how to gain a competitive advantage through effective education and training – Full Paper

Section 1. To analyze how local telecommunications companies can gain a competitive advantage through effective education and training

1.1 Introduction and Background of the problem

Local telecoms have enjoyed periods of success thanks to advanced technology and government support. However, with the advent of globalization and trade liberalization, the local telecoms have had to strategize because of competition from both private local companies and international companies. Most of the larger, global companies have on board strategic partners with advance managerial experiences giving them a competitive edge over the local telecoms companies.  The main driver of competitiveness in a globalized world is training and development and research and development. Employee training and development vital to equip the employees with adequate skills required to succeed in a competitive business environment. While the local telecoms are aggressively marketing, the workforce is mainly composed of local, long tenured employees that are not adequately trained on the current business practices.  According to Barber (2004, pp.128–39) employee training is very important in terms of improving employee performance. Most of the successful global organizations are known to allocate a larger percentage of their budgets to employee training and development.

Organizational competitiveness is hinged on the ability of the organization to remain agile enough to adapt to new skills, technologies, and strategies. However, all these require the organization to ensure that their employees are well equipped to manage new technologies, and implement new strategies. Most of the successful local organizations owe their success to consultancy and training offered by marketing management consultants, marketing research companies and HR consultants who can determine the training needs of the employees. Cayman Islands has only three primary telecoms companies, Digicel, LIME and Logic. They all provide local, long distance and internet services via fixed voice and internet network. LIME and Digical are the only mobile providers. The problem is that the services offered by these companies are not competitive enough when competition with global telecommunications companies for projects such as global wide area networks. These contracts are vital in order to retain market share and revenue growth. This research is conducted in the backdrop of falling competitiveness, service quality, and employee turn in the local telecoms companies.

1.2 Research aims and objectives

The aim of this research is to analyze how effective training can help local telecoms employees gain competitive advantage. The objectives of this research are to:

  1. Analyze the employee development strategies pursued by the local HR departments
  2. Analyze the performance trends of the local companies
  3. Determine if the local telecoms companies offer employee training
  4. Determine the strategic human resources practices implemented by the telecom companies.
  5. Recommend the best employee training options that contribute to the companies’ competitiveness
  6.  Provide direction for future research on employee training in telecoms

 Section 2. Indicative literature review

2.1 Employee Training Options: Job Content and Responsibilities

Employee training covers both on the job and off the job training. Established companies utilize both conventional and digitally media learning to improve their employee’s performance.  According to Peters, &, Waterman, (1982), employee training should focus more on job content and responsibilities as opposed to job enrichment. All employees should be able to understand their responsibilities and develop a passion for their job. Holton (2003, pp. 335–36) argues that employee training should focus on how the employees responsibilities can be developed in their current job  and this is the only way an organization can increase employee effectiveness without having  to raise their salary. However, MacMillan, (1983, pp. 43-57), pointed out that if an organization is interested in improving their employee’s performance, and then they need to focus on how to expand their employee’s job by adding new or higher-level responsibilities. This way the employee would be challenged to research and come up with strategies on how to perform their duties.

According to Beer, &, Eisenstat, (2009), employees’ responsibilities can only be increased through delegation of duties with authority. Manager should not be reluctant to delegate duties to their subordinates and give them the authority to perform these duties. This way, employees will gain experiences on the job without having to take leave in pursuit of competencies.

2.2 Employee training options

Employee training is advantageous to the employee and to the organization. For example, to the individual employees it offers opportunities for growth and career development.  To the organization, the management can leverage their employee competencies to drive growth and revenue. In this regards, employee training should be organization initiated as opposed to employee initiated. An employee can only pursue further studies to gain qualification, but the organization can train their employee to become the employee they want. For example, an organization can easily determine their employee skill and knowledge gap and develop relevant, competitive and comprehensive training required to fill this gaps. Most college graduates are knowledgeable and have textbook experience but that is not adequate for the competitive world. Employee need industry related competencies which are not included in the university curriculum (Gould-Williams, 2004).Therefore, in order or develop new skills, employee training is important, as education alone can’t make an employee competent.

2.3 Job development

Job development is part of employee training as it informs employee training. Job development focuses mainly on how the employee is fit to perform specific task. Many organizations pursue job development to enhance their employee competitiveness. Employees often pursue training to advance their career and then the higher compensation that comes with it. Therefore, the organization needs to underpin their training on how to make their employee’s competitiveness sustainable and how to leverage their employee’s competitiveness to gain sustainable advantage (Schuler, &, MacMillan, 1984).

