Reflect on the following problem statement and answer ALL questions that follow.
For decades, it was thought that playing music in our places of work would boost morale and productivity. In the 1970s, Alfred Kinsey developed a 90-minute “music at work” labelled Stimulus Progression, which was released by Muzak, the background-music merchants. Muzak originally set out to rally workers with 15-minute cycles of slowly climaxing music.
The BBC piped what was considered to be an uplifting light music show Music ‘While You Work’ into factories during the war, but work music fell out of favour among everyone but mechanics and maverick surgeons. Now, it seems, office music may be making a return. PRS for Music, which gathers royalties for the industry, granted 27,000 licences to workplaces to play music last year – 8% more than in 2015 (Usborne, 2017). Anecdotal evidence is rife of the widespread streaming of Spotify playlists across desks.
According to Usborne (2017), a number of firms in the digital agency space and start-ups have several Spotify accounts and music licenses. A number of these firms play calmer music when “harmony” is required in the business and faster-tempo songs “when people are lagging”. Are we set for a new era of employee productivity?
ABC Ltd (not the real name) is a major South African-domiciled Telecommunications and Information Technology company, employing close to 17 000 individuals across the country. The company began its operations in the early 1990s and has grown in leaps and bounds over the years to become a multinational concern with operations across a number of developing countries in Africa and Asia. Operating at the forefront of the knowledge economy, the company’s rapid growth and success has been fuelled primarily by its strategic focus on a highly-skilled and innovative workforce, majority of whom are under 30 years of age. Secondly, management has always viewed customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty as critical ingredients to the company’s future growth and profitability.
However, in the last few years, in the midst of rising competitive pressures and regulatory constraints within the maturing South African telecommunications industry, ABC Ltd has experienced a marked decrease in organisational commitment, increased staff turnover, and loss of talent. This has resulted in a deterioration of the quality of its services and increased customer dissatisfaction. Coincidentally, a recent employee survey highlighted an unexpected observation – roughly 55 per cent of employees under 30 years of age cited freedom to listen to music at work as important for sustained performance at work and a morale booster in the stressful work environment. This revelation suggests that music is part and parcel of the life of many ABC employees both at home and at work. The survey also revealed that for a third of the employees, an ideal company to work for in the future is one that would offer its employees, among others, an opportunity to devote a few working hours every week to nested activities of professional interest. Citing google and a few other global tech companies as examples, 60 per cent of employees expressed a desire for ABC Ltd to adopt a more experimental, employee-focused, laissez-faire culture.
These and other findings from the survey suggest a mismatch of expectations internally and a rift between what appears to be a top-down, static corporate culture characterised by enforced adherence to rigid procedures and a more youthful bottom-up, aspirational and pragmatic organisational culture, which embraces a blend of creative angst and modern practicality. In summary, the growth and success of ABC Ltd in this evolving environment, will depend on its ability to inspire the energies and contributions of all its diverse employees to its cause through a new strategy which takes into consideration elements of the emerging organisational culture.
The management of ABC Ltd suspects that the findings from the survey have implications for the company’s strategic direction and wants a detailed follow-up investigation to be conducted to determine the likely impact of allowing music to be played in the workplace. You are part of a team of business researchers that has been contracted by ABC Ltd to undertake an empirical investigation into the impact of workplace music on employee affective commitment and organisational commitment.
The team has been given six months to conclude the investigation and to submit a report of the investigation to the management of ABC Ltd. The following objectives of the investigation have been assigned to the investigation team:
• To measure the impact of workplace music on employee affective commitment at ABC Ltd;
• To determine the impact of workplace music on organisational commitment at ABC Ltd;
• To determine the impact of workplace music on staff turnover and loss of talent at ABC Ltd; and
• To draw conclusions from the empirical study and offer practical recommendations on how to enhance employee affective commitment and organisational commitment at ABC Ltd.
Please outline how you would go about conducting the investigation with reference to the following:
1.1 Suggest a title for this study. (2)
1.2 State the aim(s) and the significance of this investigation. (3)
1.3 State FOUR (4) Research Questions that your investigation will attempt to answer. (4)
1.4 Motivate a research philosophy, a research approach/paradigm and a research design to buttress the study/investigation. (5)
1.5 Using appropriate academic sources, discuss the methodological choices you would make with respect to the following:
Sampling Methodology: (6)
- The reasons why sampling would be necessary in this investigation.
