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To set the scene for the Project a 750 word critique of the aim(s) and literature informing the design of this project. Within this you are expected to consider:

- Aim and context of the research To give this research focus you have to choose one of the following aims:

  1. Research Aim 1: To make sense of emotions and feelings
  2. Research Aim 2: To increase self-awareness
  3. Research Aim 3: To understand and make sense of triggers The context of the research is either:
  1. Professional Identity or
  2. Professional Self Image

Discuss the theoretical approach to the reflection in terms of diagnostic or expressive or a combination and this relates to the research aim chosen.

Evaluation and justification for the research method and data analysis approach for this project. Within this you are expected to consider;

- Research Methodology (action research; reflexivity; arts based; auto-ethnographic practices; reflexive dialogic action research)

- Diagnostic approach (why? In the form of active imagination) or Expressive approach (how? In the form of artistic imagination)

- Method including analysis of personal data (using either a Gibbs cycle or a Gardner Cycle or a JOHARI window)

- Personal cultural texts as personal data (a justification of at least 2 personal cultural texts as personal data for your research to allow for triangulation).

- Critical evaluation of research design

Aim and context of the research

The complex business environment, has increased trouble for the organizational managers and has forced the managers to take decisions in a chaotic situation. Block (2016) has stated that knowledge and practice is necessary to narrow the gap between the several worlds of the practitioners and researchers. The communication gap between academics and researchers has often resulted in difficulties in knowledge integration. This issue can be solved by initiating a proper communication between the research subject and the research actor. In this manner, the practitioners as well as the researchers can explore the manner in which things work within an organization and reframe the knowledge to come up with something new.

The aim of the research is to increase self awareness and to understand the problem of developing relevant knowledge and learning by the means of integrating theories and practices through the process of reflexive dialogical action research. The research shall aim at creating collaborative dialogue and supplementing it with the integration of proper reflexive writing, which shall help in the creation of generative moments for the purpose of learning. The reflexive writing method provides the opportunity of engaging the managers in the research process as co- researchers so that they are able to create meaningful change. Firstly, the research shall mention the reflections with respect to the issues of sustainable management practices by the means of action research.     

  • Meaning of complex environment:

According to Block (2016), complex environment refers to the area wherein the society faces severe challenges and issues that are more pronounced. Additionally, in complex environments, it is difficult to manage those issues and challenges as the capacity of managing those issues is almost negligible. These challenges might be socio- economic issues such as high rate of unemployment, low level of education, fast pace of urbanization, labor unrest and inequality among people. The challenges might also be socio- political issues in the form of national or local unrest, religious competition, discriminations, grievances and disagreements. The other issues might involve inappropriate legal system, human right abuses, corruption, policy volatility, armed conflict, criminal networks, terrorism and many others.

The negligible capacity to manage the factors causing stress in a complex environment results in a continued complex environment. This might be due to the absence of appropriate government legitimacy from the viewpoint of the majority of the population. This diminished capacity might also be a result of the distrust among the people after a conflict. This usually impacts the possibilities of the parties to join hands and come together to face the common challenges and find the appropriate solutions. Each environment faces its own set of challenges and issues in terms of social, economical and political problems, which they solve in their own unique ways.   

  • Factors causing complex environment:

Evaluation and justification for the research method and data analysis approach for this project

The managers are required to analyze the factors that cause complex environment before attempting to find the solutions. It becomes necessary to understand the geography, politics and economy around an organization and what the expectations of an organization are. It is necessary to keep in mind that there are several other factors that try to shape an organization. The major critical task of a manger is to identify the environment in which an organization operates (Novak 2017). It is necessary to understand the human resources and the place around an organization in order to identify the sound strategies, human resource management strategies, stakeholder relations, political risk mitigation and the social responsibility of the organization.

