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Ruth Sharpe

Institute for Development Policy and Management

Part-time HRM lecturer

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Tales from an HRM PhD – it’s turnaround time


This is the third article in a four-part series from Ruth Sharpe, part-time lecturer and full-time PhD learner at the Institute for Development Policy and Management at Manchester University, on the trials and tribulations of undertaking a PhD in HRM.

I left you last time, weeping and gnashing my teeth with this PhD. Facing research methodological training and fielding the millennial minion threats and irritations.

Yes they are back! All hail the millennials! Not. A multi-national plethora of oozing, vigorous research confidence. Loud of voice, strong in opinion, determined in focus.

We X-Gens don’t stand a chance.   

Research design and philosophical debate are powerful parts of their army combat style psychological confidence kit. Bounding into the room waving their hands in the air, nodding zealously and competing furiously to present their excellent thesis design.

Enter the ageing ones. I opt to sit towards the back, disadvantaging myself slightly from the outset with my dodgy old age hearing problem. An unwelcome legacy from my long gone clubbing days.

I sit alone emphasising my isolation and new found introversion. “She taught us last year,” they whisper.

I cringe and play with my highlighters, a red flush rising up my neck.

I empathise with a fellow oldie who bravely stands up to be counted with her views. She is thrashed to the ground by the millennials and returns psychologically battered to shrink in her chair. The millennial minions titter and whisper. Poor woman.

And then it begins. Epistemological, ontological, inductive, deductive cannon balls being fired at us at pace. Notetaking like a good ‘un I field the onslaught, head just above the water in comprehension. I forget the millennials and listen.     

And the weeks go by. A small glimmer of sunshine now enters my dismal, bleak blogs.

A positive sense of self is sneaking into my mind. I am getting it. In fact, some of it I kind of know already. Amazing. This warm and positive feeling gathers pace. I am now not quite running but certainly keeping up with the debate.

I sit nearer the front. These academic guys are good. Creative, innovative and sometimes funny lectures make research design dance, sing and perform in my mind.

Amazingly, I am a front runner in the quantitative session. How did that happen? I failed ‘O’ level Maths first time. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Don’t get me wrong. Critical realism still has me weeping. I came home after that one and took to the wine. But overall I am kind of getting it, I am getting there.

And something else. I have made some friends. Not ones you can fall out of a club with, but like-minded fellow PhD sufferers. Of all ages. Millennials come in different sizes and shapes it would seem.

And so to the future, what comes next?

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Ruth Sharpe

Part-time HRM lecturer

Read more from Ruth Sharpe

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