- Identify the target population and explain how you would select an appropriate sample for this investigation.
- Explain, with reasons, whether your sampling strategy would be probability or non-probability.
- Specify, define, and substantiate your choice of a sampling method for this investigation, highlighting, among others, why your chosen sampling method is the most suitable for this investigation.
Method of Data Collection (5)
- Discuss how your philosophical stance in this investigation would inform the collection of data.
- Discuss the data collection instrument(s) and/or method(s) you would employ in this investigation to achieve the objectives of the investigation. Your discussion should highlight the rationale for choosing your data collection method(s).
Method of Data Analysis (5)
- Discuss how your philosophical stance in this investigation would inform the analysis of the data collected.
- Briefly discuss the method(s) of data analysis you would employ. Highlight, where necessary, the steps involved in the data analysis process for each of your research questions in 1.3.
QUESTION 2 (20)
Below is the title and abstract of an article which was published in the Academy of Management Review Journal, Vol. 43, No. 1, page 110–131. Critically reflect on the abstract and answer the questions that follow.
The Role of Executive Symbolism in Advancing New Strategic Themes in Organizations: A Social Influence Perspective
Donald C. Hambrick and Jeffrey B. Lovelace
Contributing to the sensegiving literature and organizational change literature, we set forth a theory for predicting the relative effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of executive symbolism in advancing new strategic themes (specific new priorities) in organizations. Unpacking the concept of executive symbolism and describing why executive actions carry symbolic significance, we primarily assess the “theme-aligned symbolic action”—an executive action undertaken with the intention of sending a message in support of some new theme. We draw from social influence theory to develop an integrated set of propositions for predicting members’ reactions, or affective responses, to such actions. The predictive factors include attributes of the action itself, the reputation of the executive, and predispositions of respective members to the theme. As an outgrowth of this analysis, we conclude that theme-aligned symbols, no matter how artful, will almost always be ineffective in eliciting positive reactions from members who are antagonistic toward the theme. In turn, we introduce the concept of the “theme-muting symbol”— a symbolic action intended to minimize the prominence or apparent implications of a new theme—and we place this concept in the social influence framework as well. We discuss practical implications and present an agenda for future research.
2.1 Based on the content of the abstract identify and discuss the type of research conducted by Hambrick and Lovelace (2017), and unpack the main theory employed in the research and the contributions to the body of knowledge. (5)
2.2 Elaborate on the motivation for this paper, highlighting the focus of inquiry (i.e. the broad question of interest). (3)
2.3 What does the statement, “We draw from social influence theory to develop an integrated set of propositions for predicting members’ reactions, or affective responses, to such actions,” suggest about the research approach (deductive, inductive or abductive?) used by Hambrick and Lovelace (2017)? Explain the process involved. (4)
2.4 Using a simple structural model, illustrate the authors’ conceptualisation of interactions between the predictive factors, members’ reactions and affective responses, and members’ support for or against an organisational strategic theme. (3)
2.5 Comment on the strategic relevance of Hambrick and Lovelace’s (2017) findings and highlight one key shortcoming of most theoretical models which Hambrick and Lovelace (2017) addressed in this article. (3)
2.6 Provide a Harvard-style citation of Hambrick and Lovelace’s (2017) article. (2)
QUESTION 3 (20)
Read the case study below and answer the questions that follow.
Empowerdem is a not-for-profit organisation that provides capacity building support to Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) across the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Empowerdem’s mission is to build the capacity of MSMEs in order to contribute to economic growth and prosperity, increase resilience and stimulate job creation. Due to increased demand for its services, Empowerdem is contemplating a strategic shift with the aim of prioritising the provision of evidence-driven support for MSMEs. The operations director, Mr Kelvin Africa, is spearheading Empowerdem’s operational plan which is premised on sharpening entrepreneurial behaviours that predict business performance across the SADC region. He believes that building the capacity of MSMEs and nudging firms in the MSME space towards better business practices is important for improved business performance and enhanced contribution to economic growth across SADC. In this regard, he has hypothesised that entrepreneurial orientations of MSMEs correlate with business performance.
