Reconsidering Work-Life Balance Debates
The problem of obtaining interviews is a known problem that's well documented within journal and research paper. After reading Kamenou's paper it was evident that the same problems are occurring to her as well. This problem might have arisen because of the nature of the organisations being researched. The organisations being researched are private commercial companies which tend to be more protective over how the organisation functions (Harris ET AL 2008). Commercial companies usually run in a fast paced environment with work done by the least amount of employees possible to insure profitability. Research done by Thomas (1995) and Brannen (1987) show that there is a tendency for organisations to prioritise and if something has arisen which is more important than facilitating the research, the organisation will ask for the research to be conducted at another time. This might be the case with Kamenou's difficulty in accessing resources from organisations. As one of the organisations stated that it was restructuring, to go around such issues usually researchers try to insure that the research would be conducted at the appropriate times, when the company's employees are not busy.
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Research done by Hirsch (1995) and Puwar (1997) showed that when the researcher and the organisation show a mutual interest in the research topic there is a higher probability that the organisation would facilitate the research. The research itself could help the organisation advertise how capable they are on certain fields or even learn about a particular field from the researcher, therefore a mutual interest in the research topic is usually beneficial to the organisation being researched.
The organisation that withdrew from the research according to Kamenou considered themselves leaders in diversity. This would mean that the research topic is indeed of interest to the organisation and that facilitating the research might prove that the organisation implements procedures that improve diversity in the organisation. The fact that the organisation was not willing to facilitate the research might be due to them hiding something or the methods used by Kamenou to attain interviewees were not properly thought out prior to the research being done.
Wray and Gates (1996) show the importance of attaining rapport with the organisation, if Kamenou would have established rapport with the organisation that withdrew from the research not only would the chances of attaining interviewees would have risen but there was a possibility that the research would have been enriched with vital information, as the interviewees would disclose information that might shed light about practices that goes against the slogan that the organisation is a leader in diversity.
Interviewees within organisations might find it hard to contradict there superiors as that might cost them their jobs or it might show that the interviewee does not have loyalty for the organisation. The organisation that withdrew might have considered that risk and didn't want to their reputation being tarnished by a research conducted on the company. Knowledge of the organisation being researched might also help in the obtaining of information from the organisation. A study done by Hirsch (1995) shows that researchers with greater insider knowledge of the organisation felt more confident in gaining information or getting interviewees. The organisation that withdrew from the research was a financial company. Financial companies usually are very protective about there reputation as it is key in securing new clients. If Kamenou would have approached the financial institution in a way that is more friendly and understanding of their role as a financial institution and how reputation is important, she would have had a better chance in securing interviewees.
A study done by Spencer (1982) suggests that organisations may restrict access to the organisation because they perceive it as a risk, which might hurt the organisation's reputation. Even if the organisation does promote a diverse work force that does not mean that all the employees in the company are going to be happy by the way they are treated. This especially holds true to big organisations where some minor issues are hard to control. For example some sensitive ethnic minorities might perceive there is some minor racism in the place where they work but it is not a big of an issue and the organisation cant take action. If the researcher was to interview some employees that perceive racism in the workforce, they might show their discomfort and that would in turn hurt the reputation of the organisation.
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Personal networking can be one of the easiest ways in accessing an organisation Carr and Worth, (2001) the outcome of the interview can also prove to be more enriched as seen in Kamenou's (2008) study. When formal access has been granted there might be an element where the organisation has asked the employees not to unveil certain information about the company or there might be an element of fear where the employee does not want to disclose information that would jeopardise their jobs. In contrast if the employee were a friend, rapport would have been build between the researcher and the interviewee, which would make the interviewee more open and honest about the issue. According to Spradley (1979) People who feel comfortable, safe, and valued are more forthcoming than those who are treated merely as sources of information.
Although this difference between interviewees obtained by formal means and interviewees by personal networking, can be negated by trying to establish rapport with the interviewees, who are obtained through formal access by the researcher. It might be worthwhile to try to gain trust from employees as they might divulge information that might not be known. Spradley (1979) recommends that some informal conversation within the interview should be conducted to avoid the nature of an interrogation, personal information can be exchanged in order to look for connections between the researcher and the interviewee could maintain good rapport. Once the interviewee feels comfortable, more information can be uncovered.