In order to do this, an organization must gather information relating to the specific job, conduct performance appraisal, and employee training needs assessment. This way, an organization can identify the duties and responsibilities of each employee, their skill gap, the qualifications they need to perform specific tasks within the organization and provide relevant training. Organizations can help employees acquire the attitudes, skills, and knowledge in order to perform their duties better by this systematic process.  Forward-looking organizations often focus on then adding value to their customers and meeting the value proposition by training their employees to deliver on the organizational mission statement.

According to Noe, (2012), there are many challenges associated with rapid, volatile and discontinuous change from competitive environment. For example, the nature of work, and the overall workplace environment have necessitated for a versatile workforce that can adapt new practices, implement new strategies and question the status quo.  The business environment requires employees to acquire additional skills, become adaptive, flexible and customer oriented. Most companies continue to be guided by old practices but maintain that managers should encourage growth and career development amongst the employee.

2.3 The role of employee training in sustainable competitive advantage

For long-term profitability, an organization needs to focus employee’s competencies and skills. According to Christine (1997, pp. 697–713), 53.3%  of the organization mainly focus on course development but have fewer resources to deliver the courses while 49.7% of the organizations in Cayman have reduced their expenses on employees training  due to economic factors. However, Aguinis, (2012) states that organizations can reduce their employee training budgets by providing in-house training to their employees. The best performing organizations are those that have mastered the art of competitiveness by inviting industry leaders to research and train all their employees and have polices geared towards quarterly training. The telecommunication industry is the most competitive industry in the world as technological advances occur every day. Many telecoms either import or innovate to be able to stay competitive. However, this becomes a problem when an organization has innovative products but does not have competent employees to deliver the products and services. This supports the argument by Khawaja, &, Nadeem, (2013) that employees are valuable resources of the organization and success of an organization depend heavily on the performance of it’s employees. Employee training has become very important for organization’s competitiveness and that is why organizations invest in their employee’s training and welfare. Noe, (2012) argues that the most competitive organizations are those that can anticipate change and train their employees to capitalize on change.

2.4 High performance high commitment organizations- source of competitive advantages

Many organizations have turned to online training as a way of maintaining their employees competitiveness. However, Aguinis (2012), states that the cost advantages of online training are not adequate for organization to make their decision favoring the method.  Organizations focus on quality and relevance when it comes to employee training but there are other factors that organizations should base their employee training on such as the convenience and the cost effectiveness. According to Skinner, (1981, pp. 107-118), employee training does not only contribute to the company’s bottom-line, but also the employee welfare.

2.5 Benefits of Online Training

Online training is convenient, making it more accessible to the employee especially of the telecom companies in smaller geographical locations. Advanced technology has made it easy for companies to deliver tailor-made skills to their employees. In recent years, online training has become increasingly popular and widely accepted. There are several advantages to employee development and training online. Among the many advantages of online training, perhaps one of the most important is cost savings. It can reduce costs by having training completed quicker and by eliminating travel and the expenses travel involves

Organizations can leverage their employee’s newly gained knowledge and  skill to drive growth and revenue. Organizations can demonstrate their appreciation for their employee’s efforts, while at the same time, helping them realize their personal growth and career development goals by offering in-house training. These investments translate into profits for the organization. Employee training therefore is a win/win strategy for the organization and the employees.

2.6 Why employee training is important in telecoms

Global telecoms companies must address many issues. These include globalization, leadership, recruiting and innovations. Addressing all these issues requires employee training. The training is industry specific, therefore, is better offered through corporate learning. According to Ric (2013), corporate learning  strategy is preferred telecoms because they are heavily focused on developing  expertise, collaboration , knowledge, as well as continuous enforcements of  competencies especially in the telecoms specific areas.

Finally, Richardson, (2012) argues that organizations should pursue talent driven learning strategy and must also adopt a global career model. As a matter of fact, telecommunications is arguable the only industry where developing capability should be the organization’s first priority due to the highly technological and competitive industry.

Section 3: Research Methodology

3.1 Overview

The primary focus of this study is to determine the effects of effective training on local telecommunication and if it provides any competitive advantage. In this section, we will discuss the methodology adopted for this research. This section will outline the research strategy the research approach, the method of data collections as well as the research philosophy. The researcher also delineates the sampling method, the sample survey and completes the research with methods in place to ensure both validity and reliability. Ethical consideration and the limitation of the research should also be explored.

