Mr Alexander Schauer

Personal details

Schauer

Name: Alexander Schauer
Email address: a.schauer@sheffield.ac.uk
Location: Room 323, Regent Court

Questions

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Germany but since early childhood I enjoyed travelling to different countries and cultures. When I was 16 I successfully applied for a study-exchange to Brisbane, Australia. The one year exchange soon became 2 years, then 5 and finally 9 years. I really enjoyed the social, academic and working experience in Australia and broadened my horizon in all three fields. Although this might sound somewhat peculiar, I liked working and studying at the same time as one complemented the other which meant that I could practically apply what I´ve learned at university. Now I´m at a point where I´d like to specialise into a relatively new field and make a small contribution in the academic sense but also help practitioners to enhance their competitive position by managing their knowledge more efficiently and effectively.

What got you interested in this subject?

Working for a large financial services organisation I soon realised that staff turnover, internal staff movements and product updates challenged both internal colleagues and external partners in keeping up to date with latest developments. Much of the existing knowledge was not codified and existing information stored rather ad-hoc and decentralised. This formed my view that knowledge needs to be shared among colleagues and partners to ensure company continuity despite staff turnover and movements. My research topic attempts to make explicit the factors that affect knowledge sharing in different countries so that local subsidiaries have objective data on which to enhance specific areas needing attention resulting from the analysis.

What have you enjoyed about it?

I´ve really enjoyed the mental challenge that a PhD is associated with. Also I enjoy the supportive environment by which you can develop your skills and ask for help if required. It also makes you appreciate and evaluate other work that has been done to date. On a more social side, I find the activities and events organised by the student union outstanding allowing diverse groups of students to get together and exchange ideas and backgrounds.

What have you found most challenging?

I think the transition from being a practical oriented project manager to an academic student was for me personally challenging. In the former, deadlines, short summaries and business performance indicators formed a critical part of the role while now the emphasis is placed on academic readings, theoretical models and expanded discussions. I think that both are important for one´s skill repertoire as it allows one to select the right tactic(s) to solve a diverse range of problems in the future.

What is your top tip for a future KIM student?

Take advantage of training courses offered by the university early on to broaden your range of skills and learn from the experiences other students have made in the past.

Research

Research interests

My main research interest lies with knowledge management, particularly analysing why people from different cultures display varying degrees of willingness to share their knowledge with colleagues.

Project title

A cross-cultural study on individual, team, organisational and institutional factors affecting knowledge sharing willingness in the IT services industry.

Project supervisor

Dr Ana Cristina Vasconcelos;
Ms Barbara Sen.

Project description

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the degree of knowledge sharing willingness of staff in a single organisation across different national cultural backgrounds.

Positioning of research

Several studies to date have either focused on factors from an individual perspective, individual-team perspective, individual-organisational level or individual-institutional level. To my knowledge, no author to date has embarked on a study that incorporates individual, team, organisational and institutional factors. Therefore the first aim of this study is to explore all four levels of influences within a single study.
The second aim of this research is to investigate multiple countries and to analyse as well as compare these results across the different nations. Research up to now has predominantly focused on a single country, with only a small percentage studying two or three countries. To my knowledge, none have examined four to five countries situated on three different continents.

Research design

Since the integration of individual, team, organisational and institutional factors is relatively unexplored; the study will follow a mixed method strategy and employ a comparative design.
In the first phase of the strategy, a qualitative approach is being taken in which approximately 24 participants are interviewed. Data will be collected from the following four countries, due to their diverse cultural perspectives:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Netherlands
  4. China

The results from the qualitative phase will then be used in phase two to develop a quantitative survey to test the identified factors consistently across nations and with a larger sample.

Anticipated outcomes

From an academic perspective, this advances research in two ways. Firstly, it integrates a research area that has, to date, been somewhat unsystematic in its examination of only a limited number of factors. It therefore addresses a more comprehensive set of influences stemming from individual, team, organisational and institutional factors. Secondly, it draws out influences potentially pertinent to a particular culture while also analysing factors that are common between cultures.
From a practitioner perspective, this study aims to show that willingness to share knowledge is not only affected by individual and organisational factors but also by broader institutional influences. This emphasises the need for multinational organisations to be aware of these factors when transferring resources or practices from one country to another.

Project keywords

Knowledge management, knowledge sharing, multi-cultural, case study, services industry, mixed method research.

Background

Education

Master of Project Management, University of Queensland, Australia (2009);
Graduate Certificate in Project Management, University of Queensland, Australia (2007);
Bachelor of Business Management with majors in eBusiness and International Business, University of Queensland, Australia (2005).

Experience

I was employed by a large financial services organisation in 2004 to act as the critical linkage between customers located at universities and the organisation. After one year I was transferred to an internal position within the private health insurance unit. The subsequent year, I was reassigned to the implementations team to coordinate the timely and successful implementation of products and procedures in Insurance Operations. The year after, in 2007, I was asked to step into the role of Compliance Coordinator to audit travel agencies throughout Australia to ensure guidelines and regulations are adhered to while concurrently maintaining the role of Implementations Coordinator. In 2008 I was promoted to become Implementations Team Leader being responsible for policy wording updates, client data loading and validation and agency compliancy. In 2009 I transferred to a printing company in Canberra, Australia to take over the role of Business Solutions and Project Manager. However due to the financial downturn, I made the decision in 2010 to return to university and undertake my PhD study here at the University of Sheffield.

Achievements and awards

Faculty of Business, Economics and Law Dean´s Honour Roll 2009 – Award for outstanding academic excellence;
Faculty of Engineering, Physical Sciences and Architecture Dean´s Commendation for High Achievement 2007;
Faculty of Business, Economics and Law Dean´s Honour Roll 2005 – Award for outstanding academic excellence.