did they learn they were valued?  What was it that told them

this?  The term feeling valued is a common way to express a perception, an understanding

and it does not necessarily relate to an emotion as such.  The term feeling valued is used to

mean a knowing, a believing that one is valued.

         

One of the issues around choosing grounded theory as a methodology is the different forms

it takes.  The methodology was first developed by Glaser and Strauss in the 1967.  Since then

it has been developed and used in different ways.  The three most well-known approaches

are:  Classical Grounded Theory by Glaser and Strauss; Evolved Grounded Theory by Strauss

and Corbin and Social Constructivist Grounded Theory by Charmaz.

All of these were considered with the classical approach being selected.  The reasoning for

this was because the Glaser approach emphasises discovery and emergence of concepts

from the data (as opposed to creation of the concepts through social constructionism

between participants and researcher). Glaser advocates no literature review prior to data

gathering (which the other methods use) to allow the data to speak without confines. Data

is collected in field notes, not taped, and there is no need to use verbatim data though

quotes can be used as ‘in vivo’ codes.  The emphasis is not on interpreting the experiences

of people but recording what they say about their thoughts and behaviour, which is

constructivist data, and finding the concepts in it.

Although there was no specific literature review prior to data collection, to avoid confining

the data, the researcher did have prior knowledge of employee engagement theory from

which this interest evolved and clearly this may have some effect on the coding of the data.

Glaser says “researchers are human beings and therefore must to some degree reify data in

trying to symbolize it in collecting, reporting and coding the data. In doing so they may

impart their personal bias and/or interpretations—ergo this is called constructivist data. But

this data is rendered objective to a high degree by most research methods and GT in

particular by looking at many cases of the same phenomenon, when jointly collecting and

coding data, to correct for bias and to make the data objective. (Glaser, 2002). 

2.1 Data Collection

As mentioned earlier, Appreciative Inquiry was used as the approach for data collection. 

Data was collected from a class of full-time master degree students; through an email sent

to undergraduate students; online through the world’s largest student forum

(studentroom), and through three in-depth interviews.  This gave both scope and depth to

the data.  All participants were voluntary and anonymised.  A few simple questions were

posed in order to obtain as open a response as possible.  An open response was important

as the purpose was gain inductive data.  

The class participant questions:

As a student how to you feel valued?  What makes you feel valued?  Who makes you

feel valued?  Do any particular processes or systems make you feel valued?  Do any

particular organisations make you feel valued?  Are there any particular times you

have felt valued as a student?  Why was this?

For the class exercise the data collection was straightforward where notes were made on a

flipchart for all to see and some comments were coded at this stage of the process.  Clearly

students could develop their ideas in response to the ideas of others which was an

advantage as the purpose was to explore, reflect on and create definition thus providing

socially constructed data. 

The email data collection and the on-line forum was less successful in providing pertinent

and rich data.  The on-line posting was particularly unsuccessful in that although over 100

students read the posting only five responded and found it difficult to grasp what was being

asked.  The information that can be posted on the forum is limited.  The text was:

I am doing research on how students are valued. This is not the same as being

satisfied. I would welcome any comments to help the understanding of this concept.

What makes you feel valued as a student? Who makes you feel valued? Have you got

an example of feeling valued - what happened? Why did it make you feel valued?

Thanks for your help.

One response was “define valued!” and another “valued in what way?” each to which an

explanation was given to clarify and then the responder gave a more helpful response.  This

showed that although the researcher felt she was clear in her questions that this was not

the case in this medium.  One of the benefits of the in-class personal approach is that when

the respondent starts to mention something that the researcher identifies as a helpful

response they can ask the participant to explain it in more depth or more clearly.  For

example, in one interview the participant responded “I feel valued because my course is on

diversity and social work so all the tutors know how important people are because that’s

what they teach” and the researcher could prompt “so how exactly does that make you,

personally, feel valued?”  The personal approach also ensure adherence to appreciative

inquiry.  It is only natural to think of reasons we do not feel valued.  It is harder to think

about reasons we are valued.  For example, in class one participant stated “I need someone

to talk through my work with me and advise me but when I feel I have reached a point that I

need this help it is difficult to find someone who has the time to do this”.  I asked the

participant to consider how he could be valued in this context and he immediately replied “I

would feel valued if I was given a mentor”.  This appreciative inquiry approach using ‘what

would help’ or ‘what works well’ brings about more concrete suggestions than focusing on

what is not working as this tends to lead to objects of defense eg lack of resource.

2.2 Data Analysis

For the data analysis the Constant Comparative Method was used.  This is where the data is

coded as data is collected and then these codes are compared codes to one other and

amalgamated, reduced and filtered so that they become broader substantive categories.  

These are sometimes termed themes.  Throughout the process of coding and developing the

categories, theoretical memos (reflective notes) were written. "Memos are the theorizing

write-up of ideas about substantive codes and their theoretically coded relationships as they

emerge during coding, collecting and analyzing data, and during memoing" (Glaser, 1998).

These were used to reflect on theoretical connections, focus on particular statements that

seemed to carry weight with the research question and record ideas linking different

concepts together.  As part of this process the research questions were revisited and the

precipitated abstract categories were evaluated against them to decide what further data

was needed.  This process of theoretical sampling is where the next set of data is selected

according to how the categories are developing.  As a response to this process three in-

depth interviews were used to gain extra data for the categories which were emerging as

the most important.  The aim in Glaserian grounded theory is to find a core category that

links all the others and this is the precipitative theory.  Glaser and Horton advise that “the

core variable can be any kind of theoretical code—a process, a condition, two dimensions, a

consequence, a range and so forth…….The core variable reoccurs frequently in the data and

comes to be seen as a stable pattern that is more and more related to other variables

(Glaser and Holton 2004, section 3.9).  Figure 2 illustrates some of the coding.

Class Discussion Data Codes

Recognising my potential

Social and esteem needs are being met – these are interconnecting

Seeing my peers recognised and their contributions valued in class

Giving me voice – listening to the things I say I want

Being asked to be involved – asking for my opinion – letting me be involved in decision-

making in class

communication that is prompt, open and meaningful

responsive communication – answering emails

responding to my needs

style of communication – supportive

following through on communication

appreciating my concerns as legitimate

giving me an individual response – not what is policy and reflect and check on whether it is

really policy

transparent communication – not fogging

recognition of progress and improvement (valued added) rather than absolute achievement

actively involving participation in the class

social groupings – going out socially – bonding – facebooking – mutual appreciation

“I miss people when I don’t see them”

“Everybody is important to me”

“We check up on each other in a nice way”

We value each other and the things that are important to each one of us

relationship with tutors (versus interaction with bureaucracy)

get-togethers specifically for constructive learning

                                                Figure 2: Illustration of some of the In-Class Data Coding

Recognising individual potential

Meeting social and esteem needs

Seeing others supported

Contributions valued

Listening to voice

Involvement

Valuing opinion

Responsive communication

Meaningful communication

Open communication

Supportive style of communication

Follow-through on communication

Respecting concerns

Individually based response

Thoughtful response

Transparent communication

Recognition of progress

Recognition of individuality

Involvement in class

Participation in class

Social bonding

Mutual appreciation

Emotional closeness

Holding others as important

Mutual support

Mutual affirming

Tutor relationship

Purposive support

The three interviews provided more in-depth data and in particular provided a deeper understanding of the

importance of individually orientated support that was already emerging from the class data.

An illustration of some of the coding of the interview data is shown in Figure 3 below.

Interview Data Codes

I feel valued when I am treated as an individual – when it is based on my needs – built on what is

important to me and not on the whole group

When the tutors understand your learning style, your home problems, mark work as you as an

individual instead of stereotyping, treated equally with others.

I am valued because my course is all about diversity and social work and so the tutors uphold that

everyone is valued because that is what the course is all about.

I am valued by the tutors – one example is when everyone in the class understands something

except me.  The tutor will explain something again even if I am the only one in the class who

doesn’t understand it.  That makes me feel valued.

I felt valued at interview, they ask you if you have any difficulties or need support like childcare

and what they offered matched up because they even fill in all the childcare forms for you.

The tutors are very good at keeping us informed and keeping everyone like tutors and placements

informed.  When you get to placement they know your needs.

For me, valued as a student would mean I feel that I am treated as a paying customer and that

lecturers work for me, not the other way round.

My tutors are really helpful – they will have a chat over a coffee and really help you work out what

to do.  Even if they have to say your work is poor you can have a good relationship with them.

I see the tutor as a sort of colleague because they are on an equal footing (being similar age and

experienced in business) and therefore journeying with me in my learning.

I feel valued when the tutor has time to see me, talk to me and tell me exactly where I need to

improve my work.

                                           Figure 3: Illustration of some of the Interview Data Coding

All codes were then conceptualised further to form categories.  See Figure 4 below for an illustration.

Treated as individual

Needs orientated

Individual learning style

Flexible assessment

ethos of course - diversity

High personal value expected

Valued by tutors

Individual needs vs group needs

Supportive interview process

Need identification

Helping hand for processes required

Keep us informed

Keep important others informed

Valued as paying customer

Tutor as staff

Tutor-student relationship

Approachability

Tutor as colleague.

Tutor journey alongside.

Access to tutor

Talking to tutor

Purposive communication

All Codes Categories

Treated as individual

Needs orientated

Individual learning style

Flexible assessment

ethos of course - diversity

High personal value expected

Valued by tutors

Individual needs vs group needs

Supportive interview process

Need identification

Helping hand for processes required

Keep us informed

Keep important others informed

Valued as paying customer

Tutor as staff

Tutor-student relationship

Approachability

Tutor as colleague.

Tutor journey alongside.

Access to tutor

Talking to tutor

Purposive communication

Recognising individual potential

Meeting social and esteem needs

Seeing others supported

Contributions valued

Listening to voice

Involvement

Valuing opinion

Responsive communication

Meaningful communication

Open communication

Supportive style of communication

Follow-through on communication

Respecting concerns

Individually based response

Thoughtful response

Transparent communication

Recognition of progress

Recognition of individuality

Involvement in class

Participation in class

Social bonding

Mutual appreciation

Emotional closeness

Holding others as important

Mutual support

Mutual affirming

Tutor relationship

Purposive support

                                                          Figure 4: Illustration of Developing Categories from Codes

3 Findings and Discussion

Having conceptualised and compared all the data, four categories emerged as the strongest

from the data and they were overlaps across all four so they could be seen to be related. 

 Supportive, responsive and meaningful communication

 Legitimising and Supporting individualised need 

 Respectful, upholding relationships

                       Supportive, responsive and meaningful communication

                                                                                    

                                

                                              Legitimising/Supporting individualised need 

                   

                                        

                                                     Participation and involvement

                                            

                                   Respectful, upholding relationships

           

                   

                                                                                 

 Participation and involvement

Supportive, responsive and meaningful communication emerged from codes relating to a

broad range of communication spoken and written and communicated on paper and

virtually.  Students felt valued when communication was clear and when it was shared

appropriately.  For example “what I found really good was that when I went to placement

they knew about my <personal situation> so I didn’t have to explain it all again – they took

account of it already”.  Another said, “I told the leader of the course about <personal

difficulty> and they made sure all the other tutors knew which meant they valued me”. 

Communication is seen as meaningful when it is relevant and addresses the point in

question or illustrates a means of assistance.  Responding to emails for help was seen as a

crucial factor in making a student feel valued.

Legitimising and Supporting individualised need was where individuality was seen as

legitimate, that personal concerns were respected and that an individualised response was

emphasised in terms of needs and individual difference.  For example “I am valued by the

tutors – one example is when everyone in the class understands something except me.  The

tutor will explain something again even if I am the only one in the class who doesn’t

understand it.  That makes me feel valued.”  Another example was “they know I have a baby

and so if I need a bit longer to do my work they understand this”.  The desire to recognise 

individual progress rather than attainment and the meeting of personal learning needs was

strong.  In an academic environment where external verification of standards of

achievement is strongly regulated there perhaps needs to be thought around how tutors

and the organisation can validate and celebrate progress more effectively as well as

attainment.

Respectful, upholding relationships emerged from a number of codes which related to

relationship with all significant others eg administrators, career advisers; but was

particularly about relationships with tutors and peers.  In particular, emotional ties

illustrated in ‘I miss people when they don’t come to class or don’t come when we go out

socially’ and ‘everyone in this class is important to me personally’ and ‘we always check up

on each other to see if we are ok’ brought a feeling of being valued.  Feeling valued because

each person affirms another when they are contributing ideas in class shows a level of

respect and upholding of each other.

Participation and involvement was a category which was broad and many codes could have

been part of this.  However, the emphasis here was on participation and involvement in the

learning process and, in particular, in the classroom situation.  The classroom situation is

where learning was seen as most prevalent and the extent to which students were listened

to, given voice and their views seen as contributing made them feel valued.  “I feel much

more valued when we have this sort of discussion where everyone can talk about their

experience than when someone stands there and delivers a powerpoint and expects me just

to listen to them” illustrates how teaching methods can directly affect how people are

valued.

Two-factor Theories

It was interesting to see that in the findings there were factors that were hardly mentioned

at all eg timetabling, feedback on assessment, marking systems, catering facilities,

accommodation.  The sorts of things that are asked in the National Student Survey were not

mentioned.  This study took a deliberately appreciative enquiry approach where students

were asked how they knew they were valued and not whether they felt unvalued.  Rather

like Herzberg’s two factor theory (Herzberg, 1987) determines that motivation is different

from satisfaction, this study shows that being valued is not the same as being satisfied. 

There needs to be a clear distinction between the two.  If the appreciative inquiry approach

had not been used and the questions related to “what makes you feel you are not valued?”

then perhaps the satisfiers may have been listed.  So not being valued may be linked to

dissatisfaction but being valued is not linked to satisfaction.  Indeed, taking this one step

further, being valued may not be the opposite of not being valued.  This will be the subject

of another study.

4 Conclusion

This inductive study has sought to understand how students feel valued because feeling

valued is a key driver to engagement and has particularly been shown to lead to positive

affect in employees.  All students are future employees and as such will engage in their

future work.  The extent to which they do this will depend, partly, on how valued they feel. 

It will also impact on how stressed they are and on their perception of other factors of

working eg how well they are supported and developed.  While they are still students with

us we want them to feel valued as this should lead to similar benefits as shown for

employees.  Universities have been asking students how satisfied they are for many years.  It

is now time to ask them how they feel valued.  This study has done this and has begun a

process of understanding this construct more clearly.  As academics and learning support

staff we can consider the factors emerging from this study and start to consider how we, as

individuals and as organisations, can help our students to feel valued and therefore access

the benefits this brings. 

References

Allen N.J. and Meyer J.P., (1990), The measurement and antecedents of affective continuance and

normative commitment to the organization, Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology,

Vol. 63, Iss 1: pp.1–18

American Psychological Association (A.P.A.), (March 2012), The Workplace Survey, Harris

Interactive, available at: www.apa.org/news/press/releases/phwa/workplace-survey.pdf‎

(accessed 24th January 2014)

BlessingWhite, (2008), The State of Employee Engagement 2008: Highlights for U.K. and

Ireland, 3. 12.

Bradbury-Jones C., Sambrook S. and Irvine F., Empowerment and being valued: A

phenomenological study of nursing students’ experiences of clinical practice, Nurse

Education Today, 31, pp. 368-372

Charmaz K., (2006), Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative

analysis, Thousand Oaks, C.A., Sage.

Cooperrider D.L. and  Whitney D., (2005), Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in

Change, Berrett-Koehler, CA.

Corbin J. and Strauss A.L., (2008), Basics of qualitative research, Thousand Oaks, C.A., Sage

Glaser B.G. and Strauss A.L., (1967), The discovery of grounded theory: strategies for

qualitative research, Chicago, Aldine.

Glaser B.G. (1992), Basics of grounded theory analysis, emergence vs forcing, Mill Valley,

C.A.: Sociology Press

Glaser B.G., (1998), Doing grounded theory: Issues and discussions, Mill Valley, C.A.,

Sociology Press

Glaser B.G. (2002) Constructivist grounded theory? Forum: Qualitative Social Research,

Volume 3, No. 3, Art. 12 available at: http://www.qualitative-

research.net/index.php/fqs/article/viewArticle/825/1792 (accessed on 11th February 2014)

Glaser, B.G. and Holton J. (2004), Remodeling Grounded Theory, Forum: Qualitative Social

Research, 5(2), Art. 4, available at: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs040245

(accessed on 11 February 2014)

Glaser B.G., (2005), The Impact of Symbolic Interaction on Grounded Theory, Grounded

Theory Review, Vol. 4, Iss. 2, Wordpress

Gruman J.A. and Saks A.M., (2011), Manage Employee Engagement to Manage Performance,

Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 4, Iss. 2, pp. 204–207, Wiley

Herzberg F., (1987), One more time: How do you motivate employees?, Harvard Business

Review, pp. 5-16

Kahn, W.A., (1990), Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at

work, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 692-724

Macleod D. and Clarke N., www.engageforsuccess.org

Robinson, D., Perryman, S. and Hayday, S. (2004), The Drivers of Employee Engagement,

Report 408, Institute for Employment Studies, Brighton

Robinson D., Hooker H., and Hayday S., (2007), Engagement: The Continuing Story, Report

447, Institute for Employment Studies.