3.2 Research Strategy

Research and its survey process is only important and relevant if the research methodology adopted in relevant, realistic, and suited for achieving the research objectives. If the researcher is to collect data from a diverse population, a good research design is important. It is also important to define the source of information whether the researcher is going to use the primary or secondary sources. The assortment of information would be useful for making multifarious decision from the research (Sekaran, 2006).

This section will also analyze the merits and drawbacks of different information types enabling the researcher to effortlessly comprehend the positive and the demerits of each specific method. The idea behind contemplating the research process is to help the researcher to arrive at a probable conclusion faster. The research procedure also helps the researcher to realize a new breakthrough while focusing on the crux of the research and its imperatives. Primary data, which comprises both qualitative and quantitative data, would be collected from specific respondents while the secondary data would be collected from books, industry journal and reports

3.3 Research Paradigm

According to Saunders, (2003), a research paradigm and philosophy is a very important section when it comes to effective data collection. Appropriate data collection requires the researcher to define the assumptions, values, concepts and practices followed during the research process (Creswell, 2008).

3.3.1 Positivism Philosophy

Positivism Philosophy is mainly based on the structured methodology in order to enable the researcher to generalize and quantify the observation to evaluate the result with the help of statistical methods. In positivism philosophy the researcher plays role of an objective analyst to evaluate the collected data and produces an appropriate result in order to achieve research aims and objectives.

3.3.2 Interpretive Philosophy

The interpretive philosophy is mainly used in social research especially in business and management because the business environment is complex and cannot be adequately formulated in theories and laws. Therefore, the interpretive philosophy is mainly based on critical thinking about the positivism philosophy.  It seeks to determine the truth behind every simple fact. Therefore, in order to reach a conclusive result, the research philosophy is used to collect, analyze and understand the data and finally interprets the data to provide a meaningful solution to a research problem. Therefore, the research does not only interact with the social environment, but also make sense of the events they see, and then draw meaning from these events (Johnson, &, Christensen, 2010)

3.3.3 Realism Philosophy:

Realism is mainly founded on the interdependency of human based on their values and beliefs. This philosophy focuses on the external and objective reality as it influences the way people integrate and behave in a social content. The aim of this research is to determine the impact of innovation on organizational performance. Therefore, an interpretive paradigm is ineligible.  For the sake of the research aim and objectives, the research will rely on the constructivism realism because the focus is to attain a deeper understand of innovation in the company. The research will interpret the relationship between innovation and organizational performance with the use of self-conducted questionnaire (Creswell, (2009).

3.4 Data collection

The researcher aims to self-administer questionnaires on a randomly sampled group of  48 employees from telecoms companies in Cayman Islands. The self-administered questionnaire is relatively inexpensive and can be used to collect adequate amount of data to be used for reaching the conclusive decisions. The self-administered questionnaire can also be useful especially when trying to gather important information about belief, attitudes as well as behaviors. Finally, it is also effective when trying to anonymously report the respondent opinions.  The main reason for choosing the self-administered questionnaire however is to improve the validity and reliability.The interviewee responses are likely to have poor construct validity, and may also be biased and thus, each will have a poor internal validity (Lodico, Spaulding, & Voegtle, 2010).

Sampling criterion:

Centre/organization No of people to be sampled
LIME 12
Digicel 12
Logic 12
WestStar 12
Total 48

The primary reason for conducting the interview is to help the researcher gain insight into the views expressed by the interviewees about the organizational performance in relation to innovation and help the researcher to extract data for further development. Interviews will also help in collecting adequate amount for concise data, which cannot be collected using other means. The questions to be used in this research will be both open ended and structured. As such, the researcher will also get both analytical and descriptive information about the research topic from the interviewees

3.4.1 Primary research

3.4.1 Quantitative Approach to Research

The quantitative research methodology uses data extracted by the researcher from different numerical measurements and evaluates the data to be used for further interpretation of the results. The researcher will use the quantitative research approach with the statistical data linked to the research topic too established the interdependence. The hypothesis will be tested using the statistical data collected through interview and survey. The researcher is not allowed to manipulate or modify the data

3.4.1.1 Advantages and Limitations of quantitative research

Advantages

It provides an elaborate explanation to changes in the variables based on sample data and historical data.

