This collection contains the Doctoral and Masters by Research theses produced within the department.

Recent Submissions

  • Thriving at Work (Integrated Learning): An investigation into adult learners’ experiences of vitality and learning when successfully engaging with work integrated learning

    Wall, Tony; Foster, Scott; Weston, Philippa J. W. (University of Chester, 2021-08)
    Higher Education (HE) has a key role in re-educating an aging UK workforce through part-time programmes aimed at older (30+) working adults. However, since 2010 HE enrolments have plummeted further compounded by high attrition rates. As such, there is an urgent need for HE to research this important but overlooked student category in order to attract and support them. As a HE lecturer in work integrated learning, the researcher has a vested interest in addressing this gap as well as contributing to the thriving at work literature. Taking a social constructivist stance, narrative inquiry has been applied to explore eleven adult work integrated learners’ experiences of thriving to gain a deeper understanding of what positively influences their vitality and learning and how HE can facilitate them. Her findings show learners’ vitality towards work integrated learning mirror their vitality towards work. The opportunity to shape and share learning helps elevate and maintain vitality levels as well as deepen the learning experience so enabling them to thrive. Further, attitudes are not only influenced by the current context but also experiences and events from childhood. However, although HE tutors can positively influence learners’ experience of work integrated learning, most of HE appears to have little impact. As well as exploring thriving in the context of work integrated learning, this study contributes to the thriving at work literature by providing insights which suggest vitality exhibits state-like and trait-like qualities. When vitality combines with work integrated learning, it creates a virtuous circle where one construct builds on the other to enable the learner to thrive. This is further enhanced by learners’ shaping and sharing their learning experience with others. However, learners’ ability to engage with HE successfully in the present is also influenced by their experiences from the past and can impact on their needs and expectations. To attract and retain this important learner category, HE must understand and respond to learners’ needs and expectations not just via interactions with specific tutors but through the HE systems and processes laid down to support them.
  • Experiences of international students studying in a UK university: how do international students studying in the UK’s Higher Education sector build academic resilience?

    Moore, Neil; Ullah, Farid; Brogden-Ward, Anthony J. (University of Chester, 2021-05)
    With the ever-increasing number of international students entering the global market, many of which enrol on post-graduate Higher Education (HE) programmes in the UK, current research offers limited insight into the key role academic resilience plays in enabling international cohorts’ progression and achievement. This study aims to fill the gap by investigating how international students studying in the UK build academic resilience, contributing to the literature and informing governmental policies and university practices. Guided by Bourdieu’s seminal concepts of social capital generation and conversion, this work develops the theories of other researchers in building capital to enhance the academic resilience of students. It achieves this by adopting a qualitative interpretivist paradigm aligned to similar studies, using a longitudinal representative case study in the UK. Over a period of 42-months, 36 respondents formed four non-probability samples. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews, a focus group and questionnaire, the findings of which were analysed using grounded theory methods and supported by computer-aided qualitative analysis software. The results identify six prevalent capitals that students either generate prior to their arrival in the UK or are socially constructed with newly formed peer-groups. Notably, the emergence of neo-familial capital akin to concepts of fictive kinship offers a fresh perspective on the need to formally address the importance academic resilience has on the international student’s learning experience and progression. The findings provide insight into the sources of international students’ academic resilience and how these can change over space and time. This insight offers universities with theoretical and practical guidance on the need to embed proactive student support systems that stimulate academic resilience amongst its international students. It also informs governmental policies on attracting students from overseas as it seeks to enhance the UK’s HE offer to global markets.
  • Category management and strategic sourcing processes in local government: A phenomenographic investigation of the lived experiences of procurement managers

