Recent Submissions

  • Influences on relationships between Ministers and Civil Servants in British Government: A study based on the perceptions of former Ministers

    Talbot, Jon; Wall, Tony; Stokes, David (University of Chester, 2016-06)
    This thesis focuses on the relationships between Ministers and Civil Servants in British Government. It is argued that the deliberative space for officials to devise and critique policy in tandem with Ministers is contracting. The change occurred after Margaret Thatcher incentivised officials to behave in certain ways, and her embrace of New Public Management made relationships within government more transactional. Given this scenario the thesis explores how relationships between Ministers and officials can be improved. To determine this twenty-five former UK Government Ministers were interviewed complementing an earlier study which examined the issue from the perspective of senior officials. These Ministers reported that successful relationships were most likely to be established when Civil Servants demonstrated effective leadership, commitment to implementing policy, honesty, technical skill, and awareness of political and external realities. In addition it is thought that time invested early in the relationship helps to communicate Ministers’ expectations. Ministers also reported what they feel to be behaviours which undermine the relationship: misunderstanding the professional role of officials, relying upon special advisors rather than direct contact with officials, a lack of managerial experience, and public criticism of officials. Ministers also identified Civil Servants’ behaviours likely to result in poor relationships - appearing averse to change, being unable to rationalise the advantages of existing approaches, and a reluctance to lead or assume responsibility. Some of the perceptions identified in the literature, such as Civil Servants seeking control and lacking competence, were not afforded the same prominence by Ministerial interviewees. They highlighted systemic issues including the feudal and hierarchical nature of Whitehall, and their perception that the wrong skills and behaviours are incentivised. They also noted the lack of training for Ministers and their inability to pass on their experiences to colleagues. In addition to these observations about personal relations respondents expressed a deeper concern about the changing roles and expectations between Ministers and officials. Despite the evident contradiction between contemporary practice and the constitutional position created by Haldane in 1918, Ministers still appear to accept the latter as the basis for their relationships with officials. Further research may be required to explore this, alongside the disparity identified between the ministerial view from the literature and my interviewees, and the training lacuna. The thesis concludes by making a number of recommendations concerning future practice.
  • Understanding the role of social media in relation to alternative food networks: a case of Chester and its region

    Harris, Phil; Alexander, Roy; Moss, Danny; Sidsaph, Henry W. (University of Chester, 2018-09-28)
    Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) are a system of food provision which is considered as the embodiment of the Sustainable Development (SD) agenda. They typically operate counteractively to conventional food networks (CFNs) seeking to reconnect all members in the supply chain through ethical and sustainable engagements. They are grounded by the theoretical underpinnings of quality conventions (Murdoch, 2000; Thévenot, 2002) and embeddedness notions such as alterity, valorisation, and appropriation (Dansero & Puttilli, 2014; Kirwan, 2004). Many scholars have focused on exploring AFNs in various contexts, initially focusing on binary notions of dichotomy between AFNs and CFNs, then developing discourse in terms of assessing hybridity (Holloway et al., 2006; Maye, 2013; Ponte, 2016; Renting, Marsden, & Banks, 2003; Tregear, 2011). Recent studies have indicated the potential for further research concerning social media based AFNs (Bos & Owen, 2016; Reed & Keech, 2017; Wills & Arundel, 2017). Therefore a contribution in terms of further understanding this issue arises from this thesis. The research was conducted in the midst of the referendum for the UK to withdraw from the European Union, the subsequent ‘leave’ vote resulting in a level of uncertainty in terms of policy implications. One policy implication may be that the UK will have to readdress the way it engages and supports its food and agriculture sector post-Common Agricultural Policy, therefore this research comes at a timely juncture. This research adopts an interpretivistic epistemological stance, with a constructivist ontological position. Social network analysis (SNA) of Twitter connections was conducted in order to assess connectivity and density of the AFN that was present in Chester and its region. Content analysis of this network was then conducted in order to understand SD related terms and shortlist pertinent actors for further analysis. Interviews were conducted with nine actors from this network in order to critically evaluate their perceptions of SD from an online and offline perspective. The results of the SNA suggest that the AFN of Chester and its region was not particularly well connected in terms of density. However, the SNA was a useful data collection tool, especially concerning the replicability and transferability of participant selection strategy. Further results suggested that there was a need for more organisational structures to support AFNs in becoming more mainstream and collaborative. It was also clear that there was still a degree of opposition between CFNs and AFNs, despite hybridity. A final finding of the research is the consideration of smart localism. The implications of this research are discussed, along with suggestions for future research including; the need to better understand leadership, relations between AFNs and CFNs, the role played by intermediates, and the expansion of social media based research.
  • Emerging pluralities in the enactment of care in the postgraduate tutor-international student relationship

