Newcomers Network’s Founding Research Project
By Sue Ellson
As the Founder and Director of Newcomers Network, I would like to share how it all began…
Firstly, my own transition of moving from Adelaide in South Australia to Melbourne, Victoria, Australian on14 February 1994 was challenging.
I started a Bachelor of Business in Administrative Management from the University of South Australia in 1993 (by correspondence) and I continued this after my move to Melbourne.
The last subject was ‘Administrative Research Project 06694’ and I sought permission from my Academic Coordinator, Lorraine Spiers, Senior Lecturer for the Division of Business and Enterprise, to do a research project on a social enterprise idea – the From Out Of Town Club (FOOT Club).
It was approved! The first assignment in Semester 1 in the year 2000 involved creating a Research Proposal.
1. Background, Purpose, Hypothesis, Aim and Objectives
Sue Ellson moved to Melbourne from Adelaide six years ago as a result of her husband’s new work role. Like many other newcomers, she found that her expectations did not match reality. Making the transition from ‘newcomer’ to ‘part of the community’ took considerable effort and most of her new friends share an identical background, they are also from out of town.
Sue Ellson has also established an extensive network of good friends and business contacts over the six years. She would like to pass on and promote coping skills and proved a forum for people to share their experiences and help one another. Over the last six months of discussions with various people, only one person thought that this forum wasn’t required, because she felt it was solely up to the person to decide what they needed to do to improve their transition.
The research project will ultimately be used as a tool to assess the viability of a FOOT Club (From Out Of Town). This club would be designed to ease the transition for newcomers to a new life in Melbourne and could be either:
- part of an existing community program
- an additional council service
- a supplementary special interest group of a professional association
- a business aimed to fill the gap in people’s lives once the services of the relocation firm have expired
- a business providing a direct service to a select group of corporate companies.
This research project will also develop Sue Ellson’s capacity to conduct research.
The main hypothesis that will be tested here is:
Most employers do not realise the quantity and variety of issues that can adversely affect the success of an employee’s relocation.
And this will be proved on the basis of the views expressed by newcomers in the research survey (…hence the need for a FOOT Club).
1.4 Aim and Objectives
There are many complex issues facing all people who move to a new location as a result of their or their partner’s occupation. This research project will:
- overview and summarise the existing literature regarding issues faced by people moving to a new location
- discuss relocation issues with various parties involved in the relocation process (various sides of the story) and summarise findings
- through a descriptive based questionnaire, obtain and analyse data from newcomers to Melbourne
- make recommendations to employers via a prescriptive checklist
The ramifications of this research can be applied across industries, because the questions are of a generic nature and respondents, through anonymity, will not compromise their business’s private activities.
2. Methodology and Tasks to complete
To prepare the questionnaire, research had to be started. So far, Sue Ellson has:
- completed a brief literature review of texts relating to research, relocation and psychology
- viewed various articles produced by relocation firms on the internet
- conducted various telephone and personal interviews with newcomers, relocation consultants, human resource professionals, employers, community representatives, social workers, etc. to find out issues to focus upon and effective ways of sourcing respondents.
The questionnaire has been designed to classify newcomers as single or partnered and with or without dependants. Further identifying questions will enable a more detailed analysis of the responses (like people from intrastate, interstate and overseas backgrounds).
Due to the limitations of the scope of this assignment, the student will be seeking a minimum of 10 responses from three of the four segments (not single with dependants due to possible small sample size) for a total of 30 completed questionnaires. The respondent population:
- will be from a variety of multinational business organisations of more than 500 employees (organisations most likely to benefit from the research findings)
- must have moved to Melbourne within the last three years and have been here for at least six months (to be able to answer all questions from recent experience)
- must have moved as a result of their work (not their partner’s because the prescriptive checklist is for the employer’s use)
A random selection of organisations will be approached through Sue Ellson’s extensive network of contacts, cold calling and via phone interviews with relocation consultants who can recommend potential respondees (to ensure overall generalisability). To obtain 10 responses in each category, more than 30 responses may be required. No more than five questionnaires will be distributed to each organisation.
There are 27 questions in the survey – seven more than recommended for this project. Some of the questions are for the same topic, just before and after the relocation. The variety of questions will assist the development of the prescriptive checklist. Any bias in the completed questionnaires will be highlighted in the final research project report.
The questionnaire has already been pretested by three newcomers and the Director of a market research firm. It takes between four and 10 minutes to complete. Suggested modifications have already been made. It is quick and easy to complete with a variety of choices to select, but only offers a small space for general comments to prevent a substantial loss of employee productivity. It needs further assessment to ensure that it is not unethical in any way.
The data collected will be entered into an Access database specifically designed by Sue Ellson to perform a variety of queries. The most appropriate statistical methods for assessing the data are yet to be decided upon, but coding in the Access database will enable a variety of tables, graphs and summary percentages to be produced.
Certain factors involved in the relocation process do not necessarily cause others (more initial problems may not affect people who are more adaptable than others), but general conclusions will be drawn so that the prescriptive checklist can be produced (provided they are part of an identifiable result). Sue Ellson’s initial discussions reveal that many people would like an opportunity to comment on their relocation experience, so it has been decided not to include participant observation or other data collection methods for this research project.