    Manning, Paul; Talbot, Jon; Benn-Ohikuare, Gregory A. (University of Chester, 2020-09)
    Increasingly tight financial constraints have meant category management (CM) and strategic sourcing (SS) processes have been adopted and integrated into the public sectors including English local government authorities (LGAs). The extant literature, however, argues that empirical research in these areas are underdeveloped especially in relation to competency and competencies. Therefore, this study aims to qualitatively investigate the different experiences of procurement managers in LGAs in England in terms of competency for accomplishing effective job performance through the use of CM and SS processes. The research methodology adopted is phenomenography, and data were collected through semi-structured interviews from a purposive sample of ten procurement managers. The data were analyzed following phenomenographic principles to identify the referential and structural aspects of experience. Ultimately, three main conceptions of competency for accomplishing effective job performance through the use of CM and SS processes are identified: Stakeholder Management; SocioTechnical Knowledge; and Achievement Orientation. This study not only expands the research context of phenomenography, but also contributes to the understanding of procurement managers’ conceptions of competency for accomplishing effective job performance through the use of CM and SS processes. The implications for procurement professionals are discussed.
  • Exploring International Student Satisfaction in Private Higher Education Institutes in London

    Wall, Tony; Mehashwari, Vish; Qureshi, Fayyaz H. (University of Chester, 2020-07-29)
    In March 2019 the government of the United Kingdom developed a new strategy to strengthen Britain's leading role in the global higher education market, by aiming to increase the number of international students studying in the country by more than 30 per cent – which in turn would help to boost the income of educational exports to £35 billion (UK Government, 2019). The purpose of this study is to explore an understanding of international student satisfaction in institutions of private higher education in London, adding to the paucity of literature centred on international student satisfaction in private higher education in the UK in general and particularly in London. The private higher education sector in the United Kingdom is expanding rapidly, especially in London. An indicator of this is the number of private higher education institutions with degree awarding powers, which increased from only one private university to ten within less than a decade. Student satisfaction is a complex phenomenon and arguably related to or even extended from the concept of customer satisfaction, a relatively well-known concept in marketing literature. In higher education, only a few studies, mostly based on quantitative methods, are available within the subject area of student satisfaction. Furthermore, this existing body of work is limited to the public higher education sector. This is equally true for international students studying in private higher education institutions (PrHEIs) in London. This signifies the need to investigate thoroughly the perception and experience of international students studying at PrHEIs in London. The outcome of such a study should contribute to improving the quality of educational provisions not only in PrHEIs but also in public higher education institutions (PuHEIs). For this particular study, qualitative research was employed, by conducting twelve indepth interviews with international students to capture their experiences whilst measuring their levels of satisfaction, leading to the production of rich data. From this data, three themes emerged along with several subthemes; (1) Flexibility in policies - tuition fee policy, admission policy, multiple intakes and speedy admission processes, (2) Student friendly management- fast communication, a simple structure, quick decision making and easy access to senior management and (3) Feel being customers - customised service while the other significant existing themes such as course and institution selection, pre-arrival and arrival experience, learning & teaching , resources and overall satisfaction were matched to the expectations of the international students and findings in the literature. Recommendations were made particularly around emerging themes and subthemes in order to improve satisfaction by giving more value to student opinions and being more responsive to their needs and demands. This study further concludes that this can only be achieved if higher education (HE) considers students as customers. A need for further research was identified, to study more closely the relationship between new themes and subthemes and student satisfaction.
  • Transitions and student wellbeing in higher education: Exploring the role of Independent Learning Skills

    D'Artrey, Meriel; Wall, Tony; Rowlett, Debbie (University of Chester, 2020-09-10)
    The number of reported mental health issues amongst university students continues to rise, affecting student attainment and progression. Within this context, this study explores students’ experiences of wellbeing during transition to university, specifically exploring the under-researched area of how Independent Learning Skills (ILS) and wellbeing interrelate. A novel conceptual framework combining aspects of ILS and wellbeing was constructed which then informed semi-structured interviews with university business school students and a Template Analysis. The study found a variety of ways in which the development of ILS and student wellbeing can be helped and hindered during transition to university, for example, how student and university practices appear to affect ILS and wellbeing. As such, this study sits in contrast to previous research in combining two areas not typically combined to examine student transition, offering new practical insights into supporting students. Key contributions that have been made as a result of this research include a deeper understanding of the relationship between specific ILS skills and specific elements of wellbeing. The experiences that students had were found to be inconsistent relating to academic support and these experiences both positive and negative were shown to mediate the relationship between ILS and wellbeing. Early experiences of the students were shown to have an anchoring effect on ILS and wellbeing, for example not engaging with support offered by their Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) was later shown to have hindered achievements and feelings of wellbeing. The diversity of learning needs and preferences identified from the research was also found to relate to students’ development of ILS and associated feelings of wellbeing. Further research has been identified that seeks to explore the relationship between ILS and wellbeing to specific student outcomes, including student grades, retention and progression outcomes.
  • The experiences of older drivers in adopting new technologies in cars: an exploratory study

