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Through this reflective report, I attempt to reproduce my experiences while working my dissertation project on the topic "Globalisation". Globalisation has touched and transformed our lives in ways that we will never completely fathom. The dissertation project helped me enhance my understanding of not only globalisation but also of other relevant world affairs, economic actors and social issues.
The reflective analysis report outlines my reminiscences of events that occurred during the course of the project. It captures my state of mind, thoughts, ideas and lessons from working on the assigned topic. Since the project was done in a group, the reflective analysis report also covers my learning and understanding of the interactions and dynamics within the group. I conclude the reflections with a short summary of the key takeaways which will give me an added advantage in future endeavours from my perspective.
The reflective report has helped me develop a questioning spirit which will assist me in continually improving my work through self- reflection. The detailed journals maintained for this reflective report have made my working and thinking style more structured and organized. It has helped me understand the underlying motivations in groups and their implications. By understanding and working on my areas of improvements, I can progress further in my future aspirations.
Recollection of Experiences
When globalisation was assigned as the dissertation topic, I felt that we had got an easy deal. However, when my group sat down for our first group discussion on globalisation, I realised the limited extent of our knowledge on the subject area. All of us found it difficult to define globalisation in exact terms. Some felt it was just economic integration, while others felt that it had a human aspect too. We were not able to achieve a consensus on the definition of globalisation that would to do justice to the complexity of the phenomenon. We went through common examples of globalisation. Our group comprising of students from diverse backgrounds collaborating together on a research project turned out to be the best illustration of globalisation. We discussed how globalisation had impact education systems and other social institutions. During our first meeting, we decided on the broad questions that we would want to answer through our research- What is globalisation? How has it evolved? What is its impact on the political, economic and social environments? Has globalisation actually worked? Is there any future for globalisation? What are the implications for countries and companies?
The first group session was short since we had not done in depth research before we met for the first time. However, we got to know about more about each other during this session. I had not had an opportunity to work with the members of my group on any previous occasion; so I expected this project to be a good learning experience. Over the duration of the project, I have come to value their advice and opinion on different subject matters.
Our next meeting was more fruitful since we all had done some ground work. We decided the structure of the research and distributed the research to group members in pairs. This way we could go through much more research material on each of the dimensions of the globalisation, making sure that we had not missed out on any significant points.
We would meet at a time and place convenient to all team members so that any possible ideas and inputs would not be omitted. One discussion actually divided the whole group into two camps: whether globalisation is a good or bad thing? Everybody in the group had different opinions. The anti-globalisation camp blamed globalisation for all the wrong in the world - financial crisis, poverty, famine, pollution, exploitation etc. The pro-globalisation camp responded by pointing out the good that globalisation had done- economic growth, higher living standards, more choice, better connectivity, better facilities, better infrastructure etc. Though the discussion went on for a long time and got heated at times, it was the most valuable and insightful group discussion ever. The discussion made us realise that globalisation can not be defined as black or white, it was somewhere in between. Instead we need to understand why globalisation did not perform the miracles that were expected from it. Some valid points were raised and some loopholes in arguments were discovered. Luckily, the group leader had been noting down the key points which he shared with us later on.
A lot of literature has been written on globalisation and it was huge task going through it. Deciding and limiting the scope of the project was a tough decision due to the amount of data available. There was a constant debate on what to include and what not to include in the project work. Everyone had their own ideas on how to go about the work. Sometimes the discussions would end up in dead lock and a lot of efforts would go into reaching a decision which was acceptable to all. It was a tight schedule and despite working regularly and diligently, we barely managed to submit the project on time. The ability to work on huge projects with strict deadlines under the constant pressure will definitely be useful in any future scenario.
Personal Feelings & Learning from the experiences
Working on the project made me more observant of the impact of globalisation on my daily life. Despite being miles away from my friends, I felt connected with them through email and mobile. I could order products online from any store, choosing from a wide range of brands. I saw my Indian friends enjoy a cricket match going on in India through Youtube. Even when we speak English, we use certain words that have origins in other languages - Bon appétit, guru, Bonita etc. When we hang out with friends, we debate over which cuisine to order - Italian, Mexican, Indian or Japanese. My face book friends are all from different nationalities.
