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DTC Matters Issue No6. April 2014

April 25, 2014

banner-yThis newsletter is issued quarterly and includes NEWS AND EVENTS, TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES, PATHWAY NEWS, and ESRC NEWS. If you would like to submit an article for DTC Matters or provide feedback on any of the featured articles, go to ‘News’ and click ‘New Article +’ button.

This edition will focus on “Impact” and will feature contributions from PhD students in the WR DTC, describing the impact of their research or their research-related activities. “Impact Through Engagement” will also be the central theme of the WRDTC Spring Conference which will take place on 20 May 2014 in Sheffield. Read more.


WRDTC Spring Conference – 20 May 2014


Bookings are now open for the annual Spring Conference of the WR DTC, on 20 May 2014 at the University of Sheffield. Presentations will focus on IMPACT of social science research, with students sharing their experiences.

The EdgeEntries are invited for a Poster Exhibition (with a prize for the best poster), and the winner of the Research Collaboration Essay Competition will present his/her essay. The winner of a prize for Supervisor of the Year will also be announced on the day.

It will be a lively day – open to all PhD Social Science students researching at the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York.

Coach travel will be organised from Leeds and York, free of charge to students.

For more details and a booking form, please click here.

WRDTC Poster Exhibition – Winner

Elizabeth_HarrisonElizabeth Harrison (Third Year, Environment and Sustainability Pathway, University of Leeds) won the prize for the best poster displayed at the ICOSS building in Sheffield at the January 2014 WR DTC Poster Exhibition. The exhibition showcased some of the research carried out by WR DTC PhD students, and Elizabeth’s poster Harnessing Synergies Between Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation and Development was voted by an academic jury as the most clear and effective.

Information on a variety of events which will be of interest to PhD researchers in different disciplines and Pathways can be found on the DTC website.


PhD students are invited to make the most of the ESRC offer of media training, which can support the impact activities of PhD and early career research.

P1000790Advanced Training and Advanced Qualitative Methods workshops continue at the WR DTC universities. Coming up:

Please note if you book and do not attend a charge will be made to your department.


Education Pathway:

Research Student Education Conference (RSEC), Leeds, 30 May 2014

Second Research Student Conference (SRSC), Sheffield, 2-3 June 2014 

RSEC2014Two conferences co-organised with the contribution of PhD researchers from the three White Rose universities will provide students in the Education Pathway with the opportunity to share their research and build networks across the three universities.

The theme of the Research Student Education Conference at the University of Leeds on 30th May 2014 is ‘My Research Journey’, and the day will feature presentations on research experiences, challenges, dilemmas, theoretical frameworks, findings and impact. There will also be a Poster Exhibition on the day. Further details can be found here.

The Second Research Student Conference at the School of Education at the University of Sheffield is a two-day conference, also designed to provide postgraduate students across the White Rose DTC universities an opportunity to showcase their research to colleagues in a friendly and stress-free environment. The conference will take place on 2nd and 3rd June, please find all the details at this link.

Management and Business, Accounting and Finance, and Work Psychology Pathway – White Rose Doctoral Conference

WhiteRoseConferenceCallforPostersJuly2014 final versionThe York Management School, University of York, is hosting this year’s conference of the Management and Business, Accounting and Finance, and Work Psychology Pathway, on 14-15 July. The conference is entitled ‘Doing Research that Makes a Difference’ and is open to PhD students from Leeds, York and Sheffield.  The programme will include keynote speakers, a conference poster competition, and social events. There is still time to submit an abstract for the poster competition, please see this page for further details.



Festival of Social Science logo

  • Applications are open for the next Festival of Social Sciences, which is scheduled to take place from 1st to 8th November. Deadlines for applications are 9th and 16th May, depending on the category.
  • The National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) is organising the 6th ESRC Research Methods Festival, which will take place at St. Catherine’s College in Oxford from 8th to 10th July 2014. Bookings and information are on the NCRM website.
  • ESRC Funded Students – see the new WRDTC ESRC Guidance 2014.

Coming Soon…..

Our next WRDTC Induction Event to welcome all new PhD social Science Students to the WRDTC, will be held at Leeds Town Hall, 9 October 2014.


Impact Stories from PhD Students across the WRDTC:

Sheffield Institute of Work Psychology ‘Research Update’

Leanne Ingram (Management and Business, Accounting and Finance, and Work Psychology Pathway, University of Sheffield) 

iwpFive doctoral students at Sheffield Management School’s Institute of Work Psychology (Management and Business, Accounting and Finance, and Work Psychology Pathway) have recently contributed to a new publication from their research centre designed to increase the impact of their research in work psychology and organisational behaviour.

