• Employee Engagement, Motivation, Resilience, and Leadership: An exploration of relationships within a Higher Education Institution

      Thomas, Mike; Rowland, Caroline; Mulliner, Julie (University of Chester, 2018-02-09)
      This study seeks to explore, in one particular UK Higher Educational Institution (HEI), the relationships between engagement, motivation, resilience and the quality of the relationship between managers and those being managed. A literature review provides salient themes relating to the four concepts of: employee engagement, motivation, emotional resilience, and leadership. The changing landscape of the University sector in the UK is also considered for contextual purposes. A mixed methods approach was used to explore relationships between these four concepts. Methods included: observation, focus groups, questionnaires and interviews. Findings from this study indicate that motivation, resilience, engagement and leadership all interrelate; but that leadership interrelated with the other concepts to a lesser extent. Prerequisites of engagement were found to be motivation and resilience, both of which were inter-reliant and as such were difficult to separate. Prerequisites of motivation and resilience were found to be individuals’ personality characteristics, mind-set and thinking style. Higher quality relationships with managers were consistently associated with higher effort, whereas lower quality relationships ranged from making no difference to the exertion of effort, to being a minor irritation in the background, to adversely affecting effort and resilience. Specific leadership attributes and behaviours were found to be more influential in terms of creating affinity between the line manager and follower which were more likely to positively influence engagement, motivation and resilience. Conclusions indicate that the majority of effort is influenced by an individual’s personality characteristics, mind-set and thinking style. The minority of effort therefore was influenced by external factors such as job enjoyment, as a loci of engagement, and autonomy, as a determinant of engagement. The role of a leader is therefore critical in terms of creating and maintaining an engaging work environment. Certain leadership attributes such as gaining trust, being genuinely caring and compassionate and having a positive outlook were positively associated with the followers having a stronger emotional attachment to the organisation manifesting in increased engagement, motivation and resilience. Practical recommendations for senior leaders in organisations, people managers and HR practitioners include: creating operational clarity and clarity of vision; creating and maintaining a culture of care and support; developing leadership attributes and competencies which are key to achieving an engaged workforce; and implementing practices to facilitate job satisfaction, personal and professional growth and a climate of team collegiality which were found to be the three most important work related factors which positively influenced engagement. This research contributes by bringing a new dimension to employee engagement, motivation, resilience and leadership, adding to the existing literature relating to these four concepts. Three different perspectives are presented and one conceptual approach, relating to these four concepts. Each perspective and approach contains elements which can be applied by HR professionals and organisational leaders to create a culture of employee engagement. This study provides a questionnaire that may be used by other organisations to determine engagement strategies and policies.
    • Exploring the lived experiences of owner-managers who thrive at work

      Wild, Wendy (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-06)
      This thesis explores how owner-managers of scale-up companies thrive at work and aims to explore the experiences of owner-managers of these companies who are thriving at work. Empirical research to date is primarily conceptual and quantitative and conducted outside the UK with employees. This research addressed the literature gap by undertaking interpretative phenomenological analysis with owner-managers in the UK. Key findings both support and challenge the existing thriving at work construct proposed by Spreitzer, Sutcliffe, Dutton, Sonenshein & Grant (2005). Whilst this study was a based on a small number of atypical individuals, this appreciative inquiry extended existing knowledge by describing the insights and experience of owner-managers who were thriving at work using their own taxonomy, clearly expressing their need for self-development and energy, but combining these with a third dimension of being happy on a daily basis. For some, the number of participants might suggest that the findings have to be interpreted cautiously, however the underpinning methodology provided a robust rationale for such numbers to gain a deeper understanding of the idiographic experience ownermanagers have when they thrive at work. This research also contributes to the body of knowledge on spill-over, between home and work, as owner-managers were happy to have, and accepted, that their work-life and home-life would be intertwined. In the UK the Scale-up Institute report of 2014 recommended that an eco-system be developed to support these companies, and the findings of this thesis produce practical insights for stakeholders within this eco-system. Educationalists in particular should be facilitators who focus on the strengths of owner-managers, recognise that owner-managers are paratelic learners, so enable them to spot and respond to challenges to support their thriving, but importantly recognise that the speed of change could be gender specific. It is incumbent on stakeholders in the ecosystem to invest in external peer groups as a place in which owner-managers can be authentic, as inside their organisation they see themselves as role models to their staff, recognising the contagious effect their mood could have on those around them.
    • Factors affecting progress of the National e-Health Strategy in the NHS in England: A Socio-technical Evaluation.

