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Student Research

 

Dr. Wendy Carroll has been extremely active in assisting and mentoring the graduate students in the University of Prince Edward Island School of Business' Executive MBA Program. Over 70% of the students involved with Wendy do research directly related to the mandate of the Workforce Strategies Research Group.

 

 

 

 

 

Labour Market Information

Understanding of sources of Labour Market Information (LMI), and working with existing LMI information to develop knowledge and contribute to action.

 

LMI - MBA Student Report 1:

Making Sense of Labour Market Information for Prince Edward Island: Moving Forward into the 21st Century. Kimpton (2010)

Executive Summary: Labour markets in Canada continue to be affected by three principle forces of change, namely globalization of competition, technological advances, and changes in the demographic structure of the workplace (Maxell & Saunders, 2003). Elizabeth Beale, President of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, stated in a public session that Prince Edward Island’s aging population, decreased literacy levels and shortage of skilled workers creates a major challenge for the province moving forward (Day, 2009). Given these challenges, understanding the current labour market is essential for the government of Prince Edward Island in order to set policies and develop focused programs that will contribute to economic prosperity.

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LMI - MBA Student Report 2:

Assessing Quality in PEI Jobs: Developing and Testing a Preliminary Job Quality Index (JQI) Model. Richard (2012)

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Labour Force Readiness

Research to reveal insights about the state of readiness of the labour force in areas such as education, motivation to work, and barriers to entry.

 

LFR - MBA Student Report 3:

Direction Y - What Guides Youth When Planning for Their Future: Using Florida's Place Pyramid. Rossiter (2010)

Executive Summary: Prince Edward Island (PEI) is facing significant decreases in population and resulting labour force based on current labour force dynamics. Projections show that Prince Edward Island has aging population and fewer births, leading to a shrinking population base from which to draw on for the labour force. This trend is further complicated by the brain drain of youth away from the province, in search of work in other provinces in Canada and other countries. According to research by Florida (2008), there are specific characteristics of place that attract and retain skilled workforce. This study examines the youth brain drain phenomenon on Prince Edward Island and gains a richer deeper description in relation to Florida‟s Place Pyramid (2008). Interviews were conducted with university students in their fourth year of study to examine the decisions they make for their futures using Florida‟s Place Pyramid (2008) as a guide. Preliminary findings suggest that while PEI is considered unattractive by our youth when considering the Opportunity level of the Place Pyramid (Florida, 2008), it does rank more favourably against the levels of Basic Services, Values and Aesthetics. It is interesting to note that in almost every case, the participants in the study have little understanding or interest in the Leadership of their communities. In addition, while a number of participants indicated their interest in taking the opportunity to see what the world has to offer, most agree that they will return to PEI to bring up family.

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Workplace Practices

Research to provide insights about employer workplace practices and employee perceptions about workplace practices. Insights into future skill requirements.

 

WPP - MBA Student Report 4:

An examination of mental illness in Canadian workplaces: A content analysis of trends and directions in Canadian arbitration case decisions. MacAulay (2010)

Executive Summary: Mental illness has become one of the leading reasons for absenteeism in Canadian workplaces. Employers are challenged to become more aware, educated, and active about mental illness in order to assist employees with workplace accommodations. In the 2006 report by Kirby and Keon, stigma was highlighted as a significant barrier to progress in disclosure and handling of such cases. As a result, cases arise where employers, unions, and employees struggle to resolve situations requiring accommodation, with some ending up in arbitration to seek a third party ruling. To examine this phenomenon more closely, a content analysis of Canadian arbitration case decisions relating to mental illness both pre- and post- the Kirby and Keon report was conducted. The overall trend indicates that arbitration cases involving mental illness have more than tripled over the past 20 years. The preliminary findings from this study show that arbitrators are struggling in their assessment of the medical evidence, but they have made it very clear that the employer has a duty to gather medical information if a mental illness is suspected. Arbitrators in their case analysis are looking for a connection between the employees conduct and mental illness. The case decisions also show that employer practices are contributing to and/ or exacerbating an employee‟s mental health disability.

