Assessing organizational culture based on words used by company to describe itself…

Duke (2021) explored the association between organizational culture and financial statement fraud. What was interesting to me was how organizational culture was measured. In this study, the emerging scholar apparently reviewed press releases and other publicly-available documentation relating to companies, and classified each sample company into four culture groups –

  • Adhocracy
  • Clan
  • Hierarchy
  • Market

No statement was made by the emerging researcher about her classification being reviewed by more seasoned, experienced domain experts (like faculty!). How does a reader assess construct validity? I guess it doesn’t matter. Also, there was no assumption or limitation statement that the coding was subjective. I guess its “Trust me…”

In RQ1, each of these cultures was compared to nominally-coded fraud (0 = No; 1 = Yes), and a Chi-square test was performed (2 x 5 = 10 cells). No significant association. It makes sense – N = 50. With a sample size of 50, only a w in excess of .489 (which is large!) could be identified.

Next, the emerging scholar performed another Chi-square test comparing the four classifications with 5 types of fraud; however, Table 2 (p. 59), which apparently shows the type of fraud by organizational classification (N = 60; some fraud incidents fall into more than 1 category, which is problematic), doesn’t reconcile with data displayed in Tables 7-10 (N = 100 in each classification). If a Chi-square test was performed on data found in Table 2, there is no significant association. But, the emerging scholar did five Chi-square tests on the N = 100 data and found a statistically significant association.

What does this all mean? If you look deep enough you can find something; mainly, if you get to interpret the values of the variables. This is why I tell students: Don’t trust doctoral dissertations. Who says the respective emerging scholar or their faculty know what they’re doing?

Reference:

Duke K. (2021). Organizational culture and the relationship to financial statement fraud (Doctoral dissertation). ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection.(28315482)

When to quit reading…

Long (2021) studied “the relationship between internal control weaknesses and lower profitability” (p. ii). Sounds straight forward to me. Internal control weaknesses could be interval and represent the count of weaknesses, and profitability would be measured by the firm reporting. Count data normally follows a Poisson distribution, but perhaps it could be transformed. Profit data can be normalized through log transformation. A correlation test or regression could be performed.

Stop Sign Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image 8623324.

The emerging researcher explains later (pp. 2-5), that the focus is on Internal Control Weakness factors (whatever that is), that reduce the Return on Net Operating Assets (RNOA) post-merger and acquisition. It appears this type of research was recommended by two accounting academics. Good thing there is an IT professional to perform this study!

To perform the analysis, Mergers and Acquisition (M&A) and Internal Control Weakness (ICW) were dichotomizied (0 = No; 1 Yes). Companies were divided into four groups: Group 1 (M&A = No; ICW = No); Group 2 (M&A = No, ICW = Yes); Group 3 (M&A = Yes; ICW = No); and Group 4 (M&A = Yes, ICW = Yes). Then, the emerging scholar explains that three types of tests will be performed –

  • Paired Sample t-test (RNOA as DV)
  • Correlation
  • Multiple Regression

First, a paired-sample t-test is used to evaluate variables at different points in time. What the student should have performed is a two-sample t-test where between group differences are evaluated. Who reviewed this study? It doesn’t matter, no statistical differences were found. Could that be caused by the wrong test? Maybe. Could it be caused by sample size (An N = 119 was determined [p. 63], but only 38 companies were listed on pp. 83-85), or significant differences in sample sizes between groups? Also, maybe. The reason I answer maybe is that the emerging scholar failed to report descriptive statistics for the study. No Group n. Just the Group M. Regardless, was it the wrong test? Absolutely! But, I’m still scratching my head about why do this test when it wasn’t the focus of the study. I speculate the emerging scholar “mimiced” another study without understanding what was going on, or was advised by faculty to do this.

Second, the emerging scholar performed regression analysis using Cash Flow and Board Size as IVs and RNOA as the DV. Nothing was significant. Finally, the emerging scholar performed two regression analyses using an unknown value related to Groups 1 and 3 and an unknown value related to Groups 2 and 4 as IVs, and (a) RNOA and (b) Cash Flow as DVs. Again, nothing was significant; however, the emerging scholar did identify that the “Control Groups” (Groups 1 and 3) coefficient was significant (p = 0.011) in one model. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to interpret a B = -0.999 when the actual values are not described reported.

What’s funny is that a third regression analysis, using the same IVs, was performed. This time with Board Size as a DV. So, these two questionable IVs can predict board size? What does that have to do with the study? Plus, don’t get me started about the performance of tests of normality on categorical variables (see p. 77).

What happened here? I have no idea. I should have stopped reading at the paired samples t-test…

Reference:

Long, L. G. (2021). The effects of internal control weaknesses that undermine acquisitions (Doctoral dissertation). ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection. (28315391)

Why not give small- and medium-sized enterprises a copy of Kotler and Keller’s textbook?