    Johnson, Nerise D. (University of Chester, 2018-09-24)
    Despite intensified overseas competition, internationalisation remains at the heart of most universities growth strategies. Evidence suggests that the international student experience of care is distinct with context specific expectations. With a paucity of research on care in a higher degree setting this study set out to explore the incidence and enactment care in the postgraduate tutor-international student relationship. It utilised a qualitative, inductive approach, sampling fourteen participants (ten international students and four postgraduate tutors) from a single postgraduate degree programme at a post 1992 small city university. Findings indicated that the enactment of care was plural with emergent themes of mentorship, friendship and recognition of the individual. It identified that participants’ used the word care when describing their relationship but more frequently used language from which care could be inferred when analysed within an abductively bounded framework. This challenged the extant literature which had suggested that the need for care would recede as the cared for moved into adulthood. However, the way in which care was enacted was understood to be particular to the students’ postgraduate status. At the same time, the value of care appeared to be stratified with tutor actions considered less significant if they were perceived to be contractually motivated. Two key recommendations for practice arising from this research were that in the current climate of standardisation and metrification, there remained opportunities to enrich the quality of care in the postgraduate tutor-international student relationship. Secondly, creating these caring relationships with international students was plural and complex which necessitated postgraduate tutor reflexivity of their pedagogic and pastoral practice if they were to enrich the quality of care offered.
  • Charity Fundraising Events – An understated domain: The changing landscapes of charity fundraising event management processes, contexts and ‘communities’ in the United Kingdom

    Bellamy, Lawrence; Stokes, Peter; Brown, Timothy (University of Chester, 2018-08-22)
    Events Management is often regarded as a modern phenomenon, emerging in the last 25 years as an academic subject and practical discipline from a variety of existing fields. Despite this rapid growth there are still aspects of the event industry that are disregarded within the academic literature. This research address this by examining the contribution that charity fundraising events make. Furthermore this research provides new insights into the development and management of charity fundraising events. Conducted between 2011 and 2017 using mixed methods research, the thesis follows an interpretative approach and contributes to the knowledge of events management. Utilising Communities of Practice (CoP) as a conceptual framework the practices, processes and characteristics of events management and charity fundraising events was explored. The fieldwork research entailed examining 120 charity’s economic data regarding fundraising events, an industry survey of 215 event professionals, and 25 in-depth qualitative interviews with charity fundraising event professionals. The findings indicated that there is a unique approach and process to undertaking charity fundraising events, with a particular focus on sponsors, stakeholders and volunteers. This charity fundraising event process is also revealed to be a multi-event management process, as opposed to the singular approach promoted within the literature. Furthermore the economic value of charity fundraising events is demonstrated to be significant. Charity fundraising events are also established to be a critical strategic tool for charities to raise funds, raise brand awareness and, most significantly, to engage with supporters to become part of the charities donor journey. Finally, within the event industry, including charity fundraising events, there is clear evidence of CoP characteristics and practices. The thesis draws together insights from the literature and fieldwork, the event industry and event professionals, and provides a platform from which further research can be developed.
  • Expanding the Undergraduate Entrepreneurial Perspective: An exploratory investigation into pedagogy and practice at the University of Chester

    Hancock, Connie (University of Chester, 2018-08-18)
    Purpose: This work conducts an exploratory investigation into the domain of entrepreneurship in Higher Education (HE), how it is perceived, interpreted and embedded, both from a pedagogic and philosophical perspective, into a contemporary university landscape in order to cultivate entrepreneurial behaviours in undergraduate students. It is implied in government imperatives and directives that entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs are the fiscal panacea that will lead us towards the light in the economic gloom that currently pervades. The cultivation of entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviours has been specifically linked to Higher Education by the European Commission, although scholarly research into developing an entrepreneurial landscape within the HE sector is significantly lacking. Whilst studies exploring the entrepreneurial university and transformative opportunities in response to economic pressure has been undertaken from the 90s onwards, this field and its potential to inform and impact on Higher Education continues to represent an understudied area. The purpose of this research therefore, is to consider the methodologies and strategies that can support a cultivation, integration and embedment of entrepreneurship education in a Higher Education context, specifically the University of Chester, with a view to creating a blueprint for future Entrepreneurship undergraduate Programmes. Methodology: The approach is one that embraces an inductive and qualitative research methodology with data secured from three groups of respondents: undergraduate students, staff engaged in the delivery and support of entrepreneurial endeavour and external stakeholders contributing to an entrepreneurship agenda. Data were gathered from student participants by means of semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Data was secured from staff and external stakeholders via the mode of face-to-face semi-structured interviews. A multiple perspective methodology was employed in order to effectively provide a triangulation of perceptions on the development of an institutional entrepreneurial culture from a pragmatic perspective. The data were analysed and interpreted by way of template analysis (Stokes, Wall, 2014; Philips, Lawrence and Hardy, 2004; Hardy and Thomas, 2013). Contribution: This work expands upon the ways in which entrepreneurship education may be understood in the context of a comparatively small university in the north-west of England and extends the thinking into how practice may be extended to maximise undergraduate entrepreneurship. Most significantly, this research offers up a conceptual blueprint in the form of a model that demonstrates how entrepreneurially orientated mind-sets and behaviours may be fostered in undergraduates within the context of University of Chester.
  • A qualitative investigation into practitioner perspectives of the role of customers within the design and delivery of local government contact centre services