Saks M.A., (2006),  Antecedents and consequences of employee engagement, Journal of

Managerial Psychology, Vol. 21, No. 6 , pp. 600-619  

Schaufeli W.B., Salanova M., Gonzalez-Roma V., and Bakker A.B., (2002), The measurement

of engagement and burnout: a two sample confirmatory factor analytic approach, Journal of

Happiness Studies, Vol. 3, pp.71-92

Strauss A. and Corbin J., (1998), Basics of qualitative research: techiques and procedures for

developing grounded theory, Thousand Oaks, C.A., Sage

Truss C., Soane E., Edwards C., Wisdom K., Croll A. and Burnett J., (2006), Working Life:

Employee Attitudes and Engagement 2006, London, CIPD.

White M. and Mackenzie-Davey K., (2003), Feeling valued at work? A qualitative study of

corporate training consultants, Career Development International, Vol. 8, Iss. 5, pp. 228-234

Hits: 1498
0

This article promotes an on-going academic discussion on the importance of

developing student intercultural competence to understand and implement

corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and strategies in different cultural

contexts and cross-border business activities. Currently, CSR gains momentum as

a complex global trend with diverse approaches and perspectives. Despite that the

academic theory of CSR is mostly characterized by global trends of Western

influences, the interpretation and understanding of CSR concepts is highly culture-

specific. Academic research points out that there is no well-defined consensus on

CSR definition since the understanding of this evolving concept requires an in-

depth reflection on its culture-specific complexity and assessment of many culture-

driven factors: deep-rooted values, traditions of philanthropy, pro-environmental

affinity, previous practices of business ethics, history of community solidarity, etc.

Therefore, the understanding of CSR seems to have different meanings around the

world and, in turn, different versions of its implementation. By introducing country-

specific cases of comparative analysis, this article stresses the importance of

developing student intercultural knowledge and competence in order to understand

the multicultural dimension of CSR and its extending and developing theory-

building dynamics.

Keywords: CSR, multicultural dimension, intercultural competence

Introduction

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has emerged as a complex and multi-level

global business trend in different countries with diverse policy, culture, development

level and CSR perspective. Indeed, CSR is a complex and multi-dimensional

concept, covering an ever-widening range of relevant issues. Academic research

points out  that CSR covers many topics, covering employment practices like

diversity, gender equality, employee well-being, human rights, environmental

issues like pollution, climate change, biodiversity, resource efficiency, life-cycle, and

promoting transparency by preventing bribery, malpractice and corruption.  A

number of researchers have developed approaches for linking sustainability and

CSR to more complex global issues, which implies that CSR has broadened its

scope to include not only social, environmental and human rights issues, but also

the role of business in relation to poverty reduction in the developing world. In this

context it is important to note that CSR is an evolving concept and its interpretation

tends to gain more directions and possible development scenarios. Following this

perspective, different organizations have framed different definitions of CSR and

sustainability. Although all definitions have considerable common ground, their

interpretation dynamics are highly context-dependant.  It has been advocated by a

number of authors that there is no strong consensus on a definition of CSR

(McWilliams, Siegel, and Wright, 2006). Its definition dynamics are highly

dependant where CSR issues are placed by assessing not only internal

organizational contexts, but also many external factors including the specificity of a

country where CSR is practiced and its surrounding culture. Therefore, researchers

and practitioners following this perspective suggest that the meaning of CSR can

be explored not only in organizational contexts, but also in different national and

culturally-specific contexts. This perspective implies that the understanding and

interpretation of CSR seems to have different meanings around the world and, in

turn, different versions of its implementation practices.

With respect to this debate of multicultural dimension of CSR, researchers

emphasize the theoretical and practical importance and impact of a particular

culture on CSR interpretation and conceptualization. Following this perspective, the

literature review suggests that CSR is mostly characterized by global Western

influences where the concept of CSR was actively developed in business literature

and practice; however, it has different interpretation dynamics and implementation

approaches in different national contexts, depending on cultural peculiarities and

traditions. In this context it could be argued that interpretation and

conceptualization of CSR is country-specific and highly characterized by deep-

rooted cultural traditions of philanthropy, ethics and community building. Therefore,

multicultural dimension of CSR understanding is a big challenge in today’s global

world and places emphasis on the growing importance of intercultural competence

development, especially for future business workforce operating in foreign countries

with unfamiliar cultural backgrounds. A relatively well-developed body of research

suggests that intercultural competence refers to behaving and communicating

appropriately and effectively in cross-cultural situations by taking into consideration

intercultural knowledge, skills and attitudes. In turn, the conceptualization of

intercultural competence refers to promoting respect and understanding of different

cultures and values and the ability and willingness to behave accordingly

(Deardorff, 2004). In turn, this concept also includes the in-depth understanding of

intercultural sensitivity and value differences as a basis for effective communication

(Hammer, 2008).

As more organizations are operating internationally in different culture-specific

contexts, CSR-based issues tend to increase in terms of cultural understanding and

specificity. Therefore, following this perspective it could be argued that the

development of CSR intercultural competence is a key priority in preparing

business graduates for the global workforce to seek careers in cross-cultural

contexts and be able to adjust CSR practices in parallel with cultural background

and heritage. The intercultural knowledge and competence suggests that business

students should develop a systematic way to identify cultural patterns, to be able to

compare and contrast different cultural backgrounds and, in turn, develop a deeper

multi-dimensional understanding of the complexity of cultural elements to assess

the country-specific situations in relation to its history and political context.

This article aims at contributing theoretically to the research stream on multicultural

dimension of CSR by examining some of its implications from a wider range of

perspectives. It seeks to promote an on-going academic discussion on the

importance of developing student intercultural competence to understand and

implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and strategies in different

cultural contexts and cross-border business activities.

This article is an exploratory study presenting a theoretical analysis and synthesis

of scientific literature targeting the multicultural dimension of CSR. Methods of

systemic analysis along with the comparative analysis and generalization were

used to assess the concepts under analysis and determine the contextual factors

that might impact CSR conceptualization.

Multicultural Dimension of CSR: Research Overview

In the discussion on the multicultural dimension of CSR understanding, first of all, it

is important to address the issue of the very understanding and interpretation of

“doing good“ among different cultural backgrounds. Academic research points out 

that many CSR concepts and tools originates from western ideas and practices, but

different countries have their own norms and practices for CSR since their

conceptualization of  “good business” differs depending on local contexts. “Doing

good” or “doing the right things” tend to have slightly different meanings around the

world, especially when it comes to placing emphasis on certain practices (Baughn

et al, 2007). The previous studies suggest that there are different regional patterns

concerning the way CSR is interpreted and implemented, since many researchers

elaborated cross-country comparisons addressing CSR practices in Europe, Asia

and Latin America, Therefore, following this perspective it could be argued that

Western-centric approaches towards CSR conceptualization and definition is

inaccurate and oversimplified since the conceptualization of CSR , for instance,  in

Asia is slightly different that in other continents. A relatively well-developed body of

research implies that understanding what is beneficial in one cultural context does

not necessarily transfer across other contexts (Wright and Ferris, 1997).

The literature review suggests that there are different approaches towards research

attempts to investigate country-specific CSR and conduct cross-cultural

comparisons. Some studies addressed differences of CSR between countries by

focusing on the situation in Europe (Silberhorn and Warren, 2007) or between

Europe and the U.S. (Maignan and Ralston, 2002). In turn, some cross-cultural or

cross-national studies indicated that the differences in the cultural and social

backgrounds  result in different views on CSR in different culture-specific contexts.

Following this perspective, some investigatory comparisons were made among

Asian countries (Chapple and Moon, 2005) and among countries in Europe, Asia,

North America and other regions (Baughn et al, 2007). With respect to countries of

northern Europe, the previous research indicates that there is more CSR activity in

Northern than in Southern Europe with the most philanthropic companies were

found in Norway (Welford,2004, 2005). Some authors researched the ethical

perceptions of manager from China and the US showing that, for instance, Chinese

managers believed that stakeholder’s interest was more important than any other

considerations, but it was also noted that Chinese managers believed that ethics

and social responsibility were necessary for businesses to survive in the long-term

(Shafer et al., 2007). In turn, in this context it could be argued that the research of

cross-cultural comparisons is highly context dependant, depending on many

individual and cultural factors.

It has been advocated by a number of authors that the assessment of the country

context, nevertheless, plays a key role in CSR conceptualization. The literature

review suggests that every country has different CSR contexts and challenges,

such as poverty and wealth distribution, labor standards, development of civil

society, lack of education and environmental challenges. When CSR activities in

Asia are compared to those in Europe and the U.S., strong contrasts emerge in

regard to policies regarding fair wages, freedom of association and equal

opportunities for employees (Baughn et al, 2007). Following this perspective, in a

comparative survey of CSR in 15 countries across Europe, North America and

Asia, Welford (2005) speculated that slow CSR practices in the countries like Hong

Kong, Malaysia, Mexico, and Thailand may be an indicator of CSR being less

prevalent in developing countries. Therefore, it could be argued that developing

countries tend to have less CSR practices, especially in terms of environmental

protection since social challenges like labor rates, social disparity play a more

important and immediate role on CSR understanding and priority-making. 

However, the study by Diekmann and Franzen (1999) shows that the issue is more

complicated. The researchers used data from two different surveys that when

people from poorer countries are asked to rank the most pressing problems,

environmental issues, indeed, ranked lower. However, when the people were

asked to rate the severity of different problems, pro-environmental issues ranked

high, no matter if the country is affluent or poor. Diekmann and Franzen (1999)

concluded that ranking therefore reflects more the reality of scarce economics, but

not that people in poorer countries care less about the environment.

The research on cultural dimension of CSR in particular is not abundant. However,

there is a stream of research indicating that CSR is very much tied to localized

issues encompassing cultural traditions and historical events. The influence of

religion in CSR practices was mentioned by some researchers (Chapple and Moon,

2005; Baughn et al, 2007). The literature review suggests that there are differences

of CSR conceptualization and interpretation between individualistic societies and

collectivistic, communitarian societies. Jackson (2000) suggests that a high level of

individualism and universalism in US society is likely to lead to a need to regulate

individual behavior in an explicit way; therefore, codes of ethics are more common

in the US than in Europe (Palazzo 2002).  Unlike the US, the European values tend

to be more communitarian by nature by emphasizing the needs of the community

and the benefits of consensus (Maignan and Ferrell, 2003). In more communitarian

societies, ethical decisions are typically made on the basis of shared values based

on a network of social obligations and relationships (Palazzo, 2002). Therefore,

recent research suggests that European CSR is more driven by society-wide

shared views on CSR, and less by company-specific codes of ethics. In this

discussion on the multicultural dimension of CSR understanding, it is important to

note that individualism is defined as the cultural belief or a corresponding social

pattern that individuals should take responsibility primarily for their own interests

and those of their immediate family. Therefore, unless it is in their recognized self-

interest, highly individualistic societies tend to demonstrate less concern about the

role of business on society. In contrast, collectivism promotes values such as

respect, social responsibility and the well-being of society and collective priorities.

In this context, responsibility refers to being accountable for your individual and

community’s actions towards yourself, others and the environment in general. In

turn, collectivism embraces such values as cooperation and participation.

Participation refers to being a proactive and productive individual and group

member, having pride in and contributing to the social and economic wealth of the

community and the nation, whereas cooperation refers to working together to

achieve common goals, providing support to others and initiating change by

involving collaboration of all stakeholders (Hofstede, 1980).

Context-dependant CSR: Regional Comparative Analysis

Despite that the academic theory of CSR is mostly characterized by global trends of

Western influences, the interpretation and understanding of CSR concepts is highly

culture-specific. This section overviews major regional CSR conceptualizations and

developments in order to better illustrate the diverse multi-cultural CSR approaches

and implementation practices. It contributes to the current scholarly debate by

comparing and synthesizing regional disparities and cultural peculiarities.

It has been advocated by a number of authors that Scandinavian countries are

among the top CSR implementing countries in the world.. Scandinavian companies

have been practicing strong environmental regulation since the 1980s, therefore,

they not only explore CSR on the academic research but also push CSR to be a

“soft law” (May S., 2007). Many sustainability reports, evaluating countries on their

environmental policies, emissions, energy use, energy sources, risk mitigation and

biodiversity, top Sweden as number one in terms of sustainable development,

usually followed by Australia, Switzerland, Denmark Norway, the United Kingdom,

Canada, Finland, the US and the Netherlands.

The literature review suggests that Swedes feel their obligation to environment

protection, therefore they are highly conscientious of the environment. Traditionally

Sweden has been in the forefront in CSR movement and responsible performance.

The success of CSR in Sweden could also be influenced by its cultural context.

Sweden, like other Nordic countries, has a strong culture of environmental

protection and sustainability which is deeply rooted in their cultural background and

history. The Swedish culture of consensus could also be another reason for CSR

success since in Sweden people tend to engage others in making decisions via

consensus. In addition, one of key reason for Sweden’s success in CSR is active

role of government in coordinating and promoting CSR policies and integrating

sustainability and CSR-driven standards into trade and foreign policy strategies. In

turn, the Swedish public policy encourages businesses to follow the OECD’s

guidelines for multinational companies in terms of CSR development and to apply

the UN Global Compact ten business responsibility principles regarding respect for

human rights, employee rights, environmental responsibility and anti-corruption.

Following this perspective, the state-owned companies of Sweden and non-state

companies are encouraged to present sustainability reports to different

stakeholders in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) guidelines.

Researchers emphasize the theoretical and practical importance of CSR practice in

US history for the development of CSR discourse. Although the US is often

regarded as the birthplace of CSR, the public sector has not been the major driving

force behind CSR practices. Traditionally in the US, CSR has been defined much

more in terms of a philanthropic model where they donate a certain share of the

profits to charitable causes. Maignan and Ralston (2002) have compared CSR self-

presentations of companies located in the US and Europe and concluded that

countries located in both regions hold substantially different perspectives on CSR

conceptualization, directions of CSR practices and priorities. At this point, it is

important to note that many research findings are quite contradictory in their nature.

According to this research, few European companies used organizational values to

justify their commitment to CSR since European corporations often presented CSR

as an activity enhancing the firm’s success and survival, whereas companies based

in the U.S. introduced CSR practices as part of their organizational culture. Another

finding of this research was that U.S. companies focused their CSR processes in

terms of philanthropic programs and volunteerism, while European firms focused

much of their attention on processes aimed at reducing the negative impacts of

their activities on the environment and emphasized environmental protection in

general. This European approach could be explained by the high political influence

of the environmental movement at the national and European Union levels.

Previous research of Matten & Moon (2004) indicates that the US concept of CSR

represents its philanthropic aspects and low inclination towards state involvement

in promoting CSR issues. Following this perspective, the researchers suggested

that the strong explicit flagging of CSR may occur in countries with weak social

embedding of the economy, as in the US.

The literature review suggests that Asia has a very diverse CSR practice. The

Journal of Corporate Citizenship special issue on CSR in Asia, edited by Birch and

Moon (2004) provides a good overview on the status of this debate, where editors

note that CSR performance varies greatly between countries in Asia, with a wide

range of CSR issues being practices in accordance to local priorities. For instance,

Japan is the leader in of CSR activities adoption in Asia, and most CSR activities in

the country are linked to environmental programs rather than social issues

(Tanimoto and Suzuki, 2005). The majority of Japanese businesses tend to have

international environmental standards such as ISO, which, in turn, makes Japan

significantly ahead of the Western industrialized countries. The history of Japanese

environmental policy also plays a huge role of CSR development in the country.

Literature review suggests that Japan’s environmental movement is  differed from

that of the United States in that Japanese environmental issues are rooted in “the

history of pollution” (McKean, 1981). Muramatsu (1998) states that there are two

aspects in the Japanese environmental movement. One is the anti-pollution

movement that started in the 1950s, in which pollution victims sued pollution

companies and the national government. These cases often emerged in rural

areas. Another was environmentalism movement in urban areas where antipollution

movement provided a pivotal position for emerging environmentalism based on

post-materialism.