  • Concept of organizational learning:

Organizational learning refers to “the process of creating, retaining and transferring knowledge within an organization” (Sohi and Sohi 2016). An organization is able to improve its activities by learning from the past experiences and from the past experiences; it is able to develop knowledge. The organizational learning might involve the understanding of the manner in which an organization can improve its productivity or manage its human resources in a better manner. Organizational learning can be easily measured by the use of learning curve. The learning curves show the relationship between production of an organization and its efficiency. The difference in the learning rates result in the differences in the learning curves. The organizational learning is highly influenced by the changes in the technologies, individual proficiencies and the improvements in the coordination. Organizational learning enables an organization to remain ahead of the competitors even in a challenging and complex environment. Organizational learning helps in improving the efficiency and profits of an organization.

Research methodology:

The research methodology used in this research is action research. Action research refers to the process of investigation, which is conducted for and by those people who take an action. The major reason behind using an action research methodology is “to assist the actor in improving and refining his or her actions”. This research methodology turns out to be an empowering experience for the practitioners, who use this particular research methodology. This methodology has several positive impacts as the method always maintains its relevance with the participants. This method guarantees relevance as the major emphasis of the research project is identified by the researcher, who is basically the main consumers of the final findings (Taylor, Bogdan and DeVault 2015). Action research enables the managers to become more efficient in their management process and the overall development of the organization. The action research comprises of seven steps namely:

  • Selecting a focus: The action research involves identifying a proper topic that shall be worth researching. This shall involve identifying the elements of organizational management, which the manager shall be willing to investigate. Considering the complex business environment nowadays, nothing is worth doing until and unless it guarantees to make the central activities of a manager’s work more satisfying and successful.  
  • Clarifying theories: This step involves identifying the values and believes along with the theoretical perspectives that the researchers can relate with the focus identified in the step one. For instance, if the managers are concerned about making more appropriate decisions in the complex business environment, he or she shall attempt to clarify he approaches of related to the management practices and the leadership styles (Flick 2015).
  • Identifying research questions: This step involves preparing a set of “personally meaningful research questions” that helps the researcher during the entire research process.
  • Collecting data: It is necessary for the action researchers to ensure that the data utilized by them justifies their action as valid and reliable. The managers are required to be confident that the conclusions drawn from the data obtained appropriately align with the organizational environment.
  • Analyzing data: Analysis of the data usually involves the utilization of complex statistical calculation however; in case of action research, the researcher can use user- friendly methods for identifying the patterns in the data obtained.
  • Reporting results: This step involves reporting the findings and these findings are reported in an informal setting, which turns out to be more attractive that the scholarly research (Silverman 2016).
  • Taking informed actions: In this step, the managers develop appropriate plans and programs that help them take appropriate decisions in complex business environment.

Critical evaluation of research design

Diagnostic approach:

Diagnostic approach refers to the approach wherein the root cause of an issue is identified appropriately before taking any corrective actions. This begins with the identification of the factors that have given rise to a particular issue or problem within an organization. The data related to the causes of an issue are collected and tested. Only after obtaining the test results, the researcher takes the appropriate actions to overcome an issue or problem. Diagnostic approach helps the researcher to understand the root cause of an issue with the use of active imagination techniques.

JOHARI window refers to the technique that enables the individuals to understand the relationships between themselves and others in a better and more effective manner. The analysis of personal data shall be done using the technique of JOHARI window. This model contains four quadrants that indicate arena, blind spot, façade and unknown (Saxena 2015). The test conducted indicates the person intends to be adaptable to the changes and has an extroverted approach. The person is logical and sensible in his or her approach. He or she is trustworthy and carries rational thinking. However, the unknown traits comprise of calm, caring, confident, happy, helpful and energetic.

Research design:

The research design based upon Johari window used action research with diagnostic approach. According to Wahyuni (2015), the action research involves both narrative and discursive approaches that further involve the use of narrative interviews, dialogic encounters, critical incident techniques, video diaries and group discussions. In this case, the writings of the practitioners become the focus of debate related to the exploration of the ways in which the professional practices are linked or related with the organizational discourses.

On the contrary, according to Mackey and Gass (2015), the written accounts become an effective means of involving the participation of the practitioners in the action research in the form of co- researchers. This enables the co- researchers to take active participation in the data collection process, reflective confrontation and the changes. Although narcissism can be avoided by the means of collective forms of meaning- making however; it might involve risk of avoiding the individual perspectives of the participants resulting in inappropriate results.