Mr Simon Mokwena, a business researcher at Empowerdem, has been tasked with conducting an analysis of entrepreneurial orientations and business performance of MSMEs across five (5) SADC countries, namely South Africa, Namibia, DR Congo, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. He has decided to focus the investigation on key provinces and regions with high concentrations of MSMEs within each of 5 countries and has randomly selected MSMEs from the selected provinces and regions for the study (see Table 3.1). Due to ongoing working relationships with many of the MSMEs, Mr Mokwena estimates a 50% response rate for the survey instrument.
Table 3.1: Data on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in selected countries in SADC
Country South Africa Namibia DR Congo Zimbabwe Tanzania
Estimated no. of MSMEs 6 million 50 000 7 million 2.5 million 5 million
Actual sample size 800 700 800 800 800
Provinces surveyed Gauteng,
North West Khomas,
Ohangwena, Omusati Kinshasa,
Haut – Katanga,
Kasaï-Oriental Harare province,
Mash. East Dar es Salaam,
The 4 objectives of Mr Mokwena’s investigation are:
• To determine whether the entrepreneurial orientations of MSMEs differ significantly across the 5 countries studied;
• To investigate whether b_u_s_i_n_e_s_s_ _p_e_r_f_o_r_m_a_n_c_e_ _o_f_ _M_S_M_E_s_ _d_i_f_f_e_r_ _a_c_r_o_s_s_ _t_h_e_ _5_ _c_o_u_n_t_r_i_e_s_;_ _a_n_d_ _
• To examine if entrepreneurial orientation is a significant predictor of business performance of MSMEs across the 5 countries.
• To draw conclusions from the empirical study and offer practical recommendations on how to enhance the performance of MSMEs within SADC.
To measure firm entrepreneurial orientation (EO) construct, Mr Mokwena has identified 5 salient dimensions from a review and integration of the strategy and entrepreneurship literature: innovativeness, proactiveness, risk-taking, competitive aggressiveness, and autonomy (Wiklund & Shepherd, 2003; Covin, Greene, & Slevin, 2006; Tang, Tang and Cowden 2017; Urbig, Stöckmann, Marino, and Dickson, 2016). Following Covin and Slevin (1989), he measured the EO of the firm through the top management team (TMT) of each of the firms surveyed. EO was measured at the interval level.
Business performance (BP) construct was measured using the Balanced Scorecard (Kaplan & Norton, 1996), which encapsulates both financial and non-financial performance variables, as well as business growth variables which were measured by change in turnover, increase in number of employees, increase in the enterprise’s assets and profit (Mabhungu, 2017). BP was measured at the ratio level.
3.1 State the aim of, and motivation for, Mr Mokwena’s study. (4)
3.2 Formulate a set of null and alternative hypotheses for each of the first three research objectives. (5)
3.3 Specify an inferential test for each of the three sets of hypotheses formulated in question 3.2, taking into consideration the assumptions of parametric tests. (5)
3.4 The outputs of all the statistical analyses conducted as part of the data analysis are depicted in Table 3.4.1 to Table 3.4.6.
I failed to copy this as a table, so pasted it as image:
3.4.1 Based on the output, discuss the validity of the data analysis conducted. (3)
3.4.2 Based on the outputs of the statistical analyses, provide a statistical conclusion and a management interpretation. (3)
QUESTION 4 (15)
In an effort to sharpen its competitive edge, Radasium Limited, an information technology company with 500 employees, embarked on a process of continuous improvement. Three intensive training sessions for all staff were earmarked for the financial year ended 31 December 2018, at the end of which the impact of the programme was evaluated to determine its efficacy.
At the beginning of the exercise, two hundred employees were randomly selected out of 410 individuals who volunteered to take part in the study. The two hundred were tested for their baseline competence on a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 denotes the lowest possible score and 10 the highest possible score), using a standardised measurement instrument. The two hundred employees were subsequently tested using the same instrument at the end of the first, second and third training sessions. The scores obtained in each of the tests were recorded as depicted in Table 4.1, below.
There was zero participant attrition throughout the continuous improvement programme.