During the course of the project, I realised that there is more to the concept of globalisation than popularly believed. For instance, I believed globalisation to be a recent, late 20th century phenomenon. I was surprised to find out that globalisation was as historic as the earliest civilisations. I feel that I should have approached this topic with a more open mind. As I delved more into the topic, I found my pre-conceived notions crumbling. I had always associated with globalisation with the progress of the countries. Consciously, I had never linked globalisation with environmental degradation and inequality. So, it was an eye opener to read the views of those opposing globalisation. In this regard, I found the work of Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate and author of 'Making globalization work', extremely enlightening. He sums the challenges to globalisation beautifully in an easy and comprehensible manner.
The more I read and learnt about the topic, the more intriguing it became. Thanks to the group work, I was able to collect a vast amount of knowledge in a short period. Working in the group helped to deepen of my understanding of various economic data and concepts. I particularly enjoyed the brainstorming sessions. Ideas would bounce back and forth. One question would be answered, another would be raised. The discussion tended to digress at times, but the group leader would bring us back on track. The varied backgrounds of the group member made these talks richer in information and perspective. Everybody had experiences and views to share and discuss
The discussion on the good and bad aspects of globalisation helped me realised the importance of looking at any subject through a neutral perspective. In many situations, we tend to be biased by the symptoms of a problem. However, it is necessary to understand the underlying cause before giving any verdict. This rule can be applied to any scenario in the world.
Going through the existing globalisation literature also helped me to observe the work and thinking process of researchers. This motivated me towards developing comprehension, analysis and writing skills that would help me in structuring future projects and reports. I have always felt that my communication skills required some polishing. Through this project, I have been able to work upon my communication skills and hone them. I feel that I am now much better at expressing my ideas clearly and succinctly.
The project helped me realised my strengths also. Because of my time-management skills, I was able to plan and deliver my allotted share of work within the group deadlines. With the extra time, I was able to assist other team members with their work. This also motivated other team members to plan their work and increase their pace so that they could catch up with me.
Globalisation is such a vast subject and I found it difficult to justify the subject within given schedule. If we had additional time and scope, I would have liked to study the measurement parameters of globalisation in more detail. I think that the group has done a good job in understanding globalisation and putting together the various arguments for and against it.
Group Dynamics and Learning from experiences
I found the experience of working with my group extremely exciting and enjoyable. Despite the time pressure and huge workload, the atmosphere was relaxed and stress free. Working in such a positive and dedicated group, makes the work seem less monotonous and one-sided. Each and every group gave their maximum input in the research ground work and discussions. Since we were eight people, it was very easy and convenient to cover more ground in the research in less time. For thorough learning, it is essential that we look at a single point from a multiple perspectives. Working in a group facilitated that learning since each member of the group had his/her on way of looking and understanding concepts, ideas and phenomena.
When stuck with a concept or doubt, I found that consulting with the group resulted in better understanding through creative, simple explanations and solutions. When everyone was faced with the same issue, all of us worked together to understand and solve the problem at hand. At times, we took advice and help from people outside in the group, in understanding certain issues. It is very important to avail and utilise all resources available in research since information is first stepping stone to knowledge.
Another wonderful aspect of working in a group is that it allows for more networking giving more exposure to different nationalities, cultures, thinking styles, attitudes and work styles. This became relevant in the context of globalisation since we were able to draw on each others' experiences in order to understand the subject matter. Also, the group discussions helped in developing a clear understanding of the complex economic and political issues.
At some instance, people in the group would be at loggerheads, not budging an inch fro their point of view. At such times, I would find it extremely difficult to comprehend as to why people do not listen and try to understand the perspectives of others. At times, one should take a step back to rethink the whole issue by standing in the shoes of the opponent. Everyone wanted to work their own way, however at some point we always reached an understanding. Conflict is the definitely the most critical element of group dynamics. A group working on the project prevents the uni-directional skewing of the opinion and does not allow personal prejudices to creep into the work. This makes the research work more balanced in its outlook.
