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This reflective report is written as part of the applied management project on WTOs impact on business entering new market which reviews the role of the regime in promoting cross border trade and new market access. According to Boud, Keogh and Walker (1985) reflective analysis is intended to enable a person to evolve, engage and develop the experience based knowledge. It is an open ended exercise giving meaning to the past experiences and understands better their significance in the present. A reflective analysis is made upon the period of writing up the dissertation project in a team is presented in the following paragraphs. The presentation of the reflection is based on my experiences upon the start of the project itself with anecdotes of the past coming up in between. This reflection has helped me to gain a better understanding of the role of reflective analysis of the past and how it can help me in my future career as well. The report is presented in four parts with my own and our group's recollection of experiences being the first part. This part gives out mainly my experience on the start of the project and phase when we worked as a group some of the frictions within the group and idea generation happening etc. In the next stage the dynamics of group is analysed in depth again based on my experience and also some feedback from my group itself. An attempt is made to connect the experiences with the theory on group dynamics and this presentation has helped me to understand the importance of group work, how difficult it is for some people to engage in groups and the opposite side where there are naturally talented leaders and followers. The part on group dynamics explores the theories on group formation especially Tuckman's (1963) theory of forming, storming, norming and performing. In the next section my personal feeling and some learning I gained from the experiences with working in a team. In this part I have also put forward the evolution of the project work itself where I learned quite a lot on international business and the role of world trade organisation in the propagation of business around the world. In the final section the natural outcome from a reflective analysis is given in the form of lessons learned from the project work. Here is where this reflective analysis has indeed given results with some of the lessons and future action points have come as a real eye opener. In this exercise of reflection I have tried to be positive and have an analyst frame of mind.
Recollection of Experiences
In this section of the report I am putting together my experience from the start of the project, the first phases when we worked as a group some of the frictions within the group, idea generations and contributions of each member towards the report. From the first day of the induction programme into the project and upon learning the process of writing the reflective report our entire group decided to take notes on their personal experiences from each day of our meetings. In the end many in the group including me had failed to keep up this simple task. But we were at last able to put our thoughts together and sketch a rough idea as to what all had happened during our three months long process of project making.
One of the initial surprises was the topic itself and the formation of the group. The university should have ideally given the students some time for group formation itself as was done in the case for other subjects where when a group report had to be written students were allocated time to form up the groups. But we had some idea that a group had to be formed and I along with some others had decided to join in the same group. Ultimately when the time for giving out the topics came some other students who were straggler in one sense also added up to our small group in order to make the numbers the university had mandated. This was initially and all along the project viewed as an inconvenience as most of these stragglers did not turn up for meetings or shares their piece of the work or take part in giving their ideas for the project. But during the reflection phase we realised that these additions only added up to our learning of group formation and performing in a group.
After the groups were formed and topics allocated there were a weeks session where we had some constructive discussion on the project. This was the only phase in which the all the group members were present. The searching of information and collection of data for analysis were distributed in these initial days and we all agreed to meet up at regular intervals. Towards the end days of the first weeks session our attendance were beginning to collapse and many from the group dropped out. But it was during this first week's group work that I experienced how a group can work together and how certain people are true leaders and others are followers.
During the initial stages of the report making and when various points of views were discussed there were disagreement within the smaller group who were really cohesive as to the nature and the twist the dissertation should take. Some members were of the opinion that based on the initial inputs itself they should form a stand as to the nature of the progress. As our topic was the role of world trade organisation in developing international trade they argued that based on the initial sets of data literature review etc a stand of either the world trade organisation is good or bad should be taken. They argued that as we went along with the dissertation this will be the easier course as we only had to argue the cases were this has happened and collect and collate data from one side. But some other members of the group argued that making such a decision in the earlier stages of the work itself will be detrimental to the whole process of the project which is the analysis of the subject and based on the literature review and the analysis a discussion can be made as to whether the world trade organisation has indeed been advantageous pr disadvantageous to world trade. Finally some people choose to go with the initial strategy of determining what course they will take and then collecting all their data and analysing and discussion it in such a way that not other conclusion can be reached.
These were the recollections and the experiences I had during the project which is worthwhile mentioning here in this report. Following is an analysis of these experiences on the formation of the groups and how I perceived it happened and the fallouts. The study on group formation and its implications has given me a better understanding of the team working requirements I need to face in a work situation and this analysis I believe will help me to perform better.
