February 23, 2018

Reflections from a DBA candidate

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Full stakeholder map for recruitment

Full stakeholder map for recruitment

Why a DBA? Why at the Edinburgh Business School (EBS)? Those were questions I asked myself around four years ago. During this time I was very much interested in doing my own piece of research in a field in which I personally was very interested in. So deciding to go for a doctorate was already made.

However, I wanted to not only work on a theoretical topic where the findings may go straight to the basement of the library archive. I told myself that only a topic which has a certain relevance to practice would help me to stay focused during those intense years of research.

One of my friends was in the EBS MBA programme at that time and told me about the opportunity to do a DBA at Heriot-Watt. What mainly caught my attention was the structure of the EBS DBA programme. During all times you know exactly where you stand and what you need to work on to get to the next stage. The Research Committee of EBS serves as an institutional quality manager, but this also means that once the Research Committee has approved something, you can be sure you are on the right track. This clear structure and its quality focus were the main issues which convinced me to join the programme.

My intentional passion in research was in stakeholder theory, but also in Human Resources Management – more specifically in recruitment. I started with a little literature review and found out that not a lot of research was done at that time connecting those two fields. I wanted to find out what the influence on recruitment practice may be when an organisation takes the stakeholder view and stops seeing itself in the middle of a network, but rather as a part of a much bigger and more complex one.

I chose a qualitative research approach for this study. I selected two organisations in two countries for a multi-case study. In the first phase, I conducted a document analysis in both cases. This formed the basis for the second phase where I run internal semi-structured in-depth interviews with a broad selection of employees. This methodology allowed for a deep insight into the recruitment activities of the organisations and the involvement of their employees and stakeholders. From the collected data, I produced stakeholder maps for recruitment. I found a strong perceived influence of the internal stakeholder perspective on the success of recruitment activities and the employer branding of the organisations.

This study contributes strongly to the literature as it addresses the named gap. Furthermore, it suggests forms of visualisation of complex stakeholder networks in recruitment. It also raises related benefits, risks and opportunities connected to the stakeholder perspective for recruitment and therefore sets the basis for further discussions.

As you may see from this short description of the study, going through the DBA programme is not easy. You need to keep on motivating yourself. You need to be dedicated not only to research, but to the topic you are working on. However, I never felt left alone. My mentor helped me to streamline my research idea into a proposal and my supervisor guided and challenged, but also motivated me for several years. Besides that the people from the administration were great problem solvers and always there to help if needed.

What have I learned? Well, I grew very much as a person. I was able to expand my knowledge on managing multiple external stakeholders (EBS, my employer, interviewees, partner organisations) with sometimes quite contradicting demands. You automatically learn to look at things from various perspectives, what not many people can properly do. Furthermore I was already able to publish an article for a practice oriented journal (audience: HR practitioners) where the visualisation of stakeholder networks for recruitment purpose is presented and the advantages discussed.

Now, after I officially graduated, I am about to start writing a peer-reviewed article about the research and the findings to allow a discussion within the regarding scientific community. Looking back, it was a great but also intense time, but aren’t intense times almost always the best ones?