      Page, Steve; Bellamy, Lawrence; Manning, Paul; Richardson, Keith (University of Chester, 2019-03-21)
      Background: This is a formative socio-technical study of the “middle out” NHS e-health strategy in England. It began in 2015 with an objective to become “paperless at the point of care by 2020”, focussing nationally on the “electronic glue”, (interoperability), to facilitate the inter-organisational exchange digital communications of patient data and leaving the choice of EHRs to local organisations. No academic research has been published into the strategy and similar studies rarely include sample groups of suppliers or IT consultants. So this study seeks to fill both gaps in knowledge. Such strategies are prevalent across westernised developed countries and can consume large sums of government funding and local resources. In consequence, their failure can be very costly. This study seeks to mitigate that risk whilst recognising that, as they operate in highly complex environments, choosing any particular type of “bottom up”, “middle out” or “top down” strategy construct does not guarantee success. Their outcome is dependent upon the successful navigation through a mix of factors, known and unknown, across technical, human and social, organisational, macro-environmental and wider socio-political dimensions through time. Findings: The “middle out” strategy is broadly more appropriate, rather than “bottom up” or “top down”, but the target, of becoming “paperless by 2020”, is unattainable. Major cultural barriers include resistance by powerful clinicians, who can perceive such strategies as threats to the moral order and their traditional role as gatekeepers of access to patient data. Other barriers include inadequate and delayed national funding; disruption caused by government reorganisations; major premature programme re-structuring and a shift away from the original intent, resulting in the inappropriate selection of single organisation pilot sites rather than multi-organisational community wide ones to promote interoperability. New factors found include: the threats of cyber security incidents and the need for protective measures; the mismatch between strategy timescales and local procurement cycles; the quality of IT suppliers and the competing demands of similar change management programmes for scarce local NHS resources. Proposition: To reflect those findings a new socio-technical model is proposed that incorporates those additional factors as well as two further cross cutting dimensions to reflect “Lifecycle” and “Purpose”, drawing on elements of both Change Management and Technology Lifecycle Theory. “Lifecycle” reflects the “passage of time” as the evidence suggests that factors affecting progress may vary in their presence and impact over time as a strategy moves though its lifecycle. The addition of a “Purpose” dimension supports a reflection on the “why”. Some support is found for the proposal that a “middle out” strategy is more likely to facilitate progress than “bottom up” or “top down” ones. However a shift in approach is advocated. It is proposed that “middle out” e-health strategies are more likely to be successful if their “purpose” shifts away from promoting EHRs, per se, like with single organisation pilot sites, towards inter-organisational clinical and social care workflow improvement across health and social care economies. To achieve that, the focus should shift towards interoperability and cyber security programmes. Those should promote and mandate the use of national interoperability infrastructure, national systems and national standards. They should also provide national funding support to health economy wide clinical and social care workflow improvement pilots and initiatives that span those economies.
    • The management of continuing professional development in General Further Education Colleges when intentionally aiming to improve Ofsted inspection from an ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ grading to ‘good’.

      Flanda, Wilfrid, T (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2018-09)
      The area of teachers’ continuing professional development (CPD) is in the spotlight. This study considers the range of CPD opportunities that are implemented for teachers in General Further Education Colleges (GFECs) following an “inadequate” or “requires improvement” Ofsted inspection in order to achieve a future grading of “good”. The study draws on specific theoretical insights from the literature concerned with teacher professional development in the Further Education (FE) sector. In doing so, the study evaluates the spectrum of CPD models that were on offer within eleven GFECs that took part in the study by using a constant comparative approach. Using data generated from the eleven GFECs and also Kennedy’s (2014b) framework of CPD models as a lens for analysis, I identified five CPD models, which I then classified in relation to their top-down or developmental approach, and also the extent to which the activities identified underpinned professional autonomy and transformative practice. Using CPD as the point of analysis, the study investigates eleven GFECs, and whether the approach taken by the various colleges, prioritises individual or collective development. It then goes on to examine the contribution of resources, roles and responsibilities of individuals and teams within the particular context in which they operated. The findings generated from this study argue that continuous improvement is the result of a change in culture that is initiated by the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and middle managers, and the success of this cultural change hinges on a series of mechanisms that support the achievement of “higher standards” in teaching and learning.
    • Managers Managing Stress at Work: Exploring the experiences of managers managing employee stress in the social housing sector