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WPP - MBA Student Report 5:

Can Florida's Place Pyramid be applied in organizational settings? An exploratory study of knowledge worker environments. Turner-Adams (2010)

Executive Summary: The need for a country to innovate has always been important to ensure a growing economy, but with the continued progress towards globalization there has been increased emphasis on the development of a knowledge economy driven by innovation. Two recent documents, Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage (Government of Canada, 2007)) and The Canadian Blueprint: Beyond Moose and Mountains (BioTech Canada, 2009), are focused entirely on Canada advancing its global advantage by promoting innovation through a knowledge economy. On Prince Edward Island, as in the rest of Canada, government policies have focused heavily on growing the knowledge economy through innovative products and services. In recent years there have been significant investments in the information technology and biotechnology sectors. Much of the research around innovation has been at a macro level, specifically relating to the geographic region where the innovation has occurred. There are numerous studies examining the nature of regions that have higher levels of innovation focusing on the clustering effect that is occurring. Richard Florida, an economic geographer, has developed a framework to help us understand the elements that relate to clustering and the attraction of people to a particular area. Given our knowledge about regions, it leads us to question how innovation occurs in a region, and what is happening in workplaces that attract innovative workers? Is there some magic formula for creating the perfect environment that attracts and retains those highly qualified people who have been identified as critical to the success of an innovative economy? In this study, I explore this question using Florida’s “Place Pyramid”. Although the Place Pyramid was developed to assist in our understanding of the factors that influence where people choose to live, I apply it to organizational settings to examine if the same factors can be found at the micro-level. My findings from this study suggest that it may be possible to build place from the “inside” out. In other words, organizations can develop innovative workplaces that over time form the foundation of clusters. The findings from this exploratory study provide preliminary evidence that place can start at a micro-level and serves as a foundation to examine whether it can later impact the macro level. This finding may be counter to Florida’s premise that place is everything and suggests that further examination of this phenomena is warranted.

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WPP - MBA Student Report 6:

The role of senior leaders in the development of healthy workplace programs: A case study in call centres. Baird & Carroll (2011)

ASB CONFERENCE PAPER 2011 - Executive Summary: Although there has been extensive research about managing costs of employer health and benefit plans, there has been less attention on preventative approaches such as healthy workplace programs (HWP), and more specifically, the role of senior leaders in HWP effectiveness. A qualitative exploratory study was conducted in two call centres with similar HWPs. The findings suggest that, despite similar HWP design features, the role of senior leaders is central to employee perceptions about the overall HWP effectiveness. The five themes relating to what senior leaders do in effective HWP environments are discussed in this paper.

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WPP - MBA Student Report 6b:

Executive Summary: Although there has been extensive research about managing the costs of health and benefit plans, there has been little focus on preventative approaches such as healthy workplaces. To date, the research has focused on the reasons why organizations should take a proactive approach. However, there have been very few studies to my knowledge that focus on the role of senior leaders in implementing and developing a healthy workplace program. This case study examines senior leader, manager and employee perceptions of the role of the leader in developing a healthy workplace program in two call centre environments. The study revealed that although the two call centres had very similar elements in their healthy workplace practices, the implementation and effectiveness of the programs varied based on the role of leadership and organizational culture. The findings from this study identified themes, including raising awareness, creating a culture, removing barriers, encouraging communication, and coaching for engagement as to what leaders are doing in workplace environments. The findings suggest that senior leaders have an important role in healthy workplace programs from endorsement to the approach in creating, developing, and implementing the programs.

The role of senior leaders in the development of healthy workplace programs: A case study in call centres. Baird (2010)

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WPP - MBA Student Report 7:

Examining the relationship amongst human resource management, leadership, and firm performance outcomes with knowledge workers: preliminary evidence from a biotechnology company. Whyte (2012)

Executive Summary:

Deficiencies in a number of key human resource-related areas have been identified as potential threats to the Canadian biotechnology sector's success. Given its importance as an emerging industry and, its pressing needs relative to leadership and human resource (HR) practice development, the biotechnology sector is seen as being a particularly rich environment for studying the interplay of human resource management (HRM) and transformational leadership as predictors of firm performance. This thesis presents preliminary findings from a study conducted with a group of knowledge workers in a case study of a Canadian biotechnology company. Specifically, the research addresses whether the effectiveness of HR practices varies with the quality of organizational leadership, thereby suggesting that “what” firms do in managing firm performance is less important than “how” they implement HR practices. The potential interactive effect of HR practices and leadership on firm performance, namely employee, operational and financial performance was examined to identify the contextual factors, and to help elucidate the “black box” which moderates and/or mediates the relationship between enacted leadership behaviour, employee behaviours and HRM. The linkage between HRM and leadership was tested at the macro level and the uniqueness of their combined effects on firm performance was examined. While the bundle of HRM practices was not a predictive influence on operational or financial performance in the model proposed in this study, it did have a significant influence on employee performance, which is important in explaining employee commitment and subsequently performance. The significance of the intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration indices of transformational leadership in this study and the positive influence on operational performance appears to be in agreement with the literature. The research presented herein integrates the two separate streams of research; the investigation of the relationships between leadership and firm performance or HRM practices and firm performance. The analysis of the black box of HRM practices and firm performance revealed positive relationships between transformational leadership and operational performance, and between HRM practices and employee performance and, demonstrates that HRM practices play a mediating role in the relationship between leadership and employee performance as the organizational outcome.

