Firth, Miriam (PhD alumna)

I am a current Doctoral Student at the University of Manchester completing my PhD in Education. I came to the University of Manchester (UoM) from Manchester Metropolitan University where I was a lecturer in Events Management. Now in UoM I continue to lecture Events Management on the BA (hons) Management and Leisure programme in UoM whilst I complete my doctoral studies. I am also External Examiner for the University of Greenwich and Liverpool John Moores.

So what am I researching?
My PhD reflects my own experiences working and teaching in vocational sectors. It specifically considers Intercultural Communication (Holliday 1999) and Intercultural Demands (see below) perceived by recent graduates working in a vocational business in Manchester. The intercultural demands that I am interested in link to the soft-skills noted by Burns, (1997) and Baum’s, (2002) research. Intercultural Communication demands I am considering are non-verbal interpersonal skills (Burgoon 1993), and interpersonal relations (Spencer-Oatey & Franklin 2009). I am considering graduate perceptions of these areas to identify whether the education provision meets the perceived needs in skilling for Intercultural Service Encounters (Barker & Härtel 2004; Strauss & Mang 1999; Sharma et al. 2009). In this way I am completing a needs analysis (see Benesch 1996; West 1994; Chambers 1980). As my study concerns transferable skills for a range of graduate intercultural encounters, my recommendations offer support for educators considering Intercultural Communication in other sectors and education levels.

What methods am I using?
– Critical Incident Narration (Butterfield et al. 2005)
– Stimulated Recall (Lyle 2003)
– Semi-Structured Interviews
– Concept Mapping (Novak & Cañas 2006; Novak & Canas 2004)

If you are interested in my research please do contact me at


Barker, S. & Härtel, C.E.J., 2004. Intercultural service encounters?: An exploratory study of customer experiences. Cross Cultural Management An International Journal, 11(1), pp.3–14.

Baum, T., 2002. Skills and training for the hospitality sector: a review of issues. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 54(3), pp.343–364.

Benesch, S., 1996. Needs Analysis and Curriculum Development in EAP: An Example of a Critical Approach. TESOL Quarterly, 30(4), p.723.

Burgoon, J.K., 1993. Interpersonal Expectations, Expectancy Violations, and Emotional Communication. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 12(1-2), pp.30–48.

Burns, P.M., 1997. Hard-skills, Soft-skills: Undervaluing Hospitality’s “Service with a Smile.” Hospitality, 3, pp.239–248.

Butterfield, L.D. et al., 2005. Fifty years of the critical incident technique: 1954-2004 and beyond. Qualitative Research, 5(4), pp.475–497.

Chambers, F., 1980. A re-evaluation of needs analysis in ESP. The ESP Journal, 1(1), pp.25–33.

Holliday, a, 1999. Small cultures. Applied Linguistics, 20(2), pp.237–264.

Lyle, J., 2003. Stimulated recall: a report on its use in naturalistic research. British Educational Research Journal, 29(6), pp.861–878.

Novak, J.D. & Canas, A.J., 2004. Building on new constructivist ideas and cmap tools to create a new model for education A. J. Canas, J. D. Novak, & F. M. Gonzalez, eds. The First International Conference on Concept Mapping.

Novak, J.D. & Cañas, A.J., 2006. The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct Them 1. , pp.1–33.

Sharma, P., Tam, J.L.M. & Kim, N., 2009. Demystifying Intercultural Service Encounters: Toward a Comprehensive Conceptual Framework. Journal of Service Research, 12(2), pp.227–242.

Spencer-Oatey, H. & Franklin, P., 2009. Intercultural interaction: a multidisciplinary approach to intercultural communication J. N. Martin, T. K. Nakayama, & L. A. Flores, eds., Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.

Strauss, B. & Mang, P., 1999. Culture Shocks’ in Inter-cultural service encounters. Journal of Services Marketing, 13(4/5), pp.329–46.

West, R., 1994. Needs analysis in language teaching. Language Teaching, 27(01), p.1.


  • Hi Maureen,

    I was not in London yesterday, no. Last week of teaching in Manchester so I am chained to the desk at present! Sound like Catherine’s talk was interesting though, did you get papers from the event?

    I studied the MA in Development Education with Doug and Nicole, which is why I get recent publications from DERC. I am on the JISC mailing list and thought I would forward it to people in SD also!

    Doug is coming up for a conference I am organising at MMU on 11th also. If you would like to see the papers from this I can forward after?


  • Maureen Ellis

    Hi Miriam
    Just wondered if you’re the Miriam who attended a seminar yesterday led by Catherine Kanaan, at Institute of Education’s DERC, or LIDC, Gordon Square. Catherine was talking about Development Education through a Capability Lens.

    Today I’ve seen this, then the email about Doug’s reports sent by Guy Benton, with links to you, and wondered …


  • Richard Fay

    Another musician !