Saturday, September 26, 2009

Measuring Research Quality

How does the industry to which your research is relevant measure quality?

The industry to which my current project plan would be relevant is the small business sector of New Zealand North Island at the moment described as focusing on those Bay of Plenty but for the interest of establishing an acceptable survey sample of participants might be expanded to Northland, Central Plateau and Coromandel Peninsula based on recommendations made by Ms. Mary Barrett Millen a full-time New Zealand based ducator and former classmate in Nova Scotia. Following consultation on this scope of relevant industry focus based on Ms. Eunice Liu’s suggestions regarding sample size requirements with Ms. Marie-Louise Siddle a Policy Analyst, International Division, Strategy and System Performance Group, Ministry of Education I have contacted Executive Director, Samantha Seath of the Economic Development Agencies of New Zealand (EDANZ) from whom I have yet to receive a response.

These particular groups, New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarships (NZIDRS) and EDANZ would most likely measure the project proposal in terms of quality on how well it fits into their own regional and national strategies, research and future project development benchmarks. For example, regional economic development groups and strategies appear to provide few regionally comparative reports which illustrate the types of endeavors being made on a local level which might be transferable and applied to internationalisation and commercialisation goals in other regional development agencies. Many of New Zealand’s small business developments appear focus on the inter-urban regions nearest to the most populous cities. While this approach will satisfy returns and results based on the scope seen in previous studies a new approach to regional and thus rural internationalisation and commercialisation innovation in export growth might be a novel contribution and provide a framework for future real regional approaches.

The academic community notably the Department of International Trade and Business at Victoria University in Wellington would be assessing the quality of the proposal not only in terms of uniqueness but also in comparison to alternate project competitors in terms of what economic impact such studies could contribute to successful export growth initiatives, perspectives, and innovative approaches.

In what way is this different from the quality standards expected in doing research and writing it up?

Small business stakeholders would probably seek frameworks, recommendations and conclusions which could lead to independent decision-making options which would provide further successful export growth. Academic stakeholders are probably seeking a well built and conducted research project which reflects the seriousness and reputational standards of VUW and opens the door to academic interpretations, discussions, transferable approaches to export development in traditionally difficult regional positions and meets the standards of the thesis review committees and journal advisory standards for published work.

These two stakeholder groups differ. For example real entrepreneurs often neither lead nor follow through agreed example and translating academic hypotheses into language and recommendations for actions which would be useful for them would require perhaps a layman’s understanding and ability to communicate beyond the reaches and influences of the academic realm. Both groups must agree in principle and trust in the researcher or thesis candidate that the project itself will reflect well upon one group while at the same time proving the usefulness of its conclusions and results to the other. It is perhaps only through such a bridging between business and academia that sufficient resources and research funding will be applied to actively secure the engagement and commitment of the thesis candidate himself to the actual implementation of the project as a full fledged PhD rather than direct efforts elsewhere to more easily secure PhD assistantship on projects already well defined in other topic and national competitive interests either perhaps in Europe or the USA. In such a case the managerial and leadership quality of the candidate in question would be established by the research group to which he is unconditionally accepted.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

NZIDRS: Regarding average income versus scholarship living allowances discrepancy

NZIDRS: Regarding average income versus scholarship living allowances discrepancy

In contemplation of possible scholarship application I have uncovered discrepancies at the funding or endowment decision-making level of NZIDRS which might benefit from discussion. These have been uncovered through cost analysis preparations for a possible research proposal which I am undertaking for a project management course as an external student for a Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialisation with Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

For example, The New Zealand immigration guide website ENZ describes average hourly income for all New Zealand employees at $24.33 as of September 2008 from Statistics New Zealand. Furthermore the average NZ male employee is described as working 37.9 hours per week and with an additional 1.2 hours paid overtime earns an average of $1,010 per week. My focus here is that the New Zealand male most closely correlates to my own case as a Canadian male with a somewhat similar average annual income.

What would be the incentive to further graduate studies if the discrepancy between average annual income and living allowance could be so large?

I would like to know under what economic formula has New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarships (NZIDRS) arrived at a workable weekly "salary" provision which so under-performs average incomes of actual New Zealand full-time workers? A NZ$20,500 per annum living allowance (NZ$1708.33 per month) appears nearly half of what average workers earn annually. This would appear 2.36 times less than the average weekly income of a male worker in New Zealand.

