March 3, 2009

Sample Research Proposal on Motivation of Officers and Junior Staff of the Hong Kong Immigration Department


Change management is basically defined as the formulation and assimilation of change in a methodical process. The major objective of change management is the introduction of innovative means and systems in the work organization. Organizational change is part of and a result of struggles between contradictory forces, also change management practice is related with endeavoring to manage their competing demands. To understand why and how to change organizations, it is first necessary to understand their structures, management and behaviour. According to Burnes (1996) these systems of ideas are crucial to change management in two respects. They provide models of how organization should be structured and managed. Then they provide guidelines for judging and prescribing the behaviour and effectiveness of individuals and groups in an organization.


Hardy and Clegg (1996) believe that modern organizations passed by the guild structures and as organizations grew larger, skills become increasingly fragmented and specialized and positions become more functionally differentiated. It can be said that organizational change is one of the critical determinants in organizational success and failure (Appelbaum et al 1998). The lack of such initiatives can throw an organization into confusion, being stuck in traditional practices that cannot solve or handle the current problems faced. Thus, the lack of such factors stresses the need for a strategic organizational change. It is basically a flexible strategic planning process as opposed to a static form of strategic planning.  


In this light, the research project intends to investigate the job satisfaction and morale of immigration officers recruited after Asian Financial Turmoil in 1997 particularly the factors that motivate the junior staff of the Hong Kong Immigration Department after the tremendous changes in the structure of the department that resulted to decreased pay and reduction of other fringe benefits of the officers. As such, the study will operate under the quantitative research paradigm and will utilize the survey method to look into (1) the changes that transpired within the department in 1997, (2) the adaptation strategies made by the officers, and (3) the motivations of the officers and junior staff in attending to their duties and responsibilities as civil servants. The study will likewise use the concepts and theories of change management to give light into the interest of the research activity.  



Background of the Study

Perhaps the space between the new organization design and implementing it into actuality is the whole coverage of organization change and development. People are adaptive to change. However, certain skills must be present from the initiators of change so as to successfully implement their project. Thus, managers need to have the necessary abilities not only in detecting what needs to be changed but also how to introduce the change effectively. This may include changing the company's mission, reforming business operations, application of new technologies, major group efforts, or adoption of new programs.  Usually, the organization is encouraged on settling on change management due to external influences, usually termed as the environment (Nickols, 2004). Thus, change management can alternately be defined as the response of different business to changes brought about by environmental influences in which organizations have minimal or absolutely no control over.


In line with this, Drucker (2002) indicated that being a change leader requires the willingness and ability to change what is already being done just as much as the ability to do new and different things.  He suggests a set of required policies and practices that make the present create the future. Given the challenges of managing complexity and internal resistance to change, the task of leaders during the implementation of change can be very difficult indeed. Where significant change is involved, effective management is required. The challenge to understanding management becomes one of identifying effective management behaviour in the context of the organizational turbulence stirred up in the change process. So in order to cope with and manage the challenges posed by organisational change, leaders at any level should perform a variety of roles.


Meanwhile Barbeschi (2002) claimed that the process of making an organization is simultaneously the growth and maintenance of relationships among individuals who are working towards a common goal and the actual accomplishment of tasks, individually and collectively. In this regard, continuous improvement within any business organization can only be realized if good working relationships between and among employees is experienced. To be able to function effectively with clients and customers, organizations should be aware that success is first elicited inside the organization. Good working relationships should be observed first within the organization so that the entirety of the operations can answer to the demands of the public.


In the present day work environment, expectations exceed regarding the workloads and task requirements among employers and employees. Multi-tasking defines the current situation in most of business organizations as advances in technology especially in the use of the computer and the Internet continues. As the Microsoft and other office tools computer programs increase in number, administration management keep on investing on measures like trainings, seminars and conferences that will exhaust the potential of every employee. The improving services of Internet providers and the Internet features in general, likewise add on the far-reaching horizon of the employees' capability to develop and learn skills available in the workplace that their organization will benefit from. 


Champion-Hughes (2001) highlighted the importance of high work life quality through good supervision, working conditions, pay and benefits as well as challenging and rewarding jobs. She said that these conditions will provide opportunities for employees to contribute in the overall effectiveness of the organization as they become more motivated and productive members of the company's work force with positive self-esteem and improved morale. Moreover, business organizations offer two-way learning experience within the company between and among the employers and the employees. Employers benefit largely from trainings that they offer to staff and members of the firm given that the expected knowledge and skills were learned through the organizations venture on their human resources. At the best possible results, the organization will gain competitive attitude in the business world by housing in competitive and qualified workers. Employees on the other hand, are given the opportunity to improve on their work capabilities as qualified and productive members of the modern and information age work force.