    Moore, Neil; Nott, Derek J. (University of Chester, 2018-07-12)
    Local authorities have experienced significant cuts in income whilst grappling with increased demand, an aging population and welfare reform. This pressing imperative has driven local authorities to challenge their sense of self and in doing so consider the participative role that customers can and do play. This study sought to examine practitioner perspectives of customers, their role, impact and constraining and enabling factors within the design and delivery of local government contact centre services. There is limited empirical research on practitioner perspectives of the role of customers within a local government environment. There are multiple terms used to describe the concept of customer but an absence of established approaches to examine the role that customers play within socially constructed phenomenon within local government demonstrating a gap in current academic thought. Whilst the rationale for involving customers in local governance is debated, the application of theory in to practice is limited thereby further constraining the opportunity for local authorities to leverage potential benefits afforded through participative approaches to the design and delivery of contact centre services. An interpretivist stance was adopted with qualitative techniques employed within the research. Using a priori codes developed through the review of extant literature, thematic analysis of forty-four customer service strategies spanning single tier, upper tier and metropolitan local authorities was undertaken. Themes were further developed through analysis of transcripts from seventeen semistructured interviews with managers responsible for the design and delivery of local government contact centre services. This research highlighted the differing and often contradictory practitioner perceptions of the concept of customer and the role that customers play in the design and delivery of local government services. Whilst organisations espoused a desire to progress participative principles due to the potential benefits afforded through such approaches, the extent to which these were operationalised by practitioners was limited and this coupled with a perceived sense of passivity on the part of customers resulted in little or no positive impact on current service performance. As extant literature and research is limited on the role of customers within local government, this study expands current academic thought providing particular insight on the practitioner perspective. The research findings provide a robust foundation on which theorists and practitioners in particular can formulate participative strategies and associated policies thereby providing meaningful opportunities for customers to co-design and co-deliver local government services and through which potential benefits, financial and non-financial, can be realised.
  • An Investigation into the Influence of Social Media Message Context on Retailer-Consumer Interaction: A Case Study from the Lens of a UK Retailer

    Ashford, Ruth; Manning, Paul; Smith, Philip (University of Chester, 2018-07-13)
    This thesis investigates social media and retailer-consumer interaction with a research site of a well-established medium sized specialist retailer within the outdoor activities sector (the case organisation), selling goods and services online, and offline from physical retail stores across the United Kingdom (UK). The research investigates the case organisation’s response to the development of social media channels, with the purpose of developing understanding of the influence of content posted by the retailer on Twitter and Facebook platforms. The ease of access of these social media communications allowed the researcher to freely view the context of the case organisation’s activity and helped shape the questioning of research participants in their face-to-face semi-structured interview. The research aimed to develop understanding, and therefore qualitative methods were most appropriate. The philosophical assumptions were for a subjectivist ontology and interpretivist epistemology. The theoretical framework of uses and gratification theory (UGT), provided a priori themes to identify the retailer’s postings into social, entertainment or information value to the consumer. This study demonstrates that the case organisation’s posting activity on its primary Twitter and Facebook accounts, were predominantly of information value to the consumer, whereas users appeared to interact more with postings that were of social or entertainment value. The apparent under resourcing of the specialist product sub-community accounts (S1 and S2) appears to be suppressing social media activity, and thereby interaction with community members. But by reassigning management of S1 and S2 activity to generalists within the social media team, these research findings indicate that the case organisation is putting the close ingroup interaction that these sub-communities serve at risk. The one store-based subcommunity Facebook account (S3) was achieving a more balanced mix of user interaction than the case organisation’s primary account; indicating that local staff involvement was a motivating factor in consumer interaction. These research findings indicate that by re-evaluating the context of messages posted on its primary Twitter and Facebook accounts, and the involvement of local store account activity, consumer interaction on these channels will increase. Furthermore, the research findings suggest that by developing a transparent corporate social media strategy, that includes clear policy and operating procedures, those actors on the periphery of social media activity will benefit from the resultant clarity of understanding. And the call for training in managing social media activity for business by these actors can be addressed and delivered within the framework of a robust social media strategy. While there are inherent limitations in researching a single-case organisation, the generous access granted to the researcher provided a unique opportunity to investigate the research aim and objectives in a real-world setting. Moreover, this indepth study of Twitter and Facebook activity at the case organisation contributes to theory and practice by providing new insights and understanding on the influence of message context on consumer interaction from the lens of a specialist retailer.
  • Employee Engagement, Motivation, Resilience, and Leadership: An exploration of relationships within a Higher Education Institution