Student Leanne Ingram is using this opportunity to find researchers and organisations with a shared interest in the use of mindfulness at work who could be future collaborators, whilst Sam Farley presents findings from his recent research into self-blame by victims of online bullying at work.  Looking beyond the work environment, Ciara Kelly describes her current research into the ways in which different recovery activities outside of work can help or hinder well-being in the workplace.  Sarah Brooks presents her research into workplace silence, and communication between police officers and their police sergeants within a UK Police force.  The digital version of the publication provides links to each researcher’s profile page, so that interest parties can learn more or make direct contact with the researchers.

The ‘Research Update’ for the Institute of Work Psychology is a print and digital resource which will be sent out electronically to over 2,500 international scholars and practitioners giving huge potential for this research to have an impact upon academic and practitioner groups across the globe, and can be found here.

For more information contact:  lingram1@sheffield.ac.uk

Public Engagement Activity Led to Collaboration Opportunity for Sheffield PhD Students 

Sarah Brooks (Management and Business, Accounting and Finance, and Work Psychology Pathway, University of Sheffield) 

ESRC Sarah BrooksOn the evening of 4th November 2013, myself and a colleague, Peter Crellin took part in the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences.  We are both doctoral researchers at the Institute of Work Psychology, part of the Sheffield University Management School.  We combined our interests during a talk which provided a unique look at the ways in which managers prevent their employees from speaking openly and honestly about organisational issues.  We opened our event to a general audience because we wanted the discussions to be shaped by people with a whole range of different experiences.

After the session one of the attendees, Adam Midgley, introduced himself as the Head of Construction Services at Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council.  He explained that he’d found our research of interest because it highlighted aspects of leadership and communication that were proving topical in discussions he was having with his colleagues.  He then asked if we’d like to consider running a workshop with a group of senior managers to allow them to continue their conversations in a more structured manner.  As any of you will know, for any PhD student to hear that an industry practitioner is interested in your research is recognition that your research is of a wider importance and will have an impact outside of academia. “Of course we’d be interested” Pete and I immediately replied.  The months of planning for the Festival of Social Science had been worth it!

ResearchersThe two-hour workshop took place in March 2014 at the Council offices in Doncaster.  Pete and I presented both theory and evidence which helped to explain the behaviours of both managers and employees. In particular, we were keen to demonstrate how the perspectives of each group differ.  A number of case studies were used to illustrate typical communication issues between managers and employees.  The Heads of Service then spent about 10 minutes discussing, in teams, their understanding of the case studies before sharing their thoughts with each other.  The event was well received by everyone with the offer for us to run a follow-up workshop at a later date once Pete and I have findings from our research.  Adam Midgley said: “After meeting Sarah and Peter is was clear to me that their research could provide us with valuable insight.  We found the session interactive and engaging.  I know that I now think and act differently about communication in the workplace as a result.”

For more information contact: s.brooks@sheffield.ac.uk

Impact of Research on Employee Silence

Kate Morgan (Second Year, Management and Business, Accounting and Finance, and Work Psychology Pathway, University of Leeds)

For the past 40 years, employee voice has been at the heart of many academic studies within human resource management; however only in the last decade has employee silence begun to receive formal recognition within the field of management. At the same time, practitioners have begun to cite the importance of a growing ‘silent epidemic’ within Britain, the silence of mental illness within the workplace. My research, The ‘herd of elephants in the room’? Encouraging employees with mental illness to speak up, combines the development of employee silence theory with this national workplace issue, the strong and convincing imperatives for doing so coming from a business, legal and social justice background.

The_Elephant_in_the_Room_Banksy-Barely_legal-2006Through understanding the silence of mental illness an important contribution has been made to the literature: that breaking the silence is not enough, rather a continuous dialogue needs to be maintained. Organisations can reap numerous rewards from doing so, as through these ongoing conversations employee voice can spiral to wider organisational issues, creating a positive climate for voice. Yet the most important impact of the study is on the individuals who have a mental health condition. The study has shown that when employees open up about their mental illness, be it with colleagues or management, their recovery period is shortened and they become more comfortable and confident to notify their employer when they require reasonable adjustments to be put in place.

This study has received feedback on its impact from both the employers and the employees, with management reconsidering how it will maintain voice by creating a climate of voice through various voice mechanisms (such as self-organised networks), with the intention that employees can come forward when they are having mental health concerns. Further, the participants of the study, the individuals with the mental health conditions, have also noted post-interview that as a result of starting a dialogue with myself, they have come forward and disclosed to their line managers. The positive impact on their work, recovery and well-being have all been positive consequences of opening that conversation, which cements the need for further research to be conducted on mental illness and the workplace.


The mental health charity MIND have now taken an interest in the findings of the research, and look to work closely with me after publication. MIND have recognised the need to combat the silence of mental health within the workplace, and this is currently at the forefront of their attention. The charity’s Chief Executive, Paul Farmer, aims to use the results from the study to inform the charity’s understanding of silence and voice regarding mental health within organisations, and how to encourage the development of voice mechanisms to tackle this increasing problem. Particularly the findings regarding the effectiveness of certain voice mechanisms will be taken on board. A future plan for collaboration will take place in Summer 2015.