Another possible issue with a group project is coordination. An unofficial leader needs to be chosen who would track the progress of the research and follow up on the work in progress. After a couple of meetings, one group member took the responsibility of coordinating the work to ensure that work was done in a timely and systematic matter. Everybody is focussed and dedicated to their work, but then everybody prefers to move according to their own pace at their own comfort which may not necessarily be to the benefit of the whole group.
All the group members were extremely helpful giving valuable feedback and positive criticism on each others' work. I felt that that positive group attitude is essential to the successful completion of a project. Also, certain level of healthy competition increase the quality of group discussions as this motivates each team member to think out-of-the-box in order to outdo others in the group.
Even though I had not worked with my colleagues earlier, I faced no difficulty in developing a mutually beneficial working rapport with them. Working with the same people increases the efficiency of the project activity since members already know each others' strengths and weaknesses, working styles and have developed a working pattern accordingly. But this also tends to reduce the innovativeness, since all members after certain time tend to work in a routine manner. Working with different people gives an opportunity to experiment with different working styles and methods.
Lessons for future projects
When approaching a topic, one should reject all preconceived notions and prejudices related to the topic. This would cloud the judgement and hamper true understanding of the different facets of a topic. No subject can be absolutely white or grey. This being especially true in the case of globalisation, which is still a gray area. Hence, one needs to logically look and question all aspects before forming a definite opinion. This project has helped me in understanding the significance of a questioning outlook, which is a valuable asset for future research.
Structured Thinking and Expression
By examining the work of eminent academics, I have been able to develop a structured method for analyzing data and presenting the research work. This skill will definitely help in comprehending and interpreting complex information in other projects. Also, observing the working styles of my colleagues also helped me to weed out inefficiencies in my working style.
I found that the ability to read and retain significant amounts of research in a speedy manner is a must-need when working on a project with tight schedule. This is an area that I plan to focus on by reading as much academic literature as I can. I observed the reading patterns of my group members and tried to inculcate their reading habits. Before reading the complete article, skimming through the contents enables one to get a basic idea of what the author is trying to convey through his research. This helps in understanding the flow of the article and aids in a thorough and faster comprehension of the subject matter.
Record group meetings
Useful ideas, issues and thoughts may get lost if not captured during discussions since it is not humanely possible for everyone to recall each and every turn of the discussion. Hence, recording the key points of the discussions can help in increasing the value and contribution retrieved from the interactions of the team.
Ask for help
If at some point, one faces difficulty in understanding a concept, one should not feel hesitant in asking for help. Discussing issues help to increase the clarity of the topic in the minds of all those involved. I found that by working in a group, I was able to clarify my doubts in much depth. At times, it turned out that others in the group were also facing the same dilemma. So by discussing it as group, we were able to contribute to each others'knowledge.
The role of a Group leader
When working in a group, one person should be assigned the responsibility of coordination. With so many members, there is a chance of miscommunication, leading to loss of time and energy. The group leader will act as a single point of contact for the information flow and ensure that there is no duplication of work and efforts. This also increases the accountability of the team members and ensures that everybody works in alignment with one another. During discussions the group leader can ensure that the focus stays on the topic instead of wandering in unrelated directions.
Conflict is an integral element of group work. This project helped to understand the consequence of positive and negative conflict. While positive conflict can lead to the generation of marvellous unique ideas, negative conflict can result in loss of time and energy. It is important to know how to direct conflict in the positive direction so as to benefit the ultimate goal of the group.
Globalisation is a relevant topic in the modern context. Working on this project helped me develop a well rounded and clear understanding of globalisation and its role in shaping the world as we see it. Working with my group members has helped me improve my working style and approach to a topic. I have been fortunate in getting an opportunity to work with such professional and dedicated people. Some the key lessons that will direct me in my future work are the significance of an open mind towards a topic, structured thinking and expression, developing reading speed, importance of recording group meetings and coordination within a group.
The reflective analysis report has assisted me in analyzing the project work in retrospect. There are many issues which could have been avoided and many areas where I can do better. But I have also learned immensely during the project and have discovered strengths which I can capitalise on in my future projects. In a nutshell, the project and the reflective analysis have helped me to analyze, evaluate and improve my working style and group attitude, which we will take me a long way in the journey to the top.