The NAMASTE India – EU Mobility Project is aimed at increasing the bilateral cooperation of India and EU in education and research. Kavitha Somashekar is among a select group of scholars who have earned the NAMASTE Erasmus Mundus Scholarship. She will be conducting her research in Groningen University, Netherlands, for a period of six months starting from 31 December 2015. A postdoctoral research student at Jain (Deemed-to-be University), Kavitha has considerable experience as an HR Generalist. In the past nineteen years, she has worked for various industries like e-commerce, retail, hospitality, and education. Here is Kavitha with her thoughts on her research.
- What is Erasmus Mundus NAMASTE mobility project?
Erasmus Mundus is a cooperation and mobility program in the field of higher education that aims to enhance the quality of European higher education and to promote dialogue and understanding between people and cultures through cooperation with Third-Countries. In addition, it contributes to the development of human resources and the international cooperation capacity of higher education institutions in Third-Countries by increasing mobility between the European Union and these countries.
- How did you come to know about this?
During my career I have had the opportunity of interacting with many academics either during recruitment process or when delivering guest lectures in several institutions. These interactions provided me with knowledge of various opportunities for students and the NAMASTE India program was one of them.
- What is your research topic?
Goal setting in public sectors. Public sectors in India still play a crucial role in the economy. Their ability to deliver on their defined objectives depends on various factors. Human resource management is a key factor. Within this, “goal setting”, “goal assimilation”, “goal orientation”, etc., are important to productivity. This research intends to study the process of goal setting, the assimilation of these goals by employees, the performance review system and so on to identify areas where improvement is possible. While it is well established in literature and practice that human resource management is key to an organisation’s success, what is lesser established is the methods of achieving the same. Particularly in public sectors, which are differentially placed when compared to the private sectors. The study hopes to contribute a small but growing literature on this subject and thereby contribute to the performance of public sectors.
- How will this scholarship help you and your research?
This will provide me scope, time and resources to understand the European public sectors as a comparative study.
- What do you think is the essential difference between the European and Indian public sectors?
To categorise “European” public sectors into one type may perhaps be too simplistic. The European Union itself consists of countries with various degrees of development and political-economic systems all of which can influence both the degree of reliance on public sectors, their decision-making, and planning processes. But research shows that in certain countries public sectors show consistently higher performance, in a relative sense. This after controlling for other variables such as the type of products or services that the firm offers and “external” factors such as economic cycles. This in itself points to other “internal” factors namely, human resource management, as being crucial. Public sectors across the world are subject to certain common constraints – accountability to the political system and commitment to social objectives. This can act as a constraint to decision-making process unlike private sectors, which primarily focuses on profits or returns to shareholders. However, even within these constraints, key management policies can help these firms deliver better value for tax money spent. Studying the high-performing European public sector “approach” to these key management processes such as “goal setting” can provide us knowledge on better practices.
- How will understanding the European Public Sector help you from an Indian context? Isn’t the gulf too large to bridge?
The study is focused on understanding the “efficiency” drivers while controlling for other factors. Therefore, the learnings should not be too difficult to assimilate.
- How will your industry background help you in your research?
Human resources in the corporate world plays a vital role. Goal setting in most of the corporates is a critical activity much emphasised upon as results of organisations and growth of people are linked to it. The processes also get defined and refined with proper goal setting. I have been actively involved in this materialising in those organisations, which have a robust goal setting, and performance management systems. Hence, I am able to carry forward this knowledge to my research.
We wish Kavitha all the very best for her future research projects.