The group dynamics of the above recollections is analysed here in this section as said earlier the study on group formation and its implications has given me a better understanding of the team working requirements I need to face in a work situation and this analysis, I believe will help me to perform better. In this section the analysis is based mainly on Tuckman's (1963) theory of formation of the teams and their ability to perform. Tuckman (1963) is credited to have analysed the stages of the group formation and he named these sages as forming, storming, norming and performing. As per Schneider (2003), "the purpose of a team is to bring together individuals with different backgrounds, skills, and abilities to solve problems or accomplish a set of goals and objectives working together that would be impossible to achieve working alone"
We were to work as a team for the applied management project and one of the ideas for working in the teams was to develop the sensation of building the team spirit and learn how to work in teams in our future careers. As said earlier we were a small group of four students who worked together in many assignments we had before and we gelled together even though there were some friction, ego clashes etc among us. But in spite of all these we were determined to be in one team for the applied management project. During the day of the first seminar some more students joined our teams and we became a big entity and we in fact had two small teams working in the same one. What happened were two small teams joined together along with some other stragglers who till then were not part of any informal groups of students. As soon as we got the topic we moved on to the stage to prepare ourselves and divide the work among us. It was during the initial stages that I realised how hard it is for the making of a team and working in them for many people. There were more than one leader in our entire team and each one had their own methods and views about the project work. In some fashion on the first day itself we found ourselves into two groups which were actually the two small groups which had joined up. I found out that there were more interactivity within these two separate groups and communication was much easier within the smaller groups. Analysing it now, I feel that these two smaller groups can be considered as two separate identities working together. At the time there were some misunderstandings, friction and miscommunication between the members and we thought that we were not going to work very well as a team. Each small team had an informal leadership role assumed or rather given and the main communication between the smaller groups happened through these leaders. The work to be done, the topics to be read and researched etc were divided up between the smaller groups i.e. initially into two and then we separately divided up these two parts again between ourselves. At the time we had many grievances about the working of each other but now I have come to realise that we indeed worked together but the overall composition was that of two separate identities working together. During the initial stages i.e. forming stage itself we inadvertently began working in our separate ways. Hence the formation of the group was that of two personalities of the two separate small groups. We each had our own working style and personality. It was during the norming stage that we truly started working in our individual groups and we started finding the rhythm. There were friction during the work allotment idea generation etc and this might be analysed as the storming stage where some personal differences and ego clashes came to the fore. In the end when we started to have separate group meetings and then combining our thoughts in the end by our respective leaders to each other we were actually a performing group. Unfortunately it should be said that these group performances did not last very long. As soon as the induction week was over out group meetings ended and then we rarely met. But our small group which had earlier itself gone through the various stages of formation was a performing group and we tended to work together.
Personal Feelings and Learning from the Experiences
My personal feelings during the project work were mixed. I had a feeling that we were doing a great work and this chance will not come to us again. On the other hand the work was cumbersome, boring and tiring for most of us after the initial euphoria worn off. We kept on pushing the things to the last minute and indeed the reflection of our experiences we realised that we did not have a time bound schedule for doing things and even during initial stages when we tried to make some schedules it never were followed. I thought that there was plenty of time to do the research as there was three whole months to complete the project. One of the best learning's I had from the project was the scheduling of the project. This was a lesson learnt during the last days as the deadline approached there was a scramble for completing the work.
One of the other developments was that even in our small groups there were many ideas on the project which never crossed my mind. I had a feeling from the beginning that I was among the better ones in my group as I always was a guide to many of my colleagues in our previous assignments. Many of my colleagues often turned towards me for ideas on how to do the assignments and presentations. But in the final project I realised that each individual have some thing to contribute to the overall performance of the team. This happened when they were sufficiently motivated to work for the project. The motivation to work and put effort came from the challenges we faced as from the very beginning we all realised that not a single individual could find all the answers and team work is needed. Hence each person had to put in their effort and when they saw their work getting appreciated them felt motivated enough to venture into unknown territory and come up with many ideas even though some of them were complete idiotic. Hence I can say that individual effort does count in any group work.
There were also instances of cases where I felt that some people with certain mentality are truly unable to work in groups at all. These are not to be construed as weakness in any part but it is true that some people are unable to work in groups. These are people with an independent frame of mind and they will stand out in as many as the group activities as they could. They could either participate negatively in a group work or does not participate at all.
I learned quite a lot on international business and the role of world trade organisation in the propagation of business around the world. It was also during this study that the implications came upon me and some of the group members then formed some negative opinion of the world trade organisation. As it turned out the recent data and the literature were giving a negative aspect on the WTO. The literature review suggested that stronger and developed countries were putting much weight on the organisation to make the rules and regulations in their way so that poor developing countries need to open their trade barriers and cheap goods can be dumped in such countries. There were several instances of such cases were the poor countries were bullied by the developed world with the end result that the gap between the rich and the poor nations has only increased even after the formation of WTO.
Lessons for Future Projects
One of the important lessons I learned for the future career is on time keeping and the importance of planning the activities. During the final stages of the project we did not have enough time to complete as we had taken it easy from the beginning. This made me thinking in the final stages of the project on the importance of planning and scheduling of the work and also my life. I have decided to have a planning and make action points for each part of my life starting with my career plan. Till then I was an easy going person and hoped to get some job after my studies. But I realise that getting a job is not easy and getting a job that I would like to do will be very difficult.
The other most important learning from this reflective analysis on the short period of the project was the subject of reflection itself. The reflection on my previous experiences gave me valuable insights into this self learning tool which can be used in my career. Self reflection is an important part of any body life and when we pause and analyse the past actions we realise that some of them were quite negative or time consuming and things could have been better. From this analysis action points can be made for the future. Reflection is not only to correct the past mistakes but also to gain valuable insights into the factors which have turned out better. Hence I have decided to use self reflection as a tool to pause and analyse my past actions and plan for my future career in every stage of life.
The above reflective report written as part of the applied management project on WTOs impact on business entering new market which reviews the role of the regime in promoting cross border trade and new market access. The presentation of the reflection is based on my experiences from the start of the project. The report presented in four parts gives a summary of the experiences I had over the four months of the project, the part played by the group is with an analysis into group dynamics exploring the theories on group formation, my personal feeling and some learning I gained from the experiences with working in a team and also the role of world trade organisation in the propagation of business around the world. In the final section the natural outcome from a reflective analysis is given in the form of lessons learned from the project work.
One of the important lessons I learned for the future career is on time keeping and the importance of planning and scheduling of the work and also my life. I have decided to have a planning and make action points for each part of my life starting with my career plan. The other most important learning is the art of self reflection which is an important part of life; to pause and analyse the past actions to and plan for my future in every stage of life. I believe that this reflective analysis has indeed given results with some of the lessons and future action points have come as a real eye opener.