What other means of funding supplementation are participants in the NZIDRS scholarship program able to access? Are additional corporate sponsors permitted? For example, what is the actual motivation to apply for such scholarships if in fact local university work related provisions are limited to an average of 11.5 hours weekly for full-time graduate scholarship holders? If a position could be held at average NZ income hourly rates a total of $280 a week would add up to an additional $14,549 annually.

This would still only arrive at $35,049.35 annually. What are New Zealand's minimum annual incomes for maintaining an above the poverty line quality of life either as a graduate student or average full time worker?

May local university scholarships be concurrently held? For example VUW provides a
$ 12,000 per annum stipend. The two combined would equal $32,500. This remains 32.12%below the average New Zealand male's annual income of $52,520. Do universities generally provide concurrent scholarships to successful entrants to the NZIDRS program?

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Planning Costs: Burger Flipping Anyone?

How would procurement and resource planning help my research project?

A procurement strategy will assist in developing management of necessary equipment, space and materials following from needs illustrated in my WBS which is modelled somewhat on combination of our case study PhD student "Jane" with a list of tasks found at The University of Southampton which has been incredibly useful in attempting to estimate time and GANTT chart plotting.

I will focus on segmentation such as initiation, planning, execution and handover which I have maintained as task topics and as others have already mentioned. In estimating actual working hours consulting quotations would suggest at least USD 400 for every 8 hour work day scheduled. I have been liberal in applying two day weekends off for each week of WBS time scheduled planning and another book I am reading, " Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis" by Joan Bolker (1998) suggests that even the best writers fail to exceed three to four hours of actual work each day. So it appears my best costs estimate based on my own would be 50 dollars an hour for four hours every work day and roughly 200 dollars a day at reasonable consulting rates.

How may I need to adjust the budget and resource scheduling worksheet to suit my needs?

In reality I have built several time buffers into my GANTT and WBS schedule to account for delays in a three year schedule this accounted from two to three months of extra unscheduled wiggle room. In addition I cannot expect that premium consulting rates would apply to a research scholarship funded three year project as the limits of scholarship funding will realize a short-fall under such circumstances.

Thankfully the people required are singular and I would estimate my required costs would not exceed the minimum required income of perhaps as much as $29,939.52 New Zealand dollars annually to be considered employed under terms of New Zealand law for immigrant labourers which may or may not be applicable to students engaged in scholarship supported graduate studies. For example travel and accommodations to and from Wellington to Bay of Plenty (or other North Island locales) for the purpose of conducting surveys and interviews would need strict budgeting considerations as these form significant portions of the work breakdown schedule.

While equipment necessary would include a well-stocked and facilitated library I would be willing to live in a functional shipping container or otherwise "tiny house" especially if the logistics industry would sponsor some of my research destination relocation costs?

Scholarship funding may not meet actual total costs so any shortfall will require accounting not only in funding management but time management possibly related to multiple part-time work engagements which overlap research schedule. The more preparation for the reality of a flexible work option which relates in terms of hours either on a ratio of 2:1 (study and work) rather than a 1:1 (study and work) will implicate the ability to apply greater focus entirely on research or more likely balancing additional income requirements with a work to research focus.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Is time the chief constraint in a research project?

Is time the chief constraint in a research project?

What about a project whose goal is to develop a product based on the research results or market it?

In terms of developing an export market for a product time factors will be determined by effort and duration until project completion is reached as our notes describe. However time in researching a possible export market for a product will require consideration of both primary and secondary market research both methods which would determine "go or no go" decisions among a continuously diminished pool of possible target markets - a research process which also relies on long lead times.

For example, John R. Jagoe a NASBITE founding member in the US, describes three major steps in time management which require a local product with at least three years of sales growth matched by a funnel research technique to a possible small market with high local import sales growth. The first would be screening potential markets a long lead time required, second would be assessing the targeted markets which would require more primary research focus and shorter time constraints and the third would be forming conclusions and making local contacts these would be essential short-term measures to match a possible decided product launch.

The quality and cost of the product in a local market would need possible modifications either through export market preferences or import requirements in terms of standards or consumer directed changes which would normally be discovered through the adequate provision of market research. Finding out too late in the process could suddenly turn a profitable export enterprise into a liability. For example, new labelling or packaging requirements, stricter provisions in terms of ingredients or product materials, new competitive entrants or currency exchange risks in addition to added marketing costs could all reduce profit margins beyond the benefits of exporting the products.