With respect to China, the development of CSR has many different research

implications. For instance, Lu (2009) found that in the emerging countries such as

China, CSR is still in its development stage and Chinese society is still struggling

with issues such as corruption, labor rights, inequality, corporate malpractice,

product safety and environmental pollution. Rapid economic growth in Asian

countries since 1970 has created a variety of environmental problems associated

with development. China’s economic development is often accompanied by images

of poor business practices: growing number of business scandals, labor inequality,

overworked and underpaid employees, faulty low quality consumer products, toxic

emissions and water pollution. The proactive transition of China to a market

economy and global trade motivates China to adopt CSR more proactively due to

growing consumer demands and society expectations. However, some studies

indicate that social responsibility and social reputation are two sides of the same

coin, especially with respect to China (Chen, 2008). Some of shareholders of

Chinese corporation see CSR as a tool to increase their reputation and boost sales

rather than trying to understand and deeper integrate the real meaning behind CSR

concept. Although CSR is receiving more attention in China, it still plays a marginal

role for the majority of Chinese companies; nevertheless, the growing societal

pressures and consumer demand play their role in China’s adoption of CSR

practices. 

With respect to Latin America, CSR conceptualization in Latin world has a long

tradition of corporate philanthropy in where the private sector has a paternalistic

view of its role in society (Peinado-Vara, 2006). CSR in Latin America and the

Caribbean has always been more focused on social issues than on environmental

issues, probably because social issues have always been more acute and tends to

be prioritized. The previous research of De Oliveira (2006) suggest that the CSR

agenda in Latin America has been heavily shaped by socio-economic and political

conditions, which tend to be aggravated by many environmental and, in particular,

social problems. The research of Schmidheiny (2006) positions this situation in a

constructive way by claiming that CSR is seen by many Latin Americans as the

hope for positive change in the background of poverty, inequality, environmental

pollution and degradation, corruption and economic stagnation. In this discussion

on the multicultural dimension of CSR understanding, it is important to mention

Vives’s (2006) survey of over 1,300 small and medium-sized enterprises in Latin

America which concludes that religious beliefs play a huge role for CSR

development in Latin countries.

This section emphasizes the fact that multicultural dimension of CSR

understanding is a complex issue in today’s diverse world and places emphasis on

the growing importance of intercultural competence development, especially for

future business workforce operating in foreign countries with unfamiliar cultural

backgrounds. In the intercultural global reality, it is important to be able to identify

cultural patterns in order to understand and adjust to local specificity of CSR and

sustainability.

Cultural Complexity of CSR Conceptualization: Assessment of Factors

A number of theories on sustainability and CSR emphasize the importance of the

concept of culture for CSR development. A relatively well-developed body of

research emphasized that culture is an inextricable part of the complex notion of

sustainability. In this context it could be argued that the meanings or perspectives

underlying a particular culture influence our worldviews and the ways in which we

view our connection to this world, to the nature and to the people. In turn, these

aspects of culture affect our understanding of sustainability and the role of CSR in

our society. Following this perspective, it is important to note that culture as a

concept refers to the rich complex of meanings, beliefs, practices, norms, symbols,

and values prevalent among people in a society. Furthermore, cultural values

shape and justify individual and group beliefs, actions, and goals. The concept of

culture is highly important in parallel with CSR discourse, since our cultural

perspective affects our CSR conceptualization and understanding. It has been

advocated by a number of authors that person’s values are most influenced by the

microsystem, which is comprised of the immediate social surrounding—family,

neighbors, peer-groups, followed by the macro system - the cultural context in

which the individual lives in.

In this discussion of multicultural dimension of CSR understanding it is also

important to address the importance of the role of religion. In this context it could be

argued that religion is among the major influences of culture in many parts of the

world. First of all, a religion is a combination of spiritual beliefs about two key

aspects of life, which is our concern with the ultimate meaning of human existence

and our identification with a supernatural power beyond the limits of the human and

natural worlds. In turn, we use our beliefs to help explain reasons for human

existence and to guide personal relationships and behavior. As it was mentioned

previously, “doing good” or “doing the right things” tend to have slightly different

meanings around the world and religions play a considerable role in our

understanding of “being good”. In turn, following this perspective, religions affect

our understanding of CSR and sustainability since they affect the underlying logic

of justifiable reasons why individuals should be responsible.  Therefore, religious

beliefs have a strong influence on the culture of a community. Indeed, for many

people around the world, religious beliefs are central to their culture and provide the

moral codes by which they live and behave. The influence of religion in CSR

practices has also been mentioned by some authors (Chapple and Moon, 2005;

Baughn et al, 2007). The previous study of Vives (2006) presented a survey of over

1300 small and medium-sized enterprises in Latin America and indicated that

religious beliefs are one of the major drivers for CSR practices. Nelson (2004)

investigated how Buddhist traditions in Asia are aligned with CSR. Visser and

Macintosh (1998) explored ethical condemnation of business malpractices in

developing countries that practice Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. In

parallel to this research, Frynas (2006) noted that business practices based on

moral principles were advocated by the Indian statesman and philosopher Kautilya

in the 4th century BC, which implies that CSR ideas have been intertwining with

cultural contexts for many centuries.

Some researchers have developed different approaches for linking sustainability

and CSR to the issue of spirituality which is the underlying sphere of religions.

Spirituality impacts our life in both material and non-material ways, since as a

concept, spirituality provides the foundation for decisions on how we conduct and

behave in our lives. The integrity of our actions is deeply rooted in our spirituality

since it affects choices we make in all directions of life: the way we behave with

others and nature, the way we consume and value products and use resources.

With an integrated life with purpose and meaning, increasing material wealth might

sound less desirable, thus indirect linkage might be supposed between spirituality

and ecological impacts.  Schroeder (1996) in his work entitled “In Spirit of the

Forest: Integrating Spiritual Values into Natural Resource Management and

Research” defines spiritual values as referring “to the experience of being related to

an ‘other’ that is larger or greater than oneself and that gives meaning to one’s life

at a deeper than intellectual level”. The issue of spirituality and sustainability have

been debated by politicians, psychologists, philosophers, and scientists (Orr, 2002).

An insightful research was conducted by Chawla in 1998. Chawla interviewed

numerous professional environmentalists in the US and in Norway about the

experiences and people who shaped and influenced their decisions to become

environmentalists. In her study, she investigated in retrospect what factors

influenced the environmental affinity of respondents and their environmental

sensitivity, which she defined as “a  predisposition to take an interest in learning

about the environment, feeling concern for it, and acting to conserve it, on the basis

of formative experiences” (Chawla, 1998). Her research suggests that there is no

single experience that sensitizes people’s awareness but a combination of factors.

She made insights that during childhood, the most influential were experiences of

natural areas and family, during adolescence and early adulthood the importance of

education and friends was emphasized, and during adulthood the role of pro-

environmental organizations was highlighted. Among the most frequently

mentioned factors are the following in terms of relevance sequence:

 Childhood experiences in nature;

 Experiences of pro-environmental destruction;

 Pro- environmental values held by the family;

 Pro-environmental organizations ;•

 Role models (friends or teachers) ;

 Education.

Following this perspective, researchers recently considered the theoretical and

practical importance of examining different types of environmental attitudes that are

underlying people perspective and environmental behavior. The research made by

Schultz (2000) indicates that environmental attitudes may be   of egoistic, altruistic,

and biospheric directions.  Egoistic attitude is based on concerns that are focused

on the individual and reflect a concern about environmental problems for the

interests of the self. These concerns include personal health, quality of life, financial

well-being, availability of resources. Altruistic attitude is based on concerns that

focus on people other than self, including family, community, friends, future

generations and humanity in general. Finally, biospheric attitude is based on

concerns that focus on all living things, including plants, animals, ecosystems, and

the biosphere and it is closely related to human connection with nature. This

research indicates that pro-environmental behavior is a complex and multi-level

phenomenon, deeply rooted on individuals personal background and surrounding

culture.

In this context it could be argued that personal motivation is a key driver in pro-

sustainable and responsible behavior. Following this perspective, the literature

review suggests that motivation is the reason for a behavior or a strong internal

stimulus around which behavior is organized (Moisander, 1998). Moisander

distinguished between primary motives and selective motives in terms of pro-

environmental behavior. It was noted that primary motives are the larger motives

that let people engage in a whole set of behaviors, for instance, striving to live an

environmental lifestyle.  In turn, selective motives refer to the the motives that

influence one specific action; for instance, whether I should take a bike to work

today, even though it rains, or do I drive? (Moisander, 1998). This research

indicates that the primary motives (environmental values) are often overridden by

the selective motives (personal comfort). The previous studies of researchers

Borden and Francis (1978) stated that people with strong selfish and competitive

orientation are less likely to act ecologically, whereas  people who have satisfied

their personal needs are more likely to act ecologically because they have more

resources (time, money, energy) to care about bigger, less personal social and pro-

environmental issues.  In parallel to the mentioned research, it would be worthwhile

to mention the previous work of Hines, Hungerford and Tomera (1986), where they

published their Model of Responsible Environmental Behavior based on the results

of their meta-analysis of 128 pro-environmental behavior research studies. This

research indicates the following variables associated with responsible pro-

environmental behavior:

 Knowledge of issues: Individual’s familiarity with the environmental

problems and environmental knowledge stimulate pro environmental

behavior.

 Knowledge of action strategies: Individual’s knowledge on how to make an

impact or influence environmental realities stimulates pro-environmental

behavior.

 Locus of control: Individual’s perception of whether he or she has the ability

to bring about change through his or her own behavior. The researchers

distinguish between individuals who feel they can change the world, and the

individuals who feel they can’t change the world and this role belongs to the

superior, more powerful others.

 Attitudes: Individuals with established pro-environmental attitudes were

noted to be more likely to engage in pro-environmental behavior.

 Verbal commitment: The communicated willingness to take is positively

associated with individual’s willingness to engage in pro- environmental

behavior.

 Individual sense of responsibility: People with a greater sense of personal

responsibility are more likely to be engaged in responsible pro-

environmental behavior.

This section illustrates that culture is a highly complex phenomenon, encompassing

multi-level aspects in order to promote CSR and sustainability. It refers to the multi-

dimensional dynamics of values, attitudes, behaviors patterns and motivational

stimulus. Nevertheless, it is important to note that ongoing academic research tend

to place more and more emphasis on investigating different directions of what

stimulates pro-environmental affinity and social responsible behaviors. In turn, the

factors affecting individual responsibility directly affect the development and

conceptualization of CSR and sustainability in business environments and society

at large.

The Role of Higher Education in the Discourse of CSR development

It has been advocated by a number of authors that education has a major role to

play as a force for the future also. UNESCO (1997) stated that education is the

most effective means that society possesses for confronting the challenges of the

future. Indeed, education will shape the world of tomorrow. Indeed, progress

increasingly depends upon the products of educated minds: upon research,

invention, innovation and adaptation. In this context it could be argued that

education by being the transmission, acquisition, creation and adaptation of

information, knowledge, skills and values, is a key lever of sustainable

development. Education creates a ripple effect for cultural mind-shift since it affects

the development of families, in turn, it affects local and national communities and

the world at large. Following this perspective, Orr (1994) that we need such

education that recognizes the crisis of global ecology and a crisis of values, ideas,

perspectives, and knowledge, that makes it a crisis of education, not one in

education. Education is a far wider concept, not limited to educational institutions,

but encompassing other macro high-impact factors as consumers advertising,

shopping malls, supermarkets etc. (Orr, 2002).

In this context it could be noted that higher education institutions bear a profound,

moral responsibility to increase the awareness, knowledge, skills, and values

needed to create sustainable future and promote unified value orientation towards

sustainable development. It has been advocated by some authors that higher

education has unique academic freedom and potential to develop new ideas. 

Higher education has a unique position to forward the discussion of society and

environment and promote discussion of sustainability (Meadows 1997). Therefore,

the curriculum on CSR should emphasize both the evolving, multi-cultural aspect of

CSR and the need to find joint positions in CSR development in order to promote

balanced and equally-supported global development. If universities in some

countries will stress the importance of environmental issues, and other universities

– the importance of social issues, it will be quite difficult to maintain balanced

development in the future. The future needs unified understanding of

developmental concepts and universities play a key role by uniting those concepts

among different countries and cultures.

Culture shapes the way we see the world, therefore this discussion calls for

addressing the issue of cultural sustainability mind-shift. Universities are positioned

uniquely to support this cultural transition in societies. Culture has the capacity to

change attitudes needed to ensure peace, equality and sustainable development. If

humanity doesn’t manage to make a cultural shift towards sustainable

development, our further evolution will be marked by increasing poverty and

inequality in our economically, socially and environmentally asymmetrical world.

The lack of cultural shift will further reinforce environmental degradation and short-

sightedness in policy-making. Therefore, culture is a key to solving global crisis.

The World Commission on Culture and Development (1987) defines culture as

‘ways of living together’ and emphasized that this positions culture as a core

element of sustainable development by stating that sustainable development

requires changes in values and attitudes towards environment and development

and that education plays a central role in achieving those changes in values and

attitudes as well as the skills and responsibilities that go along with those changes.

To make a cultural shift is not an easy task. Today we live in a diverse world of

multicultural diversity, therefore it is important to find and even forward unifying

touch points in shifting our cultural understanding towards sustainable

development. Capra (1982) in his work entitled “The Turning Point” put forward the

idea of a future turning point, or crossover, between a new rising value system and

another waning value system. Capra's schematic diagram of two intersecting

curves provides a useful conceptual model for the dynamic of a transition between

old and new cultural values as the inter-dynamics between the “rising culture” and

the “declining culture”. What is going to be the rising culture of humanity? This

rhetorical question calls for the discussion of value orientation. In the background of

environmental crisis, humans need to find unifying values to forward world’s

development. In this context it could be argued that the multicultural dimension of

sustainability and CSR needs to address unifying scenario of values and priorities

for global development. In the globalized world of today, cultural diversity has to

find a touching point with the other side of the continuum – the unity for

development.

The literature review suggests that value orientation, first of all, should be directed

towards consumerism culture. It is important to note that population growth and

consumption are directly linked. Therefore, as the population continues to increase,

under the current consumer mindset, consumption of resources will continue to

increase (Brown, 2001), since the larger the population, the more people are

consuming. In this context value orientation plays a key role by urging individuals

and businesses better assess their consumption patterns and needs, seek better

solutions to consumption needs by taking into consideration the needs of present

and future generations. Therefore, humanity needs a new mind shift towards more

sustainable world and smart value orientation towards joint global needs.

Researchers and practitioners following this perspective suggest a new concept of

cultural sustainability. Indeed, cultural sustainability is a new interdisciplinary

approach, which objective is to increase the significance of culture and its factors in

local, regional and global levels of sustainable development. As it was stated in

UNESCO (1997) document “Educating for a Sustainable Future: A

Transdisciplinary Vision for Concerted Action” achieving sustainability will need to

be motivated by a shift in values. Without change of this kind, even the most

enlightened legislation, the cleanest technology, the most sophisticated research

will not be able to succeed in directing society towards the long-term goal of

sustainability. Education in the broadest sense will by necessity play a pivotal role

in bringing about the deep change required in both tangible and non-tangible ways.

A number of theories on sustainability and CSR emphasize the importance of

transformative learning - a model of progressive change (Hicks, 2002; Rogers,

1994). Hicks suggested that learning should involve ‘three awakenings – of the

mind, the heart and the soul. This type of transformative learning puts basis for

individual responsibility and value integrity.  In addition, Rogers suggested that

learning should include cognitive, affective, existential, empowerment and action

dimensions. In turn, cognitive dimension is seen as the core of teaching, which

involves the intellect and thinking. The affective dimension connects knowing with

the emotions. The existential dimension questions values and ways of living and

challenge the reconstruction of own sense of self. If the existential crisis is

resolved, then follows the empowerment dimension which involves a sense of

responsibility, commitment and direction. Finally, the action dimension, which, if the

questions raised by the first four dimensions have been resolved, involves the

development of informed choices at personal, social and political levels. To make

the change globally, we have to act locally. However, as the previous research

suggests, the understanding of this locality can be tracked down into out very

hearts, our surrounding culture imprints, our individual values and attitudes.

Conclusions

This article extends the argument that CSR is an evolving concept. The literature

review of this analysis points out that there is no well-defined consensus on CSR

conceptualization since the understanding of this evolving concept requires an in-

depth reflection on its culture-specific complexity and assessment of many culture-

driven factors: deep-rooted values, traditions of philanthropy, pro-environmental

affinity, previous practices of business ethics, history of community solidarity, the

individual value dynamics etc. Therefore, the understanding of CSR seems to have

different meanings around the world and, in turn, different versions of its

implementation. This argument is of special importance for higher education

institutions preparing business leaders and professionals of tomorrow, who will

have operate in different multi-cultural contexts and adapt to local issues with

professionalism and cultural competence. In this context it is important to note that

student curriculum on CSR and sustainability should present those concepts as

evolving ones and promote student analytical thinking to better assess the multi-

dimensional, culture-dependant meaning of CSR. In addition, students should be

continuously encouraged to evaluate what CSR trends really impact, where it

comes from, where it is heading and who the leading actors and factors are.

