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Archive for January, 2011

From RSH to DIS, cont’d as an allegory

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Imagine a wide and deep stream, wider and deeper than you can cross with one jump, like all those others you’ve crossed earlier in this journey. This stream is different – you can see the sharp rocks and poisonous snakes and teethy piranhas waiting to eat you for lunch. The water in the stream is boiling hot, too (don’t forget – this is an allegory).

You’ve never crossed a stream like this. Even though a trusted leader has given you a detailed “syllabus” map, you are fearful. You check the map, yes, you have to cross the CP Stream to get to RSH Land – there is no other way. All roads led to this stream, this path, this crossing. However, it is clear that the stumbling rocks, sharp sticks, angry fauna, and water temperature are shown in that map. They left that part out. Why didn’t they warn you about this dangerous stream?

The only way to cross is to build a bridge. So you do. But your first bridge has no foundation and falls into the stream and is swept away. Your second bridge has a better foundation, but the boards you used are old and rotten (read, 80% are not within 5 years). So you keep working and after even more failures, you finally build something that kind of looks like a bridge. You start across the rickety bridge over the stream. You hear your mentor’s voice, come on over. Your foot falls through first this board and then that one, but you make it across somehow. You stand shaking and tired from the fear and the exertion.

You turn and look at your bridge. What a sloppy piece of work! You are embarrassed. I suppose someone looking at it could call it a bridge, but its not one to brag about. You certainly won’t take any pictures or publish any articles about this bridge. But that shambly-looking thing did get you across the dangerous water, and I suppose that is what matters.

But wait, what’s going on here? You rub your eyes – you can’t believe it. The stream is calm, bubbling nicely! No sharp rocks or poisonous snakes or teethy piranhas…did you imagine these? Your shabby bridge looks terrible across that beautiful stream; so you start to work on the bridge, replacing the foundation, using new smooth boards that you found on the ground over here, and shiny nails right out of the box replace the ones you had used over and over.

Finally, your bridge is judged for beauty and merit, and the OAR Bridgemason Inspectors approve your bridge. Yea! You passed the test and can continue on your journey into DIS land.

So you check your map, and turn and start walking again. Oh no, there, just over the hill is a boiling, angry, shark-invested river named DP. You can see shipwrecks and broken bridges all along the river’s edge. It is clear that others have come this way and failed.

Oh no, you say, checking the map one more time, is there another way? Do I have to cross this river, too?

But you already know. Yes, you moan, I have to build a bridge….

From RSH to DIS

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Reader Dan recently asked if writing the CP in the RSH courses was valuable to writing the dissertation so far… and I really had to think about that question. I started with an RSH topic related to the Wal-Mart Sustainability Scorecard. My instructors in the RSH classes truly believed it was a good topic and I scored high in the classes. Then I got to the 3rd RSH class and my instructor had problems with my topic. “How are you going to gather data?” “Are you confident that Wal-Mart will reveal the information you need?”

It was true. My topic was good but the difficulties with data collection were insurmountable. This instructor told me that when he read my papers they were so convincing that he (and probably the other mentors) thought that I worked for Wal-Mart, which I do not.

So rather than throw out all the good work I had done to that point, I kept reading and found another topic, similar in that it is supply chain/sustainability/business strategy-related. So I used some of my earlier research in the new topic paper.

I think that the earlier RSH classes immersed me in what research is and allowed me to build a foundation for my lit review. My topic now involves purchasing social responsibility (PSR), which is a manifestation of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and whether those firms that publish PSR information are any different from those firms that do not. My hunch is that social pressure has forced sustainable activities on all firms, not just those talking about them. I am using some of the research from RSH but much is newer from working on the lit review in the DIS classes.

The most difficult piece for me were the problem and purpose statements. I don’t think that I was grounded in these in the RSH courses as I found that when I got to my first DIS class, I could not even get my topic paper past Dr. T. All those activities in the RSH were fine but did not address what they should have – building a topic, a problem statement, and a purpose statement. I feel like I wasted a lot of time – valuable time – when my topic did not work.

I, like many others pursuing a terminal degree, was always a good student. But there is a big leap between that and working on a dissertation topic, problem statement, and purpose statements.

An approved Concept Paper….

Monday, January 24th, 2011

….is a wonderful thing! I received notification today that my CP passed OAR review!!! Yippee!!!

The OAR made one comment about my sampling strategy, as to whether the “sampling strategy is likely to provide for enough participants within each of the two categories of companies to be studied.”

So I will dig a little deeper and see what needs to be added in that section, and make the appropriate changes in the DP. Speaking of my DP, Dr. M emailed me that he will look at it this week and give me some feedback soon.

So, I sit here at my desk with a silly smile on my face looking at a printed out copy of my accepted CP. The word “Approved” is sparkling on the paper – or is that sparkle just from the tears of joy in my eyes??

DIS9322B – assignments and DP

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

DIS9322B has 12 (can you believe it?) assignments. The course requires that I send in a weekly update to my chair, including the Personal Timeline. My course officially started on January 17, so I turned in my first assignment today.