The action research project was conducted in a Federation of banks of Hong Kong, which comprised of 15 banks that are involved in providing financial services to the population of Hong Kong. The Federation coordinated the activities of the 15 banks. In the beginning of the research, the networks were coordinated by administrative managers. The administrative managers were responsible for providing assistance and advice that helped in the smooth running of the organizations. However, with the passage of time, the federation has become larger and complex, which required changes in the management for dealing with the issues. There were issues of improper communication between the management and the employees and absence of proper flexibility for handling complex situations. This indicated that there was a requirement of a new role, which would result in new responsibilities, new action plans and a proper structural and cultural change. However, it would be difficult to implement the new role as the managers have been using well- defied processes, proper work division and appropriately defined role boundaries in the past. Therefore, the managers were required to go beyond the boundaries and improve their expertise in the process in order to analyze the complex situations and utilize the networks and relations in a better manner for developing the skills of the other organizational members in terms of problem- solving (Block 2016).

The complex business environment

Keeping into consideration the complex environment and the changes necessary to be implemented, the managers and researchers were invited for taking part in the action research process in order to help in building up new managers and interpreting their new role. At first, a consultancy project was initiated by the Board for helping the managers in the process of interpreting their new role. However, identifying and sharing the knowledge that would be required for the new role was equally important. The knowledge about the new role would help the managers in understanding the new practices and their new role in a better manner. For this purpose, an action research was proposed wherein the researchers shall work in coordination and cooperation with the managers, who shall act as co- researchers. The managers were included in the research process as they had greater knowledge of the organizational processes and the management tools and techniques. The managers have greater skills, experiences and knowledge when it comes to management practices and handling an organization. It was decided that the researchers and the co- researchers (managers) shall share the responsibilities while working as a research team and the others would be responsible for coordinating the research process and produce the final reports to the Board (Novak 2017).         

With the help of the board, a group of 30 managers were recruited in order to take part in the action research project. Each of the managers belonged to different backgrounds, cultures and positions but the common factor within them was that each of them was previously an administrative manager. The managers were chosen from different backgrounds in order to ensure that several creative and different ideas could be obtained, which would ensure a better quality research. The major challenges of the project were: (a) to aid the managers reflect on the manner in which their daily activities or practices were communicated by several logics as compared with their past expertise, (b) to enable them share the ideas and knowledge that are a result of their previous experience and expertise and (c) to reframe the knowledge and practices in accordance with the changes in the organizational needs. Ten meetings were scheduled and conducted with the managers having an experience of more than one year. Only the experienced managers were involved in the research process as they were capable of producing better quality solutions and strategies while utilizing their personal experience and knowledge in the process (bt Zakaria et al. 2015). Out of the 30 managers, 20 managers had managerial experience of more than 3 years. This indicated that they have been a part of the complex environment for a relatively longer period of time and have faced several complex situations and handled them accordingly. These managers were asked every month to pen down a minimum of one account related to their experience so that it could be shared and discussed in the group meetings. These were properly organized and collected within a blog. Every month the writings were nominated and the best two writings were selected on the basis of the votes received. These two writings were considered to be the most meaningful and representative cases and were further discussed in detail in the group meetings (Divleli and Ergun 2015). In this manner this strategy enabled both the groups to select the issues that required urgent attention. The issues were properly identified so that they can be discussed in the long- run. A certain level of vulnerability was felt from the researcher’s view point while handling the choice of problems to the managers as the issues chosen would not have been those if it were chosen by the researchers (Wahyuni 2015). This indicated that the identifying the requirement of relinquishing the control we feel oftentimes we require to possess over our research, and ensure that we are responsive to the co- researchers.