This article covered the multi-directional issues of CSR cultural dimension. The first

section of this article attempted to make a deeper insight into intercultural

complexity of CSR by assessing the ongoing research in this field and by covering

such aspects as diverse understanding of doing good among different cultures The

second section of this article presented a comparative analysis of regional

peculiarities in terms of CSR development and cultural conceptualization by

emphasizing the pioneering role of Scandinavian countries in this discourse, the

basic differences between European and the US approaches towards CSR and the

paternalistic approach of CSR in Latin countries. The third section of this article

assessed the cultural complexity of CSR conceptualization and concluded that

culture is a highly complex phenomenon, since it refers to the multi-dimensional

assessment of values, attitudes, behaviors patterns, motivational stimulus, religion,

spirituality, pro-environmental attitudes and personal motivation dynamics. The

forth section of this article assessed the role of of higher education in the discourse

of CSR development by emphasizing the need not only to develop student

intercultural competences, but also promote unifying sustainability values 

necessary for the joint dialogue underlying future global development. This section

stresses that the future needs unified understanding of developmental concepts

and universities play a key role by uniting those concepts among different countries

and cultures.

Hopefully, this discussion on multicultural dimension of CSR provided some

insights on CSR concept as a global macro trend with many cross-cultural

characteristics and culture-specific interpretations in all its complexity. By

introducing country-specific cases of comparative analysis and multi-directional

insights of culture impacts and factors, this article attempted to stress the

importance of developing student intercultural knowledge and competence in order

to understand the multicultural dimension of CSR and its extending and developing

conceptualization.

References

Baughn, C. C. 2007. Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility in Asian

Countries and other Geographical Regions. Corporate Social Responsibility and

Environmental Management, 14 pp. 189-205. 

Birch, D. and Moon, J. 2004. Introduction: Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia.

Journal of Corporate Citizenship,13, spring:18–23.

Borden, D. and Francis, J.L. 1978. Who cares about ecology? Personality and sex

difference in environmental concern. Journal of Personality, 46, pp. 190–203.

Capra, Fritjof. 1982. The turning point. London: Wildwood House.

Chapple, W. and Moon J. 2005. Corporate social responsibility CSR in Asia: a

seven-country study of CSR web site reporting. Business and Society, 444, pp.

415–441.

Chawla, L. 1998. Significant life experiences revisited: a review of research on

sources of pro-environmental sensitivity. The Journal of Environmental Education,

293, pp. 11-21.

De Oliveira, J. A. P. 2006. Corporate Citizenship in Latin America: New Challenges

to Business. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 21 spring:17–20

Deardorff, Darla K., ed. 2009. The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence.

Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage publications Inc.

Diekmann, A. and Franzen, A. 1999. The wealth of nations. Environment and

Behavior, 314, pp. 540–549.

Frynas, J. G. 2006. Corporate Social Responsibility in Emerging Economies.

Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 24, winter: 16–19.

Hammer, Mitchell R. The Intercultural Development Inventory IDI: An Approach for

Assessing and Building intercultural Competence. In: M.A. Moodian, ed.

Contemporary leadership and Intercultural Competence: Understanding and

Utilizing Cultural Diversity to Build a Successful Organizations. Thousand Oaks,

CA: Sage, 2008. 

Hicks, D. 2002. Lessons for the Future: the missing dimension in education,

Futures and Education Series. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Hines, J.M., Hungerford, H.R. and Tomera, A.N. 1986–87. Analysis and synthesis

of research on responsible pro-environmental behavior: a meta-analysis, The

Journal of Environmental Education, 182, pp. 1–8.

Hofstede, G. 1980. Culture's consequences: International Differences in Work-

Related Values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications

Jackson, T. 2000. Management Ethics and Corporate Policy: A Cross-Cultural

Comparison. Journal of Management Studies, Vo. 37, No. 3, pp. 349-369.

Lu, X. H. 2009. A Chinese perspective: Business ethics in China now and in the

future. Journal of Business Ethics, 864, 451-461.

Maignan, I. and Ferrell, O.C. 2003. Nature of corporate responsibilities:

Perspectives from American, French and German consumers. Journal of Business

Research, Vol. 56, No. 1, pp.55-67.

Maignan, I. and Ralston, D. 2002. Corporate social responsibility in Europe and the

US: insights from businesses self- presentations, Journal of International Business

Studies, Vol. 33 No. 3, pp. 497-514.

Maignan, I., and Ralston, D. A. 2002. Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe

and the U.S.: Insights from Businesses Self-presentations. Journal of International

Business Studies, 333, 497-514.

Matten, D. and Moon J. 2004. Implicit and explicit CSR:A conceptual framework for

understanding CSR in Europe. ICCSR Research Paper Series, No. 29.

McKean, M. 1981. Environmental Protest and Citizen Politics in Japan. University

of California Press.

McKean, Margaret A. 1981. Environmental Protest and Citizen Politics in Japan.

Berkeley: University of California Press. 

Meadows, D. 1997. Places to Intervene in a System. Whole Earth 91: 78–84. 

Nelson, J. A. 2004. A Buddhist and Feminist Analysis of Ethics and Business.

Development, 473:53–60.

Orr, D. 2002. The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention. New

York: Oxford University Press.

Palazzo, B. 2002. U.S.-American and German Business Ethics: An Intercultural

Comparison Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 41, No. 3, pp. 195-216.

Rogers, M. 1994. Learning about Global Futures: an exploration of learning

processes and changes in adults, Thesis. Toronto: University of Toronto.

Schmidheiny, S. 2006. A View of Corporate Citizenship in Latin America. Journal of

Corporate Citizenship, 21, spring: 21–4.

Schultz, P. W. 2000. Empathizing with nature: The effects of perspective taking on

concern for environmental issues. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 391-406.

Shafer, W. E., Lee, G. M. and Fukukawa, K. 2007. Values and the perceived

importance of ethics and social responsibility: the U.S. versus China. Journal of

Business Ethics, 703, 265-284.

Tanimoto, K. and Suzuki, K. 2005. Corporate Social Responsibility in Japan:

Analyzing the Participating Companies in Global Reporting Initiative.

UNESCO. 1997. Educating for a Sustainable Future: A Transdisciplinary Vision for

Concerted Action.

Visser, W. and Macintosh, A. 1998. A Short Review of the Historical Critique of

Usury Accounting, Business and Financial History, 82:175–89.

Vives, A. 2006. Social and Environmental Responsibility in Small and Medium

Enterprises in Latin America.Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 21, spring: 39–50.

Welford R. 2005. Corporate social responsibility in Europe, North America and

Asia. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 17, pp. 52. 

Welford, R. 2005. Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe, North America and

Asia.Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 17, spring: 33–52

World Commission on Environment and Development. 1987. Our common future.

New York: Oxford University Press.

Hits: 1431
0

Abstract

The paper examines a collaboration between two academics in (HRM and Accounting and Finance) to develop a new module, Managing Resources for PR and Marketing (MRPRaM) for second year undergraduate students specialising in Marketing and Public Relations (PR). The aim of the module was to widen student horizons by initiating in them an understanding of the cross-functional nature of organisational operations; thus enhancing their employability. Surveys undertaken pre and post-delivery established that students with work experience and those devoting more than two hours a week to independent study were more likely to see the module as relevant; and that good teaching was highly valued. Research for future cohorts will be extended to include focus groups in order to gain a deeper insight into student perceptions.

Keywords: employability; innovation; interdisciplinary study; perceptions; pedagogy

Biographies

Christine Daley is a senior lecturer in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour and an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Helen Thompson is a senior lecturer in Accounting and Finance. She teaches accounting and finance related modules on a number of courses across the Faculty of Business and Law.

  1. Introduction

In today’s global market place, traditional boundaries between the different disciplines are becoming blurred. Employers expect their recruited graduates to understand how business operates across all functions due to the nature of the real-world business problem.’ (Wang and Liu, 2012, p203).

Thus the authors were enlisted by course leaders in BA Marketing (BAM), BA Marketing and Advertising Management (BAMAM) and BA Public Relations and Communications (BAPRC) who wanted students to learn about functions outside of their specialism to enhance their employability and help develop graduate competencies such as ‘influencing and persuading’,critical and analytical thinking’ and ‘the ability to see the bigger picture’ (Azavedo, Apfelthler and Hurst, 2012, p.23).

The official aim of the module was ‘to develop an understanding of the role of the finance and human resourcing functions within PR/Marketing organisations and their importance to the effective running and success of such businesses.’ (Leeds Metropolitan University, 2012, p.3). Therefore the authors took the key subjects and themes of their specialisms and related them to the industrial context of the marketing and PR industries.

This context was considered imperative. Achieving the module aim would mean students understanding concepts and acquiring competencies, but the academic team sought acceptance; recognition of the module’s legitimate place in the curriculum. MRPRaM would be one of only three modules delivered to students that semester and it should not be considered an inappropriate substitute for a domain specific module that students would consider be more instrumental in increasing their expertise and thus their own arguably narrow perceptions of their own employability.

Both tutors were experienced in teaching non-specialist learners. Both had previously taught in business programmes in the further education sector and were accustomed to teaching outside of their subject specialism. Therefore the HR specialist had taught accounting to the required level and vice-versa.

The module, combining the key elements of both disciplines, was first delivered during Semester 1 of 2013/14 with assessment by examination in December 2013. One hundred and fifty-nine students were enrolled on the module. Delivery comprised a two hour lecture followed by a two hour seminar. Assessment consisted of a two hour examination with questions based on a pre-seen case study.

  1. Review of the Literature

The literature search revealed previous studies on inter-disciplinary modules which aimed to integrate two subjects, (for example Marketing and IT, Finance and IT), and research on the teaching of accounting to non-accounting majors. The authors were unable to identify any published papers on the teaching of HRM on an interdisciplinary basis, but arguably some of the generic findings detailed below would be applicable across any function. More significantly, the authors were unable to find any prior research associated with the delivery of a module integrating two disciplines to students studying a third (or arguably fourth) discipline (Marketing and/or PR).

  1. Student Perceptions of Interdisciplinary Courses

Hossain, Heagy, Mitra, (2008) examined the post-delivery perceptions of over 500 non accounting students towards a compulsory management accounting course. Their study established that students had found the course interesting and acknowledged its ‘real world’ application and that instructor type (skills of individual tutor) had been instrumental in this impression. This positive impression was enhanced in those students with significant work experience and also in those with higher academic skills and higher aptitude towards learning.

Mann (1987, cited in Hossain, Heagy, Mitra, 2008) recommended initiatives to engage non- accounting students in a compulsory accounting course. These actions included linking the subject with the students’ primary area of interest and demonstrating the application of accounting techniques within the wider organisational context and teaching from the user perspective by demonstrating how managers constantly benefit from accounting techniques.

    1. Student Performance

In a study of two successive student cohorts on a marketing accounting module, Chen et al. (2012) found that success depended on three variables: the extent to which students had worked through tutorial questions and answers; whether they completed the practice exam and the time spent studying. Student feedback was positive especially from those ‘who never thought they could gain command of such material’ (p.248).

The findings of Clark and Latshaw (2011) correlate closely with those of the previous cited study in that student effort was found to have a significant effect on performance. In addition student attendance was found to have an indirect impact on final grade.

    1. Pedagogical Challenges

The issues associated with delivering so called ‘service’ subjects were explored by Yang (2009). Issues included the marginalisation of the subjects within the curriculum and its teachers within a programme, the fragmentation of knowledge structure due to too many subjects to cover and low student motivation, interest and attendance.

    1. Escaping the ‘Silo’

In a study of cross-disciplinary education and marketing students, Alden et al (1991, cited in Athaide and Desai, 2005) suggested that a ‘silo’ approach to educating resulted in graduating students who were incapable of seeing the bigger picture and insisted on over-simplifying complex business issues. Bowers and Scherpereel (2008) used the same metaphor in citing a ‘silo mentality’ that results from course content focused on specialised disciplines where students gain technical proficiency but do not learn to share and integrate discipline specific knowledge. A syllabus reflecting the cross-disciplinary nature of the module and appropriately integrated assessment was considered imperative in changing attitudes and preparing students to function in ‘a complex interdisciplinary work environment.’ (p.225).

    1. Good Design and Delivery

Yang (2009, p.604) posited that when these subjects were well designed and deployed, students were offered not just interdisciplinary perspectives but also ‘the opportunity for integration of knowledge/skills in the dynamic multifaceted professions and workplaces.’ The key to success lay in adopting the’ contextual approach’ (Allen, 2005, Corbin, 2002 cited in Yang 2009) whereby the interdisciplinary subjects were anchored in the major discipline of the students’ courses.

 

    1. Embracing a Student Centred Approach

A student-centred approach to both teaching and assessment was also considered important with the emphasis on problem-based and inquiry-led learning and the use of case studies. These findings were echoed by Wansi and Liu (2012) who reported on the positive effect of utilising an integrative case study project to teach finance and information technology to business school students.

The case study approach is not novel: in 1950, Calkins suggested that following the development of a firm through the steps of promotion, current financing, expansion and financial difficulty would familiarise students with the problems of an enterprise they might be running or working for at a later date.

    1. The Teaching Team

Reviewing an initiative to teach accounting skills to marketing students, Chen et al. (2012) found that the more enthusiastic tutors were with respect to the initiative, the more likely students were to access learning materials and study them early in the semester.

In the Wansi and Liu study (2012) positive results were linked to the close collaboration of academics on the course and a team-teaching approach defined as ‘a model that involves two or more faculty members who collaborate on teaching materials, course activities, and student evaluations’ (Zhang and Kheim, 1993, cited in Wansi and Liu, 2012, p. 204).

Athaid and Desai (2005) cited benefits for both students and academics on an interdisciplinary module. For students the acceptance of a module outside of their major ‘enhances tolerance for ambiguity’ (p.240) and challenges them to consider cross-functional issues. For faculty members the opportunity to provide up to date knowledge of other disciplines is provided. Consistent with the findings of Hossain, Heagy, Mitra, (2008) and Chen et al. (2012) cited above, was the selecting of appropriately qualified instructors.

  1. Methodology

The research question was both exploratory and explanatory in nature: exploratory in that it provided an incentive to find out ‘what is happening; to seek new insights; to ask questions and the assess phenomena in a new light’ (Robson, 2002, p. 59), and explanatory in nature, as a means of ‘studying a situation or a problem in order to explain the relationship between variables’ (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2008, p.141).

The authors’ choice of research methods was primarily influenced by the pragmatic considerations of resource availability and accessibility constraints. In the time available to them the questionnaire survey was not only the most practicable method but also facilitated the collection of data for both quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Thus primary research comprised three anonymous surveys distributed in class. Broadly based on the themes identified in the literature, two specific surveys devised to explore student attitudes and experience pre and post- delivery were undertaken during the first and final teaching weeks of the semester. Questions were phrased to facilitate both quantitative and qualitative analysis of results. Data from these surveys was also supplemented by the findings of the more generic institutional module evaluation survey, undertaken at the end of each semester for every module delivered at the university. Results were potentially skewed by the fact that to complete the surveys the student had to attend the class and students in attendance, especially towards the end of the module might have been more likely to be those with positive perceptions of the module.

  1. Pre Module Survey

Eight research questions were formulated to establish previous work and academic experience in accounting and HRM, attitudes towards studying the modules and also to allow for differentiation of students by course. The aim was to identify any relationship between prior student experience and attitudes at the outset of delivery.

    1. Post Module Survey

Eleven questions sought to establish any dependent relationship between prior experience and attitude to study amongst the three cohorts. An additional aim was to assay any change in perspectives on the rationale and relevance of the module and to identify particular challenges faced by students over the course of the module relative to a student’s study record and self-reported attendance levels.

 

 

    1. Institutional Module Evaluation Survey

This was a generic survey undertaken for every module at semester end. It comprised 13 questions on a Likert scale and the opportunity to comment on five areas all of which were intended to gauge student opinion on the module, course and university

  1. Results

 

  1. Pre and Post Module Surveys

The pre module survey was administered in the first lecture to 99 students comprising 33 BAM students, 36 BAMAM students and 24 PRC students. The post module survey was completed by 119 students comprising 39 BAM students, 46 BAMAM students and 33 BAPRC students.

