• 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.