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Successful Masters students

For the second year in a row, students from Gothenburg took first place in the national thesis competition for Masters students. The competition was arranged by the university’s centre of expertise for global HRM (CGHRM).
Juliana Gelm and Stephanie Rokka wrote a thesis on how companies organise the division of expertise in international teams. By last spring, both had finished the international Masters programme in strategic HRM and had found jobs.

- Of course it is very exciting and we were incredibly surprised, added Stephanie Rokka and Juliana Gelm, we had a good flow with our thesis. We found an interesting topic early on; a company that was interested in taking us on, so we worked well together.

The students wrote their thesis during the final semester and before they began, took a course focusing on how to write a good thesis. Both appreciated the course, as it allowed them the opportunity to both work on their line of questioning and to test out what it was like writing together.

- Even though it was hard work sometimes and we put in a lot of effort, the thesis itself was one of the most fun projects in the Master’s course, says Stephanie.

The thesis, titled ‘Cooperating apart: a qualitative study about conditions for knowledge sharing in distributed communities of practice’ discusses how a company organises its division of expertise in virtual teams. Companies are becoming increasingly international; employees have to be able to communicate with colleagues around the world, and this also now applies to different IT solutions.

- We have grown up with computers and it feels natural to communicate across the internet,” says Stephanie, and we are interested in the development of IT in general. IT will play an increasingly important role in the future, and this is why we are interested in the combination of IT and team development.

Studying teams

Various networks had already been developed many years ago, used to communicate across the internet and it was often engineers or IT specialists who utilised these opportunities. As Juliana Gelm                                    Juliana and Stephanie were interested in HR issues, the two studied teams with additional focuses.

- One of the teams consisted of HR people and the other of people working with competitive intelligence, primarily focusing on legislation and regulations. Both teams had around ten people who came from different parts of the world, explains Juliana. We wanted to try to understand what the conditions were that made the distribution of knowledge work within the team and be sustainable in the long term.

Clarity and structure

And what were the conclusions? For the team to develop in a positive way for both the individuals, the team and the company, and for knowledge to be shared - this all requires clarity and structure. The effect is that all members of the team recognise the objectives and that the group develops a common identity, with the members supporting each other. This places requirements on both the individuals and the group.

- The team that we investigated consisted of experienced, mature, independent individuals, but despite this, these individuals needed to collaborate, and in spite of their experience we could see that a key condition for the team to develop and share knowledge was to define clear goals and structures, confirms Juliana.

International environment

Now their studies are complete and they have found jobs When they look back at their Masters, they are satisfied.

- This is an international education, and around half of us came from other countries. This created an international environment that was particularly stimulating, the two women confirm. This meant that the lectures and any conversation in the corridors was all in English.
They describe the differences between the undergraduate programme and the Master’s programme as primarily that at Master’s level, there is much more in-depth investigation into the strategic HR issues. In a way, the learning is more anchored in reality and applied. Another huge advantage is that there is the option to choose a practical internship course.

Creating contacts

- It was very valuable to us. Both in terms of seeing HR work within an organisation and for networking to gain contacts. A key part of our study time was creating new contacts - they can be useful both when writing your Master’s thesis and for finding future employment, finishes Juliana.                         Stephanie Rokka

Sidansvarig: Anders Östebo|Sidan uppdaterades: 2017-02-23

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