• A review of the Black Country economy and labour market from the PricewaterhouseCoopers West Midlands Business Surveys: 1994-1998

      Worrall, Les (University of Wolverhampton, 1998-09)
      This paper updates previous research papers and looks specifically at the economy and labour market of the Black Country focusing on a set of business performance, recruitment, training and skills issues. The report also “locates” the Black Country in the context of the West Midlands Region and in the context of recent macro-economic changes which are affecting different parts of the UK economy differentially. Reference is also made to the level of innovation in the Black Country and the region and to other “structural” issues as it is contended that levels of innovation, capital expenditure and training will largely determine the future health of the sub-regional economy. Uniquely, the questionnaire is targeted towards the most senior managers in West Midlands businesses: around 60% of respondents are Chairmen, Chief Executives or Managing Directors. Analysis of the data yields some insights into recent changes in the Black Country economy labour market viewed from the apex of a representative cross-section of around 1,000 regional businesses almost 300 of which are located in the four Black Country boroughs of Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell. This analysis can be used to augment economic and labour market intelligence derived from more traditional, nationally published sources. This report has been based on the West Midlands Business Survey which is funded by PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Midlands. Their support is gratefully acknowledged.
    • Approaches to management development: the domain of information management

      Bate, T (University of Wolverhampton, 1999)
      This paper seeks to examine the issues of information management in business in the contemporary world by reviewing the contemporary writers in the subject area in an attempt to indicate the area of curriculum appropriate for general managers undergoing a management development programme. The domain is that applicable to managers (i.e. general managers rather than specialists in the areas of IT or IS) participating in an MBA programme or a competence-based management development programme of a similar level with similar goals.
    • Business advice to fast growth small firms

      Mole, Kevin (University of Wolverhampton, 1999-06)
      A small proportion of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) create most new employment in the sector (Storey et al., 1987). Thus UK Business Link’s remit to provide advice to small firms with the potential to grow should maximise the employment impact of small firm advice. Yet, the risks involved in fast growth and the perceived need for visionary leadership constrains advisors from proffering that advice. This research uses data from 29 transcribed semi-structured research interviews and a group interview of 10 business advisors in the UK’s West Midlands region collected in Autumn 1996 to Spring 1997. The interviewees respond to a prompt for advice for a firm contemplating fast growth. This research suggests that in the implementation stage strategy toward small firms is subtly altered. The research suggests that advisors tend to offer general advice and support to all firms, and focus toward support for all, rather than targeting, and support to help companies survive, rather than grow. Given the importance of these fast growing firms to local employment the findings suggest that present business advice might reduce insolvency rather than increase the number of fast growth firms.
    • Causal maps of information technology and information systems

      Singh, Gurmak (University of Wolverhampton, 1998-09)
      It is becoming increasingly recognised that a cognitive view of the individual user executing various tasks at the interface is an inadequate conceptual framework for developing information systems. The conventional cognitive setting has disregarded the importance of how these users execute work tasks in the real world when using information systems. Furthermore, the design process is heavily biased towards scientific problem solving methodologies that omit the psychological cognitive styles of the users. In this paper, IT and IS managers are considered as the ‘influencers’ in the development of information systems; a role that forms the shape of the system. A methodology for deriving the causal maps is described and then applied to twenty IT and IS managers. The maps are analysed from three perspectives; information analysis, end-users involvement in the development stages and characteristics of the users. The resulting causal maps are used to develop a conceptual framework for development of IS.
    • Curriculum planning with 'learning outcomes': a theoretical analysis

      Kemp, Brian (University of Wolverhampton, 1999-06)
      The use of learning outcomes for curriculum planning is widely advocated in higher education, it is supported by an imposing set of claims, and it has official sanction, for example from the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). In opposition, there are fierce criticisms, mainly on theoretical grounds. The debate between opposing parties can be sterile, unless conducted in relation to an actual application of learning outcomes. The intention here is to examine such a scheme. This paper considers theoretical arguments in relation to the scheme. There will be a subsequent paper which looks at empirical evidence, and a final paper will offer an alternative framework for planning curriculum content. The motive for this project is the author’s belief that there is much in ‘learning outcomes’ that is inimical to any warranted conception of higher education.
    • Developing journal writing skills in undergraduates: the need for journal workshops

