Mapping services theory to PhD supervision: lessons to be learned for doctoral students' visibility

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Lawson, Alison 2017. Mapping services theory to PhD supervision: lessons to be learned for doctoral students' visibility. British Academy of Management.
AuthorsLawson, Alison
Abstract

This paper considers the relevance of services theory to the process of PhD supervision. Many PhD students in business disciplines study in dyads rather than groups and study part time rather than full time. This can make it difficult for them (and their research) to become visibly noticed in faculties and departments. As the process of education is a service rather than a product, it is relevant to use services theories to examine the doctoral supervision process to identify ways in which visibility and, thereby, satisfaction may be improved. Several services marketing theories are mapped to the process of doctoral supervision. These are the features of services, the service quality gaps model, services theatre and the importance of the service encounter. All the theories are found to be clearly relevant to the doctoral supervision process. Having established that services theory can be used to describe, analyse and improve the doctoral supervision process, the issue of visibility is examined in a pilot study with a small number of PhD students to determine how they feel about the issue and what can be done to improve their experience. This study does not use the traditional questionnaire approach favoured by national quality and satisfaction surveys, but uses open-ended questions to gather qualitative data. The pilot study shows that visibility is not an issue for all students and that while there are some easy options for improving visibility, these do not suit all students. Further work is needed in this area to explore how services theory can help to improve doctoral students’ visibility and overall experience.

This paper considers the relevance of services theory to the process of PhD supervision. Many PhD students in business disciplines study in dyads rather than groups and study part time rather than full time. This can make it difficult for them (and their research) to become visibly noticed in faculties and departments. As the process of education is a service rather than a product, it is relevant to use services theories to examine the doctoral supervision process to identify ways in which visibility and, thereby, satisfaction may be improved.

Several services marketing theories are mapped to the process of doctoral supervision. These are the features of services, the service quality gaps model, services theatre and the importance of the service encounter. All the theories are found to be clearly relevant to the doctoral supervision process.

Having established that services theory can be used to describe, analyse and improve the doctoral supervision process, the issue of visibility is examined in a pilot study with a small number of PhD students to determine how they feel about the issue and what can be done to improve their experience. This study does not use the traditional questionnaire approach favoured by national quality and satisfaction surveys, but uses open-ended questions to gather qualitative data.

The pilot study shows that visibility is not an issue for all students and that while there are some easy options for improving visibility, these do not suit all students. Further work is needed in this area to explore how services theory can help to improve doctoral students’ visibility and overall experience.

KeywordsServices theory; PhD supervision; Visibility; Student experience
Year2017
PublisherBritish Academy of Management
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/621909
hdl:10545/621909
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Publication dates07 Sep 2017
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Deposited26 Oct 2017, 14:45
ContributorsUniversity of Derby
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https://repository.derby.ac.uk/item/925xz/mapping-services-theory-to-phd-supervision-lessons-to-be-learned-for-doctoral-students-visibility

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