An EMBOK Research Menu
July 10, 2006
EMBOK Day at the 2006 Las Vegas International Hospitality and Convention Summit, held June 6th at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), included vibrant discussions surrounding the scope and validity of the International EMBOK Model and strategies for its improvement and adoption by a broad variety of academic and industry stakeholders. One of the suggestions that resonated for the academic participants was to create a research menu based on the EMBOK that would provide students with viable research topics that would be of value to the industry.
Creating new knowledge through research is a significant link between academia and industry, providing students with learning opportunities and industry practitioners with data that can serve as a foundation for good decision making, event development, and strategies for continuous improvement. This was, in fact, one of the uses conceived for the Event Management Body of Knowledge, a knowledge framework and descriptive summary of the scope and processes that are used in the management of events that may be customized to meet the needs of various cultures, governments, education programs, and organizations.
The research menu presented here is an illustration of how the International EMBOK Model may be approached when seeking topics for research that will quantify, qualify, verify, or validate commonly held beliefs and practices that industry practitioners have acquired throughout their careers, turning the “school of hard knocks” into hard science. This research may be conducted within the academic realm as well as by associations that serve various industry sectors. Research data from both sources will contribute to the body of knowledge and will serve current and future practitioners, as well as event consumers through improved standards of practice.
This knowledge will provide important guidance to organizers and authorities. For example, studying the number of on-site ambulances included at various event types and sizes could provide standardized guidance for new events. Such data could be collected from the historical records kept by ambulance services, which might serve as a foundation for best practice or regulatory standards that would protect the health and safety of consumers at public events.
The EMBOK Matrix as shown below is comprised of Sectors and Domains (with their functional areas, referred to as Classes) and offers hundreds, even thousands of research opportunities. The EMBOK Matrix identifies 280 fields of inquiry, or 360 fields of inquiry with the Phases and Core Values included. One square within the Matrix indicates a single Class for a single Sector; one row indicates a single Class across all Sectors. Within each Class there may be countless elements (as illustrated in the Silvers Taxonomy comprised of approximately 600 items), but even with a simplified estimate of five elements per Class (e.g. Food & Beverage*: food service scope, catering operation selection, menu selection, service planning, and alcohol management) the number of discrete fields of inquiry jumps to 1,400.
*Food & Beverage has replaced Catering in the Design Domain in the original EMBOK Model due to the varying definitions of catering throughout the global industry.
One may approach the topics within a single industry sector (e.g. Meetings and Conventions or Sports Events), or comparisons between sectors or across all sectors. Such comparative analyses will enhance understanding of the horizontal and vertical nature of the overall events industry, as illustrated below. Many goods and services are used in a variety of event sectors, and data that identifies the similarities and differences between all sectors will not only help to illustrate the scope of the events industry as a whole, it will reveal opportunities for organizers and providers alike.
It should be readily apparent that the scope of research, both possible and desirable, is vast. A single square within the EMBOK Matrix offers researchers rich opportunities for discoveries to dissertations, through which the EMBOK will raise the stature and standards of the events industry and all its inhabitants.
Matrix Research Opportunities
Administration Domain Research Opportunities
Design Domain Research Opportunities
Marketing Domain Research Opportunities
Operations Domain Research Opportunities
Risk Domain Research Opportunities
Additional Matrix Applications
Each Class in each Domain has an impact on and will be impacted by every other Class. One may examine the impact of one row (e.g. Administration: Financial), which represents 34 points of consideration. The entire matrix of Domain Classes represents 1,190 points of consideration, and when the five Phases of the EMBOK are added, represents a minimum of 5,950 points of consideration. When this is compounded by a minimum of five elements per Class (e.g. employees, volunteers, union workers, temporary staff, etc. plus structure of authority, job assignments, job descriptions, etc. all under Administration: Human Resources), one is looking at a minimum of 29,750 points of consideration, and more likely twice to ten times that many "decisions" to be made for a single event. Although much of this analysis is done almost unconsciously and rarely documented by most practitioners, such documentation facilitates knowledge transfer and provides evidence of due diligence.
The International EMBOK Model, comprised of Processes, Phases, Domains, and Core Values, may be used to create a matrix showing tasks for each element of each Class of each Domain. When extrapolated out to analysis of a single event, such a matrix would provide an operational register with 4,375 points or opportunities for continuous improvement.