    Thomas, Mike; Rowland, Caroline; Mulliner, Julie (University of Chester, 2018-02-09)
    This study seeks to explore, in one particular UK Higher Educational Institution (HEI), the relationships between engagement, motivation, resilience and the quality of the relationship between managers and those being managed. A literature review provides salient themes relating to the four concepts of: employee engagement, motivation, emotional resilience, and leadership. The changing landscape of the University sector in the UK is also considered for contextual purposes. A mixed methods approach was used to explore relationships between these four concepts. Methods included: observation, focus groups, questionnaires and interviews. Findings from this study indicate that motivation, resilience, engagement and leadership all interrelate; but that leadership interrelated with the other concepts to a lesser extent. Prerequisites of engagement were found to be motivation and resilience, both of which were inter-reliant and as such were difficult to separate. Prerequisites of motivation and resilience were found to be individuals’ personality characteristics, mind-set and thinking style. Higher quality relationships with managers were consistently associated with higher effort, whereas lower quality relationships ranged from making no difference to the exertion of effort, to being a minor irritation in the background, to adversely affecting effort and resilience. Specific leadership attributes and behaviours were found to be more influential in terms of creating affinity between the line manager and follower which were more likely to positively influence engagement, motivation and resilience. Conclusions indicate that the majority of effort is influenced by an individual’s personality characteristics, mind-set and thinking style. The minority of effort therefore was influenced by external factors such as job enjoyment, as a loci of engagement, and autonomy, as a determinant of engagement. The role of a leader is therefore critical in terms of creating and maintaining an engaging work environment. Certain leadership attributes such as gaining trust, being genuinely caring and compassionate and having a positive outlook were positively associated with the followers having a stronger emotional attachment to the organisation manifesting in increased engagement, motivation and resilience. Practical recommendations for senior leaders in organisations, people managers and HR practitioners include: creating operational clarity and clarity of vision; creating and maintaining a culture of care and support; developing leadership attributes and competencies which are key to achieving an engaged workforce; and implementing practices to facilitate job satisfaction, personal and professional growth and a climate of team collegiality which were found to be the three most important work related factors which positively influenced engagement. This research contributes by bringing a new dimension to employee engagement, motivation, resilience and leadership, adding to the existing literature relating to these four concepts. Three different perspectives are presented and one conceptual approach, relating to these four concepts. Each perspective and approach contains elements which can be applied by HR professionals and organisational leaders to create a culture of employee engagement. This study provides a questionnaire that may be used by other organisations to determine engagement strategies and policies.
  • Identity Construction and its Influence on Wine Tourism Diversification Decisions: Case Study of Family Wineries in Langhe, Italy

    Lyon, Andy; Warhurst, Russell; Canovi, Magali (University of Chester, 2017-07)
    The aim of this thesis is to examine family wineries’ wine tourism diversification decisions in terms of wine producers’ self-constructions. The focus lies on understanding which motives drive family businesses’ decisions to engage in diversification. A case study approach is adopted, using the Italian wine region of Langhe in Piedmont. The dominant debates within the current literature have primarily concentrated on the economic-social dichotomy in relation to diversification decisions. It has been argued that diversification decisions are predominantly economically driven, highlighting the importance of profit maximisation and risk reduction. This thesis highlights the limitations of the economic-social dichotomy approach and argues for the need to take the social context into account when examining the decision-making process. An interpretivist approach to research is adopted in order to extend current understandings of family businesses and their motives underlying diversification decisions. In line with the interpretivist perspective, this thesis uses discourse analysis (DA) as a methodological approach for analysing and interpreting wine producers’ accounts. The findings reveal that by engaging in discourse about wine tourism diversification, wine producers construct a distinctive, coherent and desired sense of self, which in turn influences family wineries’ decisions to diversification. In this instance, the concept of identity formation plays a central role in explaining family wineries’ motives for diversification. Linking wine producers’ motives for diversification to their self-constructions provides a new insight into how family businesses engage in decision-making. Wine producers’ discourses reveal that their decision-making processes are inextricably linked to sustaining a positive sense of self. Decisions are not only taken to achieve economic goals, but are likely to be influenced by deeper motives, notably wine producers’ identity constructions. The main contribution of this thesis is that it advances understanding of family businesses’ decisionmaking processes by developing a multi-layered conceptual framework to go beyond the economic-social dichotomy in order to reveal wine producers’ semi-conscious and unconscious motives for diversification.
  • An Examination of Daughter Succession in Turkish Family Owned Businesses: Gendered Norms, Cultural Influence and Leadership Challenges