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WPP - MBA Student Report 8:

A Glance into Organizational Culture, Ethical Workplace Climate, and Employee Engagement levels in a Health Organization Unit. Young (2012)

Executive Summary: Employee engagement has become an important measure of employee performance and it has been linked to higher overall firm performance outcomes. Studies have shown that employee engagement may be impacted by both organizational culture and ethical workplace climate. For example, organizational culture is deep rooted and depending on the cultural dimensions most highly emphasized within a company, may have positive or negative impacts on employee performance indicators such as employee engagement. Whereas culture is deep rooted and does not easily change, climate is more fluid and can ebb and flow with different instances on-going within the organization. In addition, researchers have come to understand that workplace climate can be impacted relating to ethical issues and a measure of ethical workplace climate (EWC) has emerged to measure perceptions of employees relating to EWC. However, most studies only look at culture or climate, but not the two together, or specifically with employee engagement. This study examines employee perceptions of culture, ethical workplace climate, and employee engagement in a case study with employees in health care. The study findings show that the positive culture type and climate type identified can be associated with positive levels of employee engagement. Specifically, employees perceived a clan culture type to have an overall positive impact employee engagement. Findings about employee perceived climate type indicate that employees perceive a social climate type is associated with a positive link to higher employee engagement levels. In addition, employee perceived engagement within the department measured moderately positive, consistent with its relationship with the perceived dominant and subordinate culture and climate type influences.

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WPP - MBA Student Report 9:

Examining Workplace Bullying in Canada: A Content Analysis of Canadian Arbitration and Court Cases. Murphy (2012)

Executive Summary: Workplace bullying is costing organizations millions if not more each year. The costs associated with workplace bullying come from loss of productivity, legal settlements and loss of good employees who have been bullied and chose to leave the organization. Workplace bullying has negative effects on the target of the bullying, the other employees who witnessed the incidents, the organization as a whole and some believe there are societal consequences as well. To examine the current state of workplace bullying in Canada an analysis was completed on the legislation in Canada as well as a content analysis on Canadian Supreme Court and arbitration cases pertaining to workplace bullying. This study illustrates that for such a serious problem Canada has been slow to implement legislation which would make workplace bullying illegal. There is no national legislation in Canada dealing with workplace bullying and only four provinces have adopted provincial legislation to make workplace bullying illegal. Those provinces are Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. There are an increasing number of court cases dealing with workplace bullying in recent years. This study discusses some key descriptive statistics such as the sex of the bully and sex of the target, industry, and type of bullying ie: boss-to-employee, employee-to-employee or employee-to-boss. The directions and decisions of the arbitrators and judges were examined closely to uncover common themes. The themes included (1) precedence for constructive dismissal; (2) lack of proof, (3) harassment policies; (4) the bully not taking responsibility for their actions; (5) repairing the employment relationship; (6) credibility and (7) progressive discipline programs. This analysis of Canadian court cases can provide insight to academics and practitioners into the position of workplace bullying in Canada and the direction the courts are taking.

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WPP - MBA Student Report 10:

Facebook in the Workplace: Findings of a Content Analysis of Canadian Arbitration Cases. Goodfellow (2012)

Executive Summary:

Since the introduction of instant messaging programs in the mid-1990s, the use of social media tools has grown exponentially. As popular social networking Web sites such as Facebook and MySpace become more prevalent, employers and employees alike, are faced with a new reality – dealing with an increasing online ‘cross-over’ between personal and work lives. Many users think their pages are personal and private to them, but are they? Because these sites are still relatively new and considered somewhat of an ‘uncharted territory’, employers and employees struggle to know their rights when employees use these sites, at home and on the job site, in ways that could harm employers or their organizations. The ever-growing question about an employer’s right to use social media to monitor and evaluate, and even discipline and dismiss employees was the driving force behind this research study. Facebook, the clear front-runner in today’s social media tools, has exceeded 845 million active users around the world, making it an ideal social media study subject. A content analysis of Canadian arbitration cases was selected as the most effective way to gather documented evidence of how Facebook-related human resources issues are being ruled upon for unionized employees. The study findings highlight that year- over-year, the number of these arbitration cases relating to social media use in the workplace is increasing. The findings also show that arbitrators, in large part, are deciding in favour of employers who discipline or dismiss, based on the content posted by their employees on Facebook.

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