• An accelerated practitioner research approach (APRA) for leaders and managers

      Wall, Tony; Leonard, Dilys T.; University of Chester (2012-01-31)
      Negotiated work based learning pedagogies can be used to successfully engage busy professionals in higher level learning at universities, across professions and disciplines. Within this approach, professionals become familiar with designing, implementing and evaluating work based projects which contribute towards their degree. Yet when these professionals move from the familiar work based learning approach to ‘research’ (and particularly ‘insider-research’), they can experience significant challenge. There are a number of reasons for this: perceptions of (and beliefs about) ‘research’ as being objective/from the outside, diversity of approaches and language in research texts – and most significantly – the ‘extra layer’ of thinking of persuasive systematic inquiry (including focus, rigour and validity). In order to overcome this challenge, an accelerated approach has been developed and tested in practice to enable professionals to design rigorous practitioner research. An action research approach approach, drawing on appreciative inquiry and grounded theory, involved peer questioning, validation and idea development. Each cycle generated a new set of tools and approaches over time, including the design of a new ‘core process’, key questions, faciliated workshop, learning materials and re-development of the module specification. Within the ‘situated’ model, the professional starts/focuses on problems or areas for development in their own practice (not academic ‘gaps’) and adopts a ‘critical-practical’ philosophical lens. The ‘core process’ includes the professionals: in stage 1, reviewing context for desirable changes, reviewing external sources for insight and direction, and defining research purpose and research questions; and in stage 2, defining research approach, data collection and data analysis methods. We have found the following changes so far: professionals are more confident in designing and critiquing practitioner research; research designs are more focused, persuasive, realistic, rigorous and focused on ‘situated knowledge’; and designs are more strategically located within organisations. We also expect greater strategic impact when the designs area implemented.
    • An accelerated practitioner research approach for professionals: A study

      Wall, Tony; Leonard, Dilys T.; University of Chester (2011-11)
      Negotiated work based learning pedagogies can be used to successfully engage busy professionals in higher level learning at universities, across professions and disciplines. Within this approach, professionals become familiar with designing, implementing and evaluating work based projects which contribute towards their degree. Yet when these professionals move from the familiar work based learning approach to ‘research’ (and particularly ‘insider-research’), they can experience significant challenge. There are a number of reasons for this: perceptions of (and beliefs about) ‘research’ as being objective/outside, diversity of approaches and language in research texts – and most significantly – the ‘extra layer’ of thinking of persuasive systematic inquiry (including focus, rigour and validity). In order to overcome this challenge, an accelerated approach has been developed and tested in practice with professionals across professions and disciplines, to enable them to design rigorous practitioner research. Data is drawn from one of the largest centres for negotiated work based learning. Procedure and/or instruments : This study draws on practice and data from the University of Chester’s Centre for Work Related studies, one of the largest providers of negotiated, work based university-level learning, globally. Academics at the Centre worked with practitioners who were studying the ‘Research Methods for Work Based Learning’ module as part of their work based learning undergraduate or postgraduate degree. The module delivery team developed facilitative approaches and tools through multiple action research cycles over the last two years. Each cycle involved a grounded, appreciative inquiry approach by the delivery team (four academics), and the wider Centre for critical peer questioning of evidence and logic, peer validation and idea development. Each cycle generated a new set of tools and approaches over time, including the design of a new ‘core process’, key questions, faciliated workshop, learning materials and re-development of the module specification. The latest version is openly shared and critiqued. What are the findings and interpretations? : Critical reflections amongst the delivery team highlighted the initial challenges above. As a result, a new approach was defined based on a ‘situated knowledge’ model, whereby the professional focuses on problems and developmental areas in their own practice (not academic ‘gaps’). With such a ‘critical-practical’ philosophical underpinning, a new ‘core process’ and key questions was developed. The ‘core process’ includes the professionals: in stage 1, reviewing context for desirable changes, reviewing external sources for insight and direction, and defining research purpose and research questions; and in stage 2, defining research approach, data collection and data analysis methods. We have found the following changes so far: professionals are more confident in designing and critiquing practitioner research; research designs are more focused, persuasive, realistic, rigorous and focused on ‘situated knowledge’; and designs are more strategically located within organisations. We are also expecting greater strategic impact when the professionals implement these designs.
    • An Examination of Daughter Succession in Turkish Family Owned Businesses: Gendered Norms, Cultural Influence and Leadership Challenges

