Maura Walsh

Contribution to Education
My work as a research lecturer focuses on two main topics: leadership and organizational (and individual) communication.  This involves research on the extant literature and applied research into these practices in companies.  There are several outputs from this work along the way, such as literature reviews, educational programme evaluations, business case reports to clients, business case studies for teaching, lectures, workshops and lots of interesting conversations with colleagues.  
However, since the primary task of a research lecturer is to develop the educational programmes in RBS, my primary focus is on the programme I teach on, IBMS (International Business and Management Studies).  I belong to the OM (Organization Management) teaching team in IBMS and have been teaching on courses such as Organization Management and Human Resources Management for the last four and a half years. I am pleased to say that I am now busy developing a brand new course, Leadership and Professional Development, which will start in September 2016 for every single student who enters our first year programme.  This will be a four year course which will give every student – no matter what they study – the opportunity to develop the awareness and leadership behaviour skills which so many companies are crying out for in graduates.

This course, LPD, is a good example of what added value the Research Platform is bringing to RBS.  Here is where the story started: When I joined RBS in 2011, I came from working as an organisation consultant and executive coach, helping clients big and small to change, develop, grow, collaborate and lead … with their own teams and across different departments; within their own organizations and across different organizations, and with partners/suppliers/networks.  Leadership, and leadership communication, was at the heart of this.  The problem was that I kept seeing this word ‘leadership’ in course documents but discovered that it was taught nowhere on the programme.  Clearly, this was a gap, I thought. For some time, I asked my manager to give me the opportunity to address this and eventually, I was invited to.  I knew that the most powerful way to do this was not by stepping in myself with a new course but by conducting a review.  Why?  Because reviews combine the best of applied research, and, if done well, the data speaks for itself (saving me the challenge of taking on a potential battle myself).

So, I started with a literature review to get to grips with the latest research, then moved on to a desk review to find out what governments and the business world were saying, and what other similar higher education institutions were doing with their students.  Armed with this focus, I came back to look at our own organization and developed a set of key questions, which I took to six key people, all of whom had strong education/leadership/business experience. My review was well received.  Nonetheless, it sat for quite a while and appeared to be doing nothing.

Meanwhile, our major curriculum revision had slowly picked up pace and, sure enough, when the time was right, I was invited to contribute with my review and I am now busy with a team of LDP coaches, designing our exciting new programme.



Last year, I completed two case studies with Dutch SME’s.  This involved the Honours class as well as other classes such as Social Behaviour and Management, and Finance and Accounting.  I will be starting another large project with 8-10 cases before the summer holidays.

I initiated the set up of a leadership group in the Knowledge Centre for Research and Innovation, which shared best practices and ideas for teaching leadership; and gave lectures and seminars, which I continue to do.

I wrote a joint paper on dialogue and performance measurement systems with a colleague, B. Pesalj, from the Finance and Accounting team, which brings together the two very different worlds of communication and management accounting.  The problem, in this case, was (and is) the tendency for people to implement performance measurement systems without sufficient attention to the need to develop shared understanding, and to keep talking (and listening) while systems are implemented so that the actions which are taken are a) the ones intended and b) the most effective, based on this shared understanding of the key issues from multiple perspectives. We were invited to present our paper at a major European Conference last year (EIASM) and are currently completing the revisions to the paper.

Maura Walsh