  1. Concerns

When asked about their main concerns about studying this module three main issues arose; namely worries over the perceived mathematical content of the module; concerns over the assessment method i.e. 100% exam and fears that as the first cohort to take this module that they would be guinea pigs and therefore would be affected by any teething troubles.

    1. The Likelihood of this Module Being Chosen if it had not been Compulsory.

Students were more likely to have chosen the module if they had some previous relevant work experience i.e. 42% of those with work experience were likely/highly likely to have selected the module compared with 36% of those without work experience.

By the end of module 63% of those who had previous relevant work experience were more likely/highly likely to chosen the module. This is an increase of 21% from the initial survey. The proportion of those without relevant work experience, who were more likely/highly likely to have chosen the module, dropped by 13% to 23%.

    1. Relevance of Module

Having studied the module 74% of the total sample thought the module was highly relevant or had some relevance. However BAM students (64%) regarded the module as less relevant than both BAMAM (83%) and BAPRC students (76%) This includes 61 students who had answered that they were unlikely/highly unlikely to have chosen the module.

    1. Relationship between Independent Study and Perceived Relevance.

Forty-five per cent of PRC students claimed to have done at least two hours of independent study a week compared with 52% of BAMAM students and 51% of BAM students. The amount of independent weekly study carried out by students made little or no difference to the perceived relevance of the module for BAPRC and BAMAM students. Thirty six per cent of BAPRC students, who did fewer than 2 hours of study a week, felt the module either had some relevance or was highly relevant. This figure was the same where students did more than two hours per week of independent study. Sixty per cent of BAMAM students who did more than two hours a week of independent study felt the module had some relevance or was highly relevant. This dropped to 58% for students who did less than two hours per week. However BAM students who did more than 2 hours per week personal study were 1.5 times more likely than their less hard working colleagues to see the module as having some relevance or being highly relevant, with 64% of them selecting these options compared to only 40% of those who did less than two hours per week.

    1. Institutional Module Evaluation Survey

Student satisfaction was high in eight out of the thirteen areas surveyed, including appropriateness of content, quality of learning resources, staff ability to communicate knowledge, tutor guidance and the organisation of the module, with each of these categories achieving satisfaction scores of over 80%. There were only three areas where satisfaction levels were significantly less than 80% and these were ‘The module was relevant’ (67%), ‘I enjoyed the learning experience’ (65%) and ‘Overall I was satisfied with the module’ which scored 66%. Positive comments generally fell into three main areas learning resources, tutor support and module organisation.

The tutor is very helpful as I feel I can ask questions and she will help so I’m able to understand it’

Support for the assessment has been excellent and every week I have received feedback on the work I have produced which has really helped me develop my learning.’

Learning resources provided by the tutors were helpful’

The information in the weekly hand outs was helpful and relevant. Practice questions helped my understanding’

The way in which HR and Finance combined worked well’

Module well organised and managed; clear and appropriate content for PR degree’

The majority of the few negative comments were about areas over which the tutors had little control for example, a two hour lecture slot late in the day, accounting and HR content. However several comments did mention the lack of lecture notes. There were very few negative comments linked to the students’ initial concerns i.e. perceived mathematical content, 100% exam and the fear that they would be detrimentally affected by being ‘guinea pigs’ for a new module. In fact there were no comments at all about the mathematical content in the post module survey and the comments about the exam were not particularly negative, for example, ‘would rather it was less than a 100% exam’. Some even preferred this type of assessment: ‘glad it is 100% exam’. Eighty-four per cent of students thought the module was well organised and despite tutor concerns, no one commented that they felt that they had had a poor experience because this was the first time that the module had run.

  1. Discussion of Results

One of the key aims of the module was to broaden the horizons of students so they overcame the ‘silo mentality’ (Bowers and Scherpereel 2008). Three quarters of the students surveyed at the end of the module felt the module was highly relevant/had some relevance in terms of their career aspirations which indicates that the module team partly achieved their aims. However BAM students perceived the module to be less relevant than their BAPRC or BAMAM counterparts. This failure to see the relevance of the module may partly account for the relatively lower marks achieved by BAM (mean mark 45.46) students compared to the BAPRC (mean mark 52.76%) and BAMAM students (mean mark 52.37%).

The amount of independent weekly study made very little or no difference to the perceived relevance of the module for BAPRC and BAMAM students. This was not the case for BAM students, where those who did more than 2 hours per week of independent study were 1.5 more times likely to consider the module highly relevant/ having some relevance than their less hard working colleagues.

There appears to be little link between the amount of independent study and overall performance. Only 45% of BAPRC students claimed to do more than two hours of independent study per week yet, this cohort on the whole performed best achieving a mean mark of 52.76% which was slightly higher than BAMAM students and more than 7% higher than the mean mark for the BAM students. These findings do not appear to support the conclusions of Clark and Latshaw (2011) and Chen et al (2012) who stressed the importance of student effort on academic performance.

The pre module survey indicated that students with some form of related work experience would have been more likely to choose the module if it had been an option than those without work experience. By the end of the module students with relevant work experience were even more likely to have chosen the module whereas those without relevant work experience were less likely to have chosen the module if it had been optional. This echoes the findings of Hossain et al (2008).

The results of the institutional module evaluation survey were very positive in terms of appropriateness of content, learning resources, organisation and tutor communication and guidance, but the scores in the two key areas of relevance and satisfaction were below 80%. This implies that the teaching team need to review the delivery and content of the module to identify where opportunities exist to increase students’ perceptions of its relevance.

  1. Recommendations

A significant number of BAM students without work experience failed to see the relevance of the module. Therefore a consultation with the course leader in addition to additional research (see below) take place with a view to developing suitable initiatives aimed at changing this mind-set.

The entire module will be reviewed in order to identify opportunities for improvement and in particular opportunities to increase all students’ perceptions of its relevance. Mann (1987) cited in Hossain et al (2008) suggested several actions that may improve interest and motivation, in particular contextualising the module within the students ’primary area of interest. Wansi and Liu (2012) and Calkins (1950) recommended the use of an integrated case study and real life problems. The use of an evolving integrated case study had been discussed by the authors prior to module delivery. Although the idea had been abandoned due time pressures it will be implemented for future delivery.

By enhancing this interrelation to and integration with accounting/finance and HR into students’ major areas of interest and continuing to teach from the students’ view point, the authors aim to by demonstrate how knowledge of both accounting/finance and HRM may benefit them in their PR, Marketing or Advertising careers.

Students benefited from knowledgeable, experienced and highly committed instructors. Their feedback on tutor performance was very positive and consistent with the findings of section 2.7. Therefore if possible the current small enthusiastic teaching team should be maintained for future delivery.

Some students requested hard copies of lecture notes. Although this may be the norm on some courses, it is contrary to university recommendations on good practice. Lecture slides will continue to be published prior to lectures on X-stream (the university Virtual Learning Environment Site), but seminar materials will be issued in one module booklet instead of on a weekly basis.

  1. Future Research

The advice of Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2008, p .141) is ‘to evaluate all possible data collection methods and to choose the most appropriate to your research question(s) and objectives.’ The authors’ choice of research method was constrained by time and accessibility. The surveys were useful to provide an overall picture of what students on the three courses thought of the module before and after having taken it. However the use of course specific focus groups would have generated more in–depth data for the development of effective interventions and as such this research method will be implemented for next cohort delivery, in addition to implementing amended versions of the pre and post module survey and the institutional module evaluation surveys. It is hoped that this more intensive method will help provide enlightenment on the perspectives of the MAM students mentioned in section 6 (above) and identify further significant factors, for example the role of prior general academic attainment on perceptions and achievement.

Clark and Latshaw (2011) found that attendance had an indirect impact on student performance. Although students were asked to be honest about attendance in the post module survey, it was impossible to verify their responses. Therefore the authors will utilise university collected attendance and performance data to identify any similar correlation between attendance and performance on the module.

The authors consider the project to be of internal value in the future development of the module and in enhancing the student experience and their perceptions of their own employability. Students in business schools are often required to study interdisciplinary modules and tutors are required to teach them and justify their place in the curriculum. However published research in this area is not widely available, in particular in modules with HRM content and with respect to an interdisciplinary module in two subject areas being delivered to students of a third. Therefore it is hoped that this on-going project will continue to make findings worthy of the attention of a wider, external audience.

 

Bibliography

Alden, S.,Laxton, R., Patzer, G. 7 Howard, L (1991) Establishing Cross-Disciplinary Marketing Education. Journal of Marketing Education. 13 (Summer) pp. 249-259. Cited in Athaid, G.A. & Desai, H.B. (2005) Design and Implementation of an Interdisciplinary Marketing/Management Course on Technology and Innovation Management. Journal of Marketing Education (27) December. pp. 239-248.

Allen, V. (2005) A reflection on teaching law to business students. In Proceedings of the Society for Research into Higher Education Conference. December 13-15. University of Edinburgh, Society for Research in to Higher Education. Cited in Yang, M. (20090 Making interdisciplinary subjects relevant to students: an interdisciplinary approach. Teaching in Higher Education, Vol. 14, No. 6, December 2009, pp.597-6

Athaid, G.A. & Desai, H.B. (2005) Design and Implementation of an Interdisciplinary Marketing/Management Course on Technology and Innovation Management. Journal of Marketing Education (27) December. pp. 239-248.

Azavedo, A., Apfelthler, G., Hurst, D. (2012) Competency development in business graduates: An industry-driven approach for examining the alignment of undergraduate business education with industry requirements. International Journal of Management Education. April, pp12-28.

Bowers, M.Y & Scherpereel, C.M. (2008) Bizblock: A Cross-Disciplinary Teaching and Learning Experience. Business Communication Quarterly. June.pp.221-226.

Calkins, F. (1950) Materials and Methods of Teaching Business Finance (II) Journal of Finance. Vol. 5 Issue 3. pp.275-279.

Chen, Y.J., Greenberg, B., Dickson, P. & Goodrich, J. (2012) Learning marketing Accounting Skills in the Introductory Marketing Course: the Development, Use and Acceptance of a Self-Study Tutorial. Marketing Education Review, vol. 22, no.3 (Fall).pp.241-248.

Clark, S.D, & Latshaw, C.A. (2011) “Peeling the Onion”: Called Student Performance: An Investigation into the Factors Affecting Student Performance in an Introductory Accounting Class. 6th Annual Symposium of the Financial Services Institute, International Dimensions of New Regulations: Effects on Consumers, Corporate Governance, Financial Markets and Accounting Practice. New York: St John’s University, 8-10 September.pp.19-27.

Corbin, L. (2002) Teaching business to non-law students. Murdoch university Electronic Journal of Law 9, no. 1. [Internet] Available from <htttp://murdoch.edu.au> [Accessed 28 June 2006]. Cited in Yang, M. (20090 Making interdisciplinary subjects relevant to students: an interdisciplinary approach. Teaching in Higher Education, Vol. 14, No. 6, December 2009, pp.597-6

Hossain, M., Meagy, C. & Mitra, S. (2008) Perceptions of Non-Accounting Business Majors about the Managerial Accounting Course. Review of Pacific Basin Financial Markets and Policies, Vol. 11, No. 4 pp. 569–590.

Leeds Metropolitan University (2012) Managing Resources for PR and Marketing, Module Approval Template. Leeds: Leeds Metropolitan University.

Mann, G.J. (1987) Teaching Management Accounting to Non-accountants. Management Accounting, 69 (4), p.63.

Robson, C. (2002) Real World Research. 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2008) Research Methods for Business Students. 5th edition. Harlow: Pearson.

Wansi, T. A & Liu, M.X (2012) Integration Across the MIS and Finance Curriculum – Case Study of Team Teaching. Competition Forum. Vol. 10 (2), 2012, pp. 203-208

Yang, M. (2009) Making interdisciplinary subjects relevant to students: an interdisciplinary approach. Teaching in Higher Education, Vol. 14, No. 6, December 2009, pp.597-606.

