This section elaborates on the use of attribution theory and grounded theory as the primary methods of examination utilized by the researcher in order to check the information gathered during the interview. These theories were chosen due to their ability to examine the opinions of the interviewees in order to properly interpret the data and create viable solutions and recommendations. For example, through attribution theory the research will be able to correlate the views of the talent manager with their current experiences within Etisalat in order to properly determine whether the current talent management system is appropriate/inappropriate in properly developing employees within the company.
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By following grounded theory during the data analysis stage of the study, the research will be able to determine the current state of talent management within Etisalat, whether significant problems exist, what the company is doing to address such issues and if possible alternative to current methods have been considered. It is expected that by following the two theoretical frameworks during the examination process of the paper, the researcher will be able to succinctly address the research objectives of the study.
The main difference between the two theories is that attribution theory concerns itself with the assumptions people have towards a particular product or process while grounded theory focuses more on developing succinct assumptions based on the data that has been presented. As such, by combining both methods this enables the study to examine the opinions of a test subject under a particular investigative framework while at the same time utilizing another framework to determine the inherent problems within a given scenario and the appropriate method of addressing them.
It is based on this that these two theories become an ideal method for the research topic “Achieving Competitive Advantage through Talent Management”. The main benefit of utilizing both theories in the examination of the research topic is that they enable a better examination of the responses of the interviewees as well as the data from the literature review as compared to merely doing an examination of both aspects utilizing a single theory.
Attribution theory is an excellent method of analyzing talent management practices since it delves direct into opinions and inclinations regarding particular products or topics (Orth, 2012). As a result, researchers are better able to understand the opinions of candidates that are being examined and their overall responsiveness to current talent management practices (Trafimow et al., 2011).
Attribution theory centers around the derived assumption of a particular individual/group of people regarding a particular process, product or service based on their experience with it (Trafimow et al., 2011). It is often used as means of investigating consumer opinions regarding a particular product and to determine the level of satisfaction derived from its use (Trafimow et al., 2011). By utilizing this particular theory as the framework for this study, the researcher will be able to correlate the opinions of the interviewee regarding their assumptions over what practices lead to job satisfaction thus resulting in improved employee retention practices (Orth, 2012).
This particular theoretical framework helps to address the research objective of determining current talent management practices within the company by creating the framework that will be utilized within the interview. Utilizing attribution theory, the research will design the research questions in such a way that they delve into the opinions of the manager regarding current talent management practices within the company.
The needed information will be extracted through a carefully designed set of questions whose aim is to determine how a particular manager’s experience with the company’s talent management processes affects the way they view the current state of talent management within the company and whether significant improvements need to be implemented or not. However, it should be noted that while attribution theory is an excellent means of examining the opinions of interviewees, it is an inadequate framework when it comes to determining the origin of problems in certain cases. Grounded theory, with its emphasis on utilizing a specific framework to guide a researcher during the examination process can be considered an adequate method of performing the more “in-depth” aspects of the research.
Justification for Utilizing Attribution Theory
As a guideline for examination, attribution theory enables researchers to better understand how people react or will react based on the introduction of a new set of parameters (Trafimow et al., 2011). This can encompass a new product, process or organizational structure, however, its main intended purpose is to help researchers understand the justification behind the reactions of the research subjects (Orth, 2012).
Based on this, it can be seen that attribution theory is an ideal method of examination for this paper since it would enable the researcher to better understand the factors (i.e. organizational culture, personal preference etc.) that influence the talent manager in his/her position regarding talent management practices within Etisalat. Not only that, it would enable the researcher to determine whether such influences positively/negatively affect the development of talent management practices within the company.
The advantage of utilizing ground theory over other theoretical concepts is that it does not start with an immediate assumption regarding a particular case (Gambetti, Graffigna and Biraghi, 2012). Instead, it focuses on the development of an assumption while the research is ongoing through the use of the following framework for examination:
- What is going on?
- What is the main problem within the company for those involved?
- What is currently being done to resolve this issue?
- Are there possible alternatives to the current solution?
This particular technique is especially useful in instances where researchers need to follow a specific framework for examining a problem (as seen in the framework above) and, as such, is useful in helping to conceptualize the data in such a way that logical conclusions can be developed from the research data (Hunter, 2012).
Through the use of grounded theory, the researcher will be able to determine how talent management practices in Etisalat such as employee benefits programs, employee training programs, work/life balance initiatives, mentoring or in-house education services are effective enough in retaining the company’s current talent base. This will be done by following the ground theory framework of examination (that was already mentioned) in order to help guide the research and interview process that will be conducted.
According to Charmaz (2006), grounded theory provides systematic, yet flexible guidelines to collect and analyze data. That data then forms the foundation of the theory while the analysis of the data provides the concepts resulting in an effective examination and presentation of the results of the study.