Limitation

The main limitations of this approach include over simplification of phenomena and this might not fully reflect the information required by the researchers.

The quantitative approach is mainly applied to the generalized situations.

3.4.2.1 Qualitative Approach to Research

The quantitative approach is a way to test an established hypothesis based on mathematical and statistical techniques while the qualitative approach builds a novel theory on its own (Cooper & Schindler, 2003; Moustakas, 1994).

3.4.2.2 Advantages and Limitations of qualitative research

Advantages

Qualitative approach is flexible enough to adopt changes according to the situation while the quantitative approach does not have this flexibility (Phelps et al, 2007).

Limitation

The drawback of using this approach may be the biased nature of the researcher and particularly the participants towards any of the questions in the questionnaire or research hypothesis (Saunders et al, 2007).

3.5 Research Procedures

The use of research tools such as questionnaires, interviews, and data sampling will be utilized in the process of conducting this research. In implementing the activities, both the quantitative and qualitative approaches will be considered, whereby qualitative data will be those based on the spoken words while the quantitative data would be generated from the overall data collected based of accuracy and efficiency.

3.6 Validity and Reliability of Results

In this research, the reliability and the validity of the data collected will depend on the design of the actual questionnaire used. However, to optimize the latter, careful plan of questions, layout and distinct clarification of the rationale and pilot testing will be given considerations (Saunders et al., 2007). These factors will be addressed by using data verification and construct validity check. The researcher will code survey and interview data and inter-rater checks will occur. The constant comparative approach of exploring data for emerging these, collapsing and reducing data categorically, and requiring independent review of data by the researcher will contribute to the construct validity of the qualitative data. The researcher will be on the alert for reflexivity issues. The method of conducting interviews and gathering information will be properly designed. Sources of information like books and journals will be considered in order to have a valid and reliable data.

3.7 Ethical consideration

Ethical considerations associated with research ethics will be addressed by completing a human subject’s application and filling it with university personnel. It is a standard best practice for research that involves individual volunteers as subjects. Ethical conditions will be considered by all required and best practice means. Permission will be taken before approaching the individuals for conducting interviews and the questionnaire. Also, an approval to carry out this research will be obtained from the company’s management by use of a letter sent before the day of intended interview. The interview will be conducted in good faith without exposing the identity of the respondents and their data. Opinions will be recorded in the questionnaires provided and maintained confidentially and later destroyed upon completion of data analysis.

3.8 Limitations of Study

This Survey-based study has potential for bias because some of the respondents who will be selected randomly are expected to give false information and the problems which are inherent with results based on aggregate of measures. Recall bias is thus a possible source of reporting error.

3.9 Analysis and Presentation of Data

3.9.1 Data Analysis and Presentation

The qualitative and quantitative data will be analyzed using IBM SPSS v.21 because of its effectiveness and ease of use. The statistical package for social scientist is intuitive and can be used to carry out various statistical analysis and inferences. This will enable the researcher to carry out both regression and collection analysis. The researcher can also carry out descriptive statistics of the sample, population, analysis of the variance, moving averages and With SPSS; it is easy to load data sets after collection. It is also possible to make new variables from existing variables as well as analyze and present the data in various formats like graphs and tables. SPSS is also easy to use in calculating robust amounts of data. However, SPSS will require the researcher to have limited data (Jorgen, 2001). Qualitative data will be analyzed with a constant comparative data reduction strategy. Data reduction is a concept used in the analysis of social sciences data that are not uniformly complete. Phelps et al (2007) argues that the main advantage of using data reduction is the uniformity and ease of analysis whence the data are separated and the completed ones found Qualitative research methods will facilitate an analysis of the effectiveness of innovation

For accuracy of the data, the research will use primary data. However, the main limitation of this method is being costly on the data collector as well as time consuming. There are also some elements of bias, which may be associated with this research. For example, interviewer bias whereby the researcher finds himself subconsciously giving subtle clues through his body language, facial expression and tone of voice (Phelps et al, 2007). These kinds of communications may influence the interviewee to give answers that are skewed towards the researcher’s opinion, values or prejudice

3.9.2 Dissemination of the research findings

Regardless of the nature of the study, all research findings must clearly point out to what the actual study has identified, addressing the main message and its importance and also make proposal for actions that have been or ought to be taken (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Major issues arising from this research study will be discussed at the beginning of the research findings section. This will indicate the essence of the study giving generalized results about the findings thus representing a much wider population (Creswell, 2004, pp. 124-129).