    Talbot, Jon; Bellamy, Lawrence; Varshney, Anuraj (University of Chester, 2020-03-28)
    Emerging technologies are at the forefront of semi-automation in cars. These advances in semi-automation have the potential to maintain independent mobility amongst older drivers, prolong safe driving practice and contribute towards reducing the burden of climate change. This practitioner based qualitative study aims to explore diversity of experiences of older drivers in England towards both the adoption of car technologies and its role in supporting effective self-regulation. The research investigator is a practitioner and this study has benefitted empirically through combining the practitioner's experiential learning and academic rigour to generate new knowledge in the field of older drivers' adoption of car technologies. The findings of this study have highlighted that older drivers are supportive of the use of technologies that provide them with feedback on their driving behaviour rather than taking away the control of the car from them. Additionally, the study found that there are several barriers likely to deter older people from using technologies relating to training, user engagement. This practitioner study concludes that concerted effort from all stakeholders would be required to create a favourable environment for older users to ensure maximum diffusion of these new technologies and realise its full benefits. As part of the professional doctorate knowledge gained from this study, is intended to be disseminated within the researcher's practice and other relevant stakeholders.
  • The Evaluation of Leadership Coaching Through a Lens of Ambidexterity

    Jamieson, Mark (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-07-24)
    Leadership coaching has grown to become a significant intervention to respond to the management needs of an increasingly complex organisational environment. The substantial investment in leadership coaching corresponds with current accountability trends, raising the profile of evaluation; however, evidence shows that organisations treat evaluation in this context as being of low strategic value, characterised as limited and problematic, both operationally and strategically. Specifically, whereas evaluation has primarily focused on current organisational imperatives and financial targets, there is also evidence of the increasing emphasis on a new set of leadership behaviours to achieve competitiveness through adaptive capacities characterised by complex decision-making which balances short term outcomes in known circumstances with longer term capacity building in unknown contexts. In response, this study adopts ambidexterity (the adaptive capacity to balance shortterm-known and long-term-unknown demands) as a conceptual lens to examine the evaluation of leadership coaching and used in depth semi-structured interviews with 12 senior practitioners engaged in this area. The study found multiple incongruences between espoused strategic priorities and evaluation practice in-use, and identified apparent moderators that influence evaluation practice in-use. As such, an exploration of moderators contributed fresh insights into barriers and enablers, including six new dimensions for evaluation problematics, and seven promising movements with implications for practice. More generally, this study also asserts that the lens of ambidexterity presents new opportunities for an expansive exploration of evaluation in terms of a wider strategic contribution and, accordingly, suggests the dimensions of an ambidextrous framework, simultaneously pursuing a workable system that is also strategically helpful.
  • Future proofing the degree apprenticeship workforce - an exploratory study of resilience behaviours, resources and risks