While current global trade appears to be stabilizing, actual growth in commodities and shipping rates volumes appears slow to increase to re-crisis levels. Some or all of the listed factors above may be impacting upon global trade recovery to pre-crisis levels. The additional factor of nearly all marginal and charter shipping companies having been closed reduces price competition in trading routes and shipping rates which heightens costs for small exporters possibly diminishing their profit margins and eroding their competitiveness abroad.

The secondary research required to determine export market suitability itself could be conducted over a long lead time with a larger number of stakeholders as its costs could be fairly low in comparison to primary research either through local surveys, questionnaires or other interviews which would need to be conducted over a shorter time frame closer to the point of possible product launch and costs could be quite significant. Even then the research may not prove relevant in the case of sudden market fluctuations or forecasts which did not include scenarios which would require immediate new primary data sources.

This necessary cost versus benefit primary research gathering could be a factor in the slow increase of global trade at this time. Many export markets require new evaluations over previous forecasts and following such a downturn there may not be larger budgets to support necessary primary research to be conducted to establish or re-establish market analysis trends and reports.

In such a case time remains a significant constraint.

Do you have control over manipulating the effort and the duration of your project's tasks?

As chief planner of my proposal I need to measure the actual hours and days of similar projects as being benchmarks for my own milestone and deadline setting measures. But I am not in control of possible time constraints in terms of sponsor availability, agreement challenges, and possible revisions necessary to refinement of the topic, or objectives necessary for sign-off, availability of supervisors, etc.

In terms of duration again I can attempt to manipulate the overall completion dates but need to anticipate possible delays as engagement of stakeholders and sponsors may require more time than I have estimated. This would imply consistent monitoring of time progress and revision of time estimates on an ongoing basis for reformatting sequencing and scheduling of the time plan. These possible time constraint challenges would require notation in the project risk portion of the project plan.

For example, a recent Ph.D. Research Position at the Center for Competitiveness of the University of Fribourg Switzerland forwarded to me by Dr. Philippe Gugler described, " The position is fully funded for two years by the Swiss National Science Foundation (a third year is not excluded). " It is nice to note the possibility exists for a quick gallop or a leisurely saunter through the possible time planning of the proposed project. While I have the heart of Sea Biscuit I am always in favour of developing a reasonable speed of work in terms of effort which enables consistent and pervasive quality and time monitoring with a provision for work breaks, leisure and general dalliances which allows for consistent thoroughness which does require more time than a quick dash to the finish line.

Canadian Language school scam

"The value to Canada of Korean students is in excess of $1 billion per year," Mundel said. It is roughly "equal to the value to Korea of their automotive sales to Canada."

Full Story Here

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Regarding Nova Scotia Week in Scotland 2009

Hi there Champions and Doers/Dreamers,

I would love to see the actual deliverables on export trade growth results in your Scotland Trade Mission 2009. As listed at the Scottish Government's website GDP rates are down nearly five percent since 2000 which can be interpreted as five times less growth over nearly a decade. In addition the UK is described as one of the lowest import growth nations according to OECD right next to Canada hovering on the point of import stagnation.

How many of your possible agreements have already been made prior to the junket?

Nova Scotia's growth rates over twenty years are impressive and," increased from $3.8 billion in 1981 to $15.7 billion in 2008 (CAGR = 5.4%) In 2008, total exports increased 8.2% over 2007" in NS Trade Finance 2008 however EDC predicts negative growth and a 2009 cancelling of all 2008 growth figures in exports. Focus on seafood products would indicate these are ripe for export marketing in countries listed below.

The Economist suggests that your best bets for matching interest in exportable products to high import growth rates might rely on building relationships with current GDP global growth leaders. These are: Qatar, Malawi, Angola, Ethiopia, China, Congo, Djibouti, Azerbaijan, Tanzania and Gambia. It would be tough love and hard to find many kilts in these regions.

According to the OECD the best bets for increasing Nova Scotia exports might be leading trade missions to: China, India, Slovak Republic, Czech Republic and Poland in that order of relative annual growth in imports. These rates of growth would be driven by increases in consumer demands and growing middle class disposable incomes - something Scotland and Nova Scotia both lack (OECD, page 76).

