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Title: Developing group work skills : a study of multicultural mature students' workgroups in a real-life consultancy project during a MBA's programme
Author: Alves, Maria Gabriela Matias da Silva
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2008
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This research project is about MBA students' behaviour in a MBA project and investigates what goes on when groups are solving problems or making decisions in work-related contexts. In contrast with most mainstream approaches to study groups, which assume the impartiality of both participants and researcher, the study considers' that human beings are active makers of meanings and interpretations, and participants in the construction of narrative versions of group life. Thus, the research clearly puts emphasis on construction rather than pure discovery, on participation rather than observation, on beliefs rather than truths. This thesis questions whether the elusive concept 'workgroup' can be described as the integration of single, widely spanning set of meanings, by exploring how group members both construct and are constructed in particular circumstances. It also investigates misunderstandings in interaction, as meanings which speakers express in words or behaviours may not be those which addressees interpret. To offer a trustworthy answer to the research questions pointed out, the project starts by examining some historically situated theories, models and perspectives that shape our understanding of groups in organisations and how managers should assist the individual or small group when people experience tensions, conflicts and struggles in group constellations. Following an opportunistic sampling, the empirical investigation is carried on with a cohort of MBA students in a Business School of a UK university. In the process of gathering and reporting the empirical material, the main objective is to attain understanding about participants' subjective experiences in one particular groupbased activity: a real-life consultancy project where the researcher was able to follow and observe nineteen groups over a period of six months. A total of 58 open-ended interviews with students constitute the main source of data for the project. The study presents evidence showing different perceptions of 'group work' and the implications that these differences had on group dynamics and members' identities within their group, but more importantly on individual understandings of what was going on in their groups. The findings contribute to reveal gaps in psycho-social theories, specifically with regard to multicultural group-based work structures. Findings also make a practical contribution, providing some insights to tutors and senior executives who wish to enhance the use of group work as a strategy for improving the awareness of one's own behaviour, sensitivity to the behaviour of others and group consciousness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available