    Moore, Neil; Moss, Danny; Rowe, Lisa (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-11)
    The Higher Education Institution (HEI) employer interface has attracted much attention recently, particularly over dissatisfaction with graduate work-readiness. Concurrently, pressure upon new graduates is accelerating through the unprecedented pace of global change in technologies, communications and robotics, revolutionising the workplace and requiring new lifelong learning strategies which embed critical transferable skills and resilience to adapt, thrive and perform effectively in an increasingly unpredictable global environment. Degree apprenticeships developed to counter such skills issues have forced HEIs to adapt pedagogic strategies and adopt work-based learning frameworks to ensure curricula meet new political apprenticeship reforms. The extant literature reflects an increasing demand for employee resilience, yet despite widespread acknowledgement that employability is dependent upon a self-driven and evolving conceptual toolkit containing resilience and transferable skills, there remains a dearth of research into the complex, multi-faceted interrelationships between resilience and skills. Central to this research is an examination of the influence of degree apprenticeship programmes upon resilience development within this evolving generation of learners, and the potential limitations caused by wider influences that shape resilience across a range of occupational settings. The theory of resilience is therefore a highly relevant conceptual lens with which to explore the experiences of degree apprentices, their employers and the academic team within a UK Business School. This research is particularly distinctive in its adoption of a qualitative approach to investigate the impact of situational influences upon resilience by incorporating a range of settings and professions. It provides a holistic evaluation involving multiple stakeholder perspectives to produce a contemporary view of funded HE work-based learning programme provision. The use of qualitative methods has added depth to the data, through the provision of rich and thick description to illustrate correlations between the characteristics and behaviours demonstrated by resilient students, highlighting the broader influences of environmental factors upon resilience. As such, this research makes an original contribution to the extant body of knowledge over the conceptualisation of resilience, revealing new insights into the influence of background and upbringing, goal setting and leadership competencies. Previously unexplored contextual tensions emerge, revealing challenges to educational providers’ perceptions of innovative pedagogies and exposing weaknesses in current practice. Together the findings and recommendations offer the opportunity to develop effective pedagogic practice, transferable to any work-based programme across a range of disciplines, further increasing the significance of this study.
  • Tussles with ambidexterity: The case of managers of health professional education

    Wall, Tony; Moore, Neil; Collins, Evelyn (University of Chester, 2019-07-23)
    This case study explores the lived experience of managers within an academic faculty concerned with the professional education of the health care workforce in the UK. Recent advances in the global trend towards the marketisation of Higher Education and the current era of public and quasi-public-sector austerity, sees these actors tasked with practising their craft amidst a powerful set of forces which are transforming their world of work and raising opportunities and challenges in equal measure. At the heart of these challenges lies the imperative to maintain and enhance current capabilities whilst simultaneously adopting a future orientation to develop new ones. The extant literature offers powerful evidence of the efficacy of the construct of ambidexterity as a lens through which to understand the way in which organisations and individuals pursue these dual aims and provides a fitting theoretical framework for the study. The case study integrates data elicited from interviews with managers with archival documentary data, relating to a four-year period, to facilitate analysis on both an individual and business-unit level. The findings offer a novel exploration of the construct of ambidexterity in the Higher Education arena and address the plethora of calls to advance our understanding regarding managers’ interpretation and responses to the tensions which arise from the pursuit of ambidexterity. The research makes a unique contribution to the existing body of knowledge revealing a conceptualisation of contextual ambidexterity in which the dual modes of operation (exploitation and exploration) are positioned along a continuum. Context-specific ambidextrous tensions emerge, including the dichotomous perception of other educational providers as both competitors and collaborators and the enduring deleterious impact of explorative activity on exploitative endeavours. Ambidextrous tactics are also in evidence with the imperative to develop social capital with external stakeholders, who are espoused with consumer sovereignty, taking precedence in this complex educational marketplace. Together the findings afford a unique insight into the way that managers of professional healthcare education perceive and manage the complexity and dynamism of ambidexterity in their everyday practice.
  • Business School Perceptions of the Possible Impact of the Teaching Excellence Framework: A Complex Adaptive Systems Perspective.

    Wall, Tony; Maheshwari, Vish; Jodlowski, Tadzio R. (University of Chester, 2019-07-23)
    The implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) at institutional level 2017, presents universities with the challenge of responding to a government policy which has the capacity to change the Higher Education landscape. Educational policies are capable of introducing complexity into organisations and inspiring disruptive behaviour. The strategic response to policy implementation within universities is often thought to be the domain of business schools due to their assumed autonomy and links to management. The responses of business schools towards policy implementation have not been previously explored. Therefore, the research explores the response of business schools towards the Institutional level TEF as well as wider policy changes, within the context of an assumed sense of autonomy. An interpretivist research methodology was chosen in order to explore business school responses towards the voluntary participation of the TEF in 2017 through interviews with respondents from universities across the country. This includes analysis of sense making from respondents as they drawing upon their respective knowledge networks. Qualitative research was utilised in order to explore the response from business schools and increase the understanding of policy response within the Higher Education sector. The research utilised purposive sampling followed by the use of snowball sampling. Complex Adaptive Systems theory was used a theoretical lens, and the data was explored though the use of thematic analysis which examined cluster formations in NVivo and identified patterns of data emerging into four main CAS areas. The findings suggest that business school responses towards the Institutional Level TEF in 2017 represents a moment in time when participating universities found themselves responding to an educational policy which contained an evolutionary element, capable of introducing change into the existing order - thus providing an example of punctuated equilibrium. The response to the TEF was hierarchical, and involved individuals reporting to their respective Vice Chancellors, while receiving support from self-regulating groups. The TEF is identified as a Complex Adaptive System due to its none-linear and unpredictable behaviour. Finally, Zimmerman’s Zone of Complexity is utilised in order to illustrate the manner in which the Edge of Chaos is capable of representing an opportunity for innovative though, when the decision is made to alternate between managerial clockware and innovative swarmware
  • Value-based management (VBM) in Mittelstand – the relevance of VBM to specifically identified areas of management (Strategic decision-making, objectives, attitudes)

