Chapter 6

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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.

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