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Title of PhD

Ethical Dimensions of Organisational Culture: A Case Study of Reconstructed Workgroups in a Context of Mergers and Acquisitions

Briefly describe your area of research

My research adopts an anthropological (Geertz, 1973) approach to studying culture in a diverse organisational context of a merger and acquisition. It uncovers the ethical dimensions that arise from touch points and tensions in organisational culture post-merger.

Workgroup culture is ethnographically studied using a new approach of fictive kinship (Schneider, 1984), which allows for identification of cohesive workgroups – safe spaces for expressing, negotiating and reinforcing meaning systems.

The ethical dimension has received less attention and is expected to extend the theoretical understanding of organisational culture beyond existing typologies, thereby providing insight into underlying dynamics of cultural integration in organisations.

Why did you select Reading?

The decision to come to Reading was not a difficult one. I had former classmates during my undergraduate programme who proceeded to Henley Business School to undertake Masters programmes and they gave strong recommendations. I decided to see for myself at the next available open day and was drawn by the warmth of students and staff.

I also enjoyed the welcoming look and feel of the campus, which was close to where I lived. From that point, my journey through the University of Reading began, as I enrolled on a Masters programme and subsequently a PhD. Looking back, it has been an enjoyable experience of learning and friendships.

What do you enjoy about studying at Reading?

The support system that the University offers is excellent. There are formal systems in place such as approachable teaching and non-teaching staff, modern facilities, open spaces, technology and abundant research material to work with.

There are also informal systems which are student-led or naturally evolving social networks and these combined make the learning experience a really enjoyable one.

As a tutor to students, I have enjoyed many opportunities to express my natural strengths in relationship building, mentoring, empathy and attention to detail. Teaching, interacting, giving feedback and learning have all been beautifully intertwined.

What has been your biggest challenge since starting your research?

My biggest challenge has been continuing to maintain the optimal work–life balance as the PhD journey takes its twists and turns. In the early days of the PhD, it was a flurry of activities, moving parts and some measure of uncertainty, which could sometimes be hard to get a grip on.

However, as I learned how to make strategic choices and with the support of my supervisors, it became easier to navigate and indeed look forward to the pathways I was creating for myself.

What advice would you give a new postgraduate researcher?

The PhD is a busy time, so LIVE.

Learn – Systematically expose yourself to information, broadly then gradually funnel down.

Integrate – Pull your ideas together into a coherent whole. Critically analyse and see how one idea relates to the other.

Vent – Talk a lot, not just articulating your thoughts to yourself but speak with your colleagues and discuss your ideas. See if they come across clearly and make sense. This process will help to fine-tune the ideas or improve the way you articulate them.

Explore – Explore new thoughts and ideas, and write them down. These are seeds for future research and papers.

Where do you want to be in five years' time?

In five years' time, I would want to be firmly engaged in a vibrant academic community as a researcher and lecturer.

My experience at Reading as a PhD student has allowed me to learn much about my research area among many others, and importantly, has given me in-depth insight into how continuous and interdisciplinary research is important for organisational and societal development.

At Reading, I have received formal and informal training from excellent researchers and role models on the core values of academia and this I believe has contributed to preparing me for a future academic role.