• Becoming a manager in a contact centre

      Warhurst, Russell; Trehan, Kiran; Beattie, Rona; Cureton, Peter J. (University of Liverpool (Chester College of Higher Education), 2014-11)
      This thesis uses an abductive research strategy to discover how individuals in a UK contact centre became first-line managers. Managers play a significant role in organisations as supervisors of staff, yet there is no general agreement as to what they do or how. Adopting an idealist ontology and a constructionist epistemology, this ethnographic project uncovered stories of becoming by using questionnaires, observations and interviews with twelve participants. The context was a private / public sector partnership to provide advice and guidance to a local community. The use by organisations of contact centres is maturing in the private sector and growing in the public sector. It is an especially important arena to explore in the UK economy as currently many contact centres that were outsourced to cheaper, high quality labour markets are returning to the UK. Analysis of data showed clearly that learning to become a first-line manager occurred throughout the life course in three distinct stages; formative development, and reflecting the values and behaviours of parents and teachers; pre-management occupational development, and the experience of being managed; and development actually in the role of a first-line manager. The thesis makes four contributions to the extant literature. Firstly, these three stages were shown to be the route in the transition from legitimate peripheral participation to mastery. Situated learning theory provides no such clarification. Secondly, learning to become a first-line manager did not necessarily change identity as many writers claim. Identities of first-line manager evolved by building on personal and occupational identities that had been developed earlier. Thirdly, teachers made a vital contribution to developing future first-line managers by affirming and strengthening family values. They also encouraged their pupils to recognise the connection between effort and gaining reward for achievement. Finally, the messy terrain of learning theory has been clarified, not as grand theory, but as mid-range theorising through a new conceptual framework. This schema synthesizes learning orientations with learning metaphors and learning viewed as a noun or a verb, and the various influences on learning from structure and agency. The four learning modes are adapt, assimilation, accommodation and aspire.
    • Behavioural Economics and Social Economics: Opportunities for an Expanded Curriculum

      Manning, Paul; University of Chester (Emerald, 2019-08-12)
      The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) undermined the legitimacy of orthodox economic assumptions, which nevertheless continue to frame business school pedagogy. In consequence, there is an opportunity for socio-economic insights to be more fully incorporated into the business school curriculum. This article reports and reflects on a socio-economic case study that was delivered to MBA students. The article demonstrates that the developing literature on behavioural economics has the potential to enhance students’ social-economic understanding of key areas of the curriculum. The paper presents an inter-disciplinary socio-economic teaching case that was informed by insights from behavioural economics. The teaching case concerned a socio-economic understanding of corruption and white-collar crime. It was also inter-disciplinary to include inputs from business history and criminology. The aim of the teaching case was to develop an appreciation among students that corruption and white-collar crime can be analyzed within a social economics lens. The teaching case example discussed in this article offered an alternative socio-economic understanding to core areas of the MBA curriculum, enabling students to apply a behavioural economic approach to corruption and more generally to white-collar-crime. The findings derived from this case study is that behavioural l economics has the potential to enhance the teaching of socio-economics. The GFC presents an opportunity to re-shape the business school curriculum to acknowledge the centrality of socio-economics and consequently to offer an alternative to the dominant ontological assumptions -taken from the economic understanding of rationality-that have previously under-pinned business school pedagogy. The originality of this article is to apply behavioural economics to a socio-economic teaching case studies in core subject areas of the MBA curriculum.
    • Being in-between: a narrative investigation into manager identity work in a UK Housing Association