These nations might also represent reasonable immigration targeted campaigns to Nova Scotia on the micro-regional level in the interests of establishing new broker and export/import trade agents in your region. I feel building such non-Scottish ancestral relationships could benefit the region with such added cultural and linguistic diversity at small business, research, academic and trans-border educational project levels. To internationalise your business senses (and export growth target markets) I suspect you need to internationalise your population to attract future interest from such nations.

In terms of comparative or relative risk assessments in directing your efforts to building beach-heads and new business relationships in culturally diverse nations such as those listed above please refer to the Global Corruption Barometer 2009. Nova Scotians and Canadians are by nature risk-averse. Your Scotland Trade Mission 2009 indicates a possible aversion to really making new waves and generating global trade exports based on import growth nations eager to develop mutually profitable new market relationships.

I am sure you are fully committed to your Scotland Junket (which is what it looks like to me) and I am sure you have your reasons. However targeting your export markets should rely on some great form of economic rationale other than emotional or traditional affiliations. These will not generate real export growth in my humble opinion.

Going out and hunting where the business is actually booming will sharpen your export growth rates.

Sometimes the best things in life are free including reasonable (and educated) advice.

All the best,

Daniel Costello
Assistant Professor of International Trade and Management
Daejin University, Korea (Never heard of it? A couple of articles.)

Local businesspeople look to India

For Canada-China trade, opportunities abound

Canadians have not studied the Daejin University model of overseas branch campus development

Competitive Analysis of Daejin University

Saturday, September 05, 2009

How to Handle the Numbty?

How could the scope of your project could be difficult to manage?

As this is a hypothetical PhD project I am happy not to be in the middle of it while I am trying to plan it. This course is helping me spur my imagination to identify the facets of my project definition which have changed in scope similarly to Anna's description of regional focus rather than a national one. For example what I know about New Zealand is particularly scant. But as I originate in an economically declining portion of Canada the challenges are similar globally so seeking out a similar economic region in New Zealand led me to the North Island Bay of Plenty as an initial definition change to anticipate a digestible scope.

So far possible scope challenges appear to me as nightmarish scenarios (and I have given away all of my dream catchers) which consist of:

1.Stake holder disagreement or dislike of purpose
This might be a reality as the VUW is located quite far from the regional area of first choice. While they might like the idea they might prefer to see my studies directed at another closer regional location perhaps a place like Invercargill described to me as also somewhat economically bleak. However it is my opinion that regional inequities are possibly mitigated through creative export trade strategies.

2.Timeframe may need to be adjusted
Considering my own preference is to study and work in a closely related position the extension of time-based scope is a real possibility. I would however be satisfied to work in entrepreneurial international business planning positions as that is my training and specialisation the experience would only add veracity and concrete examples to my research.

3.Disagreement or dislike of proposed methods
I am not a great fan of statistics and would count heavily upon W. Edwards Deming's claim, "Don't rely on statistics. A good theory is often more useful" (not verbatim but also not hearsay) and I am a greater fan of books like Innovative Approaches to Reducing Global Poverty by Stoner and Wankel (2007) than reams of statistical data examining median, mean and averages which I appears to pass for real research methods among humanities disciplines perhaps attempting to add scientific relevancy to pre-decided power based decisions rather than rational approaches to decision making or strategies.

I would never have read this book of global business case-studies if Dr. Wankel had not requested to link up on linkedin.

4.Possible excessive scope of relevant data
As I would like to observe what works globally in regionally challenging economic areas of the world and compare them to opportunities for similar developments at the private, academic and government levels in a particular region of New Zealand relevancy would not be a real problem but local application and devising workable Internationalisation and Commercialisation Matrix, Criteria, Culture, Management, Framework, Skill set, Evaluation will be challenging. However I do believe in looking for needles in haystacks.

5.Business case study too exclusive or non-representative
For example I've read that the latest trends among New Zealand entrepreneurs are a tendency to do business as a life style choice meets but often does not exceed previous work experiences or incomes. This might not encourage export growth on a significant scale. However I am curious to know if self-identified lifestyle businesses are so doing (or treading water) due to other factors which discourage small business growth.

6.Evaluation measures too stringent
I am not prepared to bend over backwards for bloodless or difficult sponsors or stakeholders. I expect a comfortable and professional working environment that treats me like the asset that I am. As I am not a lone wolf by choice I expect my skills as a researcher would be welcomed especially in applying my knowledge and experience towards regional and rural environments where I must admit I feel most comfortable.