Interviewees may most likely have there own agenda in the interview (Simsek et al 2000) if the researcher does not know anything about the interviewee it would be hard to know if the interviewee was hiding something or trying to portray a specific situation in a particular angle that might be misleading. There will always be an element where the interviewee will withhold information that might expose a part of them that they do not wish to disclose to the public. LeCompte Et Al (1999). Similarly if the researcher has a personal relationship with the interviewee , its easier for the researcher to uncover the agenda which the interviewee might have. A way around this problem is if the researcher keeps the topic as open as possible, allowing the researcher to see what the interviewee defines as relevant. For example the interviewee might feel that diversity in the organisation is not something important and therefore give the impression that the organisation is doing a good job. (Simsek et al 2000)
In the paper the author doesn't seem to describe her self much or how she thinks she has affected the research being done. Upon further reading there is a small paragraph talking about her role as a lecturer, the universities that she has studied in and interestingly her research interests which are mostly about diversity and cross culture issues. She has also worked as a senior research officer on the Mainstreaming Equalities project in the social justice division. This might mean that the researcher thinks strongly about the issue of cross culture issues and that she might be bias in her research towards trying to shed issues on how ethnic minorities are mistreated in the workforce. (Stapleton, 1984).
A study made by Speer (2002) shows that the researcher can be a contaminating force. Her presence and the way she acts with the interviewee can affect the quality and the validity of the data obtained and the conclusions that can be drawn about it. Another factor to consider is age and gender. Females are looked at as unintimidating and in some circumstances more understanding then their male counterparts (Troman, 2000). From the researchers name we can infer that she is a female from cypress as one of the girls in the qualitative research module has said. This shows that she is an ethnic minority as well. A study by Oackley , (1979) showed that it is actually advantageous if a female is researching other female issues as she would be able to extract more interesting information from the interviewees.
Another advantage Kamenou has is she is an ethnic minority and because of that she has uncovered information that might be hard for a white male to extract. For example, looking at the transcribed scripts one Indian male said: " I had dressed very much in a western way. If I chose to dress in more traditional clothes, I am not quite sure how colleagues might view that. They might be frightened by it, threatened by it." This might show that there is trust between the researcher and the interviewee, as he is revealing personal opinion on how his colleagues would view him if he has been more traditional that he might not share with other researchers or even his friends. As a Muslim male my self I can relate to some of the hardships that some Muslim females are complaining about in the study. This might be an advantage for me while conducting the research to show more of the social implications the Muslim females are going through in a western world.
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The process of collecting data before forming a hypothesis is called grounded theory. Pieces of data such as events, newspaper articles or even word of mouth are taken and analyzed to see if there is a potential phenomenon where a hypothesis can be made (Corbin and Strauss, 1990). The collected data can be used to build up a theory or prior theories can be modified (Pandit, 1996) for example the first research questions were "why was Laskarina so successful? How did the firm establish such a strong brand identity? What was it like to work for Laskarina?" From reading the brochures, "Laska Greener" was a term that popped out therefore questions can be asked on the morals of the company, how they are helping the environment and if they are enforcing it or not.
Grounded theory helps when conducting interviews, the researcher will be able to ask deeper more relevant question to the interviewee. Rapport is more easily established as the researchers goes in to the organization with relative topics that concern the researched. The researcher therefore understands what is happening in to the organization and a "positive perception of the topic being studied may be seen as important motivators for research participation"(Wray et al 1996). The researchers could then obtain vital data that is relevant to the hypothesis being formulated because of the data collection prior to conducting the research.
Data collection prior to research can also enhance the reliability of the findings, while interviewing people usually have different views on what is happening in an organization or some people omit information that might show the organization in a negative light. Data obtained prior to the study can be compared to data that has been obtained and the validity of the data can be enhanced by establishing a relationship between the data obtained prior to the study and after the study. "Validity is enhanced by establishing causal relationships whereby certain conditions are shown to lead to other conditions, as distinguished from spurious relationships"(Pandit, 1996)
Therefore data collection prior to research can enrich the research with more valid and reliable information however the procedure can be time consuming as there might be a huge amount of complex data that has to be analyzed.(Pandit, 1996) This though might not have been the case with Laskarina Holidays at it is a small organization that is not complex.
