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Learning to manage or managing to learn : an exploratory study of how university managers learn within their roles

SPILLER, Marjorie (2012) Learning to manage or managing to learn : an exploratory study of how university managers learn within their roles. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Abstract or description

In order to provide effective and sustained support for university managers as they learn to manage, more needs to be found out about the critical factors which underpin this process. Presenting the findings from an initial exploratory study within one institution, this thesis examines the perceptions of university managers, both academic and professional support, of how they learn within their roles. Although the study draws initially on HE based research, findings from the wider fields of management learning, professional learning and sensemaking are also incorporated as a means of recognising and then analysing the divergent factors affecting how managers learn to manage. To examine their perceptions, a series of semistructured interviews is undertaken with a purposive sample of twenty-four university managers from a range of academic and professional support roles. These interviews are supplemented by a follow-up study with four of these managers, all relatively new into their current senior posts, an interview with a member of the Executive Team, an analysis of selected institutional strategic plans, and the completion of reflective journals by five of the original group of managers. The interview transcripts are initially deconstructed using Weick's (1995) seven characteristics of sense making, and then further analysed through the lens of the integrated conceptual framework, enabling a systematic examination of the data. The evidence collated suggests that these managers are 'learning to make sense of a number of different issues such as their changing identities, the complexity within their roles, the institutional context in which they work and the expectations on them from others. Furthermore, to understand how university managers learn involves a paradigm shift which acknowledges that this process is no longer a formal acquisition ion of skills or knowledge set within a structured classroom environment. Instead it is a complex, multi-faceted and amorphous process, grounded in workplace tasks and impacted upon by the words and actions of others. Responding to the changing context of both the institution and the HE sector, this process of learning is constantly evolving, and, due to the differing characteristics of each individual manager, the way they interpret and make sense of it varies. In essence, this study offers the opportunity to rethink the way university managers learn, and questions the efficacy of conventional management development programmes to effectively support this process.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: Previous Faculty of Business, Education and Law > Education
Depositing User: Marjorie SPILLER
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2013 16:21
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 03:47

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