3. Assumptions and Limitations of the study
- the small sample size
- the time allowed for completion
- the maximum number of words
- the personal bias of the researcher (although steps have been made to try and overcome this by discussing the project with the various people involved in the relocation process)
- it will not answer ‘why’ questions or address the underlying social makeup of the respondents so that employers could then choose potential candidates for relocation based upon their individual adaptability
- use of a descriptive study rather than say action research
- need to focus on the Melbourne environment (most current research is from a global or Australia perspective)
4. Items attached
- a sample table of contents
- a current list of acknowledgements
- a matrix outlining tasks and time calculations in more details
- the questionnaire
SAMPLE TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of Contents
List of figures
List of tables
1. METHODOLOGY OF RESEARCH
1.2 Aims and objectives
1.3 Methodology of the research
2. LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Relocation issues related to work instigated moves
2.2 Expectations before arrival
2.3 First impressions on arrival
2.4 Settlement success
3. INTERVIEW FINDINGS
3.1 Relocation Consultants
3.2 Networking Groups
3.3 Community Based Service Providers
4. QUESTIONNAIRE FINDINGS
4.1 Main observations
4.2 Expectations before arrival
4.3 First impressions on arrival
4.4 Settlement success
5. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1 Conclusions drawn from research
5.2 Recommendations to employers and prescriptive checklist
5.3 Suggestions for best use of research findings
APPENDIX A Summary of interview findings
APPENDIX B Letter of transmittal
APPENDIX C Questionnaire
APPENDIX D Employer Checklist
At this stage, Sue Ellson would like to thank the following people for their contributions to this Research Proposal.
Adrian Goldsmith, Director, Quantum Market Research, phone interview about the questionnaire
Sally Johannsen, Former coordinator for secondees, Deloitte, Touche, Tohmatsu, phone interview
Paula Todd, Relocation Consultant, Wendy Coyle and Associates, phone interview
Sandra Fitzsimmons, President, Melbourne Newcomers and Friends Association, phone interview
Phil Noone MA, Finance Officer, Health Super Pty Ltd, survey pretester
Sally Shaw, Human Resources Consultant, Mission Personnel, phone interview
Michael Ellson, Transport Officer, Australian Air Express, survey pretester
Pauline Pearson, Manager of Counselling, Doncare, personal and phone interview
Cr Lionel Allemand, Mayor, Manningham City Council, personal interview
Diane Haskings, Manager Social and Community Services, Manningham City Council, phone interview
Kathy Hewitt, Social Worker for families in transition and crisis and researcher on the impact of international relocation for families and children, phone interview
Kate Nancarrow, Journalist, The Age Newspaper, phone interview
Anne Locket, Coordinator, Canterbury Neighbourhood Centre Inc, phone interview
Fabian Fiore, Employer Accounts Manager, SkillsPlus Peninsula Inc, personal interview
Frank Evans, President, Rotary Club of Doncaster, personal interview
Kevin O’Donnell, President, Rotary Club of Doncaster Sunrise, personal interview
Dennis Young, President, Rotary Club of Templestowe, personal interview
|Task||Time to complete||Start Date||Due Date||Completed||Current Status||Time Used||Time Difference|
|Before first assignment due date|
|Discuss research project with subject coordinator||1 hour||21/12/99||21/12/99||21/12/99||Completed||1 hour||–|
|Identify broad areas of interest||1 month||21/12/99||21/1/00||21/1/00||Completed||1 month||–|
|Decide upon topic based upon interest, relevance to researcher, requirements of university, results of basic literature search and ability to source data||2 months||21/1/00||21/3/00||17/3/00||Completed||3 months||– 4 days|
|Read through and note university supplied materials||3 weeks||13/3/00||31/3/00||11/4/00||Completed||5 weeks||+ 2 weeks|
|Discuss research project topic and methodology with subject coordinator||1 hour||15/3/00||15/3/00||15/3/00||Completed||1 hour||–|
|Initial literature search for topic and research proposal||2 weeks||15/3/00||29/3/00||27/3/00||Completed||12 days||– 2 days|
|Prepare research proposal||1 month||18/3/00||14/4/00||13/4/00||Completed||1 month||–|
|Conduct initial telephone interviews with people in the relocation or community support industries||2 weeks||27/3/00||7/4/00||12/4/00||Completed||3 weeks||+ 1 week|
|Decide upon most appropriate tools (interviews and questionnaires), methodologies (processes and details), sources for obtaining information (networks and population definition) and possible ways to analyse the data||5 days||3/4/00||7/4/00||7/4/00||Completed||5 days||–|
|Prepare first draft of questionnaire for pretesting||2 days||8/4/00||10/4/00||11/4/00||Completed||2 days||–|
|Pretest questionnaire||1 day||11/4/00||12/4/00||12/4/00||Completed||1 day||–|
|Finalise research proposal (word processing and editing) after above items||3 days||12/4/00||14/4/00||13/4/00||Completed||2 days||– 1 day|
More to come, including a scanned copy of the original!