      Page, Steve; Ozdemir, Ozlem (University of Chester, 2017-02)
      Succession planning and successor selection is a key theme in the FOB (Family Owned Business) literature. To enable the business to continue, FOB owner needs to decide who will be the next leader before resigning. Although the succession process is one of the most researched areas within the family business field, studies have mostly focused only on incumbent or successor viewpoints. However, the purpose of this study is to fill the gap and offers a different perspective on daughters’ succession by analysing owner, successor, and employee points of view. This dissertation aims to identify cultural patterns, and how factors based on different cultural patterns influence the daughter succession process in Turkish family businesses. Additionally, aim to reach novel insights regarding women entrepreneurs in Turkish FOBs, particularly how they gain business leadership positions, and the explicit and implicit factors determining the succession process. The research is grounded in the multidimensional model of succession process in family business theory, which has been expanded to include interactive and collaborative action, by addressing the family business cultural effects associated with stewardship theory. The adoption for this study of an epistemological interpretivist philosophy within a social constructivist perspective is justified. Data was collected from in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 20 FOB owners and daughters, and surveys of 252 FOB employees to obtain information on their perspectives about selecting daughters as FOB successors.
    • An Exploratory Examination of SMEs in Germany: Sustainability and Responsibility Engagement of ‘Mittelstand’ Firms in Baden-Württemberg

      Stokes, Peter; Kraus, Patrick (University of Chester, 2015-11)
      This thesis contributes to a field of scholarly research that seems to be receiving increasing attention, especially in recent times, although one has to acknowledge that there is still a severe lack of understanding. It is generally believed that the vast majority of research is still focused on large corporations, given their visibility and individual impact on the society, and this is particularly true in the re-search on sustainability and responsibility. In the course of this work, an extensive review of the relevant literature was conducted, including a holistic systematic analysis of a sample of leading small business and entrepreneurship journals, fol-lowed by an in-depth, narrative review based on a much broader selection of articles from various sources. The review revealed that there is little research on sustainability and responsibility in SMEs in Germany and that the vast majority of this research is quantitative in nature. The aim of this research is to, thus, develop an in-depth understanding of the sustainability and responsibility engagement of manufacturing SMEs in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg and, hence, also present and analyse the views of the participants in this research. Manufacturing SMEs were selected as the focal sample as the sector is very important to the regional community and it can be assumed that, given the nature of their operations, they are in some ways engaged in sustainability activities. For this reason, an interview-study with 30 participants from the SME sector was conducted, underpinned by an interpretive research paradigm. The interviewees included owner-managers (OMs) and managing directors (MDs) from a purposively created sample of SMEs. It must be noted that the focus is not on addressing some CSR role models, but on the ‘ordinary’ SME in-stead. The findings of this research are multifaceted. It was found that many SMEs in the sample tend to follow an extreme, long-term perspective based on a special ethos or values, such as fairness, honesty and trust. There seems to be a consider-able reservation towards the business principles of large corporations. The re-search provides an in-depth discussion on various sustainability dimensions identified in the data. This includes embeddedness in the local community, which varies considerably between the participating firms; focus on employees, which tendsto be seen as the most important resource, and caring for them is for most participants an essential point; and engagement in environmental issues, which tends to be of lower importance for participants except in the case of practices that directly lead to positive economic results. Overall, the research identifies that economic considerations dominate the worldview of participants. However, firms are not considered instruments of short-term profits; instead, natural, long-term development of firms is the overall goal. The research additionally finds that some SMEs in the sample are motivated to find a balance between informal and formal management approaches. In total, one can conclude that the behaviour of SMEs can-not be directly considered to be related to the principles of sustainable development. However, the sample firms and their behaviour are definitely closer to a responsible way of doing business in comparison to many large corporations which also tend to affect many SMEs negatively through their market power and price pressure. This research provides an insight into the world of (owner)-managers of SMEs, thus contributing to a field that is currently dominated by descriptive quantitative research in Germany.
    • An Institutional Perspective on Entrepreneurship in a Conflict Environment: Evidence from Pakistan

      Muhammad, Noor; Ullah, Farid; Warren, Lorraine; Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIKI) Pakistan; University of Chester; Massey University, New Zealand (Emerald, 2016-06-02)
      Purpose In this paper, an institutional perspective is used to examine the different kinds of pressures on entrepreneurs manifest in a conflict environment. The study investigates how they respond to the conflict and establish legitimacy for their entrepreneurship in the challenging context of the north western areas of Pakistan. Design/methodology/approach In this study, a qualitative approach is taken based on semi-structured interviews from 16 different firms in the SWAT valley. Findings The entrepreneurs undertake different strategies towards dealing with conflict and establishing legitimacy. These strategies are identified and examined in relation to the interactions between entrepreneurial behaviour and institutional pressures. Research limitations/implications Qualitative research on a small sample inevitably presents a limitation on the generalisability of this work. Further research could employ quantitative methods to address this issue. One particular location is studied, so future research could be carried out in other countries or regions with similar problems. Practical implications The study may have value for policy makers who need to know more about how to support ongoing businesses in conflictual regions. Social implications Better understanding of the needs of small business may in time contribute to a better business climate in conflictual regions. Originality/value A new dimension is added to institutional theory through its application in the very uncertain environment between all out war and ongoing violence, identifying the possibility of weak agency for institutional change. Further, the study contributes to the growing body of literature on entrepreneurship in conflict environments. Keywords: Conflict, institutions, SMEs, Pakistan, entrepreneur, legitimacy Paper Type: Research paper
    • An Investigation into the Influence of Social Media Message Context on Retailer-Consumer Interaction: A Case Study from the Lens of a UK Retailer

