Thursday, 27 November 2008

Rushed apologies

All at lunch time today!

Preceded by
  • Public meeting where interesting people are
  • NVivo training course
  • Student to student presentation on organisational fit with cake from our director
I can choose two of these six events to attend. I need to go on the NVivo course. I'd love to go to the student2student session and get people to borrow my new video camera and film us. But I'm signed up and committed to the lunch time seminar and I'd planned to go to the public meeting two months ago. I've sent my apologies. Maybe someone else will take a photo.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Collecting data

My head's spinning with data I've been collecting from a couple of projects. I've got loads of transcribing to do so will take ages before I get to analysis. But I'll jot down immediate impressions for supervisors and myself. Later, I think I'll use the Nahapiet and Ghoshal paper to identify initial codings, because first impressions suggest existence of various dimensions of social capital.

Nahapiet J, Ghoshal S. 1998. Social capital, intellectual capital, and the organizational advantage. Academy of Management Review 23(2): 242-266.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Career development workshop

It seems a tad late in my life for anyone to give me career advice - I don't remember getting it at school, or college, or though my OU studies. Nevertheless, it is now the thing to do, and I duly signed up for a career development workshop.

The most interesting and useful thing I think I've learned as that I need to rewrite my CV for an academic application. I've been writing it for AL posts, and keeping to one page, but apparently if I apply for research posts I should be using a couple of pages and putting my education and qualifications near the top, whereas it had seemed to me, that you should put your work experience near the top, and education wouldn't be so relevant later on in life.

I've got the chance to rewrite and get feedback on it. I'll do that and see what the trainer suggests.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Videoing coffee

Here's a video that a colleague and I made of students sharing coffee time.

I got myself this tiny little video camera for £79, (flip video) so this is a first experiment. I meant to splice this film together with another of hands and coffee cups, but haven't worked out how to do and upload it. I can upload, and I can mix the two movies, but I can't create a mix that I can upload.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Axelrod on engaging with clients

How should a consultant engage with clients?

Axelrod says through
  • widening the circle of involvement
  • connecting people to each other
  • create communities for action
  • embracing democratic principles
I shall look for these activities in my research. But will it be the consultants or the clients who do these?

His advice to create communities is interesting because it suggests the communities of practice that Wenger writes about.

Axelrod, R. H. (2001) Terms of engagement: changing the way we change organizations, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco. 936
Wenger, E. Communities of Practice: a brief introduction. Available from: from [Accessed 8/08/ 2008].

Monday, 17 November 2008

Knowledge and communities of practice

Wenger writing on knowledge transfer and communities of practice, argues CoP are “cornerstones of knowledge management" and suggests that there are three characteristics to communities of practice: domains, communities and practice. The combination of characteristics allows communities of practice to manage knowledge. It is their combination that enables CoP to manage knowledge.
He relates these domains to strategy.
  • domain - you need knowledge to do what you want
  • communities - you need people to have knowledge
  • practice - you need experience to produce usable knowledge & what have we learned?
It seems to me that there is some overlap of these characteristics with the Nahapiet and Ghosal dimensions of social capital (structural, cognitive & relational), and Wenger’s description of these characteristics in relation to knowledge has given me other angles on questions to ask in interview.

Nahapiet, J. and Ghoshal, S. (1998) 'Social capital, intellectual capital, and the organizational advantage', Academy of Management Review, 23 (2), pp. 242-266. 842
Wenger, E. (2004) 'Knowledge management as a doughnut: Shaping your knowledge strategy through communities of practice', Ivey Business Journal, 68 (3), pp. 1-8. 1051

Friday, 14 November 2008

Huxham & collaboration

Chris Huxham has written loads of stuff on collaboration. Collaboration is voluntary cooperation between organisations, so I'm not clear how much of it relates to organisations that have a business relationship like that with consultants. Is that collaboration?

In the public sector, there's the need to manage relationships between organisations such as suppliers and consultants involved in delivering, for example, advice and IT software or hardware or both. Huxham (1993a) calls that capacity and readiness to collaborate "collaborative capability". There are lots of conditions that facilitate collaboration (Huxham 1993b) such as participants sharing commons sense of mission, strategy, set of values. They also have to share power and decisions and resources as well as agree values of collaboration. I wonder if that's where consultants and clients might not agree - value of collaboration.

And I still wonder how collaboration works with social capital and how it increases intellectual capital.

Huxham, C. (1993a) 'Collaborative Capability: An Intraorganizational Perspective on Collaborative Advantage', Public Money & Management, 13 (3), pp. 21-28. 1043
Huxham, C. (1993b) 'Pursuing Collaborative Advantage', Journal of the Operational Research Society, 44 (6), pp. 599-611. 838

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Student to student presentation

Knowledge transfer - what is it? HaiYan has been researching this in Chinese mergers and acquisitions, and been in the OUBS for a year on loan from Peking University. She presented some of her work to us this morning. First she defined knowledge transfer (Cutler 1989) then explained some models such as
  • Shannons
  • Szulanski 1996
  • Jeffrey & Teng 2003 and Grant 1996
From these models she's taken 5 elements to create the factors she will use for her analysis. She told us about her literature review on knowledge transfer in mergers and acquisitions, then explained her strategy.

Who came?
We had a good turn out with three students from each of the first, second and third year PhDs plus a fourth year and an MRes student.

Some of us know about knowledge transfer, some of us are researching M&A and some of us are more experienced with statistics. So HaiYan was able to take away some of our thoughts and advice. For example, how to layout some of the questions on her survey, or who to contact in the OU on statistics.