Hits: 1273
0

Abstract Heightened undergraduate student expectations of their teaching (UK Universities, 2013) and a desire to embed employability skills in the curriculum calls for innovation in assessment (Barlow, 2008). This paper considers the benefits and challenges of using a cloud-based wiki/portfolio tool (Google Sites) as part of an innovative assessment for first year undergraduates studying a Business and Human Resource Management Degree in a UK university. The paper captures how professional body requirements and pedagogical drivers related to student engagement influenced the design of the assessment. Additionally it considers the role of support resources, levels of student engagement in pre-work, their reactions to the assessment and their attainment as well as pedagogical factors related to formative feedback and marking complexity. Keywords Cloud Computing, Employability, Authentic Learning, Student Engagement Biography Michelle Blackburn is a Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management. She is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and has over 20 years HR consultancy experience in both public and private sector organisations. Her research interests relate to employability, pedagogical innovation, reflective learning and talent management. Lynne Booth is a Senior lecturer and Course Leader for the MSc in Organisation Development and Consultancy. She is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and has worked for many years in corporate development. Her research interests are organisation development, consultancy, leadership and change. Simon Warwick is the Technology Enhanced Learning Adviser for Sheffield Business School. Over the last 7 years, he has worked in partnership with academic colleagues to create innovative approaches to teaching and learning and, more recently, using multi-function mobile devices to enhance and enrich the student learning experience.  1.0 Introduction This paper evaluates the development, teaching and assessment of a first year subject within an undergraduate BA Business and Human Resource Management (HRM) degree programme at Sheffield Business School (part of Sheffield Hallam University). It outlines how a new module team of two academics and a learning technologist developed an employability related assessment using Google Sites technology. Initially, it is important to contextualise the UK universities sector which has seen significant changes in recent years. Student fees were introduced in 1998, and were followed by a series of small but incremental rises to £3290 per annum by 2010/11. The Higher Education sector then experienced the withdrawal of significant levels of public funding. This led to universities being given Government permission to charge up to £9,000 per annum for student fees to fill funding gaps. A consequent concern for universities was a belief that students would have increased expectations when it comes to their university teaching and learning experience as a result of these higher fee rates: "Higher tuition fees mean higher student expectations across all aspects of the teaching and learning experience" Universities UK (2013, p12). A second factor driving enhancement in pedagogical practice within the UK is the National Student's Survey (NSS). All UK universities take part in the survey, the results of which are published nationally and are used by students to help them select the institution they would like to attend for their degree. Factors evaluated within the survey include 'assessment and feedback' (Unistats, n.d.). One approach to enhancing student feedback (ranking) is suggested by Barlow (2008) who believes that using Web 2.0 tools allows the learning to take place independent of location and time, the implication being that students can access their learning at a time that is convenient to them and not their institution, a view supported by Ladner et al. (2004). A third factor that students evaluate when considering their university and degree choice is future employability. A UK Government body, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) produces the 'Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey' (HESA, n.d.). The survey asks students to identify (six months after they have completed their degree) whether they are employed, studying, both or neither. This information, freely available via the HESA website, is seen by students entering Higher Education as a barometer of their future employability and as a consequence may impact upon course and institution selection. One final factor is that in the UK, fewer university students are working alongside studying for their degrees (in 2002 the employment rate for students was 45%, in 2011 it was a little over 30% (Thompson, 2013)) and as a consequence they are less 'work-ready' when applying for graduate roles post qualification. Our university recognises this and consequently has a strong focus on employability, its vision for 2015 is to be "known for the quality of our teaching and learning, with a particular commitment to education for employment" Sheffield Hallam University (n.d.). A series of focus groups run with second and final year students studying this degree found that students felt unprepared for getting a placement in HR. They did not recognise the HR components within the business subjects they were studying as they were not specifically labelled as HR subjects. As a consequence of this we were tasked with creating and teaching an engaging HRM subject to first year students that would help them to develop their employability skills in advance of their second year when they would be making applications for year-long placement (paid work) opportunities which would take place between their second and final year of study. We were aware that many entry level Human Resource (HR) vacancies required the ability to utilise IT systems, whether to process employee data, or to provide employees with web-based information and e-learning. Indeed the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the HRM professional body in the UK, suggests that for Band One, the entry level of their 'Profession Map', HR professionals would spend their time 'Providing information, managing data, process delivery' (CIPD, n.d.). This suggested to us that to enhance student employability there was a role for the development of students' digital literacy within this module. We needed to be assured however that using technology would also help us to deliver our learning outcomes. This concern was addressed by Carini et al (2006) who consider online tools to be one of the best predictors of learning and personal development outcomes. The work of Lohr (2010) also suggested to us that enhanced use of technology in the classroom could act as a positive influence upon student engagement. As we had clear professional body and pedagogical drivers for the use of technology, we then needed to decide upon our overall approach to the module. Our module design was heavily influenced by a desire to enhance student employability through 'authentic learning' (eg Renzulli et al, 2004 and Herrington et al, 2007). This is supported by Salas et al (2009) who suggest that SBT [Simulation Based Training] would enable the development of employability related skills by giving "students the hands-on practice they need before they enter the corporate world" (Salas, 2009 p559). We also recognised that we needed to design an appropriate assessment as Lombardi (2007) suggests, authentic learning needs to be accompanied by appropriate assessments. Our approach was not without concern, indeed Craig (2007 p153) states that "a substantial percentage of faculty remain sceptical of the value of technology in the learning process". However, we took the view of Bull et al (2008) who suggested this lack of confidence may be due to a lack of knowledge and appropriate research recommendations around the use of alternative media which may limit academics' engagement with online learning. This paper therefore seeks to address this gap in knowledge identified by Bull et al (2008) by examining our experience of using a cloud-based wiki/portfolio tool (Google sites) for undergraduate student assessment. We explore in the next section, how we developed, taught and assessed our subject during the first year of its delivery. 2.0 Methodology From the very beginning we wanted to signpost to the students that our subject was there to develop their future employability and so we named the subject 'People Management' which is the name of the magazine published by their future professional body (the CIPD). We told them that we had designed the teaching and assessment to help them develop the skills necessary for entry-level professional roles. This approach is supported by Yorke & Knight (2006) who suggest that undergraduate courses need to reflect the job market in a more coherent manner. The subject assessment required teams of students to develop a HR intranet site (for use by Line Managers) in a simulated company of their own creation. Students were asked to work together to clearly brand their website and create a HR 'voice' for their company making sure that it was an authentic representation of the vision, mission and values of the company that they had created. More specifically, students were required to independently create 3,000 words for their own specialist content area (eg recruitment and selection), while maintaining brand consistency with, and reference to, the specialist content areas of others. We believed this design offered us a number of benefits. First, it prevented social loafing (eg Latané et al 1979), as students were only assessed on their own content, not on the content of others. Second, it enhanced employability skills as students were working in teams to resolve a problem while at the same time using a range of IT skills. Additionally, students developed specialist HR knowledge of their own content area. When developing links to the content of team colleagues, they gained an awareness of other specialist areas and could better identify the requirements for effective vertical and horizontal integration of HR operations. They also gained a more nuanced awareness of the importance of contextualising their work to the needs of specific line managers and organisations. To maintain an appropriate level of academic rigour - students were also asked to produce a 1,000 word 'academic rationale' were they used appropriate academic research to support their design decisions, their approach to online learning and finally their selection of specialist HR content. While confident of the pedagogical vision for the assessment design and associated employability skills development, the academics within the team were concerned about their own technological skills and whether they would be able to adequately design and support the technological infrastructure needed for the assessment. Fortunately, Sheffield Business School has recognised that pedagogical innovation sometimes requires expert support and as a consequence employs a team of learning technologists to support academics and encourage innovation. It was this joint team of academics and learning technologists that took these ideas forward. It was with the help of the learning technologist that we selected a free Google App [Software 'application'] called Google Sites as the technological basis for our assessment. This is a free cloud-based wiki/portfolio tool, that enables the user to create simple websites in collaboration with others. We had permission to trial this approach from our institution as Sheffield Hallam University were seeking to pilot the use of Google Apps for Education as part of their desire to offer a leading edge learning experience to their students. One of the decisions for us was how far to 'scaffold' (Vygotsky, 1978) the students use of the technology. Our options were to simply point the student to the technology, point them to a website template within the technology, or create a template that would support their assessment. We elected to create a template that would support their assessment - so students were able to focus more on content and e-learning approaches than website infrastructure. We did this because our students are not IT students, but Business and HR students who may well be working a long way outside of their existing capability/comfort zone and we wanted to assess their performance against their learning objectives, not against aspects of technological mastery. The subject was delivered over a full academic year comprising two semesters of equal length. Students were given an hour lecture every two weeks on specialist content areas. The lectures were either delivered by the academic team or by guest lecturers brought in to add a practitioner perspective to the academic discourse. Seminars were also delivered bi-weekly, so the students experienced a lecture in week 1, seminar in week 2, lecture in week 3, seminar in week 4 and so on. Lectures were delivered to the whole course (27 individuals) made up from two seminar groups with 13 and 14 students respectively. To support the assessment we embedded guidance throughout the programme and developed a range of resources (available via the University's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)) aimed at guiding students through the technology. They included: Screencasts of aspects of the technology being used. Short written 'How to?' guides A discussion forum with themed areas relating to different aspects of the technology. The first year students were introduced to the subject and their assessment during their first lecture. We attempted to explain, via their subject guide, that the IT skills they would be developing would help them to gain a paid year-long placement with an employer between their second and final year of study. Additionally, we framed the assessment as an authentic task. Instead of an assessment question, students were given two emails. The first email was from the HR Director to the Head of HR requesting the building of a HR intranet site. The second, was from the Head of HR (the student's 'line manager') to the students (as new members of the company's graduate scheme) tasking them with this project. The subject guide also offered extensive supporting advice that indicated to the students how they should approach the task, but not what they should do. Feedback during this session suggested that students were really excited at the prospect of doing something different from their school-based assessments. The second seminar with the students involved selection of work teams. Students were given a choice of their own team mates as long as there was mixed gender and cultural representation. We felt that the need to specify group composition requirements was important because without it students' self selected groups tend to be overly-homogenous (Jalajas & Sutton, 1984) and consequently not representative of the workplace. Of course we had the option of simply allocating students to groups, but given expected unfamiliarity with the assessment we wanted to encourage student to engage with the assessment and Mello (1993) suggests self selection encourages ownership of the problem. Students were then asked to read around the specialist areas to identify subject preference(s) before the next seminar. Seminar three required students to agree with their group colleagues which specialist areas each person would cover. There was no duplication of specialist areas within each group; just as there would not be two sections on diversity management, for example, in a single company's intranet portal. We also saw this as a simple way to avoid collusion. Students were also tasked with starting to create their company and its brand and to finalise this before the subsequent seminar (and IT lab). The next two seminars comprised IT lab sessions, both of two hours duration, based in a computer room. The first lab had students working in their teams on their website infrastructure. Students were required to bring along their company brand to this session so they could embed it into their website. The second IT lab session had students working on their own content area. The session was focussed on the use of external 'apps' to support website interactivity. For the second lab session, students were required to bring 2 pages of their own content ready to upload. Both lab sessions had accompanying worksheets to support student learning and act as a reference guide. They were co-delivered by an academic and a learning technologist working together to ensure clear and consistent subject-matter and technical advice regarding the assessment. The last seminar of the first semester was a formative feedback session. We integrated formative feedback into our curriculum as we wanted to use it ‘to shape and improve the students’ competence by short-circuiting the randomness and inefficiency of trial and error learning’ (Sadler, 1989, p. 120). Students were required as a team to demonstrate their initial site and personal content areas to the academic team, learning techonlogist and other groups in their class. Race (2007) suggests that lecturers should consider providing feedback in a group format so that students can learn from the strengths and challenges of others, and that it also makes them feel less isolated when making mistakes. Consequently, this formed the basis of our approach. Indeed, Ashford and Tsui (1991) concurs with this view and suggests that formative feedback helps weaker students to understand their own progress and receive support to improve their submission. We were very open and honest with our feedback both on the content (academics) and design (learning technologist). It was important to us to provide formative feedback because of the novelty of the assessment and, as Song and Keller (2001) suggest, we wanted to motivate our students to higher levels of effort and application by showing them the gap between where they were at that point in time (half way through the academic year) and where they needed to be for their final submission. Seminars in the second semester guided the students through application of HR content, their own Continuing Professional Development requirements as future HR practitioners and the approach required for the assessed academic rationale. We held a second formative feedback session prior to submission, when we expected most students to have developed their content. We felt this was essential as they had much of the second semester to become distracted from the purpose of the assessment, indeed we hoped that our approach to formative assessment would produce the "significant and often substantial learning gains" suggested by Black and Wiliam (1998 p144). We deliberately arranged this second formative session rather differently to the first. Groups were given a specific time slot and asked to present their sites to just the academics and learning technologist. We did this to remove any temptation to plagiarise the work of others, which may have happened if students had been able to look at the finalised content area of others with the same specialist subject area. Assessment submission was two pronged. Students were asked to copy and paste the information from their websites and put it into a 'Word' document alongside their academic rationale. We asked the students to do this for two reasons. Firstly, so that we had a hard copy of their final website at submission deadline and therefore if there were any technical issues, or if students continued to 'play' with their sites beyond the deadline we had a fixed point in time that we could identify as assessment completed. Secondly, to control for plagiarism. We were concerned that it might be a little too tempting for first year students to just copy from someone else's website to their own, so we asked students to submit their Word documents via turnitin which is an online plagiarism checking device. 3.0 Findings 3.1 Delivery There were low levels of utilisation of the range of support resources we had developed for students. The discussion board was not used at all, instead the students emailed appropriate members of the teaching team directly. Academics were emailed about content decisions, the learning technologist on points of technical difficulty. We were surprised by this as it was a longer process than using the available screencasts which clearly demonstrated solutions to their problems. Despite requests to work between seminars on elements of the assessment, particularly in advance of and between the IT seminars the vast majority of students attended without having undertaken any of the required preparatory work. This had an impact upon the amount of technical input that was covered during the sessions. For example, students were still discussing elements of company approach and branding rather than arriving with this completed and planned, which meant that they were unable to start immediately upon their site build. Neither formative feedback session was particularly well attended, nor well prepared for. Additionally, some students did not act upon key elements of formative feedback offered before submission of their final summative assessment. Additionally we were surprised when some of the feedback we had given at the mid-way point of the academic year had not been acted upon for the final submission. Marking the assessment was complicated. We were continually flicking between the students' website, 'Word' submission and their individual feedback forms, all on the same screen at the same time. We have identified a solution for our next delivery, and this will be outlined in the discussion section. 3.2 Student feedback Student feedback was obtained via formal university processes (a module [subject] evaluation questionnaire). The students are asked to rank the following 8 statements: Statements (module = taught subject): 1. In this module the lectures helped me understand the subject 2. In this module the seminars / lab sessions were interactive 3. In this module I have developed new skills that will be relevant to my future career/employability 4. In this module digital technologies have been used to support my learning 5. In this module I felt well prepared to tackle the assessment tasks that were set 6. In this module the feedback I received on assessed tasks was helpful to my learning 7. The staff on this module were enthusiastic about what they were teaching 8. In this module I have been able to access the library resources I required to support my study (e.g. books, journals, audio visual, online resources) The outcome of student ranking can be found in Figure 1. A range below 1 is strongly disagree with the statement, between 1 and 2 is disagree, between 2 and 3 is agree and between 3 and 4 is strongly agree with the statement. Thirteen students completed the questionnaire, just under half the students studying the subject. Figure 1: Student responses to evaluation questionnaire. Students were also able to provide written feedback to support their evaluations. Comments related to the learning support were entirely positive, for example when the students were asked to identify the most positive aspect of the learning experience, their comments included: "The teachers, they are enthusiastic and engaging, that had a dramatic effect on my learning compared to other modules. The module is taught well and the teachers are able to keep me interested and enjoying the subject." "Having the support of my lecturers throughout the whole of the first year which make it easier to understand the module and also enjoy it" Comments on the assessment varied. When asked for the most positive aspect of their learning experience responses included: "Using Google sites to write about my subject" "This module has improved my communication skills working in groups" "The way the module was taught was straight forward, to the point and clear instruction of what needs to be done for the assessment" "The structure of the assignment (website) plan is well organised. Step-by-step process helped me learn" However, three students wanted greater assessment clarity: "Clearer assessment" "More help with the assessment, explanation of what to do" "More milestone tests - this would make the assessment more clear" Two students indicated the 'stretch' that was involved in undertaking a new form of assessment: "In all honesty having to create a website make it a little less easier (sic) and required more creativity." "Creating our own intranet has been very tricky" One individual questioned the relevance of the assessment: "Change what we are assessed on eg write an essay rather than a website. I don't get the connection. We are not IT STUDENTS!!!" We hope to evaluate the impact this module has had on student's ability to secure a placement. As yet it is too early to tell as they are only part way through their second year and are still applying for placement positions. However, one student gained a summer internship just 4 weeks of completing his first year.  He told us that his future employer had offered him the role due to his HR website building experience!    3.3 Results The subject names in Table 1 have been changed to make the content clearer to readers. Subjects: People Management Statistics Employability and Organisational Behaviour Marketing Economics Finance and Information management Assessment type: Website & Written Assessment (academic rationale) Group presentation, Written assessment (report) & examination Group presentation, Written assessment (portfolio) & examination Group presentation, Written assessment (report) & examination Written assignment (report) & examination Written assignment (report) & examination Mark 70% + 18.5% 6.1% 24.2% 15.2% 0% 9.4% 60 - 69% 11.1% 21.2% 48.5% 36.4% 42.4% 37.5% 50 - 59% 25.9% 54.5% 12.1% 24.2% 33.3% 37.5% 40 - 49% 44.4% 18.2% 15.2% 24.2% 24.2% 15.6% Less than 40% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% Table 1: Breakdown of student attainment for all first year subjects People Management ranked 2nd for the highest number of students achieving a first class award (+70%) for a subject. Conversely it had the greatest number of students in the lowest pass category (40-49%) by some significant margin. The marks that students gained within their individual groups was extremely varied, with some groups seeing a 40% swing in marks. 4.0 Discussion Within this section we attempt to address all of the themes highlighted in our results section. We also highlighted changes we have made between the first year and our current cohort of students (who are half way through their academic year) to offer some additional suggestions for academics and learning technologists considering using this approach. 4.1 Support Resources There was a distinct lack of utilisation of the support resources that we had provided. Consequently, we found the ranking of 3.31 out of 4 (see Figure 1) for digital technologies used to support learning somewhat surprising. We imagined the Facebook generation taking to the discussion board (situated in the VLE) to resolve their issues and share good ideas. Frankola (2001) suggests that we were wrong in this assumption; why would students use the VLE if other services are either more innovative or easier to access? Indeed students found it easier to contact us directly via email with questions than watch recordings, search through guides or share ideas and approaches via the discussion board. We see this as having both positive and negative dimensions, positive as it demonstrates students were very happy to contact us for support (we saw this as a sign that we had developed positive rapport with the students and this is supported by the illustrative comments in 3.3 above). However there were negative resource implications. While this was manageable with a small cohort of students this would not be feasible with significantly larger numbers. As a consequence of our learning, for our second year of teaching we are using a survey tool (a Google Form) that exists on the VLE and captures student queries. This form enables us to identify themes and then we are able to create bespoke responses (often via screencasts) that are signposted to the all students and hosted on the VLE. We are hoping this will help them to engage with the VLE resources that already exist and reduce the volume of emails. 4.2 Engagement in preparatory work We were disappointed by the lack of required preparation for the IT lab sessions. Some of it we put down to the transition from formal school education in the UK to the university environment. In school 'homework' is graded and not team based. We were asking our students (within the first few weeks of their university career) to come together to generate agreement and content when there was no clear 'How to..' and no mark attached. As we enter our second year of delivery, we have formalised the creation of the Company brand into a 'Company Philosophy' document that students are required to complete before they are given permission to begin creating their websites during the IT lab. This has generated an increased level of preparation amongst the students. We also hope that it will encourage the few students who saw the assessment as technology exercise to recognise that it is the application and contextualisation of the technology and the content that we are marking. 4.3 Formative feedback Neither of the formative feedback sessions were particularly well attended. We believe one issue was timing. The initial formative session was immediately before Christmas holidays at the end of the first semester and many students went home early. The second (and final) formative feedback session was during a period when students had multiple assessment submissions and we suggest that they were more focused on submission deadlines in other subjects than obtaining formative feedback in our subject. Again we were puzzled by students' evaluation of feedback, it received 3.46 out of 4 in review questionnaires (see Figure 1). This must have related to formative feedback as the students had not completed their final assessment when the survey was undertaken. Rust (2002) suggests that lack of engagement in formative feedback should not be surprising and Higgins et al (2002) suggest that this might be because although students see the feedback as important they are not really sure how they are supposed to 'use' it. We wonder whether our first year students fell into this category and whether we should consider the recommendations of Osmond et al (2005) who suggest that encouraging students to explore the role of feedback through classroom discussions is particularly useful in helping them to recognise the benefit of formative feedback. Attendance for formative feedback remains an issue. The second year is currently in progress and we have again seen poor attendance for formative feedback at the end of the first semester but this time in just in one of the two classes. The first class is delivered earlier in the day than the second class on the final day before annual holidays. We anonymously surveyed students to find out if this made a difference. Within the well attended class, 9 of 11 when asked why they attended wrote 'to receive feedback' and 4 out of 11 wrote 'responsibility to others the group'. The few who attended from the other class gave similar reasons for their attendance. Of the 10 responses from non-attenders in the second class, seven of them cited travel arrangements as reasons for non attendance, followed equally by absence of other group members, or the fact that they had not done the work beforehand. It seems that we need to consider moving this session away from the week before annual holidays because while a few may fail to see the benefit, a more considerable issue seems to be domestic arrangements. 4.4 Marking complexity We had not really thought about how we were going to practically mark the assessment when we designed it and as a consequence were challenged in navigating between a number of screens to review the assessment and produce written feedback. We have decided as a module team to use screencasts to capture our feedback for this second delivery. Screencasts record computer screen activity and can be accompanied by real-time audio commentary. Research by Oblinger (2008) suggests that students often use images to interpret meaning when reviewing web pages, and we are hoping that by being able to actually see our experience as a 'user' of their websites, students will be better equipped to engage with the feedback. One point remains a concern for us. We are offering feedback on both the website component of the assessment and the academic rationale. Within the current curriculum our feedback on the academic rationale will be useful for further assessments. However, we wonder whether students will actually benefit from our website feedback as part of their continued university studies. Lea and Street (2000) suggest that there is little benefit to feedback if it only relates to a single piece of work. While we see the feedback as enhancing future work-based experiences there is no link to further course content. We believe that this is a fundamental challenge for any pedagogical innovation that is not programme-wide. Why would students actively work hard to engage in developing a skill, and use their feedback to further enhance their capabilities, if they have no further opportunity to apply them? 4.5 Student reactions Student feedback on the module was positive, which is pleasing to see. However, there were a number of strong messages related in particular to the assessment. While some students clearly enjoyed it and were engaged, others were less engaged with the experience. Students were asked in their module [subject] evaluations if they were well prepared to tackle the assessment tasks that were set. This achieved a ranking of 3 out of 4 (the borderline between agree and strongly agree), the lowest ranking of any statement. This is of some concern. As a consequence of this we have changed our approach in the second year. For the first seminar the new students were given lecture content and demonstrations by students who had achieved high grades from the year before. Being able to visualise the potential outcome of the assessment, and to hear about the challenges involved in personal organisation, preparation and team working seems to have strongly resonated with the new cohort. Indeed one of them has already approached the module team to ask if he can demonstrate his site next year. We have said yes as long as he gets a great mark! It was also possible for us to see from the statistical feedback that while students tended to strongly agree with the module's relevance to their future employability (3.23 out of 4), in the narrative feedback some students more clearly indicated an inability to see the relevance of the module. The assessment design and purpose had been explained by their lecturer at the beginning of the academic year however it clearly did not resonate for some students. For us this was a major concern, as our experience agrees with the research of Hidi & Renninger (2006) which suggests that interest can be created and maintained if the students are able to see the value of what they are learning. So, for the second year of delivery we have included entry level HR job advertisements into the subject guide that accompanies the teaching. This provides hard evidence from high profile employers of the need to have the skills we are aiming to develop amongst our students. We have also had support from a global nutrition, health and wellness company with food and beverage brands very familiar to our students. Two members of their HR team came in and demonstrated their HR intranet site. We elected to do this as Cox & King (2006) suggest that the use of a guest speaker can embed employability as part of the student's learning experiences. The guest lecturers positioned the strategic role of their HR intranet in the delivery of HR support to line managers and also provided our students with very clear indicators that the skills they were developing during their assessment were fundamentally important to entry level HR professionals. Additionally, the organisational representatives were around 4 - 5 years into their HR career so were able to talk the student's language. We are hoping that this time around it is really clear to students why they are undertaking this assessment. 4.6 Student attainment While we were pleased that students were able to achieve the highest classification for their work, we were really concerned that our subject (when compared to other first year subjects) had, by some significant margin, the greatest number of students in the lowest pass category (40-49%). This could relate to two factors, the first, assessment unfamiliarity, the second that joint group work improved the marks of weaker performers. A review of the assessment types for all of the other modules illustrates assessment approaches that students would be familiar with from school. Indeed in the student feedback one student asks 'why can't we write an essay?' Graham Gibbs (n.d.) suggests that students need to experience an assessment type more than once if they are to become good at it. One aspect of the assessment that we are particularly pleased about however is the spread of marks within individual student groups. This means that students have not been limited, or disproportionally supported, by the work of their team colleagues. We had students within the same team achieve a first class pass and fail their assessment at first sit. We had found a way to overcome an unfair distribution of marks due to social loafing, an issue identified by Dyrud (2001). We hope that levels of attainment will be higher in the second year of delivery given the work we have done to engage the students in the assessment including a revised subject guide containing job adverts; student and employer guest speakers; and, our revised approach to learning resources. 5.0 Recommendations While we have embedded many recommendations within our discussions section there remains a concern. We are currently running this programme for 47 students across two seminar groups. We also work very closely as a team. We are not sure at this stage how scalable our approach is to major subjects within a Business School. We therefore recommend that anyone undertaking this approach for the first time consider the size of the cohort that they are teaching. The academics within the team were (and to some extent still are) unfamiliar with the technology. There is a real need to have expertise within the team for the module to run successfully and this has resource implications. As Mariani (1997) suggests the bigger the challenge for the learner, the more support and scaffolding is needed to extend learners' capability. Within the UK university system, assessments from the first year do not count towards overall university classification. This also offered us the comfort that we needed to introduce this change. We recommend where possible innovators look for a low-stakes opportunity for their first venture for both themselves and their students into this new and really exciting challenge. We would also encourage its continued use into further years of study to enable students to demonstrate their continued skill development. References Ashford, S. J., and Tsui, A. S. 1991. Self-regulation for managerial effectiveness: The role of active feedback seeking. Academy of Management Journal, 34(2), pp. 251-280. Barlow, T. 2008. Web 2.0: Creating a classroom without walls. Teaching Science, 54(1), pp. 46–48. Black, P. and Wiliam, D. 1998. Assessment and classroom learning, Assessment in Education, 5(1), pp. 7–74. Bull, G., Thompson, A., Searson, M., Garofalo, J., Park, J., Young, C., and Lee, J. 2008. Connecting informal and formal learning: Experiences in the age of participatory media. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. 8(2), pp. 100 - 107. Carini, R, M., Kuh, G. D. and Klein, S. P. 2006. Student engagement and student learning: Testing the linkages. Research in Higher Education, 47(1), pp. 1–32  Cox, S. and King, D. 2006. Skill sets: an approach to embed employability in course design. Education & Training. 48(4), pp. 262 - 274. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. n.d. Bands and Transitions. [online] Available from: http://www.cipd.co.uk Last accessed: 3rd February 2014. Craig, E. M. 2007. Changing Paradigms: managed learning environments and Web 2.0. Campus-Wide Information Systems. 24(3), pp. 152 - 161. Dyrud, M. A. 2001. Group Projects and Peer Review. Business Communication Quarterly. 64(4), pp. 106-112. Frankola, K. 2001. Why online learners drop out. Workforce, 80(10), pp. 53-59. Gibbs, G. (n.d.) Improving student learning through assessment and feedback. [Presentation] Available from: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk Last Accessed: 9th February 2014. Herrington J., Oliver R. and Herrington A. 2007. Authentic learning on the web: guidelines for course design, in: B.H. Khan, (Ed) Flexible Learning in An Information Society. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing. Hidi, S. and Renniger, K. A. 2006. The Four-Phase Model of Interest Development. Educational Psychologist. 41(2), pp. 111 - 127. Higgins, R., Hartley, P. and Skelton, A. 2002. The conscientious consumer reconsidering the role of assessment feedback in student learning, Studies in Higher Education. 27(1), pp. 53–64. Higher Education Statistics Agency. n.d. Destinations of leavers from higher education in the united kingdom for the academic year 2011/12. Available from: http://www.hesa.ac.uk Last accessed: 4th February 2014. Jalajas, D. S. and Sutton, R. I. 1984. Feuds in student groups, coping with whiners, martyrs, saboteurs, bullies, and deadbeats. Journal of Management Education, Vol. 9.  pp. 94-102. Ladner, B., Beagle, D., Steele, J.R. and Steele, L. 2004. Rethinking online instruction: from content transmission to cognitive immersion. Reference and User Services Quarterly. 43(4), pp. 329-37. Latané, B., Williams, K., and Harkins, S. 1979. Many hands make light the work: The causes and consequences of social loafing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 37. pp. 822 - 832. Lea, M. R. & Street, B. V. 2000. Student writing and staff feedback in higher education: an academic literacies approach, in: M. Lea & B. Stierer (Eds) Students writing in higher education: new contexts. Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University. Lohr, S. 2010. In Higher Education,  a  Focus  on  Technology.  Available from: http://www.nytimes.com Last accessed: 10th February 2014. Lombardi, M. M. 2007. Authentic learning for the 21st Century: An overview. Education Learning Initiative - advancing learning through IT innovation. Available from: http://alicechristie.org Last accessed: 27th October 2013. Mello, J. A. 1993. Improving individual member accountability in small work group settings.  Journal of Management Education. 17( 2).  pp. 253 - 259. Mariani, L. 1997. Teacher support and teacher challenge in promoting learner autonomy. Perspectives, a Journal of TESOL-Italy. XXIII(2). Available from: http://www.learningpaths.org Last accessed 14th February 2014. Oblinger, D. 2008. Growing up with Google: what it means to education, Emerging Technologies for Learning, 3. pp. 11 - 29. Orsmond, P., Merry, S. and Reiling, K. 2005. Biology students’ utilization of tutors’ formative feedback: a qualitative interview study. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 30(4), pp. 369 - 386 Race, P 2007. The Lecturer's Toolkit: A practical guide to assessment, learning and teaching. 3rd edn. London: Routledge. Renzulli, J. S., Gentry, M., and Reis, S. M. 2004. A time and a place for authentic learning. Educational Leadership, 62(1), pp. 73 - 77. Rust, C. 2002. The impact of assessment on student learning: how can research literature practically help to inform the development of departmental assessment strategies and learner-centred assessment practice, Active Learning in Higher Education, 3(2), pp. 145–158. Sadler, R. 1989. Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems, Instructional Sciences, 18(2), pp. 119–144. Salas, E, Wildman, J., and Piccolo, R. F. 2009. Using simulation-based training to enhance management education. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 8(4), pp. 559 - 573. Sheffield Hallam University. n.d. University vision statement and corporate plan [online]. Available from: http://www.shu.ac.uk Last accessed: 8th February 2014. Song, S. H. and Keller, J. M. 2001. Effectiveness of motivationally adaptive computer-assisted instruction on the dynamic aspects of motivation. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49(2), pp. 5-22. Thompson, S. 2013. States of Uncertainty: Youth Unemployment in Europe. Institute of Public Policy Research. Available from: http://www.ippr.org Last accessed: 8th February 2014. Unistats. n.d. The official website for comparing UK higher education course data. Available from: http://unistats.direct.gov.uk/. Last accessed: 4th January 2014 Universities UK. 2013. Where Student Fees Go. Available from: http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk Last accessed: 3rd January 2014. Vygotsky, L. S. 1978. The Role of Play in Development. Cambridge (Mass): Harvard University Press. Yorke, M. and Knight, P.T. (2006) Embedding Employability in the Curriculum. York: Higher Education Academy. Available from: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk Last accessed 24 August 2012.

