Category Archives: Individual Projects

Delayed Presentation Follow-up

Hey guys,

Congratulations! We did it! We survived the summer qualitative research intensive! This is a bit delayed, but if you were interested in some of the things I spoke about on Thursday, check out these links:

  • On the devaluation of women’s work since the industrial revolution:
  • On the unconscious bias against women in the workplace:
  • On the future of online feminism (and how Millennial women are making their mark on a “dead”  movement):
  • And a book that I’m hoping to dive into for my Thesis that discusses the masculinization and feminization of leadership:

Questions, comments, thoughts, anything would be great! Definitely interested in pursuing this for a thesis.

Big hugs everyone, and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Corporate Culture and Philanthropy

Personally, working in the non-profit sector I am always looking for new companies to engage and reach out to about fundraising or volunteer work. If there was a study done to explore the thoughts and opinion of employees from different companies and see the compare different company environments and the correlation to philanthropy that would lead to great insight for non-profits as well as other companies. It will allow said companies to form plans or initiatives to reach out and engage new employees or companies similar to the ones studied that have shown great interest or commitment to philanthropy efforts.My goal is to seek to explore different corporate cultures and environments and the philanthropy programs or feelings about philanthropy from the general employees of those companies. The framework I chose to conduct my research is a narrative study method.I interviews 4 people all from different industries here in NYC. There were great stories told about the environment in which they work and how their company is involved in philanthropy efforts and why they get involved in certain organizations. Overall my study allowed me to explore the different environments and how they correlate to philanthropy but more importantly I came to the conclusion that non-profits should not necessarily only focus on engaging the corporation as a whole but  a lot of great outreach and volunteerism started from a single individual at the grassroots level.

Female Point of View in Reading Corporate Male Gender Melancholia

For my mini study, I am examining the ways in which the female point-of-view read the male gender melancholia in Valley Town- a post WWII educational film from late 1940s. The film depicts the lifestyle of working class factory families and the repercussions with being a part of that phenomenon. For my mini-study, I have screened a one and a half minute scene from Valley Town to three female participants, of whom all come from relatively different backgrounds. I have asked them 5 questions on how they interpreted the scene and they have written it down in a document. In the questions I asked them specifically how they observed both the husband and wife’s gender melancholia, and in my discussion of my study I focused on how the female point of view plays an instrumental role in interpreting the corporate melancholia due to the fact that women’s point of view and ideas have historically been silenced, derailed, or simply ignored. Interpreting the melancholia from a female point of view will provide a more nuanced understanding of corporate masculinities and gender melancholia- both topics which I have chosen to explore in my upcoming thesis study.

What Plays from the Standard Table of Influence Do Theater Publicists Use?

For my research I’m exploring the communication practices of New York theater publicists to see if they use the strategies on Alan Kelly’s “Standard Table of Influence,” which he presents as the most basic stratagems used by communicators.

My research question is: “Which types of strategies under the Standard Table of Influence’s “condition” class do the daily practices of two Broadway and off-Broadway theater-publicists fall under?”

I chose one class of strategies to focus on, the “condition” class, because those are the ones used most frequently according to Kelly.  I conducted interviews with two theater publicists from New York and am in the process of matching up their descriptions of their daily practices with the definitions of the condition class strategies on the Standard Table of Influence, to see which ones there is evidence of them using.

The most challenging part of my research is finding information on the field of performing arts publicity.  I really haven’t been able to find much literature related to this field.  I will be using this topic as I write my thesis in the fall, so any resources that would be valuable to writing my literature review would be extremely helpful.  I have access to all of the information I need on the Standard Table of Influence already.

As I move forward and begin to work on my thesis, I need to decide whether or not I will continue to focus on just the condition class, or the entire Standard Table of Influence.  I will also likely change a few questions and add some new ones based on my findings in the mini study.

A Phenomenological Study on Gay Latinos and how they perceive gay-friendly advertising

My choice to study Gay Latinos’ perception on gay-friendly advertising came after reading an article about the gay community as a niche market that companies are attempting to reach.  Most gay-friendly advertisements are directed at gay men but  that doesn’t necessarily reach the lesbian community. Aside from that, most advertisements directed at gay men feature mostly white men.  I know how I felt as a gay Latino about gay advertisements, but I wanted to find out the perception other gay Latinos had and how they experienced it.

The Latino community in the US is racially diverse, but has a collective culture where language, customs, and perceptions are the same. Therefore, racial categorization can be difficult because it’s possible for a Latin person to identify as White because of their race, but they may not feel White. So,  with this in mind I wanted to see how some gay Latinos felt about gay-friendly advertisements, whether they identified with them, and see if they identified more as a Latino consumer or a gay consumer.

