• Factors affecting progress of the National e-Health Strategy in the NHS in England: A Socio-technical Evaluation.

      Page, Steve; Bellamy, Lawrence; Manning, Paul; Richardson, Keith (University of Chester, 2019-03-21)
      Background: This is a formative socio-technical study of the “middle out” NHS e-health strategy in England. It began in 2015 with an objective to become “paperless at the point of care by 2020”, focussing nationally on the “electronic glue”, (interoperability), to facilitate the inter-organisational exchange digital communications of patient data and leaving the choice of EHRs to local organisations. No academic research has been published into the strategy and similar studies rarely include sample groups of suppliers or IT consultants. So this study seeks to fill both gaps in knowledge. Such strategies are prevalent across westernised developed countries and can consume large sums of government funding and local resources. In consequence, their failure can be very costly. This study seeks to mitigate that risk whilst recognising that, as they operate in highly complex environments, choosing any particular type of “bottom up”, “middle out” or “top down” strategy construct does not guarantee success. Their outcome is dependent upon the successful navigation through a mix of factors, known and unknown, across technical, human and social, organisational, macro-environmental and wider socio-political dimensions through time. Findings: The “middle out” strategy is broadly more appropriate, rather than “bottom up” or “top down”, but the target, of becoming “paperless by 2020”, is unattainable. Major cultural barriers include resistance by powerful clinicians, who can perceive such strategies as threats to the moral order and their traditional role as gatekeepers of access to patient data. Other barriers include inadequate and delayed national funding; disruption caused by government reorganisations; major premature programme re-structuring and a shift away from the original intent, resulting in the inappropriate selection of single organisation pilot sites rather than multi-organisational community wide ones to promote interoperability. New factors found include: the threats of cyber security incidents and the need for protective measures; the mismatch between strategy timescales and local procurement cycles; the quality of IT suppliers and the competing demands of similar change management programmes for scarce local NHS resources. Proposition: To reflect those findings a new socio-technical model is proposed that incorporates those additional factors as well as two further cross cutting dimensions to reflect “Lifecycle” and “Purpose”, drawing on elements of both Change Management and Technology Lifecycle Theory. “Lifecycle” reflects the “passage of time” as the evidence suggests that factors affecting progress may vary in their presence and impact over time as a strategy moves though its lifecycle. The addition of a “Purpose” dimension supports a reflection on the “why”. Some support is found for the proposal that a “middle out” strategy is more likely to facilitate progress than “bottom up” or “top down” ones. However a shift in approach is advocated. It is proposed that “middle out” e-health strategies are more likely to be successful if their “purpose” shifts away from promoting EHRs, per se, like with single organisation pilot sites, towards inter-organisational clinical and social care workflow improvement across health and social care economies. To achieve that, the focus should shift towards interoperability and cyber security programmes. Those should promote and mandate the use of national interoperability infrastructure, national systems and national standards. They should also provide national funding support to health economy wide clinical and social care workflow improvement pilots and initiatives that span those economies.
    • 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.
    • How leaders step up successfully into demanding leadership roles and sustain that success

      Rowland, Caroline; Shaw, Peter A. (University of Chester, 2011-06)
      This is the supporting documentation submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by publication. The research issues addressed were the extent to which the four Vs of vision, values, value-added and vitality are pre-requisites for an individual to be able to step up successfully into demanding leadership roles, and at times of major change, what are the key requirements that enable an individual to continue to step up into demanding, leadership roles successfully and sustain that success? The proposition which has been tested in a wide range of contexts is that leaders step up successfully if they apply a balance of the four Vs of vision, values, value-added and vitality. The research concluded that continuing to step up successfully and sustaining that success involves a clear focus on coherence, context, courage and co-creation. It is the active interplay between these two sets of requirements which determine whether a leader is able to cope successfully with demanding leadership challenges in a sustained way. This relationship is illustrated in the diagram below. The research was based on an exploratory approach which was inductive whereby the perspectives of a wide range of senior leaders were sought both in terms of their experiences and what was observed. The research also included an element of auto-ethnography. The approach of the four Vs was published in the book, “The Four Vs of Leadership: vision, values, value-added and vitality”. This framework was tested with a wide range of senior level leaders in different sectors. The rigorous use of this framework was then applied to develop clarity of thinking in areas such as career choices, decision-making, business coaching and the taking on of new opportunities which were set out in a sequence of subsequent books. The interplay of the four Vs and four Cs has contributed to the leadership impact of a range of senior leaders at times when they have been handling rapid change. The work furthers understanding about sustaining leadership effectively through times of turbulence.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Manager as Coach: An Exploratory Study into the Experience of Managers Dealing with Team Challenge

      Wall, Tony; Smith, Helen A. (University of Chester, 2019-03-14)
      Effective teams demand sharing, good communication, openness and engagement to create cohesion and collaboration. The modern team environment requires a highly competent manager capable of dealing with diversity, widening demographics, compression of roles, merging of organisational hierarchies and resource scarcity. This dynamic interplay has contributed to the transition from the traditional bureaucratic style of management to a higher proficiency of inclusive leadership, encompassing coaching. Within this context, there is an assumption that the manager as coach will successfully tackle the complexity of team challenge using conventional coaching interventions with the manager as coach becoming vogue. Thirty semi-structured interviews were recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed using a critical incident for exploration. The data generated an appreciation of the origins of team challenge and how challenge can be recognised, identified and acted upon to avoid escalation and maintain functionality within the team. The findings offer a framework for managers, irrespective of coaching competency to deal with team challenge and specifically that arising from behaviour described as unproductive or dysfunctional within the complexity of multiple team variants. This research will further supplement existing team effectiveness models and highlight the need for the manager as coach to be alert to team behaviour, foster appreciation of team difference at all levels, be coach-minded and act speedily in addressing team challenge. Further insight is offered from the perspective of the practitioner with models for self-assessment and training in response to dealing with challenge.
    • 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.
    • Professional ‘lived’ experiences of middle managers in Further Education (FE) colleges in Wales: A study of the impact of major change