I still haven’t received my CP back as approved yet, but that certainly did not stop my work on this project. The seven-day review period is up tomorrow, so I should hear something then. This week, I updated the DP with the changes that were required in the CP, so today, I also turned in my Dissertation Proposal (DP) to Dr. M for his first look at it. I removed the statements like so-and-so stated; we are supposed to keep those to a minimum in favor of stating and then citing.

The DP is 77 pages long, and includes a 41-page Literature Review. We are required to have at least 40 pages for the LR. I have five Appendixes and four tables.

This week I hope to look at the IRB review form. I have to figure out if a pilot study is a separate IRB form, or if I include it on the study IRB form. I am ready to move forward with data collection!

I am teaching UNIV/101 at our University of Phoenix local campus. This is a three-week class for new enrollees. I finished up my weekly grading today and submitted W1 weekly feedback. I also reviewed my teaching notes in prep for this week’s class.

So I have been working all day, and am ready to relax. I am going to go see if maybe there is a movie on TV tonight!

Second time the charm?

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Dr. M uploaded my revised and improved CP to the Dissertation Tracking System (DTS) on Friday January 14. The Office of Academic Research (OAR) has seven days to review it and return it. Will the second time be the charm? I am hoping and praying that the changes will be impressive enough to garner approval! My study proposal is very straightforward, and grounded in theory. The sticking points for the OAR on the first go-round was research methodology and the survey. One statement indicated that they did not believe that I could gather enough valuable data from 3-5 questions on a particular area of corporate social responsibility (CSR). However, the survey that I am planning to use has been used several times and proved reliable and valid. So I added that I would include a pilot study, stating:

“A pilot test will provide feedback and advance warning about any corrections, deletions, or additions to be made before extending the official survey invitations. The pilot test will invite comments about the relevance of questions as related to the research intent. Pre-testing the instrument in this way will contribute to ensuring reliability and validity of the PSRQ relative to the contemporary sample population.”

On the way to work this morning, my car slid off the road and did a 180 degree turn – I ended up on the side of the road turned around the opposite way that I had come. I could not get enough traction in the grass to get back up on the road. Husband came to try and he did not have any success either, so I waited hours on a wrecker. By that time, I was cold and wet, plus it was already mid morning by then. I called in to work and took a vacation day.

So this afternoon, I have been working on preparing the 12 activities for DIS9322B, which technically begins on January 17 and runs through April 11. In this course, I have to submit a weekly update Personal Timeline. I am also going through some papers on my desk – they just seem to accumulate there! I have checked my Learner site several times, hoping that the holiday gave the OAR an opportunity to approve my CP. I guess I will just keep waiting and checking….

Conference call with chair

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

This week I had a conference call with my new chair, Dr. M. He was very helpful and made some suggestions about how to respond to the OAR comments on my rejected concept paper (CP). Yesterday I worked on incorporating those suggestions, which were many focused on the Research Method – Measurement section.

We discussed performing a pilot study, even though the survey that I am using has been validated and proved reliable. After the call, he helpfully sent me a few links to review that mentioned pilot studies were just a task that responsible researchers do to ensure validity and reliability with the population in focus. I will be changing the demographic questions that are part of the PSRQ, so I fully agree that a pilot study is in order.

I have been so very disappointed about not having an approved CP as I enter the second dissertation class, DIS9322B. Dr. M encouraged me not to worry about all of this, but to keep on moving forward. I will!! He even reminded me that when publishing, sometimes one journal will reject a paper, and the next accept it. It just all “depends” on what they are looking for. Thanks, Dr. M for your encouragement!

So DIS9321B ended January 7, and I will start the next course January 10. I haven’t received the syllabus yet because the school has not posted my final course grade of “P” (or “pass”), but I understand that the syllabus will be pretty similar to the one in DIS9321B.

I am hoping that Dr. M will have opportunity to review my latest revision and make his recommendations today or tomorrow. I could make any corrections and then resubmit the CP again to the OAR…so perhaps soon I will have an approved CP….

Perhaps graduation in 2011?

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

I enrolled at NCU on my birthday, May 23, 2006, and finished my first class in July of that year. So for almost five years, I have been working toward a PhD in Business Administration. I have experienced many changes at the school, including tuition increases, administration changes, and the update to APA 6.

I will soon enter DIS9322B; there are theoretically three DIS courses. I say “theoretically” because not everyone can finish their dissertation in three classes. I probably will not because I don’t even have an approved CP yet. That causes some real pain because I worked so hard on the content, and then am having difficulty understanding exactly what the OAR wants me to do! But I am an optimist, so I am hoping that my next CP submission will be the key to moving on. If so, perhaps 2011 will be the year I finish my dissertation and graduate!

I am dedicated to finishing up this degree, whatever it takes! If you are considering a PhD, get off the fence and do it. Plan on 5-7 years of hard work and balancing life. I could not have done this without the support of my family, who sometimes questioned what I was doing, but never wavered in loving me through every frustration.