What has yet to be identified, however, are the scale variables that will allow events to be fully classified. The scale of an event could be small, medium, large, or mega (or other designations) and the challenge will be putting agreed-to numbers to these qualifiers. Some governments have used attendance numbers as the baseline for certain statutory requirements. South Africa’s new Sports and Safety legislation, for example, requires a “qualified event organizer” (among other things) for any event of 2,000 people or more.
The sheer volume of research to be done may seem overwhelming. However, as academic programs in events management and events of all sizes and types proliferate throughout the world, this becomes a wealth of opportunity rather than a burden.
Let’s go to work!!
Comments provided by Philip Mondor, Vice President of the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council:
"Thank you for providing this paper; it was a pleasure to read. To follow are my key reflections on the model and ideas presented in the EMBOK Research Menu (10 July 2006) document.
Scope and Validity
Two themes resonate in the document – scope and validity. It would be beneficial to articulate the objectives for each of these as it will help place focus on the types of research that will be pursued and lend clarity to the overall goal.
For example, in terms of scope, are the objectives to:
Ensure the framework contains a complete, comprehensive listing of domains and related elements? This may include the goal to ensure the range of domains and related competencies are exhaustive, and/or a greater level of specificity (such as clarifying the level at which the elements are performed) and/or classifying of the elements to describe type (such as transferable or core versus specialty; or frequency, importance, cognitive taxonomy, level of difficulty and so on).
Verify the application and relevance of EMBOK to (a) educational pursuits, (b) employment opportunities, (c) research and academic endeavors, (d) policy…? (*these are mere examples)
Promote learner and labour mobility, i.e. for EMBOK to inform (or be) a type of qualifications framework? (For example, OECD defines qualifications framework as “an instrument for the development and classification of qualifications according to a set of criteria for levels of learning achieved. This set of criteria may be implicit in the qualifications descriptors themselves or made explicit in the form of a set of level descriptors. The scope of frameworks may be comprehensive of all learning achievements and pathways or may be confined to a particular sector for example initial education, adult education and training or an occupation area. Some frameworks may have more design elements and a tighter structure than others; some may have a legal basis whereas others represent a consensus of views of social partners”. OECD further asserts that all qualifications frameworks establish a basis for improving the quality, accessibility, linkages and public or labour market recognition of qualifications within a country and internationally. (For another good example, take a look at the International Labour Organization’s definition.)
If the objectives related to scope are well understood, then there is a clearer sense of what must be achieved in validation of the model. Validation, after all, must be linked to these objectives. Validation efforts to affirm completeness, for example, are different than validation efforts concerning application of the model. Methodologies will vary because of different objectives and necessitated by the different types of stakeholders, as well different opportunities and constraints.
Classification systems are fascinating and organic by nature. Classification systems however should not be accidental and special care is needed to ensure decisions on how data is labeled are deliberate. This is no easy task, especially in models that are intended to convey universal concepts and have international currency. One way to defend classification labels is to carefully define them and where possible to articulate the criteria or defense to come to those decisions.
One example I reflected on concerns the list of events sectors (which I think is also referred to as event genres in the document). To a lay reader of the model, an inevitable question is “How did they come to the conclusion of these particular sectors?” Was it the size or scale of event, duration or other type of criteria, for example? Perhaps the list was compiled as a result of other data or models. Regardless, it is helpful to include some rationale for the sector choices and definitions of the respective sectors to ensure clarity.
Other examples of terms that I think would be beneficial to define include: domain, domain classes, fields of inquiry, class or function. Terms and technical language that is universal in nature will assist in garnering serious interest and possibly even adoption or use of EMBOK. (Perhaps one of the validation efforts concerns the validation of terms and concepts.)
The paper inspires many ideas on possible research that could be undertaken which would contribute to the EMBOK model. To some extent, the very body of this research may help validate the model (i.e. in terms of demonstration on the application of the framework), and at the same time the research will help refine the model. As I understand it, it is this very type of research that the paper is promoting.
Here are some other research propositions:
…of course the list could go indefinitely.
The very fact that there are many robust ideas that can be generated and an appreciation for the complexity that the model presents reinforces its value and the need for additional exploration. I really like the example that is positioned in the fourth paragraph, i.e. guiding organizers and authorities with respect to use of ambulances. Indeed many other illustrations could be talked about, but the point is there is a need for agreement and relevant data that will help inform better practices."