For more information contact: Bn08km@leeds.ac.uk

ESRC Internship at the Department of Health

Amy Clair (Health and Wellbeing Pathway, University of York)

800px-Department.of.health.london.arpI am spending three months at the Department of Health in London working on the relationship between health and well-being.  The department, alongside the Cabinet Office, have done quite a bit of work on this already so what I’ve been doing is based on needs that they have established during this time.  My PhD is focused on looking at children’s subjective well-being in relation to education, so this internship uses some of my previous experience in a new topic area.

Reviews of existing evidence alongside analysis conducted especially for the Department of Health (the Predicting Wellbeing report) identified a number of gaps in knowledge in terms of what we know about subjective well-being, such as understanding subjective well-being in people aged over 65, in those who provide unpaid care, according to ethnicity, and in people with disabilities.  Using secondary data sources I have been conducting analysis in order to try to fill some of these gaps in knowledge.  The reports I produce are shared within the department and across government with the aim of improving subjective well-being considerations in policy making.  Similarly I have been working on a tool that will encourage policy makers within the Department of Health, and possibly beyond, to consider subjective well-being more effectively when designing and implementing policy.

ChildrenOther work I have been doing involves contributing to Department of Health responses to consultations from organisations such as the ONS and PHE which shape how the well-being of the nation is measured and considered in future work.  More recently I have been involved in a project being run by the Cabinet Office which is investigating the usefulness of a Mindfulness-based training programme for Civil Service Fast Streamers.  I have been involved in developing the questionnaire that will be used throughout the programme to evaluate the impact it is on employee subjective well-being and productivity, among other things.  If the programme is deemed successful it may be introduced for all Civil Service Fast Streamers.

For more information contact: acg503@york.ac.uk

ESRC students: Keep an eye on the ESRC website for the latest internship opportunities.

Practical Initiatives Network (PIN): Impact through Sharing

Alice Jowett (Third Year, International Development Pathway, University of Leeds) – Founder of www.practicalinitiatives.org.


I started Practical Initiatives Network (PIN), an online platform for sharing development initiatives, in early 2013.  PIN is free to join and asks organisations to complete a short online form describing, among other things, their aims, challenges faced, and overall outcomes.  The aim was to provide a space to encourage transparency and sharing in development with the motto ‘Development Works Better Together’ and with ‘Impact’ as a central feature.

Since the launch last year, organisations of varying sizes, reach, development focus and from a wide range of locations worldwide have shared their initiatives on PIN.  Organisations have used the network to draw attention both to their work and their own impact and as a platform to discuss a range issues important to their work.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the need for reliable funding is the most widely cited concern.  Many organisations discussed the specific challenge of securing reliable funding, and others the difficulty of measuring success and impact – all critically important to potential donors.  Donors now have access to, and are influenced by, an unprecedented amount of data and information via the Internet and through social media sites.  Whether organisations or individuals, donors want to see the impact their donations will have on an organisation’s work.  With social media and technology playing an increasingly important role in development, organisations must find ways of reporting and sharing their impact and PIN is one way this can be achieved.

SharingIt is rare to come across an initiative on PIN that does not mention ‘Impact’ in one way or another.  While funding is an important lens through which to view impact, development organisations consistently demonstrate the importance of measuring and reporting different types of impact.  Initiatives on PIN appear to gauge their impact in two distinct ways.  The first is their reach in terms of raising awareness, with some organisations, for example, measuring their impact by the number of followers they have on social media sites.  Others gauge impact in terms of the number of beneficiaries they have served and the change they have affected in people’s lives.  Whatever the measure, it is evident that impact is important for development organisations to both address and harness.

PIN itself could measure its impact in several ways.  Certainly, the number of followers on social media sites has become increasingly valuable with the development sector now placing a greater emphasis on online presence.  Engaged followers strengthen the network and provide a greater audience for PIN initiatives to promote their work.  The expansion of PIN to become a hub for global development discussions through these sites has also added a new group of potential beneficiaries.  PIN’s impact could also be measured by the number of initiatives on the site and the richness of the information provided to help achieve the goal of sharing lessons learned.  Perhaps the most significant impact, however, is also the hardest to measure.  For PIN this relates directly to the impact the network has on its users and whether the site has helped initiatives increase their own impact by helping them secure funding, partnerships or by raising awareness of their work.  Impact for PIN can also be measured by the uses other organisations, practitioners, academics and other interested parties find in the information it holds.  To find out more about PIN, please visit the website.