I held a focus group with 2 participants (it was supposed to be 3 but the third person was sick) where we spoke for approx. 1 hr to discuss being a gay Latino and gay-friendly advertising.  During the focus group I showed the participants 2 advertisements to get their commentary. One was an ad from Miller Lite  which was a direct  advertisement to the gay community. The second was an “in-group” advertisement, which is an ad that features language or imagery that is unique to the market it’s aimed at but can go unnoticed by other consumers.

The focus group went really well and I found out that the participants were unaffected by gay-friendly advertisements if it was something they would buy anyway. One of my participants said  “Seeing a Latino in a gay-friendly advertisement would be nice but it  wouldn’t change my mind about buying something because Latinos aren’t featured in most advertising anyway”. It wasn’t what I thought I would get but interesting nonetheless.

Below you’ll see the advertisements I used

Courtesy of Miller LIte

Courtesy of Miller LIte

Courtesy of Travelocity

Courtesy of Travelocity


Electronic Dance Music Sub Culture

I am studying the sub culture around electronic dance music (EDM). Dance music has become more popular in the US in the past couple of years. I am interested in why people enjoy listening to this particular type of music as well as possibly uncovering any reoccurring themes in the interview responses that may be interesting to report.

In order to do research on this subject, I attended Webster Hall nightclub on a night when a world famous DJ group was performing. I participated in the event as, well, a participant! I also interviewed 10 other participants chosen at random with the help of an assistant interviewer. Answers to the interview questions were recorded as well as any noteworthy body language or other observable phenomena during the interview. The study will be more ethnographic than phenomenological because I will be asking open ended questions about the experience of electronic dance music rather than the specific event taking place.

At this time I am not experiencing any issues writing up my report but that will likely change as we get closer to Thursday.

I look forward to presenting my findings.

What’s Manuel studying?

How corporate identity drives corporate communication goals.  

I’m trying to dig on the first of the Barcelona Principles of Measurement: “The Importance of Goal Setting and Measurement”. They were established in 2010 to systematize the best practices on PR measurement techniques all over the global PR community.

I’m approaching this issue by comparing objective and subjective values within a broad corporate identity framework.  Objective values can be deduced from the objective allocation of resources and sources of income, namely, the financial statements. While people encode values by means of narrative structures of a symbolic character.


  • What is the relationship between the objective values provided by the financial statements of Facebook, and the subjective values provided by the narratives of the users?

The purpose of the interviews is letting the participants generate/reproduce narratives about the company of interest to identify the predominant values. Every value must receive a score measuring the intensity with which it was regarded by the participants. This way we could compare them with the relative budgetary weight of the objective values provided by the financial statements.



They’re abundant : I’ve just found four papers on corp. comm. goal setting. The load of information provided by five interviews is far from enough to make me feel comfortable with the findings. I may need to use mixed methods in the future to extract more information after the regular interviews from the participants. Another solution would be working in a new longer sharper questionnaire.

Investigating the impact of calibration performance management systems on employee satisfaction through a phenomenological study

I seek to investigate if there is a relationship between employee motivation and the way in which their performance is evaluated and communicated to them. If employers can be given some insight on how to effectively increase employee motivation, they can directly impact corporate culture, which in turn may contribute to overall positive company performance. I seek to take a look at the calibration model used in performance management systems in corporate environments and determine the impact on employee motivation. Through the use of interview, guided by specific questions, I have collected information from three employees at different levels within the same department at a large international organization. I am in the process of analyzing the results and drawing a conclusion on what I have found, as far as common themes and unexpected perceptions and feelings about the experience of being evaluated using calibration.

It was a little confusing decided whether to choose a phenomenological or social constructivism approach, but I think that capturing the feelings and the experience of going through the process can lead to a more honest view of the impact on motivation, if any.

It would be helpful to get more information that clearly defines the creation, implementation and also different views on using calibration to evaluate employee performance. This would help get the organizational view point on the topic, for a well rounded conversation.

Phenomenological Theory: Social Responsibility and How People Think About Shopping for Produce

For my mini research study, I want to understand how people think about social responsibility when purchasing their fruits and vegetables. My research question aims to discover how important the concept of having and buying ethically sourced produce is to the end consumer. I’m seeking to find out if the idea of being socially responsible really resonates with the public and if it affects the consumer’s shopping behaviors. Through analyzing shared experiences amongst grocery shoppers, I hope to know how much social responsibility is (or isn’t) a factor in their produce shopping.