    Page, Steve; Ozdemir, Ozlem (University of Chester, 2017-02)
    Succession planning and successor selection is a key theme in the FOB (Family Owned Business) literature. To enable the business to continue, FOB owner needs to decide who will be the next leader before resigning. Although the succession process is one of the most researched areas within the family business field, studies have mostly focused only on incumbent or successor viewpoints. However, the purpose of this study is to fill the gap and offers a different perspective on daughters’ succession by analysing owner, successor, and employee points of view. This dissertation aims to identify cultural patterns, and how factors based on different cultural patterns influence the daughter succession process in Turkish family businesses. Additionally, aim to reach novel insights regarding women entrepreneurs in Turkish FOBs, particularly how they gain business leadership positions, and the explicit and implicit factors determining the succession process. The research is grounded in the multidimensional model of succession process in family business theory, which has been expanded to include interactive and collaborative action, by addressing the family business cultural effects associated with stewardship theory. The adoption for this study of an epistemological interpretivist philosophy within a social constructivist perspective is justified. Data was collected from in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 20 FOB owners and daughters, and surveys of 252 FOB employees to obtain information on their perspectives about selecting daughters as FOB successors.
  • Mothers undertaking part-time Doctoral study: Experiences, Perceptions and Implications

    Stokes, Peter; Cronshaw, Suzanne (University of Chester, 2017-03)
    This thesis explores the lived experience of women with children, i.e. ‘mothers’ undertaking part-time doctoral study and considers the challenges and conflicts that arise from what Brown & Watson (2010) describe as ‘dual lives’, managing the doctoral student role with the roles of mother and worker. The research aimed to consider extant conceptualisations and understandings so that alternative discourses could emerge, viewing the part-time doctoral experience through the lens of mothers. This was undertaken through the analysis and application of conceptual frameworks that fuse Communities of Practice (Wenger 2008), Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan 1985), Self-Categorization Theory (Turner 1987) and Lived Experience (Manen 1990). The marginalized voices of ‘Mothers doing doctorates’ provide a new perspective on the ‘non-traditional’ PhD student experience, allowing a deeper understanding of the challenges facing this ‘community’ by identifying and analysing key themes of identity, motivation, feelings and beliefs within a framework of communities of practice. Identifying Wenger’s Communities of Practice as a framework for discussion, a model was developed in relation to the field data to understand the women’s experiences of part-time PhD study. This model focused on four key areas: learning as belonging, learning as becoming, learning as doing and learning as experience. Each area related to a major theme in the women’s experience, that of identity, motivation, the student experience and their own feelings and perceptions about themselves and the process. The findings determine the process of studying for a PhD provided the women with a means of identity expression that had previously been stifled through the adoption of the role of being a ‘mum’. Through part-time doctoral study, this sense of re-awakening both intellectually and personally provided women with a renewed sense of positivity and confidence, demonstrating a resistance against the dominant ideology that dictates women’s ‘natural’ place is in full-time motherhood (Hughes 2002). It provided them intellectual stimulus and allowed them a voice, that the mother role had smothered as it was not in-keeping with the in-group identities highlighted by the women as central to their public and private domain. The academic development of the women helped them to ii see themselves as ‘worthy’, strengthening their own identity as they developed a redefined sense of self. In securing data from thirty-five women, this research provides an original insight into the experiences of an obscured and marginalised group. The combination of narrative and autoethnographic methods has surfaced original data that highlights the experiences and impact of part-time PhD study on women with children. The contribution to current thinking around part-time PhDs is the critique of extant normative practice, this research illustrates and exemplifies how these existing processes marginalise mothers doing part-time doctorates and points to new approaches in practice.
  • An Exploratory Examination of SMEs in Germany: Sustainability and Responsibility Engagement of ‘Mittelstand’ Firms in Baden-Württemberg

    Stokes, Peter; Kraus, Patrick (University of Chester, 2015-11)
    This thesis contributes to a field of scholarly research that seems to be receiving increasing attention, especially in recent times, although one has to acknowledge that there is still a severe lack of understanding. It is generally believed that the vast majority of research is still focused on large corporations, given their visibility and individual impact on the society, and this is particularly true in the re-search on sustainability and responsibility. In the course of this work, an extensive review of the relevant literature was conducted, including a holistic systematic analysis of a sample of leading small business and entrepreneurship journals, fol-lowed by an in-depth, narrative review based on a much broader selection of articles from various sources. The review revealed that there is little research on sustainability and responsibility in SMEs in Germany and that the vast majority of this research is quantitative in nature. The aim of this research is to, thus, develop an in-depth understanding of the sustainability and responsibility engagement of manufacturing SMEs in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg and, hence, also present and analyse the views of the participants in this research. Manufacturing SMEs were selected as the focal sample as the sector is very important to the regional community and it can be assumed that, given the nature of their operations, they are in some ways engaged in sustainability activities. For this reason, an interview-study with 30 participants from the SME sector was conducted, underpinned by an interpretive research paradigm. The interviewees included owner-managers (OMs) and managing directors (MDs) from a purposively created sample of SMEs. It must be noted that the focus is not on addressing some CSR role models, but on the ‘ordinary’ SME in-stead. The findings of this research are multifaceted. It was found that many SMEs in the sample tend to follow an extreme, long-term perspective based on a special ethos or values, such as fairness, honesty and trust. There seems to be a consider-able reservation towards the business principles of large corporations. The re-search provides an in-depth discussion on various sustainability dimensions identified in the data. This includes embeddedness in the local community, which varies considerably between the participating firms; focus on employees, which tendsto be seen as the most important resource, and caring for them is for most participants an essential point; and engagement in environmental issues, which tends to be of lower importance for participants except in the case of practices that directly lead to positive economic results. Overall, the research identifies that economic considerations dominate the worldview of participants. However, firms are not considered instruments of short-term profits; instead, natural, long-term development of firms is the overall goal. The research additionally finds that some SMEs in the sample are motivated to find a balance between informal and formal management approaches. In total, one can conclude that the behaviour of SMEs can-not be directly considered to be related to the principles of sustainable development. However, the sample firms and their behaviour are definitely closer to a responsible way of doing business in comparison to many large corporations which also tend to affect many SMEs negatively through their market power and price pressure. This research provides an insight into the world of (owner)-managers of SMEs, thus contributing to a field that is currently dominated by descriptive quantitative research in Germany.
  • Towards a collaborative enterprise: The value of stakeholders

