Developing doctoral research skills for workplace inquiry : using an integrated methodology

Plowright, David (2016)

CITATION: Plowright, D. 2016. Developing Doctoral Research Skills for Workplace Inquiry: Using an Intergrated Methodology, in M. Fourie-Malherbe, R. Albertyn, C. Aitchison & E. Bitzer. (eds.). Postgraduate Supervision: Future Foci for the Knowledge Society. Stellenbosch: SUN PRESS. 241-254. doi:10.18820/9781928357223/14.

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Chapters in Books

INTRODUCTION: The role of academic and scholarly research, including that undertaken for a postgraduate research degree, has changed in its emphasis. It is no longer restricted to the production of inward-looking disciplinary scholarship but to useful, instrumental knowledge that can be put to good use to address workplace issues and real-world problems. Indeed, Weber (2011:526) points out that in the knowledge society, even “scholarship must serve the requirements of the national economy in becoming more globally competitive”. Thus, research will inevitably suffer from “[t]he dominant global narrative of neoliberalism [that] underpins what has become known as the knowledge economy, where knowledge is valued for its economic worth rather than its intrinsic good” (Le Grange 2012:1133). This, of course, raises important questions about the role played by universities in the knowledge society: should they be concerned primarily with, on the one hand, the reproduction and transmission of knowledge and culture or, on the other, the transformation of that knowledge for the benefit of society (Delanty 2001)? It is a distinction that is currently a pressing issue for universities in South Africa where “[b]oth reproductive and transformative tendencies can be identified in varying degrees” (Reddy 2004:42). Indeed, at the time of writing, the current student unrest across the country reflects the pressure on higher education to play its role in social and democratic change. At a more micro-level, there is a need for rigorous, well-managed and effectivelyexecuted research, both inside higher education and in the public, private and not-forprofit sectors.

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