Table 4.1: Scores obtained in each of the tests (Note: the scores of only ten participants are shown here)
Respondent # Pre-training score Post-training1 score Post-training 2 score Post-training 3 score
1 5 5 7 8
2 4 6 7 9
3 6 7 8 9
4 4 7 7 8
5 5 8 8 8
6 5 6 6 7
7 4 6 5 6
8 6 7 7 7
9 6 6 8 8
10 5 7 8 8
The data was analysed using SPSS version 24 and the output showed in Table 4.2 to Table 4.6 was produced.
Table 4.2: Test of Normality of Employees’ Competence Scores measured on 4 occasions Tests of Normality
Statistic df Sig. Statistic df Sig.
Pre_Training_Score .090 200 .084 .985 200 .323
Post_Training1_Score .136 200 .079 .987 200 .469
Post_Training2_Score .072 200 .200* .992 200 .855
Post_Training3_Score .082 200 .097 .964 200 .407
*This is a lower bound of the true significance
a. Lilliefors Significance Correction
Table 4.3: Dependent Variable measured on 4 occasions Within-Subjects Factors
Time Dependent Variable
4.1 Specify the research question in the evaluation. (2)
4.2 Specify the independent and dependent variables in the evaluation. (3)
4.3 Formulate the null and alternative hypotheses for the evaluation. (2)
4.4 On the basis of the output, explain whether the impact evaluation was performed using a parametric test or a non-parametric test. Substantiate your answer. (3)
4.5 Specify the key inferential statistical tests which were performed as part of the data analysis to evaluate the impact of the continuous improvement programme on employees’ competence. (2)
4.6 Interpret the output of the inferential statistical tests, using the standard reporting format. Did the intervention yield a significant improvement in employee scores? (3)
QUESTION 5 (15)
Supply chain management (SCM) and Project management (PM) are two of the most popular electives studied by MBA students. In an attempt to understand the underlying reasons for the popularity of the two elective modules, you conducted a narrative interview with ten MBA graduates who took SCM or PM as an elective. The main finding from the narrative analysis was that the MBA students perceive SCM and PM electives as important for the rapid growth in an individual’s monetary compensation (i.e., salary).
As an HR specialist, you have a keen interest in establishing empirically whether the elective studied by MBA graduates has an impact on monetary compensation over the long-term. You randomly distributed the questionnaire shown below among a number of MBA graduates who completed their MBA degree at a popular Business School in Johannesburg.
5.1 State the aims of your investigation and the designs employed to achieve those aims. (3)
5.2 Specify the inferential test whose output is depicted in Tables 5.2 to 5.4, highlighting whether the test is parametric or non-parametric and why this particular test is appropriate for the investigation described above. (4)
5.3 Interpret the output of the inferential test depicted in Tables 5.2 to 5.4. Include the standard reporting format. (4)
5.4 The data analyst estimated a response rate of 10% for this investigation. Based on this estimate, calculate the number of MBA graduates who were emailed the e-survey. What could have contributed to the low response rate? (4)
• _Your assignment (excluding table of contents, cover page, diagrams, and appendices) must not exceed 4500 words/characters.
• _Your assignment must include a Table of Contents page as well as an assignment cover page.
• _Text font: Arial or Times New Roman (size 12), line spacing: 1½ lines.
• _All text must be justified at each margin.
• _Page Margins and page numbering: It is important to number your pages correctly. The initial pages should be numbered in roman numerals. Page 1 begins at the introduction.
• _The standardization for page margins is 1.5 from the left and right of the page.
• _Line spacing: The required line spacing for the proposal is 1.5
• _Font style: Use either Arial or Times New Roman, Font size 12
• _Headings: Headings should be numbered in the following manner:
o Main headings should be in caps and bold.
o There are no periods after the last number used.
o Headings such as TABLE OF CONTENTS, ABSTRACT or ABBREVIATIONS are not numbered.
• _+You are required to provide a Bibliography (i.e., List of references) for question 1: One single alphabetical list of all references cited in the text, containing in all cases full bibliographic details: author; date; title; publication; volume and issue of journal, where applicable; pages of journal article, where applicable; publisher; city; as well as full details of internet report author; title; URL of internet site and date on which internet site was accessed. We prescribe the use of the Harvard referencing system.