A global organization selling Internet hardware, software and services has an extensive set of internal training programmes, each of which is formally assessed. The company wants to reduce the size of the overall training budget through the use of e-learning, but is concerned as to whether learning through this mechanism is more effective, less effective or makes no difference. It is believed by the research team that e-learning will be marginally more effective – thus they have a working hypothesis.
All 200 members of a representative sample are given a pre-test of their understanding of a selected subject. Then the subject is taught to 100 participants through traditional, classroom learning (the XXX group) and to the other 100 participants through a specially designed e-learning program (the XXX group). All employees are given a post-test, and the gain-scores (the differences between the pre-test and post-test score) compared between the two groups.
Leonard-Cross (2010) reports on a research study conducted in a large public sector organization, employing over 3,000 staff in 12 geographical locations. The organization had implemented an accredited coach training programme, offering those in management level posts the opportunity to undertake a coaching qualification and then coach fellow employees. The study sought to evaluate the impact of the programme on those who had received coaching. To do this, a XXXX design was adopted with participants in the survey either in a coached or non-coached group. The researcher had no control over group allocation since membership of the coached group depended on whether participants had taken part in the coaching programme over the last two years. The non-coached staff were matched to the coached staff based on geographical location and job type and were randomly selected by contacts in each geographical location who had no additional knowledge of the research. The study found that participants that had received developmental coaching (N=61) had higher levels of self-efficacy than the control group of participants (N=57) who had not received coaching.
Two researchers were interested in the views of fellow researchers on the safety procedures necessary in being a lone researcher. To gather data, they chose six email discussion groups. Initially they sent an email requesting only basic information, but after an encouraging response, they sent a more structured set of questions in a second email. This requested details on respondents’: gender; age; occupation; area of work; country of fieldwork; whether they had been given safety guidelines; whether they had experienced incidents while conducting research; and recommendations for ‘best practice’ when researching alone.
A total of 46 responses were received, of which 13 were from males and 33 from females, with ages ranging from the late 20s to the early 60s. Thirty-one were from the UK. Four were from Australia, six from the USA, and one from each of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Italy and Canada. Some of the replies were quite detailed.
Over the last three years, a global corporation has spent what it regards as a considerable sum of money on an executive coaching programme for its middle managers and wants some feedback on its effectiveness. By chance, Bob, the current Director of the Human Resources department, is completing his MSc in Coaching and is looking for a subject for his research dissertation. He volunteers to conduct the research. After exploring a number of epistemological approaches and methods, he decides on XXXX for two reasons. Firstly, he wants to understand these managers’ perceptions of coaching (their subjective experience) and whether this affected their engagement with coaching. Secondly, as Director of HR he recognized his closeness to the issue, so XXXX would be helpful since it requires the researcher to ‘bracket’ their understandings to see things as they really are. So Bob ensures that he engages with frequent ‘reality checks’ both with the literature and also through his own personal reflections to keep his own influence to a minimum.
As part of its long-term strategic planning, a low-cost airline conducts a large-scale study on customer attitudes. It is particularly concerned to discern changes and trends, including customer attitudes towards higher cost competitors and what customers regard as good services. Over a period of a month, teams of researchers work at airports, talking to queues of customers and noting their responses on a Web-based questionnaire on their iPads. The study starts with demographic information such as the customer’s gender, age, whether they are a business or holiday traveller and their income (the latter a voluntary question since it is intrusive). Then it focuses on:
The study is constructed so that XXX levels (strength of relationships) between demographic profiles (age, income etc.) and other variables can be analysed. The hypothesis being tested is that older, more wealthy travellers seek greater travelling comfort (seat comfort and leg-room) rather than lower price. If the hypothesis is proved, this will have important strategic implications for the type of aircraft the budget airline purchases in the future.
Puhakainen and Siponen (2010) report on a study into employee non-compliance with a company’s information systems (IS) security policies. Most organizations use training programmes to instil better compliance attitudes and behaviour. However, there have been few studies as to what learning principles affect user compliance or the effectiveness of improved compliance behaviour. The researchers’ aim was to launch a training programme and to evaluate its impact. The 11-month project consisted of two research cycles. The first research cycle, lasting three months, involved the implementation of the IS security training programme. The second research cycle was theory refinement, in which a new communication process was added to make the IS security training programme more effective.
The first research cycle involved the implementation of the training programme to increase compliance with the company’s email policy. In accordance with XXXX principles, the programme was executed in four phases: (1) identifying the problem, (2) planning the training, (3) delivering the training, and (4) evaluating the results.
Ortiz (2004) describes a study in which he researched the isolated world of the wives of professional athletes using sequential interviewing, participant observation, personal documents and print media accounts. He travelled thousands of miles across the USA during the process. He stated:
‘I necessarily minimized involvement in other areas of my personal life. As a result, their world was my world for more than three years’. (p. 470)
The establishment of reciprocity in his collaborative relationship with the women included babysitting, hanging curtains, running errands, shopping with them and even house-hunting. Over time, this closeness generated data that included secrets, gossip and occupationally relevant information (about their husbands).
Through sequential interviewing, critical topics were constantly emerging, but each new tantalizing piece of information became critical data that he felt he had to follow up with more interviews. Thus he got himself into an endless cycle of compulsive data collection. Even when he terminated a relationship he agreed to keep in touch with the respondent. He discovered, however, that staying in touch served to open up a Pandora’s box of new information. The therapeutic nature of the interview sessions also seemed to act as an added incentive for the wives to stay in touch with the researcher. Hence, although he knew he needed to make an effort to distance himself ‘constant reminders of the wives and their marriages continued to pull me back into their isolated world’ (Ortiz, 2004: 479). He finally arrived at a point where he began to feel emotionally exhausted and trapped and terminated contact. Although this process left him with feelings of guilt, he concludes that ‘going native’ is not always a mistake, especially if collaborative relationships are mutually beneficial.