      Hockings, Christine (University of Wolverhampton, 1998)
      In recent years, journal writing has become a popular tool for assessing student learning in Business Studies courses throughout UK universities. The writing-to-learn literature is full of the benefits of journal writing, not just as a means of assessing learning but as an essential part of the learning process itself. (Barclay, 1996; Borasi & Rose, 1989; Emig, 1987; Hogan, 1995; Holly 1987; Yinger & Clarke 1981, etc.). In the personal experience (as tutor) explored in this paper, however, journal writing failed to live up to expectations, both as a means of assessing the acquisition and application of subject specific knowledge, but also and more importantly, as a means of developing high level cognitive skills, such as reflection, analysis, critical thinking, evaluating, and hypothesising. In this paper I explain why journal writing failed to develop high level skills amongst a group of first year undergraduates in 1996. I then evaluate the effectiveness of a journal writing workshop designed to address high level skills amongst two similar groups of students in 1997.
    • Grounded Theory: some reflections on paradigm, procedures and misconceptions

      Goulding, Christina (University of Wolverhampton, 1999-06)
      There has been ongoing debate within the social sciences over the nature of epistemological claims made by both positivist and interpretivist researchers. Within the interpretivist paradigm there are numerous methodologies for constructing knowledge, each of which have their own underlying philosophies, practices, and methods of interpretation. Grounded theory is one such methodology. However, it is a methodology which is sometimes perceived as pseudo positivistic, defiling the canons of humanistic research which emphasises the subjective experience of the other. This paper discusses grounded theory, the missing methodology on the interpretivist agenda, and argues that it is an extension of the methods used by the symbolic interactionists. It discusses the underlying philosophy of the methodology and proceeds to present the key concepts associated with its application. Finally,the paper reviews and addresses some of the major criticisms of grounded theory in order to explicate it as a humanistic and interpretivist method of enquiry. This paper is an early version of a chapter for a proposed book on grounded theory. It extends the discussion of grounded theory published in two academic papers by the author: Goulding, C. (1998) Grounded Theory: the missing methodology on the interpretivist agenda Qualitative Market Research: an international journal 1(1) Goulding, C. (forthcoming) Consumer Research, Interpretive Paradigms, and Methodological Ambiguities European Journal of Marketing 33(7/8)
    • Has the Russian consumers' attitude changed in recent years?

      Sullivan, Vivienne; Adamson, Ivana (University of Wolverhampton, 1999-06)
      This study examined consumers in the post-Soviet Russia and their willingness to make effective consumer choices. A sample of consumers (n=79) took part and were asked to explore the concept of ‘consumer rights’. They were asked to report an incident in which they complained about an unsatisfactory product or service, to describe the outcome of the complaint, and provided the outcome of the complaint was unsatisfactory, and how they resolved the problem. Finally, the sample was asked to discuss the Russian product/service providers’ attitudes towards customer complaints. The results suggest that the concept of ‘consumer rights’ does not have much meaning for the majority of Russians, and no statistically significant differences based on age or education were found. However, gender differences were found to be statistically significant (F=3.089,p<.05).
    • In support of research-based organisation change and development through professional partnerships

      Hamlin, Robert G.; Campbell, Fiona; Stewart, Jim; Reidy, Margaret (University of Wolverhampton, 1999-06)
      This paper provides a review and synthesis of current practice in the field of Organisation Change and Development (OCD). Five key 'failings' of managers contributing to the low success rate of OCD programmes are identified. To overcome these 'failings' a case is made for more evidence and research - based OCD practice, particularly OD initiatives informed and shaped by organisationally based research facilitated through 'university-organisation' professional partnerships of the kind advocated by Jacobs (1997). A framework conceptualising OCD Professional Partnerships is presented. This suggests an integrative and cyclical process connecting OCD research and consultancy which follow a similar sequence of stages with outcomes that are mutually beneficial and reinforcing. A UK example of an OCD Professional Partnership set within one part of the British Civil Service is presented which demonstrates how OCD practice can be profoundly influenced and enhanced by academically rigorous internal research. This is compared against a USA example set within a municipal government department. A number of common lessons are drawn of relevance to OCD practitioners and organisational leaders concerned with strategic change issues.
    • Information systems to support choice: a philosophical and phenomenological exploration