      Rowland, Caroline; Moss, Danny; Walford, Robert (University of Chester, 2019-01-14)
      Merger organizational change has been prolific across Wales and has significantly affected all Further Education (FE) colleges. The main merger driver was to reduce operational costs, whilst in the pursuit of increased organizational and departmental efficiencies and effectiveness. An imperative to widening access to education, an increase in the quality of curriculum provision and a need to reduce duplication of curriculum programmes were also important considerations. It is these changes that have shaped college organizations and the college middle manager role, post-merger, with a resulting impact on middle managers professional ‘lived’ experiences. The author’s research examines the effect of merger on the middle manager role and the influence of the college context on the ‘lived’ experiences of middle managers managing curriculum departments. The review of the literature highlights key relationships between mainstream management and the college middle manager role, as well as the influences likely to have an impact on this role. The author has developed a conceptual model with key elements consisting of professional ‘lived’ experiences of middle managers and role construct and behaviour, management and leadership. This study is exploratory in nature and uses a social constructionist philosophical approach. A subjectivist epistemology was adopted for this study, with the researcher applying a thematic analysis and an investigation of multiple realities. Data for this research was collected from in-depth semi-structured interviewees, which gave interviewees the opportunity to highlight their specific day-to-day professional ‘lived’ work experiences. The research study outlines a number of conclusions, which accord with this study’s specific research objectives and recommendations. In the post-merger era, the middle manager role has become more complex and challenging. Conclusions indicate a broader role for the middle manager, and a role defined by the college’s professional context, which contributes to influencing the college middle manager role. This study contributes to the field of academic study, and to professional practice. It provides insights to understanding the role of middle managers in the FE sector and also offers recommendations for college strategy and policy. Finally, it highlights opportunities for further research in Wales and beyond.
    • A qualitative investigation into practitioner perspectives of the role of customers within the design and delivery of local government contact centre services

      Moore, Neil; Manning, Paul; 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.
    • The roots and uses of marketing knowledge: A critical inquiry into the theory and practice of marketing

      Ashford, Ruth; Stokes, Peter; Smith, Terence D. (University of Chester, 2019-03-19)
      This thesis engages with the vital conversation about the nature, roots and uses of marketing knowledge, looking beyond the traditional reification of practice in theory and verification of theory in practice, making an original and imaginative contribution to marketing in the conceptualisation and creation of an integrative Marketing Knowledge Process Model. The ontology of this study is anchored in subjective individual meaning; the epistemological stance assumes that this meaning is socially constructed, grounded in context. Consequently, rich empirical data extracted from a comprehensive range of marketing constituencies - academics, practitioners, managers, consultants, authors, lecturers and students - are analysed in the interpretive paradigm using a phenomenological methodology with grounded theory data capture and thematic analysis. In its examination of the polarities, hybridity and iterative flow of marketing knowledge creation and consumption, the framework which has evolved presents a unique perspective on the ideologically-driven power relations implicit in the theory/practice dichotomy debate. In place of duality, this new scholarly structure, and its accompanying argument, adds valuable insights into the theoretical, practical and pedagogical representation of marketing and introduces a feasible, holistic perspective created in marketing praxis which posits a cohesive argument for a theory/practice bipartite fusion not dichotomy.
    • The sources of trust: An empirical study of trust and suspension in the Arve valley industrial district

      Stokes, Peter; Mathews, Martin V. C. (University of Chester, 2013)
      Strong trust based relationships are one of the pillars of the communitarian model of industrial districts. District literature calls upon trust in order to explain several elements of the model. The existence of trust may explain how a highly fragmented and essentially local value chain reduces transaction costs compared with an integrated firm. It may also allow for closer ties where up to date pertinent information and innovative ideas are transferred between firms. Trusting, long term relationships and district networks are also evoked in the literature as being, in themselves, sources of competitive advantage. Yet despite large sections of district literature calling upon trust to explain the existence and efficiency of industrial districts, few scholars have investigated empirically the sources of trust in local ties. In depth semi-directive interviews with small firm managers in the Arve Valley industrial district near Geneva were analysed in order to examine the context and quality of intra-district relationships (mainly supplier and peers) which were then ompared with extra-district links with clients. The sources of trust are analysed by applying Möllering’s (2006) model of trust based on reason, routine and reflexivity. Findings indicate that managers rely more on a rational calculation of partner’s motives than ‘blind’ adherence to local, historical norms of behaviour. This finding contributes to the view that districts are organizational fields where agents possess large amounts of information about markets, technologies and partners. Managers also demonstrate a willingness to maintain local links over the long term, thus ensuring a crucial element of their firms’ competitive advantage and will adjust their behaviour accordingly. This thesis contributes to district literature by examining detailing the existence and foundations of close intra-district ties created between managers mobilising resources based on cognitive, organisational and geographical proximities. A major contribution to trust literature is the 5 analysis and discussion of the complex interplay between the three antecedents outlined in Möllering’s model in the creation of local trust and proposes that while trust decisions in information rich districts are based more on rational calculation than on local norms and institutions, other trust decisions (with external clients), in the absence of sufficient information are founded on very different bases. This comparison of the foundations of trust in two different contexts highlights the role of identity and routine in the ‘leap of faith’ or suspension of doubt that is trust.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.