      Page, Steve; Harris, Phil; Rostron, Alison I. (University of Chester, 2016-06)
      This thesis uses narrative methods within a social constructivist paradigm to investigate the identity work of managers in a North West England Housing Association, in the context of being ‘in-between’ those whom they directly manage, and those whom they are managed by. Within the complex field of identity studies it draws on a narrative conceptualisation of identity and utilises methods based on narrative structural analysis and the work of Propp (1968), and on a Levi-Straussian (1963, 1983) concept of mythical thought. The thesis is based on an embedded case study strategy in which managers are regarded as individual units of analysis within the bounded system of the case organisation. Data was collected primarily by eliciting stories from managers through interviews, and from observation and document collection over a fifteen month period. The case study organisation is a registered provider of social housing in the North West of England. Management in social housing is an under-studied area, and the complex environment, which makes multiple demands on managers to be both business and socially focused makes it an ideal context in which to investigate manager identity work. The thesis proposes the concept of the ‘medial manager’ as any organisational actor who is both managed themselves and who manages others. Its focus therefore extends from first level supervisors or team leaders through middle managers to senior managers reporting to Executive Board level. It makes a number of contributions to knowledge. First, a conceptual model of medial manager identity is developed through reflexive abductive iteration between primary data and extant literature which allows underlying processes of identity work to be identified, and understanding of identity work to be developed in several ways. These include identifying three distinct but inter-dependent phases of identity work, identifying key affording and constraining factors which help to explain different responses to subject positions by managers, and a more detailed understanding of the role of narrative in identity work. Second, the thesis adds to our understanding of managers. It reveals that the tensions between different interests commonly attributed to the middle manager role are also part of the daily experience of managers at other levels, and perhaps especially at team leader level. Third, the thesis makes a methodological contribution by developing a method of story elicitation and narrative analysis which is shown to be capable of revealing rich and granular detail into the workplace identities and processes of identity work accomplished by medial managers.
    • Benchlearning; Good Examples as a Lever for Development, Book Review

      Manning, Paul; The University of Liverpool
      Book Review
    • Beyond introspective reflective learning: Externalised reflection on a UK university’s Doctor of Professional Studies programme

      Talbot, Jon; University of Chester (University of Middlesex, 2012)
      The paper discusses the nature of reflective learning at doctoral level and argues that insufficient attention is paid to levelness in formal reflective learning for academic credit. It also discusses the problems associated with self reflection as introspection and argues that at doctoral level reflective learning should be external to the individual and directed at facilitating emergent practice change.
    • Beyond learning by doing: an exploration of critical incidents in outdoor leadership education

      Hickman, Mark; Stokes, Peter; UCLan and University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2015-08-03)
      This paper argues that outdoor leader education and training is generally characterized by the development of procedural skills at the expense of equally crucial but usually ignored, ‘soft skills’ (for example, contextualized decision making and reflection). Consequently, this risks producing practitioners with a potentially unsophisticated and limited awareness of the holistic outdoor environments and situations and an over-reliance on ‘how to’ skills which may, in turn, impede the development of links between theory and practice. This paper analyses a research project that undertook the application of critical incident theory to a study of undergraduates in a United Kingdom outdoor leadership degree programme in an attempt to promote and examine the processes of developing ‘softer’ reflective skills in the students. In addition, the paper’s argument and data, while not directly dealing with wider audiences (clients and national qualification bodies), provide inferences and allusions to potential consequent enhanced development and benefits of heightened reflective understanding and practice to these groups. Methodologically, the study examines a range of critical incidents in a purposive homogenous sample of 20 students from a vocational undergraduate outdoor studies course. Students were asked to identify and reflect on critical incidents in practice settings of their own choice. These settings spanned a range of contexts from outdoor centre work in the United Kingdom to assistant leadership positions on educational expeditions in remote locations overseas. Qualitative data analysis was carried out through the use of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The findings supported the conceptual premise and indicated that outdoor leadership programmes need to develop a broader and holistic skills base rather than persist with the extant predilection towards primarily physical and technical skills. Allusion is made to the suggestion that this could ultimately potentially enhance effectiveness with clients and employability prospects. In summary, a focus on critical incident method early in education and training processes has the potential to equip practitioners with the holistic and complex set of skills required in the contemporary outdoor workplace.
    • Brand personality: Theory and dimensionality

      Davies, Gary; Rojas-Mendez, Jose I.; Whelan, Susan; Mete, Melisa; Loo, Theresa; University of Chester (Emerald, 2018-03-12)
      Purpose: To critique human personality as theory underpinning brand personality. To propose instead theory from human perception and, by doing so, to identify universally relevant dimensions. Design/Method: A review of published measures of brand personality, a re-analysis of two existing data bases and the analysis of one new database are used to argue and test for the dimensions derived from perception theory. Findings: Existing work on brand personality suggests 16 separate dimensions for the construct but some appear common to most measures. When non-orthogonal rotation is used to reanalyse existing trait data on brand personality, three dimensions derived from signalling and associated theory can emerge: Sincerity (e.g. warm, friendly, agreeable), Competence (e.g. competent, effective, efficient) and Status (e.g. prestigious, elegant, sophisticated). The first two are common to most measures, status is not. Research Implications: Three dimensions derived from signalling and associated theory are proposed as generic, relevant to all contexts and cultures. They can be supplemented by context relevant dimensions. Practical Implications: Measures of these three dimensions should be included in all measures of brand personality. Originality: Prior work on brand personality has focussed on identifying apparently new dimensions for the construct. While most work is not theoretically based, some have argued for the relevance of human personality. That model is challenged and an alternative approach to both theory and analysis is proposed and successfully tested. Keywords: Brand personality; signalling theory; stereotype content model; brand image.
    • Branding of Southern African politics: The Case of the Democratic Progressive Party of Malawi and the African National Congress of South Africa