    Stokes, Peter; Moore, Neil; Normann-Tschampel, Carola (University of Chester, 2019-03-14)
    This study aims to understand the relevance of value-based management (VBM) in three specifically identified areas of management (strategic decision-making, objectives, attitudes) in German Mittelstand (broadly related to small- and medium-sized entities). VBM seeks to orientate all management activities towards the increase of the monetary company value. The review of literature on VBM in Mittelstand identifies three key topics – applicability of VBM, proposals for an adaptation of VBM and the empirical analysis of VBM’s application in management practice. The review also shows a gap that is crucial to the development of VBM in Mittelstand: On the one hand, there is a consensus on the applicability of VBM in Mittelstand and there are proposals for an application of VBM in Mittelstand which consider its characteristics. On the other hand, empirical studies show little application of VBM in Mittelstand management practice. However, there are differences and gaps in the existing empirical insights i.e. little insights related to decision-making and with regard to owner-managers’ attitudes. Consequently, this empirical study uses a specific focus and research approach to gain further understanding regarding existing gaps in empirical insights as well as the overall research gap. The research approach involves taking an interpretive stance and conducting semi-structured interviews with owner-managers of 28 companies from manufacturing Mittelstand in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The findings show that VBM is of minimal relevance for strategic decisionmaking. This includes different aspects such as limited application of the net present value method and other VBM management tools. Little relevance of VBM is found in objectives. However, from a holistic analysis, different nuances with regard to economic and non-economic objectives are found. Beyond this, the findings identify not only differences in the attitudes towards VBM but also differences in the understandings of VBM. In this respect, there is a considerable divergence to extant understanding in literature. Overall, it is concluded that VBM is of minimal relevance in all three areas of Mittelstand management. Thus, the research supports the existing empirical insights through a specific focus and approach. The findings as a whole imply a theory-practice gap. This research contributes to the body of knowledge by gaining a more indepth as well as open understanding of the relevance of VBM in the management of Mittelstand. The research addresses gaps in empirical insights. It considers different aspects and adds a new perspective on objectives which responds to existing rationales in the literature. The understanding gained from taking an interpretive stance towards ownermanagers’ practical experience also provides a valuable basis to further address the overall research gap. In this respect the understanding generated might be a basis for an intensified dialogue between researchers and owner-managers in Mittelstand.
  • Manager as Coach: An Exploratory Study into the Experience of Managers Dealing with Team Challenge

    Wall, Tony; Smith, Helen A. (University of Chester, 2019-03-14)
    Effective teams demand sharing, good communication, openness and engagement to create cohesion and collaboration. The modern team environment requires a highly competent manager capable of dealing with diversity, widening demographics, compression of roles, merging of organisational hierarchies and resource scarcity. This dynamic interplay has contributed to the transition from the traditional bureaucratic style of management to a higher proficiency of inclusive leadership, encompassing coaching. Within this context, there is an assumption that the manager as coach will successfully tackle the complexity of team challenge using conventional coaching interventions with the manager as coach becoming vogue. Thirty semi-structured interviews were recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed using a critical incident for exploration. The data generated an appreciation of the origins of team challenge and how challenge can be recognised, identified and acted upon to avoid escalation and maintain functionality within the team. The findings offer a framework for managers, irrespective of coaching competency to deal with team challenge and specifically that arising from behaviour described as unproductive or dysfunctional within the complexity of multiple team variants. This research will further supplement existing team effectiveness models and highlight the need for the manager as coach to be alert to team behaviour, foster appreciation of team difference at all levels, be coach-minded and act speedily in addressing team challenge. Further insight is offered from the perspective of the practitioner with models for self-assessment and training in response to dealing with challenge.
  • Influences on relationships between Ministers and Civil Servants in British Government: A study based on the perceptions of former Ministers