    Rowland, Caroline; Page, Steve; Williams, Roy (University of Chester, 2016-10)
    Social housing, traditionally provided by not-for-profit (NFP) housing associations, has become increasingly competitive as exchequer subsidy has reduced and the market has opened up to the profit-making private sector. These changes have increased the need for housing associations to engage and collaborate with stakeholders. The author’s research examines stakeholder engagement and collaboration in One Vision Housing, a NFP housing association. A constructivist epistemology, based on an idealist ontology, using primarily inductive logic, is adopted through a case study methodology. Data is collected through interviews, focus groups, surveys, participant observation, direct observation and physical artefacts. The review of literature highlights the relationship between stakeholder theory, stakeholder management, organisational culture, organisational learning and knowledge management. The author has developed a conceptual model in respect of these relationships.
  • Human resource development as a strategic tool for developing the Omani economy: The case of Duqm Special Economic Zone in Oman (DSEZ)

    Harris, Phil; Perrin, David; Al Zeidi, Sarhan S. (University of Chester, 2016-12)
    Research is increasingly acknowledging the pivotal role of national human resource development (NHRD) in economic development. There is a growing call to conduct research in country-specific contexts to further explore this concept and the factors that influence its outcomes. The concept differs from one country to another; therefore, many HRD studies focus on one country. However, few have focused on the Middle East region, and there has been even less research on Oman. The aim here is to fill this research gap by analysing Oman’s HRD practices. Specifically, the intent is to identify the gap in skillsets in Oman and to develop an NHRD model that is appropriate for the country’s economic requirements for national skills development.
  • Being in-between: a narrative investigation into manager identity work in a UK Housing Association

    Page, Steve; Harris, Phil; Rostron, Alison I. (University of Chester, 2016-06)
    This thesis uses narrative methods within a social constructivist paradigm to investigate the identity work of managers in a North West England Housing Association, in the context of being ‘in-between’ those whom they directly manage, and those whom they are managed by. Within the complex field of identity studies it draws on a narrative conceptualisation of identity and utilises methods based on narrative structural analysis and the work of Propp (1968), and on a Levi-Straussian (1963, 1983) concept of mythical thought. The thesis is based on an embedded case study strategy in which managers are regarded as individual units of analysis within the bounded system of the case organisation. Data was collected primarily by eliciting stories from managers through interviews, and from observation and document collection over a fifteen month period. The case study organisation is a registered provider of social housing in the North West of England. Management in social housing is an under-studied area, and the complex environment, which makes multiple demands on managers to be both business and socially focused makes it an ideal context in which to investigate manager identity work. The thesis proposes the concept of the ‘medial manager’ as any organisational actor who is both managed themselves and who manages others. Its focus therefore extends from first level supervisors or team leaders through middle managers to senior managers reporting to Executive Board level. It makes a number of contributions to knowledge. First, a conceptual model of medial manager identity is developed through reflexive abductive iteration between primary data and extant literature which allows underlying processes of identity work to be identified, and understanding of identity work to be developed in several ways. These include identifying three distinct but inter-dependent phases of identity work, identifying key affording and constraining factors which help to explain different responses to subject positions by managers, and a more detailed understanding of the role of narrative in identity work. Second, the thesis adds to our understanding of managers. It reveals that the tensions between different interests commonly attributed to the middle manager role are also part of the daily experience of managers at other levels, and perhaps especially at team leader level. Third, the thesis makes a methodological contribution by developing a method of story elicitation and narrative analysis which is shown to be capable of revealing rich and granular detail into the workplace identities and processes of identity work accomplished by medial managers.
  • Exploring UK consumer perceptions of mobile payments using smart phones and contactless consumer devices through an extended Technology Adoption Model.

