Just days after receiving his PhD, the coordinator of Wittenborg University’s School of Business, Dr Abdul Rauf’s PhD thesis has been nominated for the Best Dissertation Award at the upcoming International Conference of the Dutch HRM Network.
Rauf’s thesis, which focused on the effectiveness of Human Resource Management (HRM) in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME’s), was nominated by the University of Twente, Enschede, which earlier this month awarded his PhD. Rauf also completed his MSc in Business Administration with a specialization in HRM at Twente.
“Deciding in which field to do my PhD was a really easy question. I realized there is a lot of research for large scale firms or multinationals - where usually well-developed HR systems are easily available - but hardly any in the case of SME’s. I wanted to look at what makes HRM effective in SME’s which might help them achieve better results. My motivation came from my job as a lecturer.”
Developing a New Model
Rauf, who collected data in both his country of origin, Pakistan, and the Netherlands, says during his research he developed a model that scans the effectiveness of HRM in SME’s. It is known as the “Four Archetypal HRM Model for SME's”.
“The model will not explain what you can do to address the problem, but that is where my expertise come in. I can advise SME’s on what they can do to improve their effectiveness in terms of HRM.”
According to Rauf he underestimated the workload and the intensity of analysis that awaited him when he started with his PhD. “I thought it might be double the work of an MSc programme, but when I actually started working on this I realized the analysis and the precision required when it comes to a PhD is completely different. You need to go to a whole different level of academic work. The biggest difference, compared to a Bachelor or Master, is that you are solely responsible for your project though there is good support available in the form of supervisors and promotors. They will guide you with your progress but they will not help you in terms of your troubles or issues.” It took him about 5 to 6 years to complete the dissertation.
The Value of a PhD
“This degree now gives me the authority as an established researcher in the area of HRM. It provides a good foundation to build my research-based academic career. I can now conduct research independently, lead research projects, work together with students, colleagues and external parties. That is the most rewarding aspect. It also gives me the freedom to supervise Master or PhD students in the future.” According to Rauf he would also like to contribute to Wittenborg’s Research Centre and would like to publish articles in international and national peer reviewed journals based on his research work.
What is his advice to students thinking about pursuing a PhD? “I would say they must spend some time in the industry after their master degree. It might provide an ideal platform to identify an interesting research gap based on a possible missing link between theory and practice. Doing a PhD should not be about gaining another degree but rather to make a unique contribution to society that might help academics, industry and society at large. There are always possibilities to get funding for a PhD project but the success of winning one depends on multiple factors such as research topic, significance of research project and benefit to various stakeholders.”
by Anesca Smith