Potential Research Study
BTM 7303, Assignment 3
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Susan Petroshius
22 October 2017
Introduction to Research Study
As a Doctor of Philosophy student studying Organizational Leadership, my own research is focused on the issue of organizational leadership in the realm of not-for-profit organizations. A potential research study in consideration for my signature assignment in this course centers on the aspect of leading an organization with a multi-generational workforce and volunteer base. As different generations have different value systems, professional work ethics, and outlooks on life, it becomes a significant leadership challenge to compel and persuade the entire workforce to work together toward a common, shared vision. The increasing use of technology in the workforce to communicate with and motivate these diverse populations is an additional consideration in this research.
Research Purpose, Problems, and Questions
The primary purpose of this research is to provide not-for-profit leaders with information and data as to how different generations respond to leadership in the age of technology (often referred to as e-leadership). Furthermore, it is to arm them with practical techniques and strategies for effective e-leadership which are based in quality research and experimentation directly from the field of not-for-profit e-leadership. In meeting that purpose, one of the problems to be solved is the issue of leading a force which may extend from baby boomers all the way down to the millennial generation. Research has shown that different age groups and generations view and respond to e-leadership differently (Patchanee, 2011; Mackenzie, 2010). This is a serious and pressing problem which will be faced by present and future leaders of not-for-profit organizations. A related problem is the burden of e-leadership in an age of hyperconnectivity (Cheong, 2016) and the resulting communication (Lilian, 2014) and public relations (Kiesenbauer, 2015) challenges. Several research questions will be answered to address these problems and fulfill the purpose of the research. Firstly, how does the e-leader compel their workforce and volunteer base to work together despite their differing views and life experience? Secondly, how does the e-leader ensure that their communication is received as intended by the various personnel in the umbrella? Technological communication eliminates much of the non-verbal communication, and the e-leader must consider this question before communicating with their entire workforce.
Data collection strategies would likely include a variety of methodologies. Face-to-face interviews would be conducted with employees to gather first-hand their responses to the research questions mentioned above. This serves to record from the workforce and volunteer base their own impressions and responses which can then be used for aggregate data in the research study. Particularly in the case of examining issues within the scope of organizational leadership such as communication, motivational language, and leadership in a virtual workplace, it would seem that face-to-face interviews would provide not only the most useful quantitative data, but qualitative data also. In this method of data collection, data is collected both in the form of verbal response to questions, but also in the form of non-verbal communication. By utilizing this method, the researcher will have the most complete and accurate picture of those responding by having the ability to analyze both necessary forms of communication.
Additionally, however, data collection would also be accomplished through the means of sending out surveys. These surveys would be sent out following communication from the e-leader to the workforce and volunteer base and record their immediate reactions and responses to the communication. This data collection instrument would serve to provide the e-leader with first-hand information about the success or failure in the receiving of communication by the employees and volunteers.
Target Group for Research
Ideally, those targeted for this research would be not-for-profit organizations with a wide and varying range of both their workforce and volunteer base. This would include a large demographic spread, a large diversity in ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and a multi-generational spread from baby boomers to millennials. A healthy mix of both men and women should also be included in the study participants as the provides an additional layer for consideration.
In targeting these study groups, certain ethical considerations would need to be well-thought-out before commencing the research. Ethics in research are a concern for every researcher and research study. Before an examination commences or research begins in any field of study, ethical considerations must be thoroughly considered and documented. The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative, for example, offers courses on appropriate research practices and within those practices are several modules dealing with the issue of research in ethics. Private industries and government alike recognize both the values of ethical research and the dangers of failing to adhere to ethical standards. For example, one of my mentors from the Army Chaplain Basic Officer Leaders Course at Fort Jackson, SC left that duty station to serve as the ethics professor at West Point to train future Army leaders in the importance of ethics. So, what ethical considerations would need to be made regarding this research?
The most important ethical consideration must be for the subjects of the research: the employees and volunteers of the organization. Since the subjects of this research are human, and the focus of the research is on their reactions and responses to leadership and communication, careful measures must be taken to ensure that the research is conducted ethically. The workforce and volunteers who agree to participate in the research would sign Informed Consent forms which would ensure that their rights would be protected throughout the research. These workers and volunteers would also sign confidentiality agreements which would ensure that any personally identifying information would not be released or included in the research to further protect their identity and rights throughout the process.