    Hampshire, Chris (University of Chester, 2016-06)
    Widespread adoption of mobile payments has not taken place despite a decade of trials in various countries based upon a mobile phone handset that does not have the technology capabilities of today’s smart phones. However, significant technology developments have led to widespread consumer adoption of smart phones and other devices that may now provide the foundation for wider consumer adoption of mobile payments. Understanding UK consumer cultural perceptions on the new phenomenon is one of the first steps to influencing purchase behaviour. This thesis is based upon a post-positivist philosophy and a social constructionist ontology that explores UK consumer perceptions of mobile payments through human cognitive and affective responses of consumer payment behaviour as these influence attitude that leads to adoption. However, UK consumer interest in mobile payments on its own is unlikely to be enough to change payment behaviour, although meeting specific payment needs can motivate consumers to amend their payment behaviour that can lead to widespread adoption. Inductive empirical research is used to explore UK consumer perceptions of mobile payments through sequential mixed methods. A questionnaire is used as the 1st research instrument with closed questions that explore various aspects of consumer interest in the mobile payments phenomenon. The key themes identified from the numerical analysis of the questionnaire data are used to guide the semi-structured interviews. Content analysis is then undertaken on the qualitative interview data from which new knowledge on consumer perceptions of mobile payments is identified. Analysis of the empirical data suggests that UK consumers have significant technology and security concerns which negatively affect consumer interest. Despite these concerns, UK consumers demonstrate interest in the mobile payments phenomenon when perceived usefulness benefits are identified. The perceived usefulness positively influences attitude that overcomes perceived risks which can lead to amended consumer payment behaviour and widespread adoption. In addition, UK consumers have a significant lack of trust towards unknown organisations as well as new market entrants although there is an increased level of trust in mobile payments provided by UK banks as well as other established organisations. This research fills an important gap in existing literature on consumer payment behaviour as it explores UK consumer cultural perceptions of the mobile payments phenomenon using smart phones and contactless consumer devices; whereas earlier consumer payment research is based upon a mobile phone handset that does not have the technology capabilities of today’s smart phones and has an Asian and Nordic cultural focus. Furthermore, this research provides UK empirical evidence that refines and extends existing research through the use of sequential mixed methods whilst adding to the understanding of UK consumer attitudes related to UK payment instruments.
  • General practitioner: Understanding personal qualities required to deliver 21st century healthcare from a business perspective

    Page, Steve; Rowland, Caroline; Tate, Colin (University of Chester, 2013-09)
    As a result of the recent NHS reforms following the white paper, liberating the NHS (Department of Health, 2010a), which subsequently became the Health and Social Care Act 2012, it is clear that primary care, led by GPs, faces a considerable change to how healthcare to the population is delivered. Meeting these challenges proves to be difficult due to the nature of primary care contracting, in that GPs are responsible for their own organisations and are required to reconfigure their organisations accordingly. Due to the traditional structure of primary care, GPs appear to lack skills in business management and leadership. The study gains an understanding of the qualities GPs have, and need, from a business perspective, in relation to primary care management, and further develops a qualities framework for use by both current and future GPs. This has been achieved through a qualitative study making use of both structured and unstructured research methods, with the use of thematic analysis drawing meaning from the data. Findings indicate that doctors who have chosen to become a GP tend to not consider their role as business leaders, and opt to learn these skills while on-the-job, although since the implementation of the recent NHS reforms, newly qualified doctors are undertaking business skills training to support their applications for partnership posts. Findings also indicate that GPs see the need to hold business skills as partners within their own organisations as a necessary evil, but see the need to hold these same skills for their membership of the CCG as unnecessarily imposed. A qualities framework has been developed to support GPs with their need to obtain business management and leadership skills, from a general practice perspective. This maps six key qualities across nine domains, measured through a number of competencies for each mapping. It is recommended that the qualities framework developed as part of this research study is applied in general practice in relation to both organisational development and educational strategy. It is anticipated that this will contribute to both general practice performance and improvements in primary healthcare service delivery, from a general practice perspective.
  • Becoming a manager in a contact centre

    Warhurst, Russell; Trehan, Kiran; Beattie, Rona; Cureton, Peter J. (University of Liverpool (Chester College of Higher Education), 2014-11)
    This thesis uses an abductive research strategy to discover how individuals in a UK contact centre became first-line managers. Managers play a significant role in organisations as supervisors of staff, yet there is no general agreement as to what they do or how. Adopting an idealist ontology and a constructionist epistemology, this ethnographic project uncovered stories of becoming by using questionnaires, observations and interviews with twelve participants. The context was a private / public sector partnership to provide advice and guidance to a local community. The use by organisations of contact centres is maturing in the private sector and growing in the public sector. It is an especially important arena to explore in the UK economy as currently many contact centres that were outsourced to cheaper, high quality labour markets are returning to the UK. Analysis of data showed clearly that learning to become a first-line manager occurred throughout the life course in three distinct stages; formative development, and reflecting the values and behaviours of parents and teachers; pre-management occupational development, and the experience of being managed; and development actually in the role of a first-line manager. The thesis makes four contributions to the extant literature. Firstly, these three stages were shown to be the route in the transition from legitimate peripheral participation to mastery. Situated learning theory provides no such clarification. Secondly, learning to become a first-line manager did not necessarily change identity as many writers claim. Identities of first-line manager evolved by building on personal and occupational identities that had been developed earlier. Thirdly, teachers made a vital contribution to developing future first-line managers by affirming and strengthening family values. They also encouraged their pupils to recognise the connection between effort and gaining reward for achievement. Finally, the messy terrain of learning theory has been clarified, not as grand theory, but as mid-range theorising through a new conceptual framework. This schema synthesizes learning orientations with learning metaphors and learning viewed as a noun or a verb, and the various influences on learning from structure and agency. The four learning modes are adapt, assimilation, accommodation and aspire.
  • Executive coaching: A case study in local government