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Introduction to Methodology
This section aims to provide information on how the study will be conducted and the rationale behind employing the discussed methodologies and techniques towards augmenting the study’s validity. In addition to describing the research design, this section will also elaborate on instrumentation and data collection techniques, data analysis and study concerns.
Sekaran (2006) observed most qualitative studies are either descriptive or experimental. The study will utilize a descriptive correlation approach because the participant will be measured once. According to Sekaran(2006), an interview technique is used when the researcher is principally interested in descriptive, explanatory or exploratory appraisal, as is the case in this study. The justification for choosing an interview approach for this particular study is grounded on the fact that the participant will have the ability to respond to the researcher questions more directly and thus provide more information than a simple questionnaire.
An analysis of related literature will be used to support the study findings with research on various strategies utilized in talent management. Such analysis, according to Sekaran (2006), is important in identifying the actual constructs that determine efficient analysis because “it goes beyond mere description of variables in a situation to an understanding of the relationships among factors of interest” (Sekaran, 2006: 19).
According to Patton (2002), the purpose of an interview is to obtain subjective data, such as attitudes, which are not observable. The interview will provide an opportunity for the interviewees to share their knowledge about talent management and their attitude about the use of skill training, job satisfaction and developing job interest in their programs. Since the questions will be open-ended, each interviewee will also have an opportunity to ask questions or take the interview in a different direction in order to share their ideas regarding the topic.
Sekaran (2006) notes that research that is performed in a rigorous manner can lead to more effective practices than decisions based mainly on intuition, personal preferences, or common sense. It is based on this that the researcher will utilize the views garnered through the interview that will be conducted along with data from the literature review in order to develop a sufficient platform from which effective and above all accurate conclusions can be created.
The open-ended questions that will be utilized within the study will primarily be guided by the case study objectives established by the researcher. The interview style will be intensive interviewing (Patton, 2002). Intensive interviewing allows the researcher to conduct an in-depth exploration of a particular topic. Unlike “regular” interviews, intensive interviewing focuses on the presentation of specific facts, circumstances, events and data sets by the interviewer and examines how the respondents react to such data via opinions, presentation of inherent knowledge or application of the given data on a case by case basis.
This differs significantly from the way in which “regular” interviews are conducted wherein the data is far more generalized and there is little if any sufficient application of data to resolve presented problems. From a certain perspective, it can be stated that a regular interview is static in that interactions between the interviewer and interviewee are limited to presenting views regarding particular instances.
On the other hand, intensive interviews are far more dynamic in that they delve into developing specifics and solutions for particular situations (Patton, 2002). One way of comparing the two methods can be seen in the case of interviews conducted by reporters on the street (which can be described as a regular interview) and the type of interviews seen on the popularly syndicated show “60 Minutes” (which is a form of intensive interview) (Patton, 2002).
As such, with this interview style, the researcher will be able to focus on the attitude and knowledge level of the participant about talent management. For example, the interviewer can stop and explore a statement, request more detail on a statement, keep the participant on a particular point or return to an earlier topic, and restate the participant’s point to check for accuracy. Such methods would not be acceptable in a normal conversation.
According to Charmaz (2006), intensive qualitative interviewing fits well with a grounded theory method because both are open-ended, yet directed. This combination is the perfect balance for this research study. The research questions are directed at how the managers feel about current talent management processes and how much they know about using attributes related to job satisfaction, interest and skills training in their programs. The use of these two methods will allow the researcher to direct the interview in order to keep it focused, while at the same time, provides a means for the participant to go in other directions in order to share thoughts and ideas. This open-ended style will allow for the greatest variety of data.
Deciding on the Questions to be used in the Interviews
The questions for the interviews were based on an evaluation of the research questions as well as the data and arguments presented in the literature review section. The aim of the researcher was to develop the questions in such a way that they build up on the material utilized in the literature review.
The primary method of data analysis in the case of this study involves an individual review. The individual review will primarily be the researcher examining the collected response data from the manager that was interviewed and comparing it to the data obtained from the literature review. By doing so, this should create a better understanding of how close Etisalat talent management practices are to those advocated by academic researchers. The researcher will then review these main themes and use this information to assist in establishing the key findings of the study. This method of data analysis is appropriate for a qualitative design.
One potential concern that should be taken into consideration is the potential that the responses given by the study participant are in fact inaccurate or outright false. While the researcher is giving the manager the benefit of the doubt, the fact remains that there is still the potential that the information being given has been crafted in such a way that it was made to ensure that other companies will not be able to determine how the internal operations of Etisalat function. Unfortunately, there is no way for the researcher to verify the information since only one research subject is being interviewed.
This methodology exposes the participant to an assortment of risks that need to be taken into consideration during the research process. The main risk the participant will encounter is if any of the answers that criticize or indicate dissatisfaction with talent management leaks. This encompasses the question on whether the company’s current program is effective or not. Depending on his opinion on such a matter, it may be grounds for termination depending on how upper level managers would perceive his evaluation of their work.