For more information contact: a.a.jowett@leeds.ac.uk

Comprehending HRM Policies and Practices in Multinationals within the Hospitality Sector: Country of Origin and Country of Domicile Effects.

Giovanni Serafini (Management and Business, Accounting and Finance, and Work Psychology Pathway, SEERC, University of Sheffield)

12085My PhD research work aims at analysing the application of Human Resource Management (HRM) by multi-national enterprises (MNEs) in the hospitality industry, while centring on the case of a global luxury US hotel chain. In particular, this study is rooted in the literature on comparative capitalism, and it seeks to shed new light on the nature of institutional effects on HRM applied by firms that cross national boundaries. The focus is on hospitality, a relatively neglected industry by mainstream research which is labour-intensive and is among the first movers in new markets by setting the infrastructure for business and then leisure tourism. Thus, by virtue of its link with tourism which figures among the world’s top employers, the hospitality industry has attained a global profile with an increasing importance in many national economies. Moreover, the literature on comparative capitalism has tended to concentrate on mature markets: this study brings to bear a new body of evidence from emerging markets as well. Being a comparative in-depth case study utilizing Whitley’s dimensions of employer-employee interdependence and employee delegation, the research concerns HRM implementation by subsidiaries of a MNE located both in advanced European economies and in the rather unexplored transition periphery post-Soviet economies of the Caucasus and Central Asia regions.

Customer Service AwardsThe impact of this research is to be found in its contribution to knowledge in two separate areas that have been relatively neglected by scholars: hospitality industry MNE application of HRM and transition periphery economies. First, with regards to HRM in the hospitality industry, this topic has often been analyzed by utilizing mainstream HR research frameworks and models. Further, research on services industry relate to banking, airline and retail sectors and much less specifically hotels. Next, transitional periphery economies represent a most intriguing area of research because after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the resulting independent countries were viewed as new frontiers where multinational enterprises could strategically expand their operations. While the transitional economies of Central and East Europe were nimble in attracting MNEs, the more remote Caucasus and Central Asia regions demonstrated a systemic resistance to change that has impeded their economic development thus relegating them to a ‘transitional periphery’ status. These divergent paths are reflected in the literature, whereby the former show a limited yet growing body of empirical studies while, for the latter, knowledge is sparse and business and managerial understanding virtually non-existent. While these emerging countries have featured a non-homogeneous and fragmented economic development path since gaining independence, their critical geo-political strategic positioning coupled with vast natural resources and rich cultural heritage offer attractive investment opportunities also in the growing tourism industry. Research findings would offer a valuable insight on HRM matters to investors exploring the opportunity to develop hospitality businesses in post-communist transitional periphery economies.

In sum, this research paper allows a very much closer and direct comparison of variations in HRM policy according to locale than would otherwise be the case, within the same organization structure. In other words, it is possible to examine differences between settings within a single and mature organizational context. The research conclusion indicates that, despite institutional and socio-economic differences across nations, hospitality MNE attains an overall uniform application of HRM policies and practices.

For more information contact: giserafini@seerc.org

Dole Animators – ‘All in it together’: Are Benefits Ever a Lifestyle Choice? 

Ruth Patrick (Fourth Year Part-time, Sociology Pathway, University of Leeds)

ResearchMy doctoral research explores the lived experiences of welfare reform.  Taking a qualitative longitudinal approach, I spoke to a small group of benefit claimants on three occasions as they experienced and responded to changes in the benefit system.

In disseminating the findings from this research, I was keen to work in participation with the people I’d interviewed to create an output with meaning and value for the participants themselves.  To this end, with funding secured from the National Lottery, I coordinated a six month project to create an animated documentary that highlighted some of the key research findings.

In a series of workshops, eight of the research participants worked with myself and a filmmaker to create a film that explored the most important issues that they felt had been raised by the research.  Importantly, the film was both directed and produced by the group themselves, who retained copyright.  They called themselves the ‘Dole Animators’, and made the key creative and content decisions about the film.

doleanimators2The film was launched at the House of Commons, and we also arranged a Red Carpet film screening in Leeds.  Members of the group took part in media activities to promote the film which included radio and TV appearances, and coverage in both local and national newspapers.

The film was made available to view online (at http://doleanimators.wordpress.com ) and we utilised social media to try and maximise its possible audience. The group’s twitter account now has over 1000 followers, and the film has been viewed online almost 9,000 times.  As part of the promotion of the film, group members have helped give a university lecture, and have spoken at conferences and events.

The project was challenging to conduct, but demonstrated the potential in trying to work with research participants to create more accessible outputs, and to maximise potential impact.

Find out more information about the project here or contact r.patrick@leeds.ac.uk.

Follow the group on twitter @doleanimators

Impact Resources

To find out more about impact, including definitions, case studies and useful tips, visit the Impact Toolkit pages on the ESRC website.

Other resources at the three White Rose universities are:

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