    Rowland, Caroline; Robins, Rachel V. (University of Chester, 2014-11)
    The purpose of this Summary of Portfolio is to set the thesis within a context of the work previously assessed within the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) programme. It therefore reflects on the learning achieved and summarises key findings of the pre-thesis work, Personal and Professional Review: Action Learning; and Business Research Methods, while recognising the personal and professional journey undertaken and reflecting how I reached the starting point of the thesis component of the programme. For many years, I considered that the opportunity to undertake doctoral study would be pinnacle of my academic achievement. I wanted to have the opportunity to make a fresh and meaningful contribution to practice-based knowledge of the Human Resource Profession. The pre-thesis programme commenced with Personal and Professional Review module, that enabled me to review my previous Human Resources career, and my development and learning over this period. This reflection allowed me to gain a deep insight into my own actions and preferences that had guided and supported my career choices. I was able to engage in deep reflection on achievements in the light of the enhanced personal self-knowledge and review my whole career progression and achievements and plan for the future. An element of this reflection triggered a major development in my career and at the mid-point of the DBA programme I decided to leave my role as a Director in a large local authority. Human Resources and Organisational Development was a career I had followed for over twenty-five years when I decided to start the next stage of my career as an independent Executive Coach and Organisational Development Consultant. The development of individuals and organisations had been an area of professional interest for a considerable time and in 2007 I qualified as an Executive Coach through Leeds University. As a senior practitioner, my first-hand experience in Executive Coaching, together with an interest in how individuals use coaching had led to the desire to research the use of Executive Coaching in Local Government. Through the Business Research Methods module I was able to formulate a detailed proposal for my thesis. In the module I re-engaged with both qualitative and quantitative research methods and further increased my knowledge in this area with the acquisition of advanced research skills that provided a sound base for the commencement of my major research project. During the journey I have had the opportunity to use my capabilities as an independent, self-reliant and self-motivated learner, together with incorporating my existing learning achievements, qualifications and experience into academic credits towards a DBA. The programme has allowed me to develop real expertise in areas of interest to me, and my profession. On reflection, it has allowed me to fulfil my desire to prove that I could operate as proficiently in an academic environment as I do as a practitioner. I now feel that I have addressed, what I felt was an in-balance. Before this journey, I considered my practitioner ability was far greater than my academic ability. Through doctoral study, I have addressed this, and recognise my achievement of gaining extensive academic knowledge, understanding and academic skills, and feel I can hold my own in an academic setting. I have also been able to gain an overview of theory and conceptual frameworks that further strengthen my approach to teaching and learning. The research into new areas and developing wider knowledge has resulted in a new Executive Coaching model that will now be shared through academic forums and professional networks to the advancement of my own professional practice and for the benefit of the wider profession.
  • Understanding organizational identity in UK charities

    Ward, Mark (University of Chester, 2013-11)
    There is a great deal of academic research around the topic of organizational identity in a corporate setting and an increasing level of interest in the area amongst practitioners. This study considers an under-researched area of identity scholarship in the UK charitable sector, specifically the degree to which internal stakeholders (employees) in two small to medium-sized UK charities, share an internally common understanding of organizational identity. An explicitly internal organizational perspective is explored to illuminate the communicated perceptions of employees in the participating organizations. A qualitative methodology was employed, using sixteen in-depth, one-to-one, unstructured interviews with a purposive sample of employees from the two organizations. Interview data is explored via a thematic template comprising codes emerging concurrently with analysis. Secondary data is provided to add depth to research discussion and conclusions. Findings indicated some interesting features in the ways that particular groups of UK charity employees understand organizational identity. Managers and non-managers expressed a broadly consistent group of themes, in articulating their understanding of organizational identity. One participating organization had a more internally-diverse understanding of identity than the other, which might suggest links between organizational performance and understanding organizational identity. Employees with less than two years’ service expressed their understanding in a clearly distinct manner from employees with long service.Whilst acknowledging the limitations of the study in terms of generalizability, the researcher proposes areas, around which practitioners might focus their efforts to develop, or improve, a shared understanding of organizational identity in their workforce, including induction and internal communication. Understanding of organizational identity for UK charity employees is notably under-researched. This study makes a number of contributions to the field of academic knowledge: directly addressing a deficiency in the existing topic literature; making some observations on methodology; highlighting areas of interest for future scholarly activity; and suggesting areas of focus for practitioners, around approaches to managing organizational identity.

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