      Wall, Tony; Foster, Scott; Parkyn, Matthew (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-07)
      This research has explored how seventeen middle managers in the social housing sector manage employee stress and the reasons they take the approach they do. The research has been conducted in response to the increased prevalence of workplace stress. While workplace stress and mental well-being continues to rise up the political and business agenda; the most recent statistics from national and international organisations identify that the management of stress in the workplace needs to be improved. Workplace stress is a global issue for which the related direct and indirect costs are only beginning to be quantified, although the estimated cost of work-related depression in Europe is €617 billion per year. Furthermore, there is a trend towards devolving responsibility for managing workplace stress to individual managers. Despite their increasing responsibilities for managing stress at work, middle managers often lack the authority, skills and capacity to make the changes required to prevent workplace stress. Evidence suggests that middle managers are in a complex and challenging position between their superiors and more junior staff which can exposes them to role related stressors. The United Kingdom (UK) social housing sector is a particularly complex and vital one, comprising of a variety of private, public and charitable enterprises that build, manage and maintain housing stock. The complexities, political and financial challenges facing the sector expose middle managers and their staff to an increased risk of work-related stress. This study adopted a constructivist philosophy, relativist ontology and subjectivist epistemological position. Semi structured interviews were conducted with seventeen middle managers working in the social housing sector in an attempt to explore and better understand how they approach managing work-related stress experienced by the employees. The findings of this study are that, in contrast to what the extant literature recommends, participants adopt predominantly reactive approaches to managing employee stress and deploy mostly secondary and tertiary stress management interventions. The study also found that the participants tend to focus on managing stress caused by workload, relationships at work and home-work interface. Furthermore, this study contributes new insights into how middle managers are managing stress in practice such as, using their personal experiences of managing their own stress and by observing the behaviours and practices of other managers. This study also highlights a number of contemporary stressors in the context of the social housing sector. These contributions provide new practical insights into how middle managers might more effectively manage stress in the workplace. The need and focus of this research arose from the researcher’s practice as an occupational health and safety consultant working with social housing providers across the UK. His work involves advising housing providers and their middle managers on matters of employee stress and health. Often this advice is sought when the employee is already unwell and needs help to recover. This reactive approach to workplace stress is contrary to what UK health and safety (H&S) law requires and is known to be ineffective in tackling stress at work. The researcher’s professional experience in the housing sector and the trend in devolving responsibility for managing stress at work to middle managers, provided the initial spark for this research.
    • The Study of Endogenous Corporate Social Responsibility in Saudi Arabia