      Harris, Phil; Perrin, David; Simenti-Phiri, Easton D.; University of Chester (Global Business and Technology Association, 2015-07)
      A paper which examines the professionalisation of political campaigns in Southern Africa, using comparative methodology to examine the cases of Malawi and South Africa, selecting prominent political organisations in each.
    • Brexit Background Report - Meadow Foods

      Pownall, Ian; Chester Business School (2018-08-15)
      This is a Brexit briefing paper written for Meadow Foods. It offers a context for the senior staff meeting (15th August 2018) and to provide insights into the current known state of Brexit negotiations so that it might inform Meadows’ senior staff on potential contingency planning and implications. The paper seeks to adopt the goals of scenario analysis that challenge and prompt mindsets so as to encourage senior staff to reflect on patterns of understanding and thinking. The paper adopts a largely political economic viewpoint whilst also stressing potential trade impacts. It does this specifically to convey an understanding of the negotiating positions adopted by the UK and European Union (EU). Where possible and feasible, specific market insights are offered.
    • Business and organizational development: Global perspectives, cultures and domains

      Moore, Neil; Stokes, Peter; University of Chester (Inderscience Publishers, 2014)
      Recent years have seen an acceleration of alternative approaches to, and appreciations of, business and organisational development. Approaches focusing on cognitive elements, behavioural aspects and critical perspectives have emerged and become established in the mainstream. In turn, these approaches have facilitated and supported alternative domains, such as organisational learning, sustainability, social and environmental responsibility and gender issues. Contemporary organisational leaders are realising that, in order to cope with the complex and chaotic environments they face, alternative approaches and considerations are needed. This special issue provides space to explore and examine a number of these contexts through specific domains and issues. It achieves this by developing a range of perspectives, both epistemologically and geographically related, and presents case studies that focus on a range of emerging markets, sectors and approaches.
    • Business School Perceptions of the Possible Impact of the Teaching Excellence Framework: A Complex Adaptive Systems Perspective.

      Wall, Tony; Maheshwari, Vish; Jodlowski, Tadzio R. (University of Chester, 2019-07-23)
      The implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) at institutional level 2017, presents universities with the challenge of responding to a government policy which has the capacity to change the Higher Education landscape. Educational policies are capable of introducing complexity into organisations and inspiring disruptive behaviour. The strategic response to policy implementation within universities is often thought to be the domain of business schools due to their assumed autonomy and links to management. The responses of business schools towards policy implementation have not been previously explored. Therefore, the research explores the response of business schools towards the Institutional level TEF as well as wider policy changes, within the context of an assumed sense of autonomy. An interpretivist research methodology was chosen in order to explore business school responses towards the voluntary participation of the TEF in 2017 through interviews with respondents from universities across the country. This includes analysis of sense making from respondents as they drawing upon their respective knowledge networks. Qualitative research was utilised in order to explore the response from business schools and increase the understanding of policy response within the Higher Education sector. The research utilised purposive sampling followed by the use of snowball sampling. Complex Adaptive Systems theory was used a theoretical lens, and the data was explored though the use of thematic analysis which examined cluster formations in NVivo and identified patterns of data emerging into four main CAS areas. The findings suggest that business school responses towards the Institutional Level TEF in 2017 represents a moment in time when participating universities found themselves responding to an educational policy which contained an evolutionary element, capable of introducing change into the existing order - thus providing an example of punctuated equilibrium. The response to the TEF was hierarchical, and involved individuals reporting to their respective Vice Chancellors, while receiving support from self-regulating groups. The TEF is identified as a Complex Adaptive System due to its none-linear and unpredictable behaviour. Finally, Zimmerman’s Zone of Complexity is utilised in order to illustrate the manner in which the Edge of Chaos is capable of representing an opportunity for innovative though, when the decision is made to alternate between managerial clockware and innovative swarmware
    • Business schools as educational provocateurs of productivity via interrelated landscapes of practice

