• 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.
    • 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.
    • Experiences of international students studying in a UK university: how do international students studying in the UK’s Higher Education sector build academic resilience?

      Moore, Neil; Ullah, Farid; Brogden-Ward, Anthony J. (University of Chester, 2021-05)
      With the ever-increasing number of international students entering the global market, many of which enrol on post-graduate Higher Education (HE) programmes in the UK, current research offers limited insight into the key role academic resilience plays in enabling international cohorts’ progression and achievement. This study aims to fill the gap by investigating how international students studying in the UK build academic resilience, contributing to the literature and informing governmental policies and university practices. Guided by Bourdieu’s seminal concepts of social capital generation and conversion, this work develops the theories of other researchers in building capital to enhance the academic resilience of students. It achieves this by adopting a qualitative interpretivist paradigm aligned to similar studies, using a longitudinal representative case study in the UK. Over a period of 42-months, 36 respondents formed four non-probability samples. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews, a focus group and questionnaire, the findings of which were analysed using grounded theory methods and supported by computer-aided qualitative analysis software. The results identify six prevalent capitals that students either generate prior to their arrival in the UK or are socially constructed with newly formed peer-groups. Notably, the emergence of neo-familial capital akin to concepts of fictive kinship offers a fresh perspective on the need to formally address the importance academic resilience has on the international student’s learning experience and progression. The findings provide insight into the sources of international students’ academic resilience and how these can change over space and time. This insight offers universities with theoretical and practical guidance on the need to embed proactive student support systems that stimulate academic resilience amongst its international students. It also informs governmental policies on attracting students from overseas as it seeks to enhance the UK’s HE offer to global markets.
    • The experiences of older drivers in adopting new technologies in cars: an exploratory study

      Talbot, Jon; Bellamy, Lawrence; Varshney, Anuraj (University of Chester, 2020-03-28)
      Emerging technologies are at the forefront of semi-automation in cars. These advances in semi-automation have the potential to maintain independent mobility amongst older drivers, prolong safe driving practice and contribute towards reducing the burden of climate change. This practitioner based qualitative study aims to explore diversity of experiences of older drivers in England towards both the adoption of car technologies and its role in supporting effective self-regulation. The research investigator is a practitioner and this study has benefitted empirically through combining the practitioner's experiential learning and academic rigour to generate new knowledge in the field of older drivers' adoption of car technologies. The findings of this study have highlighted that older drivers are supportive of the use of technologies that provide them with feedback on their driving behaviour rather than taking away the control of the car from them. Additionally, the study found that there are several barriers likely to deter older people from using technologies relating to training, user engagement. This practitioner study concludes that concerted effort from all stakeholders would be required to create a favourable environment for older users to ensure maximum diffusion of these new technologies and realise its full benefits. As part of the professional doctorate knowledge gained from this study, is intended to be disseminated within the researcher's practice and other relevant stakeholders.
    • Exploring International Student Satisfaction in Private Higher Education Institutes in London

      Wall, Tony; Mehashwari, Vish; Qureshi, Fayyaz H. (University of Chester, 2020-07-29)
      In March 2019 the government of the United Kingdom developed a new strategy to strengthen Britain's leading role in the global higher education market, by aiming to increase the number of international students studying in the country by more than 30 per cent – which in turn would help to boost the income of educational exports to £35 billion (UK Government, 2019). The purpose of this study is to explore an understanding of international student satisfaction in institutions of private higher education in London, adding to the paucity of literature centred on international student satisfaction in private higher education in the UK in general and particularly in London. The private higher education sector in the United Kingdom is expanding rapidly, especially in London. An indicator of this is the number of private higher education institutions with degree awarding powers, which increased from only one private university to ten within less than a decade. Student satisfaction is a complex phenomenon and arguably related to or even extended from the concept of customer satisfaction, a relatively well-known concept in marketing literature. In higher education, only a few studies, mostly based on quantitative methods, are available within the subject area of student satisfaction. Furthermore, this existing body of work is limited to the public higher education sector. This is equally true for international students studying in private higher education institutions (PrHEIs) in London. This signifies the need to investigate thoroughly the perception and experience of international students studying at PrHEIs in London. The outcome of such a study should contribute to improving the quality of educational provisions not only in PrHEIs but also in public higher education institutions (PuHEIs). For this particular study, qualitative research was employed, by conducting twelve indepth interviews with international students to capture their experiences whilst measuring their levels of satisfaction, leading to the production of rich data. From this data, three themes emerged along with several subthemes; (1) Flexibility in policies - tuition fee policy, admission policy, multiple intakes and speedy admission processes, (2) Student friendly management- fast communication, a simple structure, quick decision making and easy access to senior management and (3) Feel being customers - customised service while the other significant existing themes such as course and institution selection, pre-arrival and arrival experience, learning & teaching , resources and overall satisfaction were matched to the expectations of the international students and findings in the literature. Recommendations were made particularly around emerging themes and subthemes in order to improve satisfaction by giving more value to student opinions and being more responsive to their needs and demands. This study further concludes that this can only be achieved if higher education (HE) considers students as customers. A need for further research was identified, to study more closely the relationship between new themes and subthemes and student satisfaction.
    • 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.
    • How and why are hourly paid employees motivated to work in a family owned food manufacturing sector SME within the United Kingdom?

