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Preliminary Literature Review

Well it has been over one month since I submitted a blog entry!  Main reason was sending my mac to the iStyle service centre after it unexpectedly died.  While still not in my possession, I did however manage to get hold of the iweb site file enabling me to make a post today.  So, what’s been happening this past month?

 

First, I have settled down a lot and feel much more comfortable with the new pace and flow.  I worked studiously on the research methods assignment – for me an analysis of Case Study and Ethnography in Identity Research.  Input from my new advisor was both timely and significant, and in the end I feel that a most useful conclusion was reached.  I’ll share with you this here!

 

“… a case study research design is appealing.   The literature offers many benefits to the novice researcher including help in placing a boundary around the research; methodological rigour; guidance in theory building; and what constitutes acceptable quality and presentation.  Moreover, case study grants the researcher some freedom to embrace the relative strengths of ethnographic genres such as partial, self, or auto ethnography.  Lastly, the disbenefits to the novice researcher that come from multi- or mixed- method approaches has not gone unnoticed.  The epistemological, validity, and generalisation concerns, combined with the advanced researcher skill required to successfully perform case study work is an intimidating prospect, yet with support, planning, and skill building an achievable one.”

 

After sending this essay in for grading I prepared an overall roadmap on the MRes component – the image for today’s blog entry.

 

Since December 2010, I have been reading voraciously albeit not that efficiently on the subject of Identity in preparation for writing a preliminary literature review.  I’ll admit it initially looked like a niche sub-field, but I’ll suggest now it looks as big as other in organisational studies.

 

As I tried to explore how I might turn this reading into writing – I again called on my supervisor for advice.  In project management in particular, how does one perform a review of practically speaking non existent literature?  The suggestion duly followed was to read contemporary literature and identify the relevant issues presently facing project management, and only then see how identity research might be applicable to solving these sorts of issues.

 

This advice fitted nicely and since then I have used a couple of methods i.e. the venn diagram, and cognitive mapping to help me come to a detail set of questions the literature review will help me answer including:

  • Why research Project Management?
  • What are the contemporary issues in Project Management?
  • Who are the principal scholars in Project Management?
  • Why research Identity in Organisations?
  • Why use the Identity and Discourse Lens in Project Management?
  • What are the principle identity concepts, and who are the principal scholars?
  • What are the discursive theories and who are the principal scholars?
  • What are the most relevant identity and discursive theories to this research project?
  • What are the key areas of debate in Identity Studies and Project Management?
  • Where is the existing knowledge thin and subject to challenge?
  • Where are there gaps in the literature?
  • What are the main conclusions from previous Identity research?
  • What have been the main research questions in the past?

 

The next step I found myself searching and downloading many articles to add to my growing collection that came up from the searches.  My identity collection was now being supplemented by Project Management articles and one immediate finding was that project management a sub-field of management studies is not well represented in the top category journals.

 

Since I’ve worked in the field of Project Management for more than 20 years, up until now I’ve maintained an intuitive set of assumptions to even come up with the idea that identity research could be helpful in addressing project management issues – but no idea why or if anyone else would agree.

 

I’m smiling today as I can say that my initial view has been validated.  Principle issues facing Project Management are:

  1. its under-researched and under-theorized, and not represented in top academic journals
  2. the high failure rates (accepted success being a fiercely contested concept) are being contributed to through a modernist, technicist, scientific, and rational discourse
  3. social and behavioural perspectives are under-researched
  4. projects due to their contingency are inherently difficult to research
  5. the inherent ‘fluid’ organisation creates tension with the ‘solid’ project
  6. the fast and growing uptake of project management as a profession in organisations means its time for critical studies and a time for maturing this sub-field of management.

 

While not all the above can be addressed equally nor fully by my proposed research, I am at least going to attempt to:

  • add to the research literature (1);
  • challenge the modern discourse by looking at social and behavioural aspects through the identity lens (2,3);
  • perform ‘thick description’ research through case study – called for in both Identity and Project Management research (4);
  • explore the discourse in and around projects (5); and
  • attempt at least to maintain a critical and interpretive perspective throughout (6).

 

Frankly, while little writing has eventuated so far, my reaching this initial point where the practitioner form of knowing matches academic thinking is most rewarding.

 

Given, this positive start – I’ll now move during the next 4 available weekends (of 6 possible) to consolidate my reading and current state of Identity literature.   On a side note, I’m very much looking forward to meeting my supervisor in April, and getting the very necessary feedback on my progress and plans.  Like any project – looking at the whole can be extremely daunting, but when you break it down into what will be albeit non-linear chunks of work – it does reduce the cognitive load!

 

To finish up I would like to get some comments on the value of blogging!  Can anyone tell me why I should continue maintaining this blog as I have survived over one month without it!  Should it go or should it stay?

 

I’ll welcome all comments on the matter.

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