      Ashford, Ruth; Manning, Paul; Smith, Philip (University of Chester, 2018-07-13)
      This thesis investigates social media and retailer-consumer interaction with a research site of a well-established medium sized specialist retailer within the outdoor activities sector (the case organisation), selling goods and services online, and offline from physical retail stores across the United Kingdom (UK). The research investigates the case organisation’s response to the development of social media channels, with the purpose of developing understanding of the influence of content posted by the retailer on Twitter and Facebook platforms. The ease of access of these social media communications allowed the researcher to freely view the context of the case organisation’s activity and helped shape the questioning of research participants in their face-to-face semi-structured interview. The research aimed to develop understanding, and therefore qualitative methods were most appropriate. The philosophical assumptions were for a subjectivist ontology and interpretivist epistemology. The theoretical framework of uses and gratification theory (UGT), provided a priori themes to identify the retailer’s postings into social, entertainment or information value to the consumer. This study demonstrates that the case organisation’s posting activity on its primary Twitter and Facebook accounts, were predominantly of information value to the consumer, whereas users appeared to interact more with postings that were of social or entertainment value. The apparent under resourcing of the specialist product sub-community accounts (S1 and S2) appears to be suppressing social media activity, and thereby interaction with community members. But by reassigning management of S1 and S2 activity to generalists within the social media team, these research findings indicate that the case organisation is putting the close ingroup interaction that these sub-communities serve at risk. The one store-based subcommunity Facebook account (S3) was achieving a more balanced mix of user interaction than the case organisation’s primary account; indicating that local staff involvement was a motivating factor in consumer interaction. These research findings indicate that by re-evaluating the context of messages posted on its primary Twitter and Facebook accounts, and the involvement of local store account activity, consumer interaction on these channels will increase. Furthermore, the research findings suggest that by developing a transparent corporate social media strategy, that includes clear policy and operating procedures, those actors on the periphery of social media activity will benefit from the resultant clarity of understanding. And the call for training in managing social media activity for business by these actors can be addressed and delivered within the framework of a robust social media strategy. While there are inherent limitations in researching a single-case organisation, the generous access granted to the researcher provided a unique opportunity to investigate the research aim and objectives in a real-world setting. Moreover, this indepth study of Twitter and Facebook activity at the case organisation contributes to theory and practice by providing new insights and understanding on the influence of message context on consumer interaction from the lens of a specialist retailer.
    • An Overview of Modern China's Changing Economy,Business & Managemnt Video Collection, Sage Publications

      Harris, Phil; University of Chester (SAGE, 2016-08-01)
      Professor Phil Harris discusses modern China and its changing economy. China's economy is a large consumer economy with a rising middle class, and it is emerging as a tourist destination
    • Animal cruelty, foie gras, pigeons, aid policy and public affairs

      Harris, Phil; University of Chester (Wiley, 2016-11-22)
      This is a general issue of the Journal of Public Affairs. It includes articles examining a range of subjects, from development aid policy to concern about perception of pigeons and policy towards specialist products.
    • Applied Fantasy and Well-Being

      MacKenzie, Anna; Wall, Tony; Poole, Simon E.; University of Chester (Springer, 2019)
      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.
    • Approaches to supervising work based learning students’ workplace research

      Talbot, Jon; Lilley, Andy; University of Chester (Emerald, 2014-02-11)
      The paper describes a small research exercise designed to identify the practices of Work Based Learning tutors facilitating student research projects.
    • Are we any closer to sustainable development? Listening to active stakeholder discourses of tourism development in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, South Africa.