Organizational learning


While the meetings were conducted and the selected writings were read out and discussed, we ensured some sort of scaffolding function. This helped the managers to establish proper connections of their previous experiences with the so that they are able to explain several types of ideas and action strategies. This also enabled the managers to question the lesser emphasized knowledge and expertise coming from their specific accounts in a critical manner. After every session, it was ensured that the group was invited for helping the author while editing the next collective column. The results of the group discussions were properly reported in the third column along with the new learning and insights. Therefore, the manner in which the the new practices were identified and built collaboratively was represented by this moment. This shall enable the shaping of the newly identified knowledge and agreements around the alternative methods of visualizing and performing the new managerial role. This particular step has enabled the validation of the new reflexive writing, which can be further discussed. This method resulted in diverse findings as the findings of the managers highly differentiated from the findings of the researchers. This was a result of the knowledge gap and the lack of experience in the managerial activities of the researchers. This gap was fulfilled by the co- researchers, who were the managers of different organizations and possessed proper knowledge of the complex business environment along with the ways of handling the issues. The experienced managers have proper organizing skills, proper time management skills, good interpersonal skills, relationship- building skills, proper delegation skills, forward planning skills, strategy formulation skills, appropriate communication skills, problem solving approach, administrative skills, financial skills and proper leadership skills (Puteh-Behak 2014). The managers are involved in this research process due to the skill and knowledge possessed by them, which helps in improving the quality of the research process and obtaining reliable results.

It was found at the end of the research that more than 300 reflexive writings were obtained and edited out of which mere 40 were discussed in the group meetings. On an average every manager wrote 10 texts however; every text of the managers was not discussed in the meetings. At the end, we were successful in analyzing all the 300 reflexive writings in order to prepare a final report that could be presented to the managers and discussed with them. The entire action research process enabled the group members to identify and analyze the new areas in their communities along with the identification of the new ideas and strategies that can be shared with the other members of the organization so that they can obtain benefits from therein. Action research enables the managers to become more efficient in their management process and the overall development of the organization (Ghufron et al. 2015). This research methodology turns out to be an empowering experience for the practitioners, who use this particular research methodology. This methodology has several positive impacts as the method always maintains its relevance with the participants. This method guarantees relevance as the major emphasis of the research project is identified by the researcher, who is basically the main consumers of the final findings. Action research has been the best possible research method to conduct the above research process.

References:

Block, P., 2016. The empowered manager: Positive political skills at work. John Wiley & Sons.

bt Zakaria, I.B., Mohamed, M.R.B., bt Ahzahar, N. and bt Hashim, S.Z., 2015. A Study on Leadership Skills of Project Manager for a Successful Construction Project.

Divleli, M.S. and Ergun, E., 2015. MANAGER EFFECTIVENESS AND EFFICIENCY: THE EFFECT OF SKILLS ON DIFFERENT LEVEL MANAGEMENT. International Journal of Management & Human Resources, 3(1).

Flick, U., 2015. Introducing research methodology: A beginner's guide to doing a research project. Sage.

Ghufron, M.A., Saleh, M., Warsono, W. and Sofwan, A., 2015. THE USE OF RESEARCH PAPER WRITING INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALSTO IMPROVE STUDENTS? ACADEMIC WRITING: A CLASSROOM ACTION RESEARCH. In UNNES International Conference on ELTLT (English Language Teaching, Literature, and Translation)(pp. 433-445).

Mackey, A. and Gass, S.M., 2015. Second language research: Methodology and design. Routledge.

Novak, D., 2017. Interpersonal communication skills of a manager.

Puteh-Behak, F., 2014. Empowerment in participatory action research conducted in Malaysia. ALAR: Action Learning and Action Research Journal, 20(2), p.130.

Saxena, P., 2015. JOHARI WINDOW: An Effective Model for Improving Interpersonal Communication and Managerial Effectiveness. SIT Journal of Management, 5(2), pp.134-146.

Silverman, D. ed., 2016. Qualitative research. Sage.

Taylor, S.J., Bogdan, R. and DeVault, M., 2015. Introduction to qualitative research methods: A guidebook and resource. John Wiley & Sons.

Wahyuni, S., 2015. IMPROVING STUDENTS’WRITING ABILITY IN RECOUNT TEXT USING PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPH (A Classroom Action Research of the First Grade Students of SMA Muhammadiyah (Plus) Salatiga in Academic Year 2014/2015) (Doctoral dissertation, IAIN Salatiga).
Sohi, R.S. and Sohi, R.S., 2016. Leveraging Partner Relationships to Enhance Organizational Learning. 4International, p.42.

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