The Centre provides education and training opportunities for a wide range of individual and group learning and development needs, and provides advice and consultancy to businesses and organisations both large and small. The Centre for Work Related Studies encompasses the Professional Development Unit and the Work-Based Learning Unit enhancing the employability of our students.

Recent Submissions

  • Storytelling for sustainable development

    Wall, Tony; Rossetti, Lisa; Sandra, Hopkins; University of Chester (Springer, 2019-07)
    The use of stories in higher education crosses a number of sustainable development dimensions, including the relationships between humans and the environment, but also for healing and well-being purposes. Although ‘story’ is often used synonymously with the terms ‘narrative’ or ‘narrative inquiry’, others view the notion of ‘story’ as having a special structure and utility (as will be discussed below) (e.g. Gabriel, 2000; Denning, 2011). Moon (2010: i) explains that stories are omnipresent in daily life, and can include “narrative, case study, life history, myth, anecdote, legend, scenario, illustration or example, storytelling and/or critical incident” and can be “‘told’ in many ways – spoken, written, filmed, mimed, acted, presented as cartoons and/or as new media formats”. In relation to sustainable development, Okri (1996) describes the role of the story as being vital to maintaining collective health: "A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves. Sick storytellers can make nations sick. Without stories we would go mad”. Similarly, Gersie (1992) argues that storytelling inherently considers our current concerns about the Earth and the future, as it formats our “understanding [of] the many ways in which we value and devalue our beautiful green and blue planet… [the] practical insight into approaches to our most persistent environmental difficulties.” (Gersie, 1992: 1). As such, storytelling in the context of sustainable development is recognised as having a deeply educational function, “passing on accumulated knowledge and traditions of culture” (Stevenson, 2002: 187) in ways which allow for a greater ‘stickiness’ because “stories allow a person to feel, and see, the information, as well as factually understand it … you ‘hear’ the information factually, visually and emotionally” (Neuhauser 1993: 4).
  • Organizational Resilience and Sustainable Development

    Evans, Vicky; Cregan, Karen; Wall, Tony; University of Chester (Springer, 2019-forth)
    Organisational resilience has been conceptualised in a variety of ways. Koronis and Ponis (2018) have articulated this as three distinct concepts: (1) the capacity of an organisation to 'bounce back' (to survive) after an adverse or traumatic event, (2) the capacity of an organisation to adapt to circumstances and events before they are experienced as adverse, as traumatic or a crisis, and (3) the aggregated capacities of people to absorb crises and operationally adapt to new situations. As yet, there is no consistently used terminology or conceptual foundations. Nevertheless, four key drivers of organisational resilience are highlighted in the literature – preparedness, responsiveness, adaptability and learning – which can be used as a starting point to identify associated interventions which may develop those drivers (Koronis and Ponis, 2018). Maturity models of organisational resilience suggest how these drivers develop progressively, interacting and reinforcing one another to the fullest extent in organisations which manage resilience holistically, achieving an “anti-fragile” stage of maturity where an organisation improves, prospers, and/or thrives in conditions of volatility, change or disruption in the wider environment (e.g. Leflar and Siegal, 2013; Ruiz and Martin et al, 2018).
  • Applied Fantasy and Well-Being

    Mackenzie, Anna; Wall, Tony; Poole, Simon; University of Chester (Springer, 2019-forth)
    Applied Fantasy is a new, innovative approach to well-being that demonstrates the significant potential within fantasy literature and media to provide effective and sustainable coping strategies for positive mental health. Emerging at the intersection of fantasy literature and media, mental health and well-being, and fan studies, the benefits from Applied Fantasy are twofold. First, the concept of an individual being part of a wider fandom is a positive step toward (a) combating isolation and (b) subverting the stigma surrounding mental health and, second, the contents of the fantasy works themselves provide solid examples and guidance on how to manage mental health concerns while not overtly discussing coping strategies for mental health.
  • Resilience Education and Training