Hits: 1473
0

Posted by on in Project Management

Harvard Business review is one of the most influential management magazines in the world.

One of it’s aims is helping to find new ideas and classic advice on strategy, innovation and leadership, for global leaders from the world's best business and management experts.

Here is a link an interesting article written by about Carolyn O’Hara The Right Way to Present Your Business Case: https://hbr.org/2014/07/the-right-way-to-present-your-business-case

Principles to Remember

Do:

  • Tell a story — it will make your case more persuasive and memorable
  • Spell out the business need — it gives the audience a reason to listen
  • Have both a short and long version ready — you never know how much time you will have

Don’t:

  • Overlook stakeholders’ pet concerns — address them directly to win allies in the room
  • Overwhelm your audience with needless detail
  • Read directly from your slides — no one wants to attend a boring read-along

Hits: 1740
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Report writing is a necessary and integral part of the work, as it serves multiple needs of any project, company or organization. Many people find report writing to be a tedious and bureaucratic task, but, if done correctly, it can be really interesting, challenging and contribute to project’s success.

Tips to report effectively:

Determine its purpose and its audience. What should it accomplish?

Understanding the purpose of the report is crucial to execute it. Read the request for a report, relate information and think about the purpose of the report - what's it about, what's required and why is it needed? Moreover, think about your audience: who and when is going to read it?

Follow a methodology: Research, Write, Summarize

Before start writing make sure you have collected all the information needed to create your first draft. The relevant to the report information might be other documents or reports, background readings, statistics and available secondary data, which you can use by always keeping in mind references and copyright issues. However, research is not only limited in secondary sources, it expands itself by allowing the researcher to see the world through his own eyes by conducting primary research. You can collect this information by talking to colleagues, observing people or activities and gathering new information to complete your findings. Always remember to consider your audience, so as the information you will find is interesting, relevant and appropriate and can be used to create a coherent and straightforward text.

Following the presentation of the relevant information, analyze your findings, draw conclusions and make recommendations! Useful in interpreting your findings is to ask yourself: What have I found? How these findings can be used by the reader? What's significant or important about my findings? What do my findings suggest for the project’s or company’s future? Is the recommendation I am making practical? Can it be applied? Do I provide all the information needed to the reader, in order to apply my recommendation? What actions should the reader of the report carry out?

Another important factor to consider is the length and the flow of your text. Length matters, so try to cover your point, provide all necessary information and findings and then quit, so as not to “exhaust or confuse” the reader. Additionally, let your text flow logically, leading the reader from start to end.

Watch the visual appearance of your report

The visual appearance of your report can destroy or enhance your work. Use a clear structure, a common and easy to read font and a coherent color pallet. If you have quantitative data try to visualize them in tables and charts to give a quick glance of the data at the reader and highlight the main findings. Be careful not to go overboard with pictures, graphs and colors by using your critical scope and continuously revising your work.

Report writing skills are crucial for young professionals and are highly appreciated by employers. It is a skill that can be developed and ultimately make a substantial difference to multiple processes, like project management, quality control, monitoring and evaluation.

Hits: 1287
0

In order to give a answer to this topic, we have to observe the origin of the minimum wage.  This term has been used ever since the Middle Ages, related with the struggle of the land lords to give  a roof of the salary of their vassals. Further one in the XX century it has become a useful tool for protecting the  labor rights of the workers. In this way the state guarantees that the worker will receive this salary no matter what.

Having this in mind we should take into account that all of this is made according to the 40 hours per week shift, which can be considered as rather dysfunctional nowadays.

First of all a very high minimum wage can have its negative effects as well, discouraging employers to hire new stuff. On the other hand, if the employer is an employee to himself (which is quite commonly the case in SMSs) he has to define his own wage on weekly or monthly bases, without considering the exact hours he was working.

Further on there is another problem ones a person is involved in the service sector. Imagine that someone is working as a nurse and in  month 1 he had 200 costumers, but  in month two, as it was summer for example, the number of  patience was lead down to 50. The wage will be the same, but it would have nothing to do with the actual amount of job done. So for the employer this means money spend for nothing.

Such system will support the quite fashionable freelancing, as it will clear away the borders for the freelancers and their salary.

Once the work is validated on hourly bases, it would lead to bigger efficiency of the workers, who will have initiative to be more productive and creative.  They will have the freedom to be occupied only when they have to work, so that they won’t spend lazy time in the office doing nothing.

So basically the question is not weather to introduced performance- based payment, but how to implement it as soon as possible.   

Hits: 2373
0

Everyone disserves their privacy place, meant for family and friends. Unfortunately  that place is not on the internet.

The truth is that even in the social media everyone can be as private as he wants to. There are many opportunities to close your newsfeed for certain users (in this case you can prevent your boss from seeing you on the beach with your bathing suit) or gust stop posting every single thing which happened today.

The privacy in social media ( for both employers and employees) depends only on their perspectives. And they will stay unknown as long as they want to. For example is highly unnecessary to  post a picture in a pub, one you have taken a day off for sickness.

In this manner no authority is capable of providing you with privacy if you do not wish to stay private. Another useful thing is to create two profiles in each network: one personal and one for work.

In any case, privacy is a subjective value and it can hardly be defined in a law. This may lead to some big brother issues which will rather harm than protect the user, as they are giving him away his right to choose the level of privacy of its own social media profile. 

