• 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.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.