      Manning, Paul; Bellamy, Lawrence; Sheffield, Duncan J. (University of Chester, 2020-09-10)
      The purpose of this study is to establish how and why hourly paid employees are motivated to work in a family owned food manufacturing sector SME within the United Kingdom. The study also seeks to identify and understand how these motivational factors are contingent on hierarchical level and life stage within hourly paid employees in UK food manufacturing SMEs, in order to develop an understanding of work-based motivation among hourly paid employees from a manager’s perspective. The research uses a case study approach within a third generation family-owned cheesemaker. The results of this study suggest, within the particular work environment and sample of respondents under review, that motivation originates from a combination of intrinsic factors, extrinsic factors and social influences. Using survey questionnaires and semi-structured interview techniques, the research established the main a priori themes driving work motivation within the organisation under review, namely; (1) job security, (2) financial motivation, (3) the work itself, and (3) changes in motivation over time. The results also identified a number of a posteriori themes which were of particular importance to the participating respondents, namely: (1) camaraderie and teamwork, (2) that the organisation was a progressive company with an enviable reputation, and (3) overtime. The study indicates that social influences can have a profound effect on motivation at work and can also be a source of increased productivity within an organisation. For example, camaraderie is proven to be a motivating factor among employees and contributes to workforce stability within the context of this case study. The research findings suggest that workforce stability breeds success and provide a framework for performance improvement based on developing human resource practices that focus on cultivating employee motivation. Identifying the key motivators in today’s society may provide organisations with opportunities to improve productivity through the motivation of their staff. Furthermore, staff retention could increase if workers become more motivated, which may lead to improved efficiency and effectiveness within an organisation. Motivated and committed employees could subsequently increase the competitive advantage of the organisation.
    • 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.
    • The Isle of Man: All dressed up but nowhere to go. Can place branding and marketing strategies help turn around the fortunes of the Isle of Man?

      Moss, Danny; Ashford, Ruth; Clements, Florida (University of Chester, 2020-11)
      Place branding and marketing has become one of the tools employed in the competition between countries and cities for attracting businesses, investments and a talented workforce. Place branding and its underlying factors, place identity and place image, have been widely researched especially in the last two decades, however it is yet to be agreed upon models and frameworks which can assist practitioners in their day-to-day activity. Through investigating the role of place identity in place branding strategies, this research aims to explore how place branding strategies can help the IoM to enhance its image and attract businesses and a talented workforce. Identification of a place brand model or framework would assist the IoM brand managers in their efforts to show the IoM as an attractive location for businesses and workers. This research was conducted adopting a social constructionist philosophy and following an interpretivist theoretical perspective. The focus of the research is placed on comparing and contrasting how the Isle of Man is perceived by local and relocated business people with how it is portrayed through the IoM government websites, providing a contrast between place identity and place brand identity. Therefore 15 interviews are analysed using thematic analysis and six IoM government websites are analysed using qualitative content analysis. From the findings emerged a strong sense of ambiguity when looking at the IoM as a place for business and as a place of residence highlighting the fact that people’s perceptions about places are not one dimensional. This finding supports the suggestion that places have multiple identities. Also some of the characteristics of the IoM were aligned with what was presented in the websites, but other characteristics did not, which coincided with dissatisfaction for the respondents. These findings suggest that misalignment of certain place brand attributes with place identity coincides with dissatisfaction, however the source of dissatisfaction is not the misalignment but rather the quality of the attributes not matching the expectations. Classification of the place brand attributes that give rise to dissatisfaction or satisfaction is identified as an important factor in developing the place brand strategies. The contribution of this research is focused on making a difference to business practices by offering a practical solution; an adaptation of the Two-factor Theory is suggested as a tool that could aid the process of brand attribute classification. The application of the Two-factor Theory could assist the IoM brand managers to monitor and develop the alignment of place identity with place brand identity. Whilst the adaptation of the Two-factor theory has already been confirmed in product branding, further quantitative research could help in establishing its reliability and validity for place branding.
    • Medium and large family businesses of North West England as learning organisations

