• A case study of performance appraisal in a small public sector organisation: The gaps between expectations and experience

      Warhurst, Russell; Mooney, John (University of Chester, 2009-12)
      The research project sets out to identify the gaps between expectations and experiences of performance appraisal in a small public sector organisation. The document explains how Passenger Focus, the rail watchdog, has undergone a successful corporate transformation from the previous federal network of regional committees into a new credible consumer body. The organisation has a new vision, and robust business planning processes have been introduced. However, there is a need to improve performance management through a new performance appraisal system. The overall purpose of the research is to assess the gaps between expectations and experiences in order to inform a new system. The literature review explains the background to the development of performance and its measurement in the public sector. It includes a detailed analysis of thinking on performance appraisal. The literature review concludes that performance appraisal can greatly benefit organisations, but appears to not be delivering in many cases. A conceptual model is developed to frame the empirical research. The research takes the form of a case study, and the findings are collated through qualitative interviews. A focus group was conducted, which framed the issues of concern, and these were explored in much more detail through semi-structured interviews. The findings revealed that there was a high level of understanding from staff of the need for performance appraisal. The largest gap between expectations and experiences lay in the current system, with respondents particularly concerned about the lack of training and over-simplistic documentation. Non-measurement of competencies was also a concern. Respondents were generally positive about recent experiences of appraisal. The findings suggest that motivated managers have made the system work for them, despite concerns about process, and respondents believe fairness is generally achieved. More attention is required to appraise team effort. There was little appetite for a system that links appraisal to financial reward. The conclusions of the research have informed the main recommendation, to develop a new system that is much more comprehensive, and incorporates training and guidelines. That new system should be developed through engagement with staff.
    • The runaway train: The railways and social anxiety in Victorian Britain

      Siddle, Yvonne; Price, Valerie (University of Chester, 2013)
      This essay examines whether the concerns and anxieties expressed over the railways in nineteenth-century Britain are in reality an expression of the wider concerns of the time. The Chester to Holyhead line, including the branch line from Llandudno to Blaenau, was taken as the basis for the essay as it encapsulates many of the points under consideration. Chapter one explores the physical problems of the railway looking at the apprehension over the speed of the locomotives and lack of control over expansion of the network as it destroyed housing and seized land. Social expansion was a source of concern epitomised by the rise of the new ‘middle class’. Wealth was generated rather than inherited allowing the permeation of class boundaries. Technology became more complex and less comprehensible to the people using it. The apparently unstoppable nature of the railway was causing anxiety across society. Chapter two examines the cultural impact of the railway, including the mobility of much larger proportions of the population and the incursion of mass numbers of people into areas previously considered the territory of the upper classes. The introduction of ‘Railway’ time across the country was also studied as well as the effect on language, culture and the economy in Wales. Chapter three looks at literature, with particular reference to Wordsworth, Dickens, Braddon, Gissing and Trollope and how the railways influenced their writing. Examination was made of the expansion of printing and the availability of cheaper literature and the effects this had on the structure of the reading public. Religious symbolism was explored and the use of the train as metaphor for modernity.