Being in-between: a narrative investigation into manager identity work in a UK Housing Association
AuthorsRostron, Alison I.
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AbstractThis 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.
CitationRostron, A. I. (2016). Being in-between: a narrative investigation into manager identity work in a UK housing association (Doctoral dissertation). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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