7.Failed deadline 8. Failed examination
Too maddening to contemplate? Avoidance of this would require consistent milestone meeting rather than millstone monitoring with engine-like clearance of any/all "numbties" (humpty numbties?) as described by Gerard Blair. For example, I have never felt intellectual dead ends to be a waste of progress. On the contrary, it is nice to know where something stops and something else begins.

How will you solidify agreement on the specific boundaries of your project?

Consistent progress checking with my stakeholders, sponsors and supervisors which would begin at the proposal process would be essential. Much of my out of scope details relate to the repeated irrelevancy of local or domestic business practices to the project research. It appears to me that many domestic processes of export growth are broken in many rural regional areas of the developed world possibly due to power based approaches to decision-making rather than rational ones which may discourage business start-ups or export growth as described by Bent Flyberg in application to local business processes in Freiburg or as Bruce Kogut describes, "In the academy, accountability and rewards function differently: Higher salaries and more grants go to researchers who publish and produce papers. There is no external barometer for the social validation of their work, beyond cross-references among colleagues." For example, overly scrupulous and thus penurious venture fund management or the insidious practice of nepotism which I believe to be a core weakness of modern age democracies may drive research and development funding for export ventures all over the world rather than merit. I would like to study what works in even some of the most visibly corrupt nations which would place more red tape and impediments to local businesses than in less perceptively corrupt ones for example. All of my stakeholders, sponsors and supervisors would require extremely strong stomachs.

Who will help you with your work breakdown structure?

I feel fortunate to have chosen my hypothetical project as as our case study model "Jane" is also luckily working on a thesis proposal. Her WBS is currently my model. I am willing to adapt process but not principles.

How much detail is necessary for the projects you work with?

More than I have at the moment!

The details will need to reveal relevancy and significance to stakeholders, sponsors and supervisors and that will entail providing a window to global small business best practices which succeed even in adverse or worst-case scenario conditions. As Tom Mochal's linked article was unavailable I sought out a few other internet-based listings for his scope management topics. I will provide them with the details that they need to know or hypothesis may not transform into a real project.

My sponsors need to be assured that the basis of my plan is workable and that the functional aspects of my research will be useful and profitable to them. Stakeholders are seeking applicable conclusions and recommendations based on real world examples of export growth drivers for small business. My supervisors will need consistent progress reports to confirm successful milestone achievements. The danger of scope changes may be mitigated by successful mediation of interests which may also prove challenging.

Bellow, A. (2003) In Praise of Nepotism: A Natural History, Doubleday, New York.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2001) Making Social Science Matter: Why social inquiry fails and how it can succeed again, CUP, Cambridge.

Flyvbjerg, B. (1998) Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice , The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Kogut, B. (2005-2006) Accountability in Research: An Introduction to the Issue (and Issues), EIASM. [Accessed: September 5, 2009]

Mochal, M. (2006) Follow this simple scope change management process, techrepublic article, September 12, 2006. [Accessed: September 2, 2009]

Mochal, M.(2006) Understand the role of the sponsor in scope change management, techrepublic article, June 13, 2006. [Accessed: September 2, 2009]

Stoner, J. and Wankel, C. (2007) Innovative Approaches to Reducing Global Poverty, Information Age Publishing , Charlotte, NC.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

WTO Panel to Hear Canada’s Challenge of South Korean Ban on Beef

WTO Panel to Hear Canada’s Challenge of South Korean Ban on Beef
(Minister for International Trade)

The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, today announced that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has established, at Canada’s request, a dispute settlement panel to hear Canada’s challenge of South Korea’s continuing ban on Canadian beef.

“South Korea’s continuing ban is not based on international standards or on science. This is a clear violation of South Korea’s WTO obligations,” said Minister Day. “This request by Canada demonstrates our ongoing commitment to resolving this issue and defending the interests of Canadian producers.”

The establishment of the panel follows more than six years of efforts on the part of Canada to restore access to South Korea for Canadian beef, which was banned by that country in May 2003 after bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in a Canadian cow.

“Canadian producers know that our government will always stand up for our safe, high-quality Canadian beef on the international stage,” said Minister Ritz. “The international scientific community also recognizes that Canadian beef is safe, and I’m confident that the WTO dispute panel will rule in our favour.”

The WTO panel will be asked to determine whether South Korea's continuing ban on Canadian beef is consistent with its international trade obligations under the WTO Agreement.

The panel is expected to issue its report within the next nine months.