Monday, June 4, 2012

Data Gathering Complete

Research Project Reaches Milepost

The past three weeks have flown by for a variety of reasons.  I'm pleased to report that Jacek, Martyna and I have completed the data gathering process here in Poznań.  We have conducted six focus groups, three each at two companies in the Poznań area that agreed to partner with us in the project.  The focus groups yielded a rich trove of qualitative data that is assisting us immensely in preparing our analysis and recommendation reports for each of the two companies.  Each focus group included at least 10 employees, and each focus group was comprised of participants from different segments of the workforce.  Discussion was lively and highly useful, reflecting the leadership skill of my Polish research team colleagues as well as the eagerness of employees of the two companies to contribute to constructive improvements in communication structures and procedures.

With each of the companies, we followed the focus groups with a 9-page employee survey.  Despite its dauntning length, employees were quite cooperative, and the respective HR departments were fully supportive of our effort.  Consequently, we collected 1,140 completed surveys -- an extraordinarily high number for a research project of this nature.  It gives us a high degree of confidence that our results will be meaningful and valid.  We are now in the process of entering the data from the paper-and-pencil surveys into Excel spreadsheets.  Each survey contains 103 individual items, so I've calculated that we will have entered nearly 140,000 data points when we're finished!  I will send completed spreadsheets electronically to colleagues Dr. Jaehee Cho and graduate assistant Nick Woods at my home university, UNC Charlotte.  From the spreadsheets, data will be transferred to two statistical analysis software programs (SPSS and AMOS) for thorough "crunching."  The results, I think, will provide grist for several significant research papers in the coming months.

Events in Warsaw

During the week of May 20, I traveled on two days to Warsaw and back -- roughly three hours by train each way.  On Wednesday, my purpose was to present a guest lecture at the University of Warsaw's School of Journalism and Political Science.  My lecture was at the invitation of Dr. Jerzey Olędzki, a leading figure in European public relations scholarship.  More than 50 students attended my presentation on the emerging functions and roles of public relations within the context of evolving social, political, economic and cultural contexts.  The students were, as always, attentive and engaging.  These opportunities to exchange ideas with the great students here has been a great joy of this Fulbright experience.

Following my lecture, I was interviewed by a journalist who maintains a blog on public relations in Poland and by a reporter for the university's television station.  Here's a link to the video clip:

Freitag is interviewed for the University of Warsaw
television station following his guest lecture.

On Friday, I returned to Warsaw for two events.  The first was a Fulbright recognition reception at the home of U.S. Ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein.  It was clear the ambassador is a staunch supporter of the Fulbright scholar exchange program, evidenced by his hosting of about 50 Fulbrighters for the 2-hour event.  Fulbrighters present included U.S. scholars like me who are about to complete their appointments to Poland, as well as U.S. students completing Fulbright appointments as teaching assistants or to conduct research related to their theses or dissertations.  The majority of Fulbrighters, though, were those Polish students and scholars about to embark on appointments to U.S. universities and colleges.  Ambassador Feinstein, assisted by members of the Polish Fulbright Commission and its Board of Directors, acknowledged each Fulbrighter individually, presenting certificates to each.  Lunch and informal discussion followed the ceremony.  The second event was a meeting of U.S. Fulbrighters at the offices of the Polish Fulbright Commission.  It was the last meeting for those of us who have served here in Poland during this academic year.

Ambassador Feinstein (at lectern) addresses Fulbrighters
at his residence in Warsaw.  Members of the Polish Fulbright
Commission and its Board of Directors are to the Ambassador's

Polish and U.S. Fulbrighters enjoy informal conversation
following the official remarks and presentation of

Seasonal Progress in Poznań

The calendar says June, but the weather in Poznań the past week simply does not correlate with the month.  Today (June 4), we have slate gray skies, temperatures peaking in the 50s and a chilly, light rain.  Good for the asparagus I suppose, but not the pleasant early summer weather we were all hoping for.  Still, my wife, Robin, and I continue to delight in our time here.  It has been an interesting experience -- living in a 600 sq.ft. apartment and not having a vehicle.  That probably sounds like a challenge to U.S. readers, and it is.  But you know what?  It's just fine.  Even having only a dormitory-size refrigerator and a toaster oven to complement the cooktop is a situation we have found perfectly workable.  The heat to our apartment building was turned off effective May 1, and we have no air conditioning should the temperatures reach that level, but we're coping comfortably.  It's been interesting to see how simply we can live.

For example, not having a vehicle for our six months here has meant we have become highly skilled at the use of public transportation.  During our first weeks here, we were constantly referring to the city map to make the right connections.  These days, we know instinctively how to get where we're going and can even calculate the most efficient combination of buses and trams when there are options to consider.  Each week, we purchase a 7-day ticket for about $10 each -- good for all buses and trams in the Poznań area.  I never think about needing gas or finding a place to park -- there's a good deal of freedom in that.  I will miss that.

A Special Visit

For the past 10 days, Robin and I were blessed by having our daughter, Katie, and granddaughter, Alexis, visiting with us from Charlotte, North Carolina.  Even with a 600 sq.ft. apartment, and the space requirements of a 1-year-old just learning to walk, we had a fantastic time.  Katie's husband, Nathan, could not get the time off from work to join us as well, but that might have been something of a space squeeze even for veterans of European living.  This morning, we had to say goodbye to Katie and Alexis at the Poznań airport, but we will retain many wonderful memories of their visit. 

Robin and Alan introduce 1-year-old granddaughter, Alexis,
to the beauties of Poznań.  This was taken during a recent
warm day at Malta Lake, just a 15-minute tram ride from
our apartment. 

The Cool Students at the Poznań University of Economics

I'm pleased to share a video link with you that illustrates why I so much enjoy my interaction with the students at my host university here in Poland.  The video shows students who are about to complete the last term of the last year of their master's degree program here.  They have reported to the lecture hall to take the last scheduled exam for their degree.  Their enthusiastic performance is a plea to the professor to cancel the exam.  They have woven in the theme of Euro 2012, the European soccer championship tournament that begins this week, with several matches scheduled for here in Poznań.  The song the students sing is the Euro 2012 theme song, with lyrics changed to reflect their hope that the professor will agree to their proposal.  I'm afraid I don't know how it came out.  Watch the video, and perhaps you'll start to appreciate what I say about the incredible spirit I find here in Poland.  Here's the link:

The Weeks Ahead

My attention for the coming weeks will be focused on completing the reports for the two companies that partnered with us on the employee communication research project.  The aim is to complete and formally present the reports to each company by the end of June.  We're on track, so I'm optimistic. 

As always, thanks for reading, and do widzenia!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I can't believe nobody have decided to comment on this post yet, considering the video of our senior friends! I like to think that it's just because the action was too nice to find words describing "coolness" of this event...;) And - just as I said - I really like the way you show Poznań (and generally Poland) on your blog! I don't really like the city, yet even I'm starting to believe it's actually quite nice place to live :)