A Day in the Life Shadowing Project

A Day in the Life Shadowing Project

A Day in the Life Shadowing Project (Mintzberg Replication)This assignment requires the student to use a semi-structured observation method to address the question “What do administrators of aging programs and services do?” Students selecting this project to fulfill their final paper assignment should spend 8 hours observing an administrator in the work setting. Ideally, the 8 hours will be done at times that reflect work that is “typical.” In addition to the observations, students are expected to collect some preliminary information on the administrator and his/her environment and to debrief the experience with the individual after the observation is complete. Examples will be provided to demonstrate what a comprehensive paper looks like.

Procedures for Conducting Your Observations The following steps should be used to complete the shadowing project:1. Skim Mintzberg’s Appendix B: Seven Research Methods used to Study Managerial Work and then carefully read Appendix C: A Study of the Work of Five Chief Executives. This is to familiarize you with the method and how it fits with other qualitative approaches to studying managerial behavior.2. Decide whether or not you wish to pursue this option. If you do, let me know by Feb 25th in writing on blackboard that you will be doing the Shadowing Project. Include in your written proposal the name, title, and organizational affiliation of the person you will be shadowing, whether the administrator has already agreed to be shadowed.

Further Description

Also the organization’s service setting (e.g. a community-based organization providing nutrition or multipurpose services, a long-term care setting, or other aging-related environment). If you know when you will be shadowing, please include the planned date(s).3. After the individual has consented to be observed, you will need to get some background information on him/her. This will involve a brief interview and includes the following: a resume, an organization chart, a “boilerplate” if (s)he has one, an idea of their work hours, including how much work is done at home and anything else (s)he wishes to tell you that may help you understand the work and observations better.4. Make arrangements for the dates and times you will do the shadowing. These hours should be as representative as possible of the work that administrator does.

For example, don’t shadow three Monday mornings in a row or sit through the weekly staff meeting several times. Try to schedule the observations for different times of the day and week. Ask the administrator if the work is representative and compare the activities to the calendar days that you have copied. Also check with the manager about seasonal variations and other reasons your observations may be typical or atypical. Let me know if you have trouble scheduling.5. Mintzberg tracked activities. I think it would be more useful to address the question of work content. Therefore, rather than using Mintzberg’s Categories. I would like you to tabulate your chronology record according to the list posted on Blackboard and discussed in class. Reliability is a challenge with this project since we are using different people to observe.

Additional Description

It is therefore extremely important that your record keeping is meticulous. Do not make judgments in the narrative. Simply describe as accurately as you can what you observe. For example, do NOT say, “Mr. Jones was extremely irate. He screamed at everyone in sight.” Instead, you might describe the situation like this: “Mr. Jones slammed his fist on the table and said, ‘I’m tired of all these damn late reports. Either get them in on time or I don’t want to see them.’ His face appeared flushed. The staff was silent. After 30 seconds, Jones cleared his throat and asked that they move on to the next item on the agenda, new business.”

Please note that your field notes (typed or legibly handwritten) will need to be submitted with your final paper.6. After completing the 8 hours, arrange a session with the administrator to debrief. Ask how typical the work was. If there is something you did not understand and were unable to clear up at the time, check it out. (In most instances it will be appropriate to ask what was that phone call about or was that a scheduled meeting.) Also use the debriefing to get clarity on the job role and to answer additional questions on issues like perceived style, time-management techniques, etc. that you need to write up in your paper (see Sample Interview).

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