    Talbot, Jon; Wall, Tony; Stokes, David (University of Chester, 2016-06)
    This thesis focuses on the relationships between Ministers and Civil Servants in British Government. It is argued that the deliberative space for officials to devise and critique policy in tandem with Ministers is contracting. The change occurred after Margaret Thatcher incentivised officials to behave in certain ways, and her embrace of New Public Management made relationships within government more transactional. Given this scenario the thesis explores how relationships between Ministers and officials can be improved. To determine this twenty-five former UK Government Ministers were interviewed complementing an earlier study which examined the issue from the perspective of senior officials. These Ministers reported that successful relationships were most likely to be established when Civil Servants demonstrated effective leadership, commitment to implementing policy, honesty, technical skill, and awareness of political and external realities. In addition it is thought that time invested early in the relationship helps to communicate Ministers’ expectations. Ministers also reported what they feel to be behaviours which undermine the relationship: misunderstanding the professional role of officials, relying upon special advisors rather than direct contact with officials, a lack of managerial experience, and public criticism of officials. Ministers also identified Civil Servants’ behaviours likely to result in poor relationships - appearing averse to change, being unable to rationalise the advantages of existing approaches, and a reluctance to lead or assume responsibility. Some of the perceptions identified in the literature, such as Civil Servants seeking control and lacking competence, were not afforded the same prominence by Ministerial interviewees. They highlighted systemic issues including the feudal and hierarchical nature of Whitehall, and their perception that the wrong skills and behaviours are incentivised. They also noted the lack of training for Ministers and their inability to pass on their experiences to colleagues. In addition to these observations about personal relations respondents expressed a deeper concern about the changing roles and expectations between Ministers and officials. Despite the evident contradiction between contemporary practice and the constitutional position created by Haldane in 1918, Ministers still appear to accept the latter as the basis for their relationships with officials. Further research may be required to explore this, alongside the disparity identified between the ministerial view from the literature and my interviewees, and the training lacuna. The thesis concludes by making a number of recommendations concerning future practice.
  • Emerging pluralities in the enactment of care in the postgraduate tutor-international student relationship

    Johnson, Nerise D. (University of Chester, 2018-09-24)
    Despite intensified overseas competition, internationalisation remains at the heart of most universities growth strategies. Evidence suggests that the international student experience of care is distinct with context specific expectations. With a paucity of research on care in a higher degree setting this study set out to explore the incidence and enactment care in the postgraduate tutor-international student relationship. It utilised a qualitative, inductive approach, sampling fourteen participants (ten international students and four postgraduate tutors) from a single postgraduate degree programme at a post 1992 small city university. Findings indicated that the enactment of care was plural with emergent themes of mentorship, friendship and recognition of the individual. It identified that participants’ used the word care when describing their relationship but more frequently used language from which care could be inferred when analysed within an abductively bounded framework. This challenged the extant literature which had suggested that the need for care would recede as the cared for moved into adulthood. However, the way in which care was enacted was understood to be particular to the students’ postgraduate status. At the same time, the value of care appeared to be stratified with tutor actions considered less significant if they were perceived to be contractually motivated. Two key recommendations for practice arising from this research were that in the current climate of standardisation and metrification, there remained opportunities to enrich the quality of care in the postgraduate tutor-international student relationship. Secondly, creating these caring relationships with international students was plural and complex which necessitated postgraduate tutor reflexivity of their pedagogic and pastoral practice if they were to enrich the quality of care offered.
  • Expanding the Undergraduate Entrepreneurial Perspective: An exploratory investigation into pedagogy and practice at the University of Chester