Any bias on the part of the researcher would also need to be mitigated by ensuring proper oversight in the form of necessary management controls. These management controls could include a conflict of interest (COI) committee or a similar group assembled of neutral parties who would oversee the research to ensure that bias is neither inadvertently or intentionally introduced into the research by the researcher.
This ethical consideration of bias must also be considered in the implementation of research methodologies. For example, the issue of interviewer bias must be guarded against when using the methodology of face-to-face interviews with employees and volunteers from the selected organizations (Pannucci, 2010). When questioning selected employees and volunteers, the researcher must be devoted to asking the same questions to every employee regardless of gender, socioeconomics, or generational affiliation. Those employees and volunteers selected for research would be selected only if they voluntarily consented to be subject in the research study. They would each be made aware of the research – the purpose, problems, and questions being addressed and examined – and voluntarily sign the necessary forms related to informed consent and confidentiality.
To further mitigate and minimize any potential conflict of interest, no compensation would be provided to those individuals who willingly participate in the research. This would not only be communicated verbally as well as in writing, but the rationale underlying this decision would also be communicated. This would not only introduce a greater potential for individual financial bias, but would also serve to fundamentally alter the purpose of the research which is to observe and document normative behavior and responses by those individuals participating in the research study.
There are always ethical considerations in research, and this highlighted by the creation of such organizations as the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative and the institutionalizing of an ethics department at schools like the United States Military Academy. Being aware of these ethical considerations prior to engaging in research will help preserve the integrity of not only the results of the research, but the individual researchers and the research process as well.
In the case of my potential research study, and all research studies studying human beings and some relationship to technology, the need for ethical research is paramount. To highlight this truth, Brooks (2010) conducted research examining the importance of a code of ethics in online classroom training. In part, the conclusion of his research was that the more comfortable individuals and workforce populations becomes with technology, the greater the risk of that technology being used in unethical ways by those same individuals. Since this potential research study topic has human beings as its research subject, and the implementation and utilization of technology by those individuals as an additional research problem, ethics must be present throughout the study.
It is my objective and hope that this research will not only positively contribute to the field of organizational leadership, but also to the knowledge and skill set of future organizational leaders in the not-for-profit sector. This sector has unique leadership challenges of having large and diverse volunteer bases in addition to often large and diverse workforces as well. The challenges facing these leaders in an increasingly technological environment are steep, and the increased utilization of technology throughout the workplace only increases and complicates these challenges for organizational e-leaders. As these variables continue to play an increasing role in the workplace, so they will play an increasing role in research as well. Therefore, I want to ensure that my own research is conducted in the most ethical manner thus preserving and validating the research and the conclusions from the research.Page Break
Brooks, R. (2010). “The Development Of A Code Of Ethics: An Online Classroom Approach To Making Connections Between Ethical Foundations And The Challenges Presented By Information Technology”. American Journal of Business Education, 3(10), 1-13. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
Kiesenbauer, J. & Zerfass, A. (2015). 'Today's and tomorrow's challenges in public relations: Comparing the views of chief communication officers and next generation leaders'. Public Relations Review, 41(4), 422-434. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
Lilian, S.C. (2014). 'Virtual teams: opportunities and challenges for e-leaders'. Contemporary Issues in Business, Management and Education, 110, 1251 - 1261. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
Mackenzie, M.L. (2010). 'Manager communication and workplace trust: Understanding manager and employee perceptions in the e-world'. International Journal of Information Management, 30, 529-541. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
Pannucci, C.J. & Wilkins, E.G. (2010). 'Identifying and Avoiding Bias in Research'. Plast Reconstr Surg, 126(2), 619-625. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
Patchanee, M. & Servaes, J. (2011). 'The media use of American youngsters in the age of narcissism: Surviving in a 24/7 media shock and awe – distracted by everything'. Telematics and Informatics, 28, 66-76. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
NG, LR, NCU, USAR
My collection of personal papers written over the years