Guarduno (2021) framed her study of understanding the cause of poor marketing strategies by small- and medium-sized enterprises in Texas by looking to research in the following countries –

  • China
  • Nigeria
  • Northern & Southern Europe
  • South Africa
  • Germany

As someone who has lived in Texas for 6 of the last 40 years, I would argue the State of Texas is ahead of most of Northern and Southern Europe in development and Nigeria! But I digress…

The emerging scholar followed the traditional yet questionable, semi-structured “Q&A” format found at online universities. Interviews were performed using 18 participants who identified themselves as owners or managers of a business and chose their respective business’s marketing strategy. While a range of business start dates (1988-2020) was provided, no information was reported about the marketing education or experience of the participants. Perhaps the people interviewed who started/managed the company, and led its marketing efforts don’t know what they’re doing?

Guarduno summarized all of her findings as aligning with prior research –

  • Marketing skills and knowledge, along with financial resources, are essential to implement an effective marketing strategy.
  • External factors, such as the economy, firm location, competition, and the supply chain, also influence success.

For the non-marketers following this blog: Follow the four P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), perform a SWOT analysis, and, buy a copy of the Phil Kotler and Kevin Keller Marketing Management textbook.

I question the need for the study.

Reference:

Guarduno, C. (2021). Determinants of small and medium-size enterprises selection of marketing strategy (Doctoral dissertation). ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection. (28545470)

Poorly titled study, poorly worded research questions, misapplied research design: Who’s at fault?

As I’m putting together a paper on the misapplication of case study research design or “non-case case studies”, I wanted to take a break and review a QUAN study. The title of this recently published dissertation interested me: Technical Workforce Shortage and Its Effect on Economic Development in the ECOWAS Region (Jordan, 2020). When the word effect is used in a study, I assume it’s a QUAN study since the term effect means a result of a change. What do I find? Another qualitative non-case case study.

Let me provide some background. ECOWAS stands for Economic Community of West African States. The purpose of the study was to explore perceptions of, and gain insight into, issues HR professionals face while hiring high-tech workers for multinational companies in the ECOWAS region. The emerging researcher performed semi-structured interviews with 10 human resource managers. Three research questions lead this inquiry (my comments in blue):

  • What are the issues HR Professionals faced while hiring high-tech workers for
    multinational companies and societies in the ECOWAS region, due to the shortage of high-tech
    human capital? (If the emerging researcher already knew there is a shortage of high-tech workers, why do the study? Also, aren’t “What?” questions associated with QUAN studies than QUAL?)
  • What strategies do HR Professionals employ to recruit and retain high-tech
    workers for multinational companies and societies in the ECOWAS region? (See above)
  • How is the high-tech shortage problem in the ECOWAS region being addressed
    currently and for the future? (Since the first two research questions address recruiting and retention, the first part of this research question [currently] has been addressed. The second part of the research question is speculation. The committee should have caught the double-barreled question involving speculation part and removed it.)

If the emerging scholar had adopted the two research questions along the lines I propose, and changed the research design from case study to descriptive, I’d be fine with the proposal. The title, which would normally be finalized after the study is complete, should not have had the word effect in it.

I have a lesser concern about the sample. The emerging scholar represents that each of the participants “were from global staffing and recruitment businesses…that focus on staffing for multinational companies in West African countries” (p. 124), and had “extensive knowledge and lived experiences related to the technical human capital shortage in West Africa” (p. 126). However, there was no evidence that the participants were currently active in recruiting high-tech workers or how long they have been active or inactive. I have knowledge of accounting and generally know how CPA firms recruit recent college graduates, but I haven’t been employed in a CPA firm since 1997. Is my knowledge the same as a PWC recruiter who is doing the job today in our current world and economy?

The emerging scholar identified some themes that align with her research questions (e.g., government infrastructure, lack of law enforcement and safety, brain drain). Unfortunately, some don’t make sense (e.g., Expatriate in charge of technology in Africa), some are mislabeled (recruitment strategies leads to an appropriate discussion about sign-on bonuses and local recruitment fairs; retention strategies leads to an appropriate discussion about merit bonuses, training and development, and knowledge transfer), and some are suggestions (which aligns with public opinion and is unrelated to this study).

From what I see, the emerging scholar did a satisfactory job in executing the study. The interview guide was adequate but items could have been omitted to not muddy the focus of the study; however, in my opinion the committee dropped the ball in helping the student with the title, properly frame the purpose of the study, developing research questions aligned with qualitative research, and, most of all, selecting the appropriate research method. In addition, communicating aspects about her sample, developing the interview guide, and communicating results must be borne by the student and the committee.

My advice to this emerging scholar would have been –

  • Name your study something like – “An inquiry into hiring and retaining high-tech workers in ECOWAS Member States
  • Change your purpose statement to something like – “The purpose of this qualitative, descriptive study was explore challenges facing HR managers in hiring and retaining high-tech workers in ECOWAS member states.”
  • Research Questions –
    • Why do HR Professionals have difficulty hiring high-tech workers for ECOWAS member state companies?
    • How do HR Professionals retain high-tech workers the ECOWAS member state companies?

Reference:

Jordan, T. S. (2020). Technical workforce shortage and its effect on economic development in the ECOWAS Region (Doctoral dissertation). ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection. (28090880)