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Change, resistance and coping : a study of first tier managers in further education

This thesis presents findings from a study of first tier managers (FTMs) in Further Education colleges, a role that has been largely neglected by the extant literature. The study investigated the role in four general FE colleges and adopted a case study approach, employing semi-structured interviews as the main research method. The findings suggest that the FTM role is extremely diverse and heterogeneous, elastic and poorly understood. Yet FTMs themselves enjoyed a high degree of autonomy in how they performed their roles. Within colleges, FTMs worked within a trialectic of students, team and organisation and could be identified in one of four positions defined here in terms of metaphors of faith: for fundamentalists, students were the priority; priests put their teams first; converts prioritised the organisation; martyrs attempted to meet the demands of all three elements of the trialectic and suffered the highest degree of home invasion by work. Within the resistant context of FE, FTMs found themselves the audience for a variety of forms of routine resistance by lecturers, from gossip and rumours to making out and withholding enthusiasm. However, as they were rarely the target of resistance, a number of FTMs colluded with their teams or turned a blind eye in the hope of continued cooperation; few were willing to challenge resistance. FTMs were also highly active in their own resistance, expressing principled dissent overtly to senior managers as well as manipulating data and even fiddling paperwork. Yet while change management within colleges appeared generally poor, resistance was not to change but to managerialism, surveillance and the culture of performativity. Despite the challenges of the role – the stress, the immediate gratification needs of senior managers and the fire-fighting – FTMs were found to be highly committed and highly motivated. Where the stress became too much, the articipants employed a range of coping strategies including non-compliant coping, strategies intended to resist stressors rather than manage them. Finally, a new approach to job design with FE is suggested, one that involves idiosyncratic deals, a process of negotiating roles that potentially meets the needs of both the organisation and the employee.
Date January 2011
CreatorsPage, Damien
PublisherUniversity of Greenwich
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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