MANAGEMENT RESEARCH Third Edition, 2008 Prof. M. Easterby-Smith, Prof. R. Thorpe, Prof. Paul R. Jackson CHAPTER 6 The Politics and Ethics of Management Research Learning Objectives To be able to identify stakeholders, and evaluate the interests of beneficiaries and to recognize those potentially at risk. To review different strategies and methods to gain access in different contexts. To develop an awareness of personal and organizational ethics. To develop judgement in dealing with some of the ‘grey’ ethical issues, and have the ability to argue the pros and cons. ‘Politics’ in Management Research ‘Politics’: The power relationships between the individuals and institutions involved in the research, & the strategies adopted by different actors and the consequences of their actions on others. i.e., students & supervisors, funders & grant holders, authors & journal editors, companies & research institutes, project leaders & research assistants, researchers & managers, or between managers & their bosses. ‘Politics’ influences Management Research ‘Politics’ therefore influences: what is to be researched, when, by whom; how information is to be gathered and used; and how the products of research are to be evaluated. Influences on the Research Question Experience of the Researcher Academic Stakeholders Corporate Stakeholders The Subject of Study Experience of the Researcher The researcher’s personal background may affect what he can and wants to see (in positive and negative ways): Aims, goals and values. Social class, gender, culture, religion, ideology, etc. Academic Stakeholders & Influences Funding Body Requirements and Priorities Supervisors & Institutions: Strengths, Focus and Style Research Practices and Routines Conferences Academic Journals and Publishing Expectations Corporate Stakeholders Who? Companies Public organizations Others generally within the user community Why? They are both users & sponsors of management research Exchanging knowledge The Subject of Study The problems or issues that are considered in the research obviously have an influence. Following research trends can be interesting but do not overlook important issues that seem ‘ordinary’. Think about issues that are deemed interesting by managers and corporations. The Politics of Access Formal Access – receiving the permission from senior management so as to gather data from within the organization (often within specific constraints) Initial access can be difficult without connections The benefits of the research for the company should be stressed Informal Access – to people and documents that reveal information that the researcher might find more relevant The ‘Micro’ & ‘Macro’ Politics of Research At the micro political level of management research it is important to be able to develop a co-operative relationship with each informant At the macro political level of management research it is important that the researcher is careful not to become trapped between two (or more) major groups or factions within the research Ethics in Management Research 1 Ensuring that no harm comes to participants 2 Respecting the dignity of research participants 3 Ensuring a fully informed consent of the research participants 4 Protecting the privacy of research subjects 5 Ensuring the confidentiality of research data is maintained 6 Protecting the anonymity of individuals or organisations 7 Avoiding deception about the nature or aims of the research 8 Declaring affiliations, funding sources, and conflicts of interest 9 Maintaining honesty and transparency when communicating about the research 10 Avoidance of any misleading, or false reporting of the research findings Further Reading Buchanan, D. and Badham, R. (2008) Power, Politics and Organizational Change: Winning the Turf Game. London: Sage. Bell, E and Bryman, A. (2007) ‘The ethics of management research: an exploratory content analysis’, British Journal of Management, 18(1), 63-77.