Thursday, 30 June 2011

Cricket team

Critical realism and cricket are topics PhD students have debated over coffee, though I must admit that cricket is of more interest, causes less angst and fills many more coffee breaks than critical realism. Perhaps this is because several of the full-time PhD students enjoy sport, especially team sports, and we have students from ex-commonwealth countries like Pakistan, New Zealand and Canada. Such students have enthusiastically got together a cricket team from the OU Business School (now called the Faculty of Business and Law),

Every year in the early summer there is an inter-departmental 6-aside cricket tournament in the OU. The website is here:

The OUBS has entered a team, “Ne Plus Ultras”, for the first time this year, which has progressed to the final that takes place tomorrow. If you're on campus, you're welcome to come down tomorrow if you’d like to support the team, watch some cricket or just have some lunch in the sun. The Sports Pavilion bar is also open for food and drinks. The cricket pitch is by the sports pavilion on the north east side of the main campus, a minute or two from the central walkway.

I promise not to discuss critical realism.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Another student submits

Another stalwart student of our year submitted today. See her relaxed and sunny beam.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Academic media video

At last I've been given the link to the video I did about my research. Here it is.

Its subtitle isn't quite correct because:
  • First, I’m not a doctor yet, although I will be in a couple of months as I’m through my viva.
  • Secondly, the words refer to the OUBSS, not the OUBS – too many esses!
But it's heaps better than my attempts in 2010, and it does allow me to summarise my research. And I'm an extra in a maths video here.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Doing corrections

Are these corrections to my thesis or amendments? I've corrected all the little bits, the details of references and cross-references, a typo here, or a missing couple of words from a quote. I've addressed the the bullet points in the examiners' report, and drafted a response to their list of corrections explaining what I've done,how I've amended the writing and the logic of it.

The process is that you send your thesis to the internal examiner with a table indicating what you've changed and where, so that it's easy for them to refer to. Then if they don't like anything they are able to tell you easily and you can have another go. I'm so nervous about my changes that despite already having had a go at them, I've not yet sent them off, but am rewriting my response.

Apparently, the examiners can ask you to do only what was in their report, so once I've persuaded them I've done, I'm through.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

No award

It transpires that I'm not eligible for the award after all. Like chocolate competitions say you mustn't be employed or a family of an employee of the company to enter, for this award I must not work for the Open University. Yet I work as an Associate Lecturer (AL) for the OU, and since I submitted my thesis, I've had a contract to work on the SocialLearn project in the Knowledge Media Institute (KMi).

When I think of all the times I've heard Open University post grads complain that they don't automatically get the chance be ALs so they don't get the teaching experience that the Joint Skills Statement requires of them, they'd not be impressed. (I blogged on their skills here. ) I don't think any other ALs would be impressed either. I've won the skills, but lost the nomination.

It's particularly silly because the HEFCE Joint Skills Statement of skills training requirements, now replaced by the researcher development framework, says that a post-graduate student should obtain teaching experience, which is just what I did through my AL work.

Director of research studies isn't best pleased because, she says, research students are encouraged from the start to follow the HEFCE Joint Skills statement which outlines skills expected of PhD students, including teaching. Opportunities for research students to gain the vital teaching experience needed if they are to get an academic job are very rare at the Open University. Other universities look for teaching experience in PhD qualified recruits. As such the OU encourages students to seek AL roles in order to augment their experience, and so they are employees of the Open University for their time as ALs. This is needed, is something required of them and yet AOUG apparently penalises them for taking this action. Furthermore, although I am currently working, I have gained that short term employment in KMi because of the strength of my completed PhD research.

As the award is for performance as a research student, current employment status is irrelevant and it's not like a chocolate competition.

Student award

To my pride, pleasure and surprise the director of research studies has recommended me for an award from the AOUG, an award that goes to a final year student. She says it's due to my
  • recent recognition via conference papers,
  • constant engagement with social media and communication tools to speak to wider communities about your research,
  • service as an AL "alongside your studies and your active role in the programme".
I don't know what the award involves but I'm flattered to be nominated, especially given the struggle I had in the MRes year to write essays, and the difficulty I had to persuade the PhD interview board that I was a worthy candidate.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Management Consulting Division conference

I have just spent some days in Amsterdam at the Management Consulting Division of the Academy of Management biennial European conference held at the Vu University, where I was presenting a paper, the first time I've presented a paper at such an august forum, so somewhat nervous.

At my viva, the examiner asked me where I could present my work and I mentioned this conference, but he seemed to think it a mere practitioners' conference and asked if I couldn't present at an academic venue. That floored me for a moment because I didn't realise that he didn't realise this was a branch of the AOM, the Academy of Management. You can't get much more academic than that, can you? and it's international. Fortunately, I had enough wit to point this out tactfully, and he seemed reassured.

It was the most stimulating conference I've been to because it was all so closely related to my research, and I've come home raring to finish my corrections and even with other ideas as to how I could have developed my research, or written the thesis.

Academics from Europe and America discussed consultancy, consultants, their relationship with clients, their identity, image, future and impact. As a profession, consultants seem a navel-gazing lot, but it is interesting to note that many conference participants were practitioners who wanted to know and understand theory in order to apply it in practice. Hence, many of them considered themselves as hybrids being both academics and consultant practitioners. However, this hybridicity emphasises to me that much of the research on consulting is from the practitioner’s not the client’s perspective, and there is a dearth of research on this perspective.

Remedying this dearth somewhat, Vu University’s Master’s students, taking the consultancy module, presented posters on the client-consultant relationship from qualitative data they had collected through interviews with clients in a Dutch public sector organisation. They’d identified an iterative process of the growth of trust in the client, finding that soft skills were important to the growth of trust in the middle phases of a project.

The conference seemed well organised, for instance, at the research-based sessions, the three papers presented seeming to slot together well.

I presented my paper in a session on consultants as sense makers, at which there were 14 or so participants including names you recognise from journal publications. Questions included
  • one on clarification of adapting behaviour. Did it cover adapting a mindset, which was something I hadn’t explicitly separated from physical adapting of project processes when I analysed, nor did I immediately have an example to mind.
  • the way I represented some cycles. I should probably change double headed arrows to two single headed arrows. As the questioner had earlier presented an applauded session on diagramming, I think I should take his advice. He did, thankfully, also comment positively on the model.
  • Finally there was a question on tensions, because I hadn’t clearly explained it was a normative model. I elucidated by describing an earlier scenario of an initially unsuccessful case that lacked interaction, and then adapted its conditions and behaviours.
A stream of papers that I didn’t fit in to my schedule was on the value of consultancy, something I think I could have developed more in my thesis, value of engagement and its relationship to value of consultancy. In similar vein, Andrew Sturdy gave a key note lecture on the impact of consultants, the tenor being that their impact is rather less than the industry itself argues for – a critical academic indeed. Wouldn't he have been an interesting examiner for me!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Dressed to present

How should one dress to present at a conference?

Next week Management Consulting Division of the the Academy of Management is having its biennial conference in Amsterdam, where I'm presenting a paper written with my supervisors on my PhD research. I'm hoping not just to get good feedback on the paper, but new ideas on where to go next and how to develop it, something I can share with the supervisors in order to write a publishable paper for a quality journal.

For the viva, I wore in my best suit, hair freshly washed, makeup professional and under stated. At previous conferences I've been a student, but now I'm through the viva, shouldn't I dress professionally to present at a conference ?