• 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.
    • Value-based management (VBM) in Mittelstand – the relevance of VBM to specifically identified areas of management (Strategic decision-making, objectives, attitudes)

      Stokes, Peter; Moore, Neil; Normann-Tschampel, Carola (University of Chester, 2019-03-14)
      This study aims to understand the relevance of value-based management (VBM) in three specifically identified areas of management (strategic decision-making, objectives, attitudes) in German Mittelstand (broadly related to small- and medium-sized entities). VBM seeks to orientate all management activities towards the increase of the monetary company value. The review of literature on VBM in Mittelstand identifies three key topics – applicability of VBM, proposals for an adaptation of VBM and the empirical analysis of VBM’s application in management practice. The review also shows a gap that is crucial to the development of VBM in Mittelstand: On the one hand, there is a consensus on the applicability of VBM in Mittelstand and there are proposals for an application of VBM in Mittelstand which consider its characteristics. On the other hand, empirical studies show little application of VBM in Mittelstand management practice. However, there are differences and gaps in the existing empirical insights i.e. little insights related to decision-making and with regard to owner-managers’ attitudes. Consequently, this empirical study uses a specific focus and research approach to gain further understanding regarding existing gaps in empirical insights as well as the overall research gap. The research approach involves taking an interpretive stance and conducting semi-structured interviews with owner-managers of 28 companies from manufacturing Mittelstand in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The findings show that VBM is of minimal relevance for strategic decisionmaking. This includes different aspects such as limited application of the net present value method and other VBM management tools. Little relevance of VBM is found in objectives. However, from a holistic analysis, different nuances with regard to economic and non-economic objectives are found. Beyond this, the findings identify not only differences in the attitudes towards VBM but also differences in the understandings of VBM. In this respect, there is a considerable divergence to extant understanding in literature. Overall, it is concluded that VBM is of minimal relevance in all three areas of Mittelstand management. Thus, the research supports the existing empirical insights through a specific focus and approach. The findings as a whole imply a theory-practice gap. This research contributes to the body of knowledge by gaining a more indepth as well as open understanding of the relevance of VBM in the management of Mittelstand. The research addresses gaps in empirical insights. It considers different aspects and adds a new perspective on objectives which responds to existing rationales in the literature. The understanding gained from taking an interpretive stance towards ownermanagers’ practical experience also provides a valuable basis to further address the overall research gap. In this respect the understanding generated might be a basis for an intensified dialogue between researchers and owner-managers in Mittelstand.
    • Untitled

      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.