  • Web or Internet pages
  • Workshops, seminars and lectures for other practitioners, policy makers and researchers.

Section 4. Project Milestones

Timeline:  Gantt chart
Week commencing 1 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 25 26
Explore literature
Writing literature review
Reading on methodology
Writing methodology
Questionnaire design
Collection of qualitative data
Collection of quantitative data
Analysis of qualitative data
Analysis of quantitative data
Submission of first draft
Revision and submission of final draft

Section 5 Reflection and Resources

5.1 Reflection

Completing this research proposal has been the most challenging but rewarding undertaking in this course for me. Challenging because it is my first time and rewarding because it helped me expands my research skills while working on practical issues in the telecoms industry. I found this work interesting because I had the opportunity explore the Cayman Islands telecoms industry and some of the issues it faces in staying competitive globally. While drafting this proposal, I had an opportunity to evaluate my competitiveness and career prospects. I also found myself questioning some of the HR practices implemented by the local telecoms and realized that there is a large skill and competency gap in the work force. Many employed in the company are baby boomers who will not consider personal growth and career development as part of their career objectives.

Finally, while working on this project, I found out that most of the telecoms companies do consider employee training integral to their performance but do not have adequate employee training and development as part of their competitive strategy. While I have no specific budget for the research, I strive to complete both the research and my dissertation with the stated 3 months. I also have to thank my supervisors and LIME’s CEO Bill McCabe who has worked with me, advising me and providing valuable information as I undertake this project. I hope this project will help to develop a road map to fill the education and training gaps as well as HR practices and ultimately help achieve a competitive advantage, globally.

5.2 Resources

Johnson, B. and Christensen, L. (2010) Educational Research: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Approaches. UK: SAGE.

Saunders, M. (2003) Research Methods for Business Students. South Africa: Pearson Education. Sekaran, U. (2006) Research Methods for Business: A Skill Building Approach, 4Th Ed. UK: John Wiley & Sons – See more at: http://www.howtodo.dissertationhelpservice.com/research-paradigm-and-philosophy#sthash.eFnGo1l1.dpuf

Creswell, J. W. (2008). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design. Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Lodico, M. G., Spaulding, D. T., & Voegtle, K. H. (2010). Methods in educational research: From theory to practice (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Moustakas, C. E. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.

Beer, Michael and Russell A. Eisenstat. High Commitment, High Performance: How to Build a Resilient Organization for Sustained Advantage. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print

Gould-Williams, J, (2004).  “The Effects of ‘High Commitment’ HRM Practices on Employee Attitude: The Views of Public Sector Workers”, ‘’Public Administration’’,

Raymond Noe, (2012) Employee Training & Development Paperback – Abridged. McGraw-Hill/Irwin; 6 edition

Herman Aguinis, (2012). Performance Management (3rd Edition) . Prentice Hall

Christine O, (1997). Sustainable competitive advantage:combining institutional and resource- based views. Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 18:9, 697–713

Schuler , R, &, MacMillan C, (1984). Gaining Competitive Advantage through Human Resource Management Practices

MacMillan, I, (1983). Seizing Competitive Initiative. The Journal of Business Strategy, pp. 43-57.

Peters, T., &, Waterman, R, (1982).  In Search of Excellence. New York: Warner Books,

Schuler, R. (1984). Personnel and Human Resource Management (2nd ed.). St. Paul, MN:

West Publishing,

Skinner, W. , (1981). Big Hat, No Cattle: Managing Human Resources. Harvard Business

Review, September-October, pp. 107-118.

Ric G., (2013) Maximizing the effectiveness of technical training. Journal of communication technology

Jeffrey D. Wilke, (2006). The importance of employee training. Jacksonville Business Journal

Simons, N, &, Richardson, J. (2012). New Roles, New Responsibilities: Examining Training Needs of Repository Staff. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 1(2):eP1051. http://dx.doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.1051

Khawaja Jehanzeb, &,  Nadeem A, (2013). hmed Bashir1Training and Development Program and its Benefits to Employee and Organization: A Conceptual Study. European Journal of Business and Management Vol.5, No.2.

Holton E, (2003). Cycle time: a missing dimension in HRD research and theory. Hum. Resour. Dev. Rev. 2:335–36

Barber J. (2004). Skill upgrading within informal training

International Journal of Training and Development, 8:128–3

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