    Hancock, Connie (University of Chester, 2018-08-18)
    Purpose: This work conducts an exploratory investigation into the domain of entrepreneurship in Higher Education (HE), how it is perceived, interpreted and embedded, both from a pedagogic and philosophical perspective, into a contemporary university landscape in order to cultivate entrepreneurial behaviours in undergraduate students. It is implied in government imperatives and directives that entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs are the fiscal panacea that will lead us towards the light in the economic gloom that currently pervades. The cultivation of entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviours has been specifically linked to Higher Education by the European Commission, although scholarly research into developing an entrepreneurial landscape within the HE sector is significantly lacking. Whilst studies exploring the entrepreneurial university and transformative opportunities in response to economic pressure has been undertaken from the 90s onwards, this field and its potential to inform and impact on Higher Education continues to represent an understudied area. The purpose of this research therefore, is to consider the methodologies and strategies that can support a cultivation, integration and embedment of entrepreneurship education in a Higher Education context, specifically the University of Chester, with a view to creating a blueprint for future Entrepreneurship undergraduate Programmes. Methodology: The approach is one that embraces an inductive and qualitative research methodology with data secured from three groups of respondents: undergraduate students, staff engaged in the delivery and support of entrepreneurial endeavour and external stakeholders contributing to an entrepreneurship agenda. Data were gathered from student participants by means of semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Data was secured from staff and external stakeholders via the mode of face-to-face semi-structured interviews. A multiple perspective methodology was employed in order to effectively provide a triangulation of perceptions on the development of an institutional entrepreneurial culture from a pragmatic perspective. The data were analysed and interpreted by way of template analysis (Stokes, Wall, 2014; Philips, Lawrence and Hardy, 2004; Hardy and Thomas, 2013). Contribution: This work expands upon the ways in which entrepreneurship education may be understood in the context of a comparatively small university in the north-west of England and extends the thinking into how practice may be extended to maximise undergraduate entrepreneurship. Most significantly, this research offers up a conceptual blueprint in the form of a model that demonstrates how entrepreneurially orientated mind-sets and behaviours may be fostered in undergraduates within the context of University of Chester.
  • A qualitative investigation into practitioner perspectives of the role of customers within the design and delivery of local government contact centre services

    Moore, Neil; Manning, Paul; Nott, Derek J. (University of Chester, 2018-07-12)
    Local authorities have experienced significant cuts in income whilst grappling with increased demand, an aging population and welfare reform. This pressing imperative has driven local authorities to challenge their sense of self and in doing so consider the participative role that customers can and do play. This study sought to examine practitioner perspectives of customers, their role, impact and constraining and enabling factors within the design and delivery of local government contact centre services. There is limited empirical research on practitioner perspectives of the role of customers within a local government environment. There are multiple terms used to describe the concept of customer but an absence of established approaches to examine the role that customers play within socially constructed phenomenon within local government demonstrating a gap in current academic thought. Whilst the rationale for involving customers in local governance is debated, the application of theory in to practice is limited thereby further constraining the opportunity for local authorities to leverage potential benefits afforded through participative approaches to the design and delivery of contact centre services. An interpretivist stance was adopted with qualitative techniques employed within the research. Using a priori codes developed through the review of extant literature, thematic analysis of forty-four customer service strategies spanning single tier, upper tier and metropolitan local authorities was undertaken. Themes were further developed through analysis of transcripts from seventeen semistructured interviews with managers responsible for the design and delivery of local government contact centre services. This research highlighted the differing and often contradictory practitioner perceptions of the concept of customer and the role that customers play in the design and delivery of local government services. Whilst organisations espoused a desire to progress participative principles due to the potential benefits afforded through such approaches, the extent to which these were operationalised by practitioners was limited and this coupled with a perceived sense of passivity on the part of customers resulted in little or no positive impact on current service performance. As extant literature and research is limited on the role of customers within local government, this study expands current academic thought providing particular insight on the practitioner perspective. The research findings provide a robust foundation on which theorists and practitioners in particular can formulate participative strategies and associated policies thereby providing meaningful opportunities for customers to co-design and co-deliver local government services and through which potential benefits, financial and non-financial, can be realised.