    Cregan, Karen; Rowe, Lisa; Wall, Tony (Springer, 2019-07)
    Gilligan (2000) describes resilience as process which engenders a sense of strength and confidence to succeed despite individual challenges faced and Noble and McGraph, (2011a; p.79) define it as "the ability to persist, cope adaptively and bounce back after encountering change, challenges, setback, disappointments, difficult situations or adversity and to return to a reasonable level of wellbeing". It has been suggested that these challenges can be controlled by an individual’s behaviours, thoughts and actions which, can be taught (American Psychological Association, 2018). However, Wu et al (2013) argue that developing resilience in individuals requires several ‘factors’ not least, an understanding of the genetic, epigenetic, developmental, psychological and neurochemical processes, as these can contribute to how an individual can cope with and develop resilience in the face of stress and trauma. In this way, resilience education and training is about building the capacities to cope as well as adapt to changes in generative ways, and includes a diverse range of strategies to develop personal purpose, confidence, flexibility and social support networks.
  • The integration of social responsibility and sustainability in practice: exploring attitudes and practices in Higher Education Institutions

    Leal Filho, Walter; Doni, Frederica; Vargas, Valeria Ruiz; Wall, Tony; Hindley, Ann; Rayman-Bacchus, Lez; Emblen-Perry, Kay; Boddy, Jennifer; Viega Avila, Lucas; Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Chester, University of Worcester (Elsevier, 2019)
    Abstract: The demands placed on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to deliver sustainability initiatives alongside their long-standing social responsibility commitments has been recognised in literature. However, how these interrelate in practice continues to be relatively unexplored. The extant literature suggests that the integration of the two connected agendas can be problematic due to a range of factors, including a general lack of awareness or even misconceptions of the respective agendas. This paper explores the attitudes and practices related to the integration of social responsibility and sustainability initiatives at HEIs. Theoretically, this study highlights the ongoing relative positioning and importance of economic factors - as it relates to differentiation rather than integration - over others such as social responsibility and sustainability. The main implication of this study is that provide useful insights into how HEIs can closer integrate two contemporary but potentially competing agendas.

    Johnson, Matthew; orcid: 0000-0002-9987-7050; Danvers, Emily; orcid: 0000-0002-0170-5331; Hinton-Smith, Tamsin; Atkinson, Kate; Bowden, Gareth; Foster, John; Garner, Kristina; Garrud, Paul; Greaves, Sarah; Harris, Patricia; Hejmadi, Momna; Hill, David; Hughes, Gwen; Jackson, Louise; O’Sullivan, Angela; ÓTuama, Séamus; orcid: 0000-0001-9315-9640; Perez Brown, Pilar; Philipson, Pete; Ravenscroft, Simon; Rhys, Mirain; Ritchie, Tom; Talbot, Jon; Walker, David; Watson, Jon; Williams, Myfanwy; Williams, Sharon (Informa UK Limited, 2019-02-04)
  • Redressing Small Firm Resilience: Exploring Owner-Manager Resources for Resilience

    Wall, Tony; Bellamy, Lawrence; University of Chester; University of Sunderland (Emerald, 2019)
    Purpose: The owner-manager of small firms is recognised as having a potentially significant role in the small firm’s competitiveness, growth and failure. However, the owner-manager’s own resilience has been largely overlooked in the small firm resilience literature. The purpose of this paper is to redress this and expand the debate and empirical basis of small firm owner-managers’ personal resources for resilience. Design/methodology/approach: This longitudinal qualitative study deployed semi-structured interviews with nine owner-managers, each being interviewed three or four times. Analytical procedures were employed utilising an established framework which conceptualised four key personal resources for resilience as adaptability, confidence, social support, and purposefulness. Findings: There were four key findings: (1) owner-manager adaptability can appear in extremes including a sense of helplessness or optimism where disruptive circumstances are not sensed as problematic, (2) owner-manager confidence levels often echo their own mindset of adaptability, that is, from helplessness to positive ambition, (3) owner-managers can utilise discursive tactics with strong/weak ties for a range of affective as well as technical resources for resilience, and (4) purposefulness tended to be framed in terms of a necessity for a longer term future state related to own or family lifestyle, rather than profit. It is also noted that the owner-manager and the firm are closely interrelated and therefore enhancement of personal resilience resources is likely to positively influence their resilience, and therefore the resilience of the organisation and strategic capability of the firm. Originality/value: The small firm resilience literature typically focuses on the organisational level which de-emphasises the salient role of the owner-manager and their resilience. This study attempts to redress this.
  • Workplace stress management