Employer-provided training is important because studies have found that on-the-job training is strongly associated with wage increases (Barnow, 1987; Lynch, 1992; Hill & Wiens-Tuers, 2002). Moreover, training is a form of human capital investment whether that investment is made by the individual or by the firm (Becker, 1975). A firm has the incentive to invest in the human capital of its workers only if there is an expectation of a return on its investment. Loewenstein and Spletzer (1997) found that firms often delay training to determine whether workers are good matches and therefore have a lower probability of leaving the firm. A strategic approach to training is imperative nowadays for training to be seen to be meeting business needs and adding value (Woodruffe, 2000). For this to happen, the training function needs to examine current and future business needs, and set appropriate priorities for training interventions.



Research Problem

The research project intends to investigate the job satisfaction and morale of immigration officers recruited after the Asian Financial Turmoil in 1997. The tremendous changes that occurred within the structure of the Hong Kong Immigration Department resulted to vast shrinking of the business sector. Criticisms became rampant particularly to the members of the civil servant. The Immigration Department has been critiqued with issues on surplus of manpower as well as over payment among its employees. In effect the government decided to lower the pay of the staff of the department along with reductions on the employees' other fringe benefits.


For the interest of the research study at hand, the following research questions are presented to give light to the change management strategies employed by the Hong Kong Immigration Department focusing on the employees' satisfaction and morale in performing their duties and responsibilities despite the unpleasant changes that have transpired concerning the salary and benefits of the staff:


1.      What are the changes that occurred in the Hong Kong Immigration Department after the 1997 Asian Financial Turmoil?


2.      What are the reasons behind the changes in the working conditions of the employees of the Hong Kong Immigration Department?


3.      How did the changes affect the work environment and aptitude of the staff and employees of the Hong Kong Immigration Department?


4.      How did the management adapt to the changed working conditions within the Hong Kong Immigration Department?


5.      What motivated the employees of the Hong Kong Immigration Department particularly the junior staff in attending to their duties and responsibilities as public servants?


6.      What are the general levels of job satisfaction and employee morale exhibited by the members of the Hong Kong Immigration Department in terms of:

a.      Communication,

b.      Leadership,

c.      Team work,

d.      Training and development, and

e.      Compensation and benefits?      



Significance of the Study

At the turn of the century, human resources managers will have to face new challenges. The economy and markets are different from those of a decade ago. As paradigms have changed, the characteristics affecting human resources management must also be revised such as organizational structure and functions in order to keep up to pace with relevance, latest trends and strategies. In today's fast and technological modern world, the challenge that the Information Man faces is time's nature of putting things in order and in place in the best and most effective way. Life has changed since the invention of the computer which dictated man to deal with things in the most efficient way possible. In the world of big international business industries where transactions and other business operations are governed by law, cultural differences and mutual trust, efficiency counts largely as a common entrepreneurial aim.


Organisational change is currently one of major domains of organisational research, and the study of organisational change has become one of the major aspects in being able and helping to measure the organisation performance; efficiency and effectiveness. The effective organisation must be able to meet today's and tomorrow's challenges; adaptability and responsiveness are essential to survive and thrive. Today's organisations are experiencing change like never before as a result of global competition which had created uncertainty for the organisations. Moreover, the pace of change is so rapid, only organisations that can adapt to this changing environment can survive, getting a profile of the current problems can enable organisations to thoughtfully bring the elements of the change into alignment and move forward towards a common ideal.


            In this light, the completion of this research activity will enable deeper understanding on the case of the Hong Kong Immigration Department which could be of use to other public institutions in assessing and evaluating their workforce. Other government establishments from different localities can also utilize the findings of the study for the benefit and improvement of their own public service and public management approaches that the study could offer. Moreover, the results and findings of the study will be able to contribute to the bulk of information and relevant literature to the disciplines of public administration as well as human resources management. Lastly, other researchers in the field of public administration and management as well as politics and human resources may find the results of the study relevant to future academic endeavors as well as practical applications.   



Research Objectives

The tremendous changes that occurred within the structure of the Hong Kong Immigration Department after the Asian Financial Turmoil in 1997 decreased the pay and fringe benefits of the employees of the organization. As such, the study is interested in pursuing investigations that will give light on the motivations of the employees of the department along with the assessment of their job satisfaction and morale.


As such the following objective will be undertaken by the researcher for the successful completion of the research activity at hand:


1.      To find out the changes that occurred in the Hong Kong Immigration Department after the 1997 Asian Financial Turmoil.


2.      To determine the reasons behind the changes in the working conditions of the employees of the Hong Kong Immigration Department.


3.      To provide explanations on how the changes affected the work environment and aptitude of the staff and employees of the Hong Kong Immigration Department.


4.      To learn how the management adapted to the changed working conditions within the Hong Kong Immigration Department.


5.      To present the motivations of the employees of the Hong Kong Immigration Department particularly the junior staff in attending to their duties and responsibilities as public servants.