Narrative representations can be handy tools to interpret and exhibit raw data in a simplified way. (Alveeson/Deetz 1996) As useful as raw data is, not having any narrative representations might not let the author prove his point, natural data might be ambiguous and readers might have different interpretations of the text. (McGaughey, 2006). The narratives in turn simplify what the author is trying to say into important categories, which were what the quest of research is about. (Wilkinson Et Al, 1998)
The narratives in the Laskarina research paper capture a lot in terms of Laskarina as an organisation as it describes laskarina in three main angles that other observers of organisations would most probably want to read about if they are doing research on organisations. These angles would help the reader have a deeper understanding of a complex or poorly understood phenomenon (McGaughey, 2006).
The three narratives focus on Laskarina as an organisation in an economic view in the sense that it is a profit-seeking organisation. With 10,000 holidays sold and a turnover of 5m pounds it is evident that Laskarina Is a profitable company, a high level of repeat customers proves how effective their strategy is at keeping the company profitable. The other narrative focuses Laskarina in a morality view, which shows to what extent does the organisation try to maximise its profit? Will it be at the extent of being un-ethical? Laskarina proved to be a relatively ethical organisation. The range of philanthropic activities that the organisation undertakes proves that either the company cars about what people say about the organisation or the owners truly do care about the Greek islands they operate in.
Laskarina is looked at from a pleasure point of view as well, where employees are asked about how happy they are working for Laskarina. This narrative is interesting as it shows how successful the owners of Laskarina are on building the work environment in which their employees work in based on stories (narratives) that motivate employees on working harder and selling products that they believe in.
Although narratives are useful they can also limit the angles that a reader can look at an organisation. Some readers might for example want to see how competitive Laskarina is or how Laskarina fits in with its competitors. With narratives making economic, morality and pleasure in the organisation clearer it is also blurring what is in between. Another problem is that the narratives may shift the reader's focus from the organisations activities into the author's representations. (Atkinson et al 2005) readers might be forced into having the same opinion as the researcher.
After reading journals on ethical dilemmas caused during research it became apparent that the consideration to protect the identity of research respondents appears to have become central to the design and practice of most ethical research (Grinyer 2002). Reading through a Case Study of Laskarina Holidays it was apparent that the ethical dilemmas faced in the research was the protection of identities of different respondents. The British Psychological Society emphasises the importance of anonymity by stating in their code "Participants in psychological research have a right to expect that information they provide will be treated confidentially and, if published, will not be identifiable as theirs." (Robson, 1995). Since the introduction of the Data Protection Act (1998) which came into effect on 1 March 2000, the consideration of anonymity and privacy is no longer simply a matter of ethics; it can also have legal implications.(Grinyer 2002).
While the interviewees names in a Case Study of Laskarina Holidays were kept anonymous. Some of them were identifiable by their positions or in the case of the owners their identities were not hidden at all. According to Barnes (1979:39) is that data should be presented in such a way that respondents should be able to recognise themselves, while the reader should not be able to identify them. Protecting the identity of the researched and acting ethically isn't something as clear cut as most people think. Dingwall (1980) states that ethical codes or requirements are inherently ambiguous; a researcher will find it hard to know if they have acted ethically or not. A study done by Goodwin et al (2003) put her in a same situation where she was researching doctors in a hospital. The author has worked in that same hospital for five years so she has established rapport with all the employees and a lot of them considered her as a friend. However as a researcher she found that the doctors would talk about confidential information in front of her and she didn't know weather they did so because they thought of her as a friend or if they didn't mind this piece of information to be put in the data collection. Ultimately she decided to drop the piece of data.
Wolcott(1995) suggests that this ambiguity can be dealt with by putting the moral issues on "the table" and discussing them with the people being researched. Some individuals would want their names or identities shown in the research paper as they feel that they loose ownership of the data when their identities are hidden. (Grinyer 2002).
Another ethical dilemma in the research paper is the reputation of the organisation itself. Ian and Kate Murdoch owners of Laskarina Holidays decided to move their offices near Gatwick. This has caused distress to the loyal employees of the company who decided to leave Laskarina, some of them even felt betrayed by the company.(Humphreys et al, 2005) After the move the company went bankrupt. This information might have tarnished the reputation of Laskarina but it was information that has to be shown. One can argue that it can be unethical to always show a biased rosy picture of organisations. (Goodwin et al, 2003).
After the bankruptcy Ian Murdoch claimed that the company went bankrupt due to cheap plane tickets to other exotic places and high competition. Organisation owners rarely divulge every single piece of information that lead to the failure of the organisation especially when this information depicts the organisation in a negative light.
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