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.
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.
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