      Lyon, Andrew; Hunter-Jones, Philippa; Warnaby, Gary; University of Chester; University of Liverpool; Manchester Metropolitan University (Elsevier, 2017-02-24)
      ‘Biosphere reserve’ is a United Nations (UN) designation stipulating that a region should attempt to follow the principles of sustainable development (SD). This paper adopts a stakeholder analysis framework to analyse the discourses of those tourism stakeholders who can actively affect SD in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve (WBR), South Africa. Adopting an inductive qualitative methodology generated multiple research themes which were subsequently analysed using critical discourse analysis (CDA) techniques. These themes indicate that seeking SD in biosphere reserves is problematical when there are distinct ideological differences between active stakeholder groups and power relations are unequal. Adopting CDA allows us to make some sense of why this is the case as the technique appreciates not only how tourism development occurs, but also why it occurs in a particular way. This paper adds to the literature on stakeholder analysis in tourism specifically and also has wider implications for SD more generally.
    • Art-Based teaching on sustainable development

      Wall, Tony; Österlind, Eva; Fries, Julia; University of Chester; Stockholm University (Springer, 2019-09-30)
      The connections between art, art making, education, and responsibility in relation to the wider natural and social world have been given increasing attention over the last thirty years. For example, there have been a variety of journal special issues dedicated to art, education, and: ecology (Krug, 1997), social justice and social change (Bolin, 1999), community and responsibility (Carpenter, 2004), ecology and responsibility (Stout 2007), health and wellbeing (Haywood Rolling 2017), and human rights (Kraehe 2017). Such a rise has been linked to trends in the human search for meaning and significance amongst (and resistance against) globalisation, domination of market forces, and an increasingly complex and chaotic environment (Taylor and Ladkin, 2009)...
    • Arts based approaches for sustainability

      Wall, Tony; Österlind, Eva; Fries, Julia; University of Chester; Stockholm University (Springer, 2019-09-30)
      The arts encompass a broad and diverse landscape of interrelated creative practices and professions, including performance arts (including music, dance, drama, and theatre), literary arts (including literature, story, and poetry), and the visual arts (including painting, design, film) (see UNESCO, 2006). They have been explicitly linked to sustainable development in higher education at a global level through UNESCO’s Road Map for Arts Education (UNESCO, 2006) and The Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education (UNESCO, 2010). Specifically, the arts have been deployed to promote human rights, enhancing education, promoting cultural diversity, enhancing well-being and, most broadly, “to resolving the social and cultural challenges facing today’s world” (UNESCO, 2010: 8)...
    • Author Response: Provocative Education: From Buddhism for Busy People® to Dismal Land ®

      Wall, Tony; University of Chester (Springer, 2016-03-11)
      When we engage with Žižekian thought, we might conceptualise contemporary education as part of wider machinery to perpetuate and deepen the grasp capitalism has in a globalising world (also see Furedi, 2006, 2010). We might see how ideas, knowledge, and ‘everything else’ (c.f. Hawking, 2001, 2007) can and is packaged up into forms that are easily consumed by audiences buying the educational objects. Such processes of commodification actively render objects to the audience for sale, and appear across all spheres of human activity; this is why we must remember that according to some philosophical stances, the signified has a slippery relationship with the signifier (c.f. Lacau and Mouffee, 1985). Three examples help animate this phenomenon and some of the different consequences of it. The first example illustrates how commodification can apply to areas of life that we might think of as difficult to capture spiritually or experientially: now, for time-poor people who want to quickly reap the existential benefits of Buddhism, there is a wide range of easily accessible texts at affordable prices to choose from. Titles include “Buddhism for Busy People”, “Buddhism Plain and Simple”, “The Little Book of Buddhism”, “Buddhism Made Simple”, “Buddhism: for Beginners!”, “Buddhism for Dummies”, “Sit Like A Buddha”, “Hurry Up and Meditate”, “Enlightenment to Go”, and “The Dalai Lama's Cat”. In and through such texts, commodified versions of Buddhism appear, much the same way as Buddha-like statues appear in NASA photos of Mars (Feltman, 2015).
    • Automated Hyperlink Text Analysis of City Websites: Projected Image Representation on the Web

      Weismayer, Christian; Pezenka, Ilona; Loibl, Wilhelm (Springer International Publishing Switzerland, 2016-01-23)
      The objective of this study is to identify the image representations of 75 European cities on the Web. As an effective image positioning strategy will result in successful differentiation from competitors, it is crucial for tourism destinations to regularly examine their image. This study focuses on the supply-side of destination image formation and is therefore concerned with analysing the projected destination image. Hyperlink text of DMO websites was collected automatically by a crawler. The text was then edited and filtered. Latent semantic dimensions were generated by applying PCA. A hierarchical cluster approach revealed different groups of hyperlink terms. Finally, the co-occurrence of terms and cities was displayed in a joint-map indicating which groups of hyperlink terms are over- or underrepresented for each of the cities. This information permits conclusions regarding the projected image of the cities.
    • 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.