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Approaches To Educational Research

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Training Needs Assessment and

Curriculum Development in

an International Organisation

by Svetlana Belic Malinic


The OSCE Mission to Serbia would commission a research on the training need assessment for the Diplomatic Protocol Training. The training needs would be assessed through the staff survey and focus group interviews in order to outline the Training curriculum and draft the accompanying OSCE Protocol Guidelines handbook.

Key words: training needs assessment, training strategy, curriculum development, diplomatic protocol


1.1. Diplomatic Protocol Training

As an international diplomatic institution, the OSCE Mission to Serbia (OMiS) expressed a need for a Diplomatic Protocol Training course which would enhance staff’s skills in implementing diplomatic protocol rules.

"Protocol is commonly described as a set of international courtesy rules. These well-established and time-honored rules have made it easier for nations and people to live and work together."

Dr. P.M. Forni

International Association of Protocol Consultants/Officers

Well-tailored training, the Mission leadership believes, would affect the �modus operandi’ of the Mission staff in general, especially in matters of courtesy and social graces. This would, as a long-term strategy, improve the Mission’s image in the public .

The protocol training has always been a need yet never been a deed due to the fact that the modest options of the in-house training do not cover the etiquette of the �corps diplomatique’ .

1.2. OSCE Training Strategy 2008-2010

"The training of personnel is an important aspect of enhancing the effectiveness of the OSCE and its field operations."

Charter for European Security (OSCE, 1999:10, paragraph 39)

To support the staff training needs, the OSCE HQ HR Department adopted a training strategy which foresees introduction of new training courses as per the training needs assessment (OSCE, 2007:11). Apart from that, the Strategy promotes “improvement of institutional culture, including a professional working environment and ethical behaviour, as well as communication” (OSCE, 2007:5) as one of the organisational needs, where the Diplomatic Protocol Training could find its place.


The research would assess the training needs for diplomatic protocol as a rather “sensitive yet indispensable area of professional and cultural development” (IAPC, 2008). What is it that the staff would like to learn from the training? Which areas of the broad etiquette palette would they recognise as the curriculum sine qua non? How could they apply their knowledge in practice? These are the questions that the research would raise.


As the OMiS leadership has noticed certain inconsistencies in the social conduct of the staff , the aim of the research would be to assess the training needs in order to tailor the training that would help the Mission Members (MMs) improve their diplomatic skills.


Upon a constructive analysis of the pilot survey, the improved version of the TNA questionnaire would be electronically administered to the staff for their anonymous response. With the results tallied, a focus group would meet to explore the assessed needs in more detail. Triangulating data, the researcher would develop the training curriculum and eventually deliver the training.

4.1. Participants and Participant Selection

As this is meant to be a closed on-line survey, the participants would be the respective OMiS MMs with a valid OSCE login name . Robson justifies the use of a census by saying that there are some organisations where the obvious thing is to survey everybody (in Hurry, 2007:20). Such a sample is found appropriate in order to establish inferences of the widest possible scope (Sturgis, 2006:107). The same participant selection has been suggested by Steadham (1980), Mowak (1991) and Methews at al (2001) in their studies on training needs assessment.

However, prior to the TNA survey, the researcher would run a pilot survey with the sample of 20 systematically selected MMs, representative of the whole Mission, using the internal telephone list. According to Brown and Dowling (1998:67), “whichever approach is adopted, it is vital to carry out a pilot study with a sample which matches the profile of the sample for the main study”.

The participants of the focus group would be the six departmental communication focal points who have experience in public relations and are able to recognise and define the needs of their own departments. Sturgis justifies the use of a small purposive sample in qualitative approaches with the aim of approaching “people who ought, on a priori grounds, be the most informative” (2003:120).


In collecting data for the Diplomatic Protocol Training curriculum, triangulating two methods would help overcome certain approach limitations, confirm the accuracy of the truth and position the data as valid and reliable.

5.1. Survey

The Mission to Serbia has a large staff body of 200 employees distributed in 4 regional working stations. This would make any form of ethnography or observation difficult in terms of schedule consistency and time consideration (Gibson, 2007:48-49), whereas a case study would be a sensitive issue to deal with due to already defined cliques of national and international staff. Apart from that, the local staff lacks diplomatic practice .

Inherently positivist, a questionnaire is regarded as a highly reliable instrument for large sampling frames such as the OSCE staff. Sturgis (2006:113) stresses the importance of sampling saying that a researcher “must be clear about the population to which inferences are being made”.



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