And we finished with a scrumptious leaving cake for her.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

First year here

What would new students need to know?
  • Where's our desk? Where do the other students sit? Most of us are together but there are others on another floor with the real academics.
  • Who's in charge? It used to be the tartar of a secretary and then the director, but the secretary has moved on to better things. We miss her because she used to be the one who told us where to find things, how to get things done, and when to get our assignments or reports in.
  • Where do we go for the B852 seminars?
  • Are there tea making facilities?
  • Can we photocopy? Where? In colour? And how do we get a printer from our desktops?
  • There's a shower! - Where?
  • How do I claim expenses?
  • How do I get my access badge? I need it for library access and to access the bike shed.
  • How do I post stuff?
  • What's the browsery?
Answers to these and other as yet unthought of questions are coming in the video we are making as part of the participatory video workshops.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


An anecdote is a short story. I like those and find myself telling them, because they usually illustrate a point I want to make. Where have I found this?
Anecdote: The difference between a sound argument and a good story
Perhaps it was on the web site of the company called Anecdote See [1], which is an Australian based organisation that seems to specialise in story telling for business reasons. Their front page seems to relate to collaboration and for that reason I want to investigate them a bit more. But also I like the technique of storytelling and I have to think of some way of narrating the findings from my case studies.

I can't get the link to work - it gives me a 406 message saying that the link is not acceptable. Sorry.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Free writing

I'm always writing blocked - anything seems more important, but there's a fun blog at One Minute Writer that gets at least a minute's worth of writing out of you - perhaps a better transition activity (what you do between doing things that you should be doing) than jigzone or playing cards.

However, as I wrote a month ago I need to write as inquiry so I need a load of prompts that are relevant to what I'm researching, like:
  • engagement,
  • knowledge management,
  • Foucauldian analyses,
  • trust,
  • power
  • transaction costs,
  • collaboration.
  • social capital
  • communities of practice
  • intellectual capital
But I don't have relevant prompts that are also easy to write freely about.

Transition activity: what you do between doing things that you should be doing

Saturday, 8 November 2008

PhD comics lecture

Poking fun at a PhD student's life is what PhD Comics is about, so I'd have liked to attend the Comics lecture at Oxford. It was the same time as they were voting in USA for Obama, so this is the artist's take on the Oxford experience. I like it because it is so true.

Friday, 7 November 2008


I've been offered access. Hurrah!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

The disposition effect in the Chinese stock market

We OUBS students do these seminars for each other. Presenting to each other has benefits:
  • it's friendly so less scary than for real
  • your colleagues might give you some good ideas on how to develop your research
  • it's one of the PhD skills you have to have (E3: Constructively defend research outcomes at seminars and viva examination - see joint skills statement)
  • it's good practice
  • it builds up the student community
Today one of our first year student's presented on
The disposition effect in the Chinese stock market.
Each PhD student has a web page, but she hasn't got hers yet, so I'll try to write up something of what I think she said.

Aim: find out how demographic factors influence individual investors disposition effect in China.
Research questions: there were three; the first two are about what the effect is and the third is about the reasons for that effect.
Methodology: Odean's model (1998) on the disposition effect can be measured by PGR- PLR (proportion of gains realised and the proportion of losses realised.

She's going to use quantitative data from a survey of 10,000 to answer the first questions, using factor analysis, and also qualitative data to address the reasons why. She'll use thematic analysis like Braun and Clarke (2006).

We asked her questions about her theoretical framework, about comparison with the western world and why she was using both quantitative and qualitative. We asked her who the research would be useful to. One student suggested a variation to her survey that would simplify and perhaps reduce her qualitative work.

Monday, 3 November 2008


This is such an insecure activity – looking for access.

The ethics committee told me to create an information sheet, which I’ve done, and my supervisors weren’t interested immediately but now have commented that they wouldn’t have written it like this, so I’ve got amendments to make. and my supervisors say that they’d write the email differently and so on.

I'm finding complying with the OU ethics committee on one hand and the need to get access on the other sometimes incompatible. On the one hand, I find example information sheets that cover everything, but on the other hand, such sheets might
  1. scare off potential participants
  2. be too simplistic for the intelligent business people that I hope to speak to.
For example, my supervisor found the wording that
"researchers are not allowed to persuade people to participate"
'rather bizarre'. And I agree. Why shouldn't I try to get people to participate? In the long run, the research should benefit more than just me.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Six Characters

What's reality? What exists and how can we tell the story of what exists? Can we tell a story truthfully?

That's problem is at the heart of Pirandello's play "Six Characters in search of an Author" now at the Gielgud Theatre.

The six characters have developed a life of their own, and have a story that they insist on telling. But this is a play within a play, because the six characters interrupt a rehearsal of a film documentary on assisted suicide in Denmark.

Each of the six characters wants to give his or her version of the reality that happened to them, in their life. Each has a different take on their lives together. Each constructs the same story according his/her own perception and personality.
  • The Father - guilt ridden
  • The Step-daughter - haughty, sexy
  • The Mother - distraught, weak and weepy
  • The Son - arrogant, distant
  • The silent Girl and Boy - why are they silent?
Then the actors attempt to reconstruct their story, putting a different angle to it. And here is yet another production of this play, with a different take from the one that Pirandello first produced - I think he might have liked this one.

Why am I so interested?

Because the problem of reality haunts me; it comes up in the way I approach and write up my research. Because this is a post-modern view:
  • of a world made up of people by people,
  • knowledge constructed through six characters, and reconstructed through producer and actors,
  • multiple knowledges: six characters and six knowledges,
  • knowledge contingent on time (now, in London or early twentieth century Sicily?)
  • knowledge that is not objective - who can be objective about assisted suicide
This play is so relevant to my philosophy.