Tuesday, 28 April 2009

More Nvivo

We covered today:
  • relationships
  • hyperlinks
  • models
  • find
  • queries
I've created a journal and I've restructured my database to catalogue my cases as cases. I'm all analysed out. My head is like an overfull sponge that needs some of its water wringing out before it can absorb any more.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Qualitative analysis & NVivo

We have a two day work shop on NVivo, and not how to use, but why to use it. It's proving very useful and interesting, and would have saved me three days of coding back in January if I'd known then what I learned today.

Next time I get a case study, my process will be:
  • Transcribe - delegate
  • Add time stamps
  • Style. e.g. different styles for interviewer, interviewee, and questions related to my framework. Then autocode.
  • Font - use a big font that's easy to read on a screen
  • Anonymise so I can share with supervisors (will they want to look?)
  • Import to NVivo
  • Code
Coding will include importing as cases, which I couldn't get my head round earlier - I hope I can now. I will import cases, assign attributes and perhaps analyse relationships using the relationship node.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Sensitizing Concepts

My first case study demonstrates that it is worth using social capital as a sensitizing concept by which to explore engagement- same form of words as in the Journal of Intellectual Disabilities p22 2009 13 19

What's a sensitizing concept? See here and here.

Friday, 24 April 2009

OUBS research student day

We had a couple of useful seminars this morning. Sarah Robinson had lots of good advice on methodology and made me ready to rush off and start writing the methodology chapter now, but I've too much else to do, so I'll just have to keep my notes where I can find them.

In the afternoon we had the ten minute round table sessions, like last year, with four PhD students and an academic. The second academic, Emma Bell had to leave early, and was replaced by John Storey and Luciano Batista arrived too, so we had some useful voices. But it was still a bit depressing trying to explain what you're doing to people who aren't in your field and perhaps aren't very interested. John said I should take the 'engagement' out of my research question, but I don't know what to replace it with. Value isn't enough, and the NAO has already done heaps of work on value.

Nevertheless, it seemed a more constructive session than the session last year.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

RAF High Wycombe

I went to an exhilarating meeting of the Institute of Chartered Managers at RAF High Wycombe, for a behind the scenes view of Air command. The fascinating talk was on leadership and was an MBA useful?

The charismatic speaker - a squadron leader with 2500+ hours of Tornado flying, after a tour of duty, leaving Basra, viewing the Euphrates and the Tigris and thinking he might want to come back and visit later, meaning in five or six years, finds himself back in weeks but this time in charge of the airport and airfield. This squadron leader becomes Group Captain Dean Andrew.

The brief is to get the airfield ready to hand over to the Americans at an unknown date, and the airport ready to hand back to the Iraqis at some unknown date, and not to let each party know when about each other. In the meantime, the insurgents are launching 125+ rocket attacks a week at the airfield, an area one and a half times as big as Heathrow airport.

The airport had been built in 1983, but never had air traffic through because the Iran-Iraq war happened soon after, and there were the two gulf wars. Group Capt Andrew used a variety of resources - the ground force (I didn't realise the RAF had one) to defined the no man's land by the airfields and make sure no rockets got launched there. Every day these men worked in 66F in the heat of the midday sun - "mad dogs and English men ..."

He mapped out the stakeholders with high/low power against ability to influence, so he could identify people he really needed to work with. He recognised the cultural challenges of difference between English, American and Iraqi. The cultural difference probably saved his life. The RAF was not exactly very welcome; the insurgents bombed their offices two weeks after he arrived. The insurgents chose a Sunday morning, which is an ordinary working day for Iraqis, but a day for church (or whatever) for the British, so the office was empty.

He prioritised his day by working hard from 7am to 11 pm, but spent the first couple of hours doing the most important things - allocating jobs and trusting people to do what they had to do.
"Understanding culture builds trust"
He built trust. Having some spare money he could have spent it on something important to Westerners, like fixing the luggage carousels, but he asked the Iraqi airport manager, who wanted pot plants, because that what made an impression in Iraqis eyes. Dean Andrew got someone in the UK to fly out such pot plants within 48 hours - thus earning the trust of the Iraqi manager, who was so grateful that he invited Dean Andrew to break the end of the Ramadan fast with him and has invited him to return with his wife.

He handed over the airport to the Iraqis in January 2009. And did the MBA help?
This was about leadership, not management, so depends on personality. The RAF didn't know he had an MBA when he put in there - he was put in because they'd already seen his leadership qualities, and whilst he used knowledge from his MBA studies (e.g. case studies of other airports), it was the leadership that mattered.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Duty distracts

Just when you think you might make a crack in the glass ceiling, someone below shouts, "Mum, I need a clean towel to take back to uni".

I haven't been blogging for a bit because hearth and home demand me. But middle age is when your children think they don't need you any more (except for processing clean towels) and when your elders need you do your duty for them as they get more fragile.

I watch in horror as a loved old lady goes into a residential home to a room smaller than that in the local convent boarding school. She can't have a phone line - they've used up their quota. Old people don't have mobile phones. Rheumy eyes with aged related macula or cataracts cant' see numbers on mobiles. Arthritic fingers can't punch those tiny keys. No phone even! So what happens to my octogenarian dad who emails us regularly. How will he use his computer in his residential home, if he has to go into one?

So duty calls me to do what I can for loved relatives.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Continuing your writing

Having been enthused by Lao Tze's words to begin writing the other day, unfortunately the next issue of PhD comic is equally apposite. See here.

I've dumped lots of words from previous writing, so have crtl-c'd and crtl-v'd about 20,000 words, when I'm supposed to have produced only twenty pages.

Serious thought and crtl-z are now required.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Beginning your writing

Today's PhD comic is apposite, quoting Lao Tze on how to start writing.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


"Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today" (Wayne Dyer)
I've stopped procrastinating this writing. It is getting down on paper, and the thinking seems to have paid off.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Internet, death and sex

Internet, death and sex is a possible title for a unit in an exciting new OU course now in the making. It'll have quizes, and magic and computing, and the number TU100, being a technology course. The U in the number means it's a universal course that people doing any degree might want to follow even if they never touch technology or computing again. It's going to be a sixty point course, so lots of work, but the original foundation courses were also sixty points - it's a shock when you start studying, but it's what you have to do to get used to having study time in your life, along with work, and family (forget about friends other than fellow OU students for a few years).

Why Internet? Because it's about computing without using so much power from your home computer, but doing cloud computing, storing your work on some remote server, and using applications from some server rather than on your home computer.

Why death? Because of the death of the home computer. Computing power's all in the clouds now.

Why sex? Do the course. It's due out in 2010.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Cognitive Sociology

When thinking of what types of engagement there might be I think Habermas has something that might be useful in his four forms of communicative action.

Aaron Cicourel does not quote Habermas in his little book on Cognitive Sociology - a difficult book to read - no wonder no one's had it out of the OU library for years. But Napahiet & Ghoshal cite Cicourel.

EDER, K. (2007) Cognitive Sociology and the Theory of Communicative Action: The Role of Communication and Language in the Making of the Social Bond. European Journal of Social Theory, 10, 389-408.
CICOUREL, A. V. (1973) Cognitive sociology : language and meaning in social interaction, Harmondsworth, Penguin.