    Parkyn, Matthew; Wall, Tony; University of Chester (Springer, 2019-07)
    Sustainability encapsulates not only ecological and socio-economic dimensions, but also those dimensions focused on developing the quality of life of every human being (Di Fabio, 2017). As the global rise of work-place or work-related stress is now recognised for its interconnectedness with and impacts on other aspects of health such as depression and mortality and sustainable development more broadly, such as poverty, stress has become a significant sustainable development challenge (ILO, 2016; HSE, 2015; EU OSHA, 2014). Indeed, stress can be understood in a variety of ways, including biological or physiological stress (in terms of the pressures placed on the material body), experiential (in the sense of how those demands are perceived and made sense of), and a combination of these. In particular, work-related stress is the response people have when presented with work contexts, demands, and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities. Therefore, stress management encompasses a range of activities that are deployed by individuals, teams and organisations to manage the experience and impacts of stressors (ibid), and therefore has a role in the mitigation of the wider sustainable development impacts aforementioned.
  • Stress management training and education

    Parkyn, Matthew; Wall, Tony; University of Chester (Springer, 2019-07)
    Stress is understood in a variety of ways, including biological or physiological stress (in terms of the pressures placed on the material body), experiential (in the sense of how those demands are perceived and made sense of), and a combination of these. In particular, work-related stress is the response people have when presented with a work environment where job demands and pressures are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope with those demands. Therefore, stress training and education encompass the range of activities that are deployed by individuals, groups, and organisations to develop awareness, knowledge and skills about stress, stressors and how to manage these, with a view to manage the experience and impact of stress.
  • Mental toughness

    Strycharczyk, Doug; Clough, Peter; Wall, Tony; Perry, John; AQR Limited; University of Huddersfield; University of Chester; Mary Immaculate College (Springer, 2019-10-26)
    Since the turn of the 21st Century, Mental Toughness has been defined in a variety of ways (e.g. Clough, Earle & Sewell, 2002; Coulter, Mallett & Gucciardi, 2010; Fourie & Potgieter, 2001; Golby & Sheard, 2006; Gucciardi, Gordon & Dimmock, 2008; Jones, Hanton & Connaughton, 2007). Although they differ in many respects, the conceptualisation share a number of similarities. For example, self-belief is at the core of most definitions, motivation is central to most as is persistence in achieving and the ability to deal with setbacks. As such, Mental Toughness is an umbrella term that entails positive psychological resources, which are crucial across a wide range of achievement contexts and in the domain of mental health. Clough and Strycharczyk (2015: 33) suggest that: Mental Toughness is a narrow plastic personality trait which explains in large part how individuals respond differently to the same or similar stressors, pressures, opportunities and challenges… irrespective of prevailing circumstances.
  • Spirituality and wellbeing in the workplace

    Foster, Scott; Wall, Tony; Liverpool John Moores University; University of Chester (2019-07)
    The late 20th century and the early 21st centuries have seen a growing interest in spirituality in general and its role in the workplace (Petchsawanga and Duchon, 2012; Bell and Burack, 2001; Sedikides, 2010; Wagner-Marsh and Conley, 1999). However, despite this growing interest in spirituality and its place within the organisation, the concept remains undertheorized, and there is no generally accepted definition. The literature is primarily dominated by speculative discussion, fragmentation, dearth and incomprehensibility and a marked lack of empirical data, especially quantitative research (Khaled et al. 2012). Corner (2008: 377) goes on to note that, much of this work is in fact useful and thought-provoking but “…needs to be extended with experience or empirical data to prevent theories being remote from the phenomenon they intend to describe.” Often, the words spirituality, ethics and religion tend to overlap, so there is a need to clarify the concepts (Giacalone and Jurkiewicz, 2010). In a broad sense, ethics normally differentiates between right and wrong, religion is concerned with beliefs, prayers, and related formalised practices, whilst spirituality tends to refer to an individual’s determination to experience a deeper meaning to life through the way in which they live and work. (Snyder and Lopez, 2008).
  • Global Perspectives on Work-Based Learning Initiatives