      Harris, Phil; Lam, Wing; Page, Steve; Passikku Hannadige, Yimashi S. (University of Chester, 2020-10-30)
      This study is an exploration of the learning strategies of family businesses in the North West of England, within the framework of the theory of the Learning Organisation (LO). The main purpose of this study is to explore and evaluate the notion of the Learning Organisation and to investigate its prevalence and application to the Family Business sector within North West England. To date, a very limited amount of studies focused on the characteristics of the LO within the medium and large family business context. Therefore, this study contributes to knowledge by determining practical guidance for implementing LO characteristics that can be applied to family businesses. The study used a qualitative methodology, associated with the social constructivist and interpretivist paradigm. Six medium and large family businesses operating in North West England were chosen to facilitate the qualitative research. In the North West of England, medium and large family businesses have complex features which create high demand for owners and employees to adopt learning strategies discussed in the LO concept which makes it an ideal context to explore the prevalence and the application of LO characteristics. This research makes a number of contributions to knowledge. Firstly, through review and analysis of the currently available theoretical work from more than 40 LO theorists and practitioners spanning the last four decades. The development of this “theoretical frame of reference” and the terminology used for identifying and analysing of LO characteristics is not only seen as a vital fundamental step in the course of this thesis, but also as a major contribution to providing structure and improving the future academic study of LO. Second, findings from the study suggest that medium and large family businesses have shown the existence of some of the LO characteristics within the three main levels of the organisations. The notable findings of the research are that medium and large family businesses need to develop a learning culture with organisational learning to incorporate with the business strategy and provide a transformational leadership so as to achieve the possibility of becoming a LO. The findings identify that family businesses in the North West region have the potential to become Learning Organisations should they implement the proposed recommendations and changes to their currently family business models. Third, the thesis makes a methodological contribution by introducing a model of Learning Organisations which specifically relates to family businesses. Furthermore, this model aims to facilitate a learning culture that suggests family businesses adopt key characteristics of the LO for continuous improvement, collective learning, and enhancement of performance.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • To investigate the ambidextrous challenges and tensions of small and medium enterprises in the United Kingdom defence & security sector

      Wall, Tony; Moore, Neil; Lewis, Christopher C. (University of Chester, 2021-05)
      The defence and security industry is an extremely dynamic environment, influenced by policy and world events. Whilst it often needs to respond to rapid change, there is a dichotomy in that capital programs take years to come to fruition. Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are involved in both of these short and long-term aspects of acquisition, thus creating strategic challenges. Though there has been much research around ambidexterity and SMEs, there has been very little in the fluid domain of defence and security supply-side SMEs. This study aims to investigate this gap in research. The investigation collected primary qualitative data through the use of semi-structured interviews, with research participants constituting the leadership functions of eighteen businesses that deliver either directly to the defence and security governmental departments, or into the supply chain. Findings indicate that within a shrinking defence sector, successful SMEs are operating in an ambidextrous fashion, often utilising the industrial partners of the industry trade organisations. Also, outside that of grand strategic change, Government policy has a limited impact on the SMEs in this sector. With scarce resources, the leadership of businesses see the competing needs of resource and finances as a major tension point. These two competing needs can be defined as exploration and exploitation respectively, and can be situated within an ambidextrous construct. Critically, successful businesses operate in a ambidextrous zone where there is constant iterative adjustment between both exploration and exploitation. This thesis advances the thought leadership in SME strategy, particularly around the key indigenous industry of defence and security, thereby adjusting the understanding of the definition of ambidexterity. This study contributes to the current literature, through the development of an alternative and responsive conceptual dynamic model of a growing business, theorising that ambidexterity functions change as SMEs grow, are constantly evolving, and are adjusted by both internal and external influences. The study concludes with recommendations for practice.
    • 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.
    • Transitions and student wellbeing in higher education: Exploring the role of Independent Learning Skills

      D'Artrey, Meriel; Wall, Tony; Rowlett, Debbie (University of Chester, 2020-09-10)
      The number of reported mental health issues amongst university students continues to rise, affecting student attainment and progression. Within this context, this study explores students’ experiences of wellbeing during transition to university, specifically exploring the under-researched area of how Independent Learning Skills (ILS) and wellbeing interrelate. A novel conceptual framework combining aspects of ILS and wellbeing was constructed which then informed semi-structured interviews with university business school students and a Template Analysis. The study found a variety of ways in which the development of ILS and student wellbeing can be helped and hindered during transition to university, for example, how student and university practices appear to affect ILS and wellbeing. As such, this study sits in contrast to previous research in combining two areas not typically combined to examine student transition, offering new practical insights into supporting students. Key contributions that have been made as a result of this research include a deeper understanding of the relationship between specific ILS skills and specific elements of wellbeing. The experiences that students had were found to be inconsistent relating to academic support and these experiences both positive and negative were shown to mediate the relationship between ILS and wellbeing. Early experiences of the students were shown to have an anchoring effect on ILS and wellbeing, for example not engaging with support offered by their Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) was later shown to have hindered achievements and feelings of wellbeing. The diversity of learning needs and preferences identified from the research was also found to relate to students’ development of ILS and associated feelings of wellbeing. Further research has been identified that seeks to explore the relationship between ILS and wellbeing to specific student outcomes, including student grades, retention and progression outcomes.
    • 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.