I am conducting this study using the phenomenological, hermeneutical approach, since I am looking to understand a shared experience amongst a group of people; this shared experience will be grocery shopping for produce. I will be conducting this study using the social constructivism framework, which is designed for analyzing emerging ideas through interviewing and observation. Social constructivism was the appropriate framework because of its emphasis on the importance of culture and context in understanding what occurs in society. In this scenario, I’m deducing how the culture and environment contribute to the context in which I understand the shoppers’ behavior and their sentiments towards responsible shopping. Hopefully, analyzing experiences amongst shoppers will indicate that some people think about social responsibility when making their purchases.

Interestingly enough, some of the results found from my one-on-one interviews have actually got me thinking about a different idea when it comes to ethical shopping, and that regards ethical concerns when purchasing meat, poultry and fish. But, that is something I may consider for my bigger project – the thesis. I still have one more interview to conduct, but I’m really looking forward to finally just digging in and analyzing the data. I noticed that one of the issues I had when coming up with questions was really trying to develop questions that elicit emotion, since I am conducting a phenomenological study. But I still am getting information worth noting. I am hoping that the information I find at the end of my research will be useful for everyday consumers in understanding their own behaviors, and possibly so they can understand how socially responsible shopping has a positive effect for the community, and even possibly local economy. I am hoping to find data that will also be of use to farmers, produce companies and vendors – so that they can see trends and have a better understanding for what public demands/needs and concerns are.

Thematic Analysis:Learning Through Patients’ Use of Obesity-Related Health Blogs

The research question that needs to be addressed through my mini study is : How do blogs about obesity influence 30-40 year old men’s choices between visiting a doctor and self-diagnosing from the blog?

I am conducting in-person, individual interviews with three men (of Indian origin, all working professionals here in the US). I have conducted two interviews so far and will be conducting the third today. The interview questions that I have designed will help me understand the rationale and motivation of these participants behind using blogs to address their concerns about obesity.

Following are the ten questions that I have planned for the individual interviews. Feel free to go through these. Are they sufficient? Is any question directing the participant toward a particular answer?:

  1. According to you what should be the functions of obesity- related health blogs?
  2. In the past 12 months, what activities did you do while visiting health blogs?
  3. What questions/concerns about obesity do you try to address through blogs?
  4. How frequently do you visit obesity-related health blogs?
  5. How did you become familiar with the concept of these blogs?
  6. Before being introduced to these blogs, what other resources did you refer to for getting answers to your questions?
  7. What do you think about the content that is out there on the blog?
  8. Do you feel the need to ask a doctor either before or after reading the blog?

–          If yes, why?

–          If no, why not?

9. How has referring the blogs impacted your relationship with your doctor?

10. What makes you revisit the blogs?

Any feedback / suggestion is welcome.

A Phenomenological Study: Union Employee Perceptions of Executive-Level Communications

I wanted to study employee communication at my organization because of the apparent division between union and non-union staff members, especially during times of contract negotiations where anti-management sentiment is at its peak. Specifically, my goal is to understand the perceptions of unionized employees as it pertains to communications sent by management when policies or procedures are implemented. How do union employees perceive these communications? Why are they perceived as such? By studying their perceptions, I hope to gain an understanding of what the organization can do to improve its communications to employees (which may ultimately affect employee morale, but that would be a bonus).

Using social constructivism as a framework and phenomenology as the theoretical approach, I conducted a focus group with 3 union staff members from the same department within the organization in an attempt to answer my research question:

How do full-time union employees in the Administrative Services department at the Research Foundation perceive executive-level communications.

The raw data that I gathered from this one-hour focus group was absolutely amazing. I thought I may have some bias as the researcher in terms of my association with the three staff members, but I was surprised by what I heard from the three participants and how they each strongly defended their opinions and articulated their personal experiences. They were supportive of one another and yet they confidently expressed their own ideas, which at times, were contrary to those of their colleagues. Overall, a great experience to watch unfold before my eyes.

I transcribed the data verbatim (which took many, many hours) and immediately began to notice the patterns emerge. It’s exciting and exhausting at the same time. I found myself attempting to manage pages and pages of transcribed raw data and the organization of this data seemed overwhelming. I read and re-read Powell & Renner’s Analyzing Qualitative Data, but I found that organizing narrative data is just incredibly tedious. My issue became one of “What do I include and what do I exclude?” “This seems good, but there are too many extra words; do these words really express emotion?” I found this part of the project to be the most challenging, but I finally figured out a system that worked by placing each participant’s comments side-by-side on a spreadsheet and highlighting the text that screamed for attention. The patterns were crystal clear.

I’m not sure whether there’s anything concrete that could have actually helped me more than the article on Analyzing Qualitative Data (other than having an expert actually walk me through the data analysis process). In undertaking this research project, it seems you just have to learn by doing and develop a system that makes sense to you and allows you to understand your data to the degree that you can clearly explain what you’ve found.