Hits: 3972
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

The New management of public administration is struggling to turn bureaucracy into modern business structure. Therefore it is trying to develop business ideas on it’s own, copying the corporative model. However there are some major differences between the two types of writing.

First of all no government worker is expecting to gain any profit from his business plan. It has to be turned into certain type of public good, which can be profitable for the society, but not for the worker itself.

Secondly, the government worker does not operate with his own money. This can be a difficulty , in a manner of efficiency and innovative ideas.  In such cases the government workers have to be trained to act as entrepreneurs, without having a profit initiative.

The independence of the government worker is quite debatable. To some extent his decisions are dictated by the leading political party. In such cases managing a long-term project would appear extremely difficult, as in every 4 or 5 years there is a new political program that may be controversial to the plan in action.

There is no competition. This means that the plan has to exclude the part when it serves an unique product, which is the best one on the market.

Despite all the differences, both of the sectors have what to offer in the development of business writing.

Hits: 1248
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Once you already have business idea is time to formulate it in a written form. Putting aside the standardized business plan guides, there are some useful tips for developing your business plan.

  1. Try to extrapolate your idea in the future. By creating the general goal, vision and mission, you will have the chance to make your idea more flexible and you will be able to manage other potential risks in the future.
  1. Don’t put an end point. Try to think in strategic way, without describing the end of your business plan. It should always be an open subject, which will evolve through the years.
  1. Be careful with the details. It is only a plan, and as a plan it will rapidly change, so the constant structure and the main idea will be the only thing left.
  1. Be precise about your costs. Everything- from the logistics to the office materials should be carefully described. Only by doing this you will calculate the profit.
  1. Don’t forget about the competition. The business plan has to describe exactly way you are better than the others and which are your strengths that make you unique.
Hits: 1203
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

There is a common understanding for business as something complicated and hard, which could be managed only by high experienced people in big offices, who have full competence  just about everything. Here are some arguments which prove that such statement is rather invalid.

First of all, you cannot have all the information in the world. This means that you can never create a holistic business plan. There will always be threads, uncertainties and risks which will make you change your general plan. This is completely natural and you shouldn’t try to avoid it.

You don’t need a huge investment in order to establish a SME. In Bulgaria for example, you need less than 50 EU to open a company. In case you don’t want to develop a new car company, you won’t be needing to much in order to start your business.

It will not take your life away. You can still have your family, leisure, hobbies and so on. Yes it won’t be 9-17 job, but still, it won’t take 20 hours of your day. And you will be able to decide weather Sunday or Wednesday will be your day off.

You won’t need to hire stuff once you open the company. Take your time, and let your idea develop, take a direction, and then start thinking of growing the company. 

Hits: 1236
0

Posted by on in Creative Writing

Since the day we are born we have several tasks we need to accomplish in order to fit it life. Education, relation with people (creating a family etc) and work are the main segments we need fill in in order to be considered as “successful”. This article is going to focus on our work life and how it interferes with the rest of the elements.

The common sense tells us that work is the source of money and we need money in order to be happy and relieved. But are money the best motive to start a job? Well if that was the case, then we would only worry about what does the market need the most at the moment and try to cover the requirements. And there would be certain professions which will disappear such as puppet masters, clowns, plumbers and so on. Everyone would choose to be doctors, accountants, CEO’s and so on and all the people, who wants to run their own business will have to search for the thing, which is needed most at the moment.

The truth is that the demand is not always before the supply. If that statement was valid, then there would be no internet, laptops, no technology and innovation. The market would only follow the demand of the customers now, without thinking what would be interesting and challenging. And yet, this is not the case.

The reason is that the simple purpose of work is related to happiness and personal relief. Weather you will need to find a job in order to support your family, which is the main focus, or you want to build up a career, you do it in order to reach some level of satisfaction. However, people tend quite often to forget that and to jump in to all spheres of development, not because they want it, but because they are willing to satisfy other people’s ambitions, the understanding of successful which is a trend at the moment and so on.

And again, a work done without passion, will always be worst performed than work, done with inspiration. So before applying for any job, take this as an account: In order to be successful, your work has to bring you happiness. Your business idea should be related with your personal interests, not with a trendy market idea. Only by doing this, you will manage to create a unique product, and the customer will be the first one to notice it.      

Hits: 1207
0

Well the answer to this one is easy. No. It is considered annoying spam, rather than actual advertisement.

First of all, everyone knows that they will not receive a “Happy birthday” not from their bank, just because they are special. It is actually even a bit scary, because such emails, can contain some bad information as well.

Secondly, you will receive such email, just because your birthday is in the company’s database, and there is nothing special in that. Rather irritating.

People gave name to such notes and it is : spam. Quite annoying, rather negative than positive, it makes people anxious, not special.

So instead of thousands of pointless emails, the companies may work on their service and the conditions for their costumers.

Hits: 2834
0

The field of human recourses is as competitive as every other business field. And yet again it is highly insecure, because you don’t know what are you getting in return.

If I compare it with taking new computers for the organization, you will see the main differences. In both cases I want to improve the situation of my organization and to get the best that I can effort. In terms of computers, I would like to have the most modern one, with the bigger memory, better resolution, better colors, speed, etc. So I will take my time, reading forums, asking friends for advices and so on.  There will be different brands, famous for different advantages. So at the end I will go to the store and take them. If there is something wrong with them, I have a free trail and I can easily get them fixed or return them and have my money back.

With people however, things are a bit different. They don’t come with brands, I cannot find comments about them on the internet. Every one is different than the others and I cannot count on similarities, just because they come from the same city, or have the same education. I cannot just “give them back” and expect that someone will find the perfect replacement. I cannot change only the missing part, it is either all or nothing.  Yes, I can make 3 interviews, including CVs, motivation letters and so on, but it will give me only hints, not the general picture. So in is quite often the case, especially for small companies, that when they are hiring someone new, they are “shooting in the dark”.

But hiring an employee is an investment as any other, which means that you have to clear all the possible uncertainties and  risks. Which leads us to the moment that you have to have all the needed information about this person. The problem is that by taking the interview, I will know the applicant’s name, age, education, previous education, maybe writing abilities, and that’s it.  He has his privacy and all of his personal business is non of your business. And that is basically a dead end.

Business studies 101 tells you that you have to manage the risks and clear them as much as you can. And what can be a bigger thread than a drug addict, who may influence on the reputation of your organization. So by making a drug test you can try to avoid that risk. Of course the final decision is yours to take. The employer is the person who must decide at the end, and his decision must be oriented towards what is best for the company. So if it appears that the best applicant so far has gave positive results on marihuana, this may not mean that he is not worth it. 

Hits: 3512
0

If people are free they are not equal, if they are equal, than they are no longer free. So no matter  law is adopted, it won’t change the fact that you and I are different human beings. You may be better in mathematics than me, I may be the better historian. Maybe I could be better CEO of a company, and you have unique managing skills. And this will be valid no matter I am a female or not, do I have a family or what is my skin complex.

I like Snickers. I eat at least one per day. I have no idea who is the owner of the company, I cannot tell you even one name related to Snickers and it is highly unnecessary to memorize such information. I will still buy it weather the CEO is a lady, Muslim, or transsexual. I like the brand and the taste, they are well advertised and this is all that matters for the average customer.

The average owner is interested that people like me will continue using their product and they will promote it to others. The profit is the thing that matters, and it can be gained both by male and female employees. So when it comes to hireling new stuff  the only question on the table should be “is this candidate profitable”, not “what shirt is he wearing, is it a single matter or not”.  The core issue about evolution is that the strong always survive, because they are able to maintain their path and to achieve their goals.

So basically free market and right to manage my business the way I want to should be the core of every successful  economy. The gender has nothing to do with it. I am a female and believe me there won’t  be anything more anti-feministic for me if I would be hired only because I am female. This would mean that usually I am not the best candidate for this position, and I will take it not because of my skills, but because of my biology. And I have no credits for it. So if one day I am hired as a manager in Snickers, it will be quite possible that my skills are not good enough for this position.  So it is not excluded that the sales may drop out due to my bad managing. And at the end is even possible that I won’t be able to eat Snickers anymore, due to the fact that I was a weak manager, but nobody could fire me. Because I am a lady and I have a family. Both of which have nothing to do with economics. 

Hits: 3306
0

 The main topic of modern business are undoubtfully entrepreneurs and their ability to keep innovation going foreword and to make the step foreword to make our life more easier. They are often related with a lot of income, success and glamour. Everyone know the inspiring stories of  people such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. And it is quite often the case when the success rate of this people has nothing to do with their university education. So could it be considered that education has nothing to do with the entrepreneurship abilities?

Firstly we have to make clear that even though many universities offer entrepreneurship weather as Bachelor or Master degrees, such system cannot give you the knowledge of being innovative. You either have it or not.

Secondly, universities  are used mainly to supply their students with the required theoretical background. In many cases you have to write a lot of essays and  researches but that makes you rather analyzer, not inventor. And the problem is that the main job of the entrepreneur is to think one step before the others. So its rather impossible for an institution to give you the idea on a plate.

Of course doctors and layers cannot practice without  a degree, but the market is not interested in your knowledge in the field of let us say gender studies. The thing that matters is weather you have the right abilities and the client does not choose one product, comparing the university degree of the business man , but rather on the product itself.

So if the entrepreneur decided that he or she does not need a degree in order to start a company, then no one should prevent him/she to tell his experience.  It is quite inspiring and motivating, and they can lead to the innovative idea of other future entrepreneurs.

That of course does not mean that the university is useless, and it cannot help you to be creative, but everyone should feel free to study or not, to listen the stories of successful university failures or not. At the end the individual decision in this case is 100 times more important than a regulated one.  

Hits: 3019
0

Posted by on in Project Management

The 20/80 rule

While working on a project we have to define a lot of activities to be done. Starting with the generation of idea and finishing with selling the product. This way is very well-known as long, hard and not always efficient. Today I want to talk about the 20/80 rule that once has changed my life and made my projects worked better and hope will yours.

So the 20/80 rule also known as ThePareto principle says that 20% of you effort generates 80% of success and then the rest 80% - only 20%. Why it happens? Because people usually consider all costumers profitable or all employees equally efficient. In facts that's not true: the smallest but the best part in any field at your work will bring the result, another bigger part, usually more money-valuable  appears to be wasted.

So what we should do from the very beginning is trying to divide all our future possibly needed activities into parts which would most probably give the best effect, medium and low. It might look easy but that's the place where we usually do a mistake and put most of the activities to the first table. As a result we spread the same effort on different levels tasks and get 30-35% of the possible success/income.

To avoid that we have to do our best to concentrate on really best potential/ loyal customers and forward our best employees to satisfy their needs. Another common mistake is about hiring employees. We never need 100% of our stuff so the first step to success here is to hire minimum people with maximum capabilities and even from that 100% within time chose best 20% and spread their skills in order to achieve more results.  Once you work with the machines you will also notice that smaller part of computers generates bigger share of the used operations. In such situations you have to figure our 20% of tasks will appear most often and then make them the most functional, comfortable and easy to use - as a result you get the machines which are quirkier and better then the competitors ones.

When it goes to actions it might be a really difficult decision for the CEO or manager just to refuse 80% of their activities in one day. Even though the practice shows such a radicalism usually pushes company to a huge growth.

The last but not the least conclusion I have made for myself is that probably our desire to achieve 100% result ( which we follow all our life) might not have such a big sense we used to think. Sometimes we should better concentrate on 80-90 as a goal, spend less and achieve best possible results.

Hits: 1270
0

“Clarity is the most important characteristic of good business writing,” says Mignon Fogarty, creator of the “Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing” podcast. “Often businesspeople will use big $10 words because they want to sound intelligent. Instead, they end up sounding like they’re trying too hard.”

Start by using short, declarative sentences. Never use a long word where a short one will do. (No need to write “utilize” when “use” works just as well.) Be ruthless about self-editing; if you don’t need a word, cut it.

Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or any kind of jargon if you can think of an English equivalent. Regardless of how many times your managers ask you to “circle back,” or “move the needle forward,” take a stance against painful business jargon. These expressions may sound important–and like the official language of a club you’d like to join–but they make no sense.

When you’re composing an e-mail, say what you need to say, and move on. If your big idea isn’t in the first paragraph, move it there. If you can’t find it, rewrite. “Simplicity doesn’t mean simplicity of thought,” says Kara Blackburn, a lecturer in managerial communication at MIT Sloan School of Management. “Start by asking yourself what you want the person to do as a result of this e-mail. Just asking yourself that question can make your communication much clearer.”

Use plain English, and be specific. Instead of mentioning “the current situation,” explain exactly what it is, whether it’s low company morale, or an SEC investigation.

Curb your enthusiasm. Avoid overusing exclamation points, regardless of how energized or friendly you might feel. Choose professional sign-offs like “Best” and “Regards” over the too-cute “xoxo.”

Whenever possible, use active verbs instead of passive verbs. Active verbs help to energize your prose. Instead of writing “The meeting was led by Tom,” write: “Tom led the meeting.” Use a straightforward sentence structure–subject, verb, object–that people can read quickly.

Choose pronouns wisely, and don’t be afraid to use “me.” “I often read versions of ‘Send the memo to Bob and myself,’” says Fogarty. “For some reason people think that ‘myself’ sounds more important or formal.” To avoid this mistake, Forgarty recommends thinking about how you would say the sentence if you removed mentions of other people. “Send the memo to me” sounds correct. If you add “Bob” to that clause, the “me” pronoun still works.

Beware of common grammatical mistakes, like subject-verb agreement. The number of the subject (whether it’s singular or plural) determines the number of the verb. Use a singular verb form after nobody, someone, everybody, neither, everyone, each and either.

Hits: 1316
0

When giving a PowerPoint presentation try to avoid typical PowerPoint presentation mistakes:

Too Much Text
Text takes time to read. When an audience is given a text, they will try to read it. Thus, you will be talking and they won’t be listening—because they’re reading. They won’t be able to concentrate on what they’re reading because, in fact, you’re talking. It is also recommended not to use more than four or five bullets.

Bad Contrast
Honestly, the best contrast is black on white or white on black. If you have white on black, you’ll need to increase your font size a little. You can use color for headings, titles, and images but preferably not for text.

Don’t use blue text on a red background or vice versa. Research has shown that those two colors on a digital screen actually clash so much that to many people the colours appear to vibrate.

Staring at the Screen
Slides should be used to supplement your presentation. Don’t have all your content on the slides. Practise the presentation instead. Staring at the screen, reading your content to your audience is really annoying and unprofessional.

Don’t talk to the screen. If you are shy and hate being in front of people, move your eyes to different parts of the room. Look at audience members’ hands, hair, shirts. This isn’t as good as eye contact, but it is a lot better than standing with your back to them. 

Standing in Front of the Screen
Do not stand directly in front of the screen. What is the problem with standing in front of the screen? You cover the content your audience is trying to look at. Moreover,you get shadows moving across your forehead and chest.

Using Weird Fonts
PowerPoint presentations are not the right place to use crazy fonts, no matter how appealing they may seem. When you use text, it should be immediately legible.

Putting Important Stuff by the Edges
The thing about giving a presentation is that you quite often don’t know what the room will look like until you get there. You may find out too late that you have put some really important text at the bottom of each slide but there is a non-removable table in front of the screen and the audience can’t see the text. Or, the screen is slightly smaller than the image projector projects but you can’t reach or move the projector.

Don’t Use a Bad Color Scheme
There’s no shame in using just black and white. If you want to use colours keep your colour scheme to about three or four colours. Keep it simple and avoid clashing colours.

Hits: 1452
0

Posted by on in Uncategorized

In cities and towns it is impossible to greet everyone you see. However, in small villages or when meeting other hikers on mountains trails, strangers usually greet each other.

The most common Slovak formal greeting when meeting someone is dobrý deň (good day). To be more specific, in the morning, until about 8 am, the greeting is dobré ráno (good morning) and in the evening, when it gets dark, you may say dobrý večer (good evening). If you want to say good-bye say dovidenia and that corresponds to see you. All expressions might be used for men and women, singular and plural.

If you want to say hello and bye-bye, the typical informal greetings are ahoj and čau [tchau]. If you meet several friends or young people, then you can use the plural form ahojte or čaute [tchaute]. The same words are used for informal farewell.

If you see someone on the opposite side of the street - you needn't shout dobrý deň. You can simply raise your hand and move it from side to side. You may add a smile J.

When you meet someone with whom you expect to spend more than a few minutes, for example a business partner, shake hands. Shake it briefly, firmly, with a smile and look into the eyes of the other person.

Kissing on the cheek (or both cheeks) and hugging are acceptable among family members and close friends. Do not kiss or hug with casual acquaintances.

Hits: 1323
0