    Talbot, Jon; University of Chester (IGI Global, 2018-06-15)
    The book is the first to appraise developments in Work based learning from a global perspective. 'Work based learning' (WBL) in the context of a formal programme of study in higher education is defined as all forms of learning relevant to the workplace to include closely related terms such as Work Integrated Learning, Work Applied Learning and Work Related Learning. Three types of WBL can be described: learning for students currently outside the workplace seeking to enter it gaining experience in the form of a work placement; learning for students who are part located in the workplace and part in an educational institution typically in the form of an apprenticeship and learning for students fully engaged in the workplace studying part time. All three forms of WBL are increasingly common around the world in response to the perceived deficiencies of the traditional curriculum as part of a desire on the part of students, employers and policy makers to create learning more relevant to the labour market and workplace. The book reviews all types on WBL practice in ten countries- Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Japan, South Africa, Eire, the Netherlands, USA, Germany and the UK.
  • Research Policy and Practice Provocations: Coaching evaluation in diverse landscapes of practice – towards enriching toolkits and professional judgement

    Wall, Tony; Jamieson, Mark; Csigás, Zoltan; Kiss, Olga; University of Chester; European Mentoring and Coaching Council (European Mentoring and Coaching Council, 2017-03)
    The European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), with its vision to be the ‘go to’ body for coaching and mentoring across the globe, considers research to be a cornerstone of its strategy to spur the enhancement of practice, to spur innovation, and to drive the highest standards in professionalisation...
  • Organizational Initiatives for Spiritual Wellbeing in the Workplace

    Foster, Scott; Wall, Tony; Liverpool John Moores University; University of Chester (Springer, 2019)
    Spirituality can be understood in a pluralistic way, with varying conceptualisations through history and in different cultural contexts, and have included conceptions which place it synonymously with the practice of religious rituals as well as practices which enable people to experience a higher life purpose separate from a religious belief. However, within the context of work, its discussion has come to focus on re-orienting or re-balancing the experience of organisational life in developed countries in The West towards a more sustained and meaningful life in a context of workforce diversity and a greater sense of connectedness to others (Wall et al 2019). Against this backdrop, in the last decade, there has been a steady rise in interest regarding spiritual wellbeing and an increase inthe correlation between the expression of one’s spirituality and cases that are regarded as discrimination (Krahnke and Hoffman, 2002; Loo, 2017). Spiritualty has quickly become topical within the workplace and within business literature, partly due to the increase in technology such as the internet and social media (Long and Mills, 2010; Krishnakumer and Neck, 2002; Pawar, 2016; Bhatia and Arora, 2017). Whilst organisations are attempting to understand the complexity of spirituality, there are warnings in the literature that workplace spirituality is a prominent reality in the current business environment and it should not be dismissed (Deshpande, 2012; Alas and Mousa, 2016; Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2014). Therefore, workplace spirituality can be defined as a “contextualised phenomenon that examines questions of how spirituality relates to one’s work organisation and can be conceptualised as a lived experience and expression of ones spirituality in the context or work and workplace”. (Sheep, 2006:358)
  • Work based learning in the United Kingdom: What we know of practice and an example: The WBL module and WBIS program at the University of Chester

    Talbot, Jon; University of Chester (IGI Global, 2019)
    The chapter summarises the development and spread of Work based learning in British universities and includes case studies of at the University of Chester, where all three modes of practice are evidenced.
  • Mental Thoughness Development

    Wall, Tony; Strycharczyk, Doug; Clough, Peter; University of Chester; University of Huddersfield (Springer, 2019-07)
    Though there are different conceptions of mental toughness, there are a number of important commonalities, including: self-belief, attentional control, resilience, a success mindset, optimistic thinking, emotional awareness and regulation, ability to deal with perceived challenge, and contextual awareness and understanding (Crust and Clough 2011). As such, mental toughness has been conceptualised as a personality trait which describes the mindset that is engaged by people across extreme events as well as everyday events (Clough and Strycharczyk 2015; Stokes et al, 2018). It is closely related to qualities such as character, resilience, and grit, but whereas most personality models and measures assess the behavioural aspects of personality (how we act), mental toughness differs in that it assesses something more fundamental, that is, ‘how we think’, or why we act (and respond emotionally) to events (Clough and Strycharczyk, 2015).
  • Entrepreneurial resilience