6.      To determine the general levels of job satisfaction and employee morale exhibited by the members of the Hong Kong Immigration Department in terms of :

a.      Communication,

b.      Leadership,

c.      Team work,

d.      Training and development, and

e.      Compensation and benefits.     





Scope and Limitations

            Since the study is geared towards the investigation of several aspects of public management, human resources management, employee motivation, job satisfaction, and employee morale, it is necessary to define the scope as well as limitations of the study being designed.


For instance, the study will be presenting background information and discussions regarding the 1997 Asian Economic Turmoil along with its effects to the entire Hong Kong public administration and the Hong Kong Immigration Department in particular. The Hong Kong Immigration Department will be treated as a case in which detailed discussions of the 1997 Economic Crisis effects to the department will be thoroughly presented. Moreover, the department will be studied according to the adaptation measures employed by the management in order to cope with the inevitable changes that the Hong Kong Government has employed.


More specifically, the academic investigations will focus on the employees by collecting data and information which will present their perspectives as the labor force of the department. Their working conditions will be discussed along with the factors that motivated them in their continuous dedication to public service. The employees, particularly the junior staff's general levels of job satisfaction and morale will be presented in terms of (a) communication, (b) leadership, (c) team work, (d) training and development, and (e) compensation and benefits. The study will be operating under these categories to limit the scope of the research activity.      



Overview of Methodology

In order to complete the purpose and objectives of the study, the quantitative research approach will be applied through the conceptualization and implementation of a survey method. According to Mays and Pope (2000), the quantitative research approach is most appropriate when conducting descriptive and exploratory study in order to quantify data that seem immeasurable, such as feelings, beliefs, and thoughts. This permits a flexible and iterative approach of analyzing and statistically manipulating the collected information. Descriptive and exploratory approaches served as guidelines in logically and comprehensively presentation of the results of the study. Furthermore, cross-sectional studies often employ the survey strategy describing the incidence of a phenomenon and comparing variables at the time of the study (Saunders et al, 2003).


Surveys are conducted to gather data from the field in order to generalize results from a sample to a larger population (Commonwealth of Learning, 2000). The primary purpose and advantage of surveys is generalization of the results (Commonwealth of Learning, 2000). Usually, surveys are interested in gathering data from many than in obtaining intensive, detailed information from a few individuals; therefore, it is seldom for a survey to consist of one or very few individuals (Commonwealth of Learning, 2000). In this light, the survey method will be used for data collection.


A self-administered structured questionnaire, or the type of questionnaire that is usually completed by respondents (Saunders et al, 2003) will be utilized in the study. This questionnaire has two sections: the first part is intended to acquire the demographic profile of the respondents while the second section comprises the set of attitude statements that will determine the level of agreement or disagreement of the respondents using a five-point Likert scale. In the Likert technique, the degree of agreement or disagreement) is given a numerical value ranging from one to five, thus a total numerical value can be calculated from all the responses (Underwood, 2004). In this regard, the responses to questions will be analyzed by determining their corresponding frequency, percentage and weighted mean.


As such, the stratified non-random sampling technique will be utilized to ensure the represenativeness of the respondents in the survey method. This particular sampling technique ensures the validity and reliability of the data based on the number or quantity of the respondents who filled out the survey questionnaires. Stratified non-random sampling technique operates by classifying the target population into group classifications as set by the researcher. The samples are chosen through several selection procedures that usually take several stages depending on the complexity of the characteristics of the possible respondents and the interest of the researcher (Trochim, 2001). 



Summary of Actions

A data or information analysis plan was prepared to organize the information collected orderly so as to make the presentation of the results more comprehensive as well as to make sure that research objectives are achieved and the research questions were answered. In summary, the researcher will undergo four major phases to complete the study:


Phase 1: Problem Identification for Research

            In the first phase, the researcher will identify the specific focus of the problem to be researched. This involved reviewing existing theory, research, and practices from professional literature. This process helped integrate theoretical perspectives and empirical findings with the own understanding of the problem, and discern the aspect of the problem the researcher want to research and learn more about.


Phase 2: Administration of the Instrument

            After reviewing literature, the researcher will formulate questions for the survey and makes a set of guide questionnaires for the interview. These are then presented to the adviser for validation purposes. After this the researcher initiated a process of building collaborations with the respondents who participated in the study.


Phase 3: Data Collection and Analysis

            In the third phase, the researcher will collect and analyse data for the purposes of identifying critical contextual variables specific to their setting. These data will enable the achievement of a specific understanding of the problem.


Phase 4: Data Synthesis and Generation of Recommendations

            In the fourth phase, the researcher will synthesize the findings from the previous phases and relevant previous research. The focus of this stage is to modify existing hypotheses and account for different factors that will transpire during the analysis, as well as generate recommendations based on new understandings. During this phase, practice-based recommendations for action will be generated.

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