      Harris, Phil; Saeidi, Adnan E. A. (University of Chester, 2019-05-14)
      Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is striving to reach the business community of Saudi Arabia from Western and International CSR prospective. However, they are faced with local endogenous CSR factors indicating the distinctive Saudi CSR features and characteristics originating from within Saudi Arabia during the current early CSR initiatives. Saudi Arabia is an advocate for Islamic teaching and practices, throughout the Islamic world abiding comprehensively to the Islamic social care system, which is interlocked with additional unique cultural, national, and social expectations. Those factors overlap with the semi-official governmental endorsements and the private sector’s unique conceptualization of CSR, which, in essence, formulate the endogenous distinctive Saudi CSR characteristics (Saudi CSR) considered to be under-researched in comparison to the CSR generic debate in other countries. The research questions are: what are the endogenous Saudi CSR Characteristics? How can they be related to the local Saudi CSR unique conceptualization? And could they be interpreted using Carroll’s 1779, 1991, and 3D CSR Models? The study primarily aims to empirically investigate, identify, and analyse the unique origination of the Saudi CSR model and the misconceptualizing it has to the International CSR regulatory framework. It also aims to provide a possible template for the Saudi National CSR strategy respectively. It focuses upon investigating whether the empirically formulated and identified Saudi endogenous CSR’s context and characteristics can be aligned, analysed and/or interpreted in light of CSR generic theories, and the international CSR standardization for reporting initiatives, including Carroll’s Four dimensions: 1979 and Pyramid 1991, and the Three-Domain 2004 CSR models (Mark et al., 2004). The analytical analysis demonstrates that a Saudi national CSR strategy has not been established yet; hence the current study provides a template for building up such strategy. A conceptualized theoretical framework is formulated utilizing both empirical evidence from pilot studies and the narrative analytical analysis, which aimed at identifying and exploring Saudi CSR uniqueness using an eclectic research approach. The indirect Saudi CSR evidence was investigated using questionnaires, document analysis and Semi-structured interviews, which comprised nearly 380 Saudi organizations within the private, listed, and Non-profit sectors. Data Analysis including King Khalid Foundation, Saudi companies and CSR Data reflection revealed a set of endogenous distinctive characteristics, which are validated using triangulation data collection tools. The findings of the study suggest that the Saudi CSR characteristics (endogenous features) fall within the following categories evidenced by their practical applications, Saudi companies’ strategic policies and Saudi leadership’s CSR own self-generated principles: (1) Islamic Philanthropy, (2) Social Obligation, (3) National Development Obligation (5) Corporate Citizenship (6) National Economic Developments (7) National Competitiveness, (8)Stakeholder’s Expectation and (9) Environmental and Global Expectation and (10) Corporate Governance. Furthermore, data analysis displays that Carroll’s 3D CSR model sets certain suitability limitations for Saudi CSR interpretations. It also reveals the need for utilizing the adopted Carroll’s combined model formulated in the present study; its utilization conforms to the Saudi CSR components while formulating the required Saudi national CSR.
    • Understanding UK Rewards-based Crowdfunding as an Alternative Source of Entrepreneurial Finance

      Harris, Phil; Lam, Wing; Zhao, Ying (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-06)
      Entrepreneurial financing plays a vital role in the survival and viability of businesses (Crosetto & Regner, 2018; Mason & Harrison, 1991; Signori & Vismara, 2017; Zhao et al., 2019). Research studies and financial commentators have suggested that reward-based crowdfunding (RBC) plays an increasingly important role in the process of business start-ups (Baeck et al., 2014; Bilau & Pires, 2018; Lelo de Larrea et al., 2019; Mollick, 2014). However, a review of literature indicates that little is known about the field of RBC from a theoretical perspective. Therefore, the main aim of the thesis is to address the knowledge gap by developing a conceptual framework to advance understanding of the RBC funding process through using a signalling theory lens. The author adopted a pragmatist epistemological stance. This study collected publicly available data of 636 UK start-up projects on a RBC platform, Kickstarter, from September to December in 2017 and repeated this for the same period in 2018. It was found that signal observability (the size and quality of the fundraiser’s network) play a significant role in crowdfunding success across all projects. Whereas, prosocial intention (charitable purpose) plays a stronger role in predicting the likelihood of the success of projects with a medium goal. This study identifies and evaluates how the key factors (project quality, project intention and signal observability) impact on crowdfunding’s success, as well as investigates the interplay between different actors (signallers, receivers and signals) in the RBC market. A further important contribution of this work arises from the use of rich qualitative data in addition to the quantitative research approaches previously utilised by others (Bi, Liu and Usman, 2017; Kunz et al., 2017). The thesis makes contributions to both theory and practice. The findings have major implications for different parties including: policy makers, practitioners, researchers and educators. It provides an insight for practitioners considering the adoption of a crowdfunding approach and the knowledge and recommendations in running a successful RBC campaign. It also helps nascent entrepreneurs to reconstruct their financing strategy through the better understanding of the position of RBC in entrepreneurial financing. An important implication is that this study can help policy makers to better understand the RBC industry, which is essential in developing relevant policies in this under-governed area. Finally, this research contributes to growing knowledge and interest in entrepreneurial finance, especially in the online alternative finance market, which is beneficial for both researchers and educators.