    Evans, Vicky; Wall, Tony; University of Chester (Springer, 2019)
    The vast majority of businesses in all countries - between 70% and 95% - are micro-businesses, i.e. enterprises that employ fewer than ten people (OECD, 2017). Their impact on the economies and societies in which they operate is therefore significant, collectively acting as important sources of employment, growth and innovation (ibid, 2017). However, the existence of many of these businesses is often precarious, especially in the early stages of their development. Many newly created businesses fail within the first few years of life with mortality rates ranging from around 10% (UK, USA, Sweden) to 45% (Slovak Republic) in the first year (ibid, 2017). As a result, the entrepreneurial activity to create and manage these businesses is very demanding and exposes entrepreneurs to situations which would be expected to create high levels of stress among the general population (e.g. a rapidly changing and unpredictable environment, high responsibility, high workload). The demands of business start-up and ownership could be expected to create a higher risk of mental health problems. Isolation and long working hours could contribute to an increased risk of depression. Moreover, for many entrepreneurs, their business ventures are personal passions and their self-worth and well-being can be intimately connected to the success of those ventures (Murnieks, Mosakowski and Cardon, 2014). On a practical level, the pressures are often high and can create anxiety as personal financial well-being is often directly related to the ability to close the next deal. Furthermore, Spivak, McKelvie and Haynie (2014) highlight a possible “dark side” of entrepreneurship outcomes, finding that habitual entrepreneurs can suffer from symptoms of behavioural addictions - withdrawal-engagement patterns, obsessive thoughts, and negative emotions - arising from repeated venture creation activities. However, at the same time, Baron, Franklin and Hmieleski (2016) find that entrepreneurs experience lower stress compared to other occupational groups when creating new ventures. Baron et al (2016) suggest self-selection effects as the underlying mechanism producing entrepreneurs that are above average (as a group) in their capacity to handle stress effectively, arguing that those who persist in entrepreneurship acquire this capacity, the resilience to handle the stressors and challenges of their entrepreneurial context.
  • Reflective practice for sustainable development

    Wall, Tony; Meakin, Denise; University of Chester (Springer, 2019-07)
    The efficacy of developing institutional approaches for, and curriculum content about, sustainable development, has been criticised as insufficient to change behaviour in practice (Wall et al, 2017). This partly reflects the deeply engrained nature of educational practices and systems and their effects on learners, and how these are an intimate part of how (un)sustainable futures are perpetuated. As Orr (1994, p. 5) articulates it, “[t]he truth is that without significant precautions, education can equip people merely to be more effective vandals of the Earth”. Against this backdrop, scholars have called for approaches which employ a deeper link between individuals’ knowledge and their critical attributes, that is, a greater need to facilitate the capacities of learners to engage in critical reflection to help transform how they view their responsibilities regarding a sustainable future (Viegas et al, 2016)...
  • Human capital, international standards

    Stokes, Peter; Wall, Tony; De Montfort University; University of Chester (Springer, 2019-07)
    The drive for progress is a central underlying tenet of the development of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDG), and any form of progress will involve resources, structures and protocols. Yet it is also recognised that all of these are necessarily driven through human resources, or more generally expressed, people/human beings, thus, it is important to focus attention on the human dimensions that are ultimately the driver of initiatives such as the UN-SDG. The establishment of national and international standards can play an important role in this and constitute mappings and protocols which seek to span, encompass and codify recommended conditions, practice, and processes in relation to a given product, domain, or phenomenon (Stokes et al, 2016). The process of their drafting almost invariably involves consultation with a wide array of stakeholders and the resultant documents provide employees, managers, directors, and policy makers with guidelines which inform and work as a guide to ‘good practice’ (Crawford-Lee and Wall, 2018, forthcoming)...
  • Service learning and sustainability education

    Wall, Tony; University of Chester (2019-07-01)
    In the context of higher education, service-learning has been adopted for various dimensions of sustainability education across disciplines including environmental studies (Helicke 2014), engineering (Seay et al 2016), entrepreneurship (Niehm et al 2015), nursing (Dalmida 2016), clinical studies (Petersen et al 2015), psychology (Bringle et al 2016), and political sciences (Benjamin-Alvarado, 2015). It has been described as a philosophy, pedagogy, and programme (Jacoby 2015), conceptualised as a form of experiential education based on ‘reciprocal learning’ (Sigmon, 1979) where the ‘head, hands and heart’ can become integrated (Sipos et al 2008). Here, both the learner offering service and the recipient of that service are considered equally important, and both are mutually changed or transformed in some way (a relationship signified by the use of a hyphen between service and learning, ibid). Such reciprocity, however, distinguishes service-learning from volunteering and community service (which typically tend to prioritise the recipient of the service learner’s efforts), as well as field and internship education (which typically tend to prioritise the learner) (Sigmon, 1994)...

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