      Wall, Tony; Jarvis, Madeleine; University of Chester; University of Chester (Chartered Association for Business Schools, 2015-12-01)
      In an ever-changing and global marketplace, it could be argued that the role of business schools is no longer to train graduates for specific roles. Whilst this concept that we are educating ‘for jobs that don’t yet exist’ has become more widely accepted, educational practices in business schools are arguably still contained by traditional Western practices of individualistic student instruction. Indeed, even the relevance of academic theory to practice has sparked heated debate in business schools for some time and has led to calls for a different attitude of engagement with theory (Ramsey, 2011, 2014). Some have pushed the debate from relevance to relevating as a process of challenge, change and impact (Paton, Chia and Burt, 2014). But even this is insufficient to spark forms of business and management education which provoke new ways of thinking and acting in practice which are infused with social connectedness and are beyond single discipline thinking. Notions of ‘autonomous learning’ and working ‘critically’ may be viewed as a positive development from pedagogy to andragogy in UK tertiary education. However, these can still be interpreted in deeply individualistic ways which are oppositional to notions of learning rooted in and oriented towards larger social groupings (Goodall, 2014, Yunkaporta and Kirby, 2011). Simply ‘training’ individuals in specific management activities is likely to be insufficient in unlocking transformative (and productive) community action. A new educational ontology of being is needed.
    • Can universities deliver regeration skills? Reflections on the experience with the University of Chester's 'regeneration for practitioners' using a work based learning framework

      Talbot, Jon; University of Chester (2008-05-29)
      This conference paper discusses the development of a regeneration programme at the University of Chester.
    • Case Histories in Business Ethics by Megone, C. & Robinson, S. J., Book Review

      Manning, Paul; The University of Liverpool
      Book Review
    • Category management and strategic sourcing processes in local government: A phenomenographic investigation of the lived experiences of procurement managers

      Manning, Paul; Talbot, Jon; Benn-Ohikuare, Gregory A. (University of Chester, 2020-09)
      Increasingly tight financial constraints have meant category management (CM) and strategic sourcing (SS) processes have been adopted and integrated into the public sectors including English local government authorities (LGAs). The extant literature, however, argues that empirical research in these areas are underdeveloped especially in relation to competency and competencies. Therefore, this study aims to qualitatively investigate the different experiences of procurement managers in LGAs in England in terms of competency for accomplishing effective job performance through the use of CM and SS processes. The research methodology adopted is phenomenography, and data were collected through semi-structured interviews from a purposive sample of ten procurement managers. The data were analyzed following phenomenographic principles to identify the referential and structural aspects of experience. Ultimately, three main conceptions of competency for accomplishing effective job performance through the use of CM and SS processes are identified: Stakeholder Management; SocioTechnical Knowledge; and Achievement Orientation. This study not only expands the research context of phenomenography, but also contributes to the understanding of procurement managers’ conceptions of competency for accomplishing effective job performance through the use of CM and SS processes. The implications for procurement professionals are discussed.
    • Challenges and Issues facing Ethnic Minority Small Business Owners: The Scottish experience

      Ullah, Farid; Rahman, Zillur; Thompson, Piers; University of Chester (SAGE, 2018-01-23)
      Abstract Studies investigating the challenges and barriers faced by ethnic minority entrepreneurs have often concentrated on areas where there is a large supportive ethnic minority community. Less work has been conducted on the experience of those entrepreneurs operating in cities where such ethnic resources may be less widely available. Considered from the perspective of mixed embeddedness framework, this study uses face-to-face interviews with 25 ethnic minority entrepreneurs to gain a greater understanding of the constraints experienced by the starting and running businesses in one such location, the Scottish city of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom. Although issues found by previous studies such as access to funding remain an issue, the entrepreneurs indicated problems with access to labour as United Kingdom Border Agency’s immigration rules and tightening of the Post Study Work visa have had a profound effect on these entrepreneurs. The results imply that the weakening of the ethnic resource microsphere has not opened up opportunities which are exploited by the entrepreneurs, but they have still been exposed to external forces from the regulatory macrosphere. Both entrepreneurs and policymakers need to think carefully about the retention, training and recruitment of staff. In particular, the wider ramifications of immigration rule changes need to be considered, but also whether entrepreneurs need to be more open to the potential of recruiting non-ethnic employees and if so what support is required to achieve this.
    • Changing power relations in work based learning: Collaborative and contested relations between tutors, learners and employers

      Talbot, Jon; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2010-12-13)
      This book chapter discusses some of the implications for the role of university tutors and the centrality of educational objectives in circumstances where there is a 'cultural shift' towards meeting the needs of learners and employers. The work based and integrative studies (WBIS) programme at the University of Chester is used as a case study to examine the changing power relations between university tutors, learners, employers and the university, compared to relations on traditional programmes.
    • Charity Fundraising Events – An understated domain: The changing landscapes of charity fundraising event management processes, contexts and ‘communities’ in the United Kingdom

      Bellamy, Lawrence; Stokes, Peter; Brown, Timothy (University of Chester, 2018-08-22)
      Events Management is often regarded as a modern phenomenon, emerging in the last 25 years as an academic subject and practical discipline from a variety of existing fields. Despite this rapid growth there are still aspects of the event industry that are disregarded within the academic literature. This research address this by examining the contribution that charity fundraising events make. Furthermore this research provides new insights into the development and management of charity fundraising events. Conducted between 2011 and 2017 using mixed methods research, the thesis follows an interpretative approach and contributes to the knowledge of events management. Utilising Communities of Practice (CoP) as a conceptual framework the practices, processes and characteristics of events management and charity fundraising events was explored. The fieldwork research entailed examining 120 charity’s economic data regarding fundraising events, an industry survey of 215 event professionals, and 25 in-depth qualitative interviews with charity fundraising event professionals. The findings indicated that there is a unique approach and process to undertaking charity fundraising events, with a particular focus on sponsors, stakeholders and volunteers. This charity fundraising event process is also revealed to be a multi-event management process, as opposed to the singular approach promoted within the literature. Furthermore the economic value of charity fundraising events is demonstrated to be significant. Charity fundraising events are also established to be a critical strategic tool for charities to raise funds, raise brand awareness and, most significantly, to engage with supporters to become part of the charities donor journey. Finally, within the event industry, including charity fundraising events, there is clear evidence of CoP characteristics and practices. The thesis draws together insights from the literature and fieldwork, the event industry and event professionals, and provides a platform from which further research can be developed.
    • Chester Forum VII. "The Northern Powerhouse and Developing World-Class Competitiveness" Proceedings, Wednesday 11 May 2016 Boardroom, MBNA, Chester Business Park

      Harris, Phil; Sidsaph, Henry; Zhao, Y.; Okeke, C.; University of Chester (Business Research Institute, University of Chester, 2016-10-27)
      Proceedings of this major regional conference
    • Co-delivery of higher level learning and role perceptions: A practitioner research study

      Wall, Tony; Meakin, Denise; University of Chester (2011-11-06)
      Models of higher education which support personal and organisational transformation have emerged in various forms over time. One of these forms has been the negotiated, work-based learning framework which allow learners to integrate interdisciplinary study into their work activity. Such frameworks remain as innovative approaches for learning, and are more widely recognised than ever before. So much so, more and more learning and development departments of public, private and voluntary sector organisations are seeking recognition of their in-house training courses – so trainees can be awarded university credits or awards upon successful completion of a training experience. Although this may be seen as an innovative form of widening access and diversity in universities, it is also a strategic recognition that higher level learning is facilitated out of the classroom, in the workplace, in an applied setting (professional knowledge, ‘mode 2’ learning). In designing and delivering this provision, staff from the organisation offering the training (called Associate Tutors) and the university (called Associate Tutor Advisor) work together in a close relationship to ensure adherence to quality assurance standards, requirements and processes. Even though this is a growing area within higher education, this relationship is un-researched, and this paper raises important questions. Overall, this paper investigates how staff from organisations providing such training perceive their role: Do they see themselves as trainers? Do they see themselves as academics of the University? A hybrid? Or both? This paper draws data from innovative practice through a qualitative action based research methodology. It is argued that Associate Tutors can primarily see themselves as delivering a commercial training service with a brand-value, which is focused on a ‘mode 1’ transmission of knowledge – whereas the teaching, learning and assessment activities associated with being an academic in higher education is a secondary consideration. The implications and challenges of these perceptions are shared, discussed and critiqued in order to further develop innovative practice in facilitating partnerships for mode 2 knowledge creation, outside of universities.