      Hassall, John (University of Wolverhampton, 1998-09)
      The paper examines the role of decision support, or “choice making” systems and models based upon three groupings of ideas (or frameworks). Firstly, the philosophy of choice is examined with reference to the viewpoints of classicism, modernism and post-modernism as they relate to the way in which preferences are determined and valorised. Secondly, this tripartite framework is examined with reference to the philosophical works of Soren Kierkegaard who is sometimes regarded as the first existentialist philosopher. Third, some parallels are drawn between the models and frameworks thus far described and the psychotherapeutic model developed (initially) by Eric Berne, known as Transactional Analysis. Finally, a review and synthesis of some of the ideas introduced is attempted.
    • Intelligent local governance: a developing agenda

      Worrall, Les (University of Wolverhampton, 1999-06)
      The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the issues which surround making local government more intelligent. In particular, the focus of the paper is to examine how better research and more effective knowledge management can assist this process. Local government is a particularly fertile area for analysis given the large scale managerial and structural changes being occasioned within it and a developing central government agenda to reinvent local democracy. The paper argues that developments are needed in several areas. The need for more effective information management, the need for better frameworks for assessing performance, the need to develop the "strategic capacity" of local authorities, and, perhaps most importantly, the need to create an environment in which intelligent local governance can develop and flourish.
    • Management skills development: the current position and the future agenda

      Worrall, Les; Cooper, Cary L. (University of Wolverhampton, 1999-06)
      In the last ten years, the nature of managerial work has changed considerably largely because the organisational, economic and technological context in which managerial work is conducted has changed beyond recognition. Organisations have been delayered; new concepts such as "the self-managed work team" have been developed; organisations have been subjected to a range of guru driven change such as business process reengineering; the scale of IT-enabled home-based working has increased; the rapid evolution of information and communications technologies have increased the volume and variety of communication that managers have had to learn to cope with; and, increasing globalisation has created a more competitive environment where businesses have had to become leaner, more flexible and adaptable - this often having been achieved by the ruthless implementation of cost-reduction programmes. The consequence of this are that the skills and "capabilites" that managers need to be effective have change radically. The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature of these changes and to assess the implications of management development and education programmes.
    • Managers’ perceptions of their organisation: an application of correspondence analysis

      Worrall, Les; Cooper, Cary L. (University of Wolverhampton, 1998-09)
      The paper is based on a five year, UMIST-Institute of Management study into the changing nature of the Quality of Working Life and seeks to uncover differences in the incidence and impact of organizational change on the perceptions and experiences of managers. The research indicates that there are significant differences in the impact of organizational change on managers and that these vary by the respondent’s position in the organizational hierarchy, by firm size and by sector (sector being here defined as public sector, private sector and “other”). The paper makes use of correspondence analysis as a means of graphically plotting responses as a means of identifying similarities and dissimilarities in perceptions and experiences of organizational change and its impact for sub-groups of managers.
    • Mapping the inventor new product development process

      Smeilus, Gavin; Pollard, Andrew (International Society of Professional Innovation Management, 2016-02)
    • Measuring groupware effectiveness using ordinal questionnaire data with AI/fuzzy mathematics and correspondence analysis treatments

      Hassall, John (University of Wolverhampton, 1999-09)
      The results of a longitudinal study of groupware technology carried out over a 2 year period within a single organization is presented. The results of ordinal data derived from a questionnaire employed to determine user judgements of the usefulness of the technology for business task are analysed using a novel "best hypothesis" approach. This treatment uses formulations based upon AI and fuzzy mathematics and correspondence analysis.
    • Measuring the effectiveness of information technology management: a comparative study of six UK local authorities

      Worrall, Les (University of Wolverhampton, 1998-09)
      Evaluating and managing the effective delivery of IT services is an issue which has been brought into sharper relief recently. This has been particularly prevalent in the UK public sector where the growing emphasis on formalised client-contractor relationships, outsourcing and benchmarking (both between local authorities and between local authorities and private sector organisations) has meant that the definition of service standards and agreeing performance criteria has attracted considerable practitioner attention. This research is based on 300 interviews conducted in six UK local authorities. The investigation used both gap analysis and perceptual mapping techniques to develop an understanding of the aspects of IT service delivery that users' value most in conjunction with an assessment of how well they perceive their IT department is performing on these criteria. The paper exposes considerable differences in the relative performance of the six local authorities from both the gap analysis and the perceptual mapping elements of the investigation. The methodology is shown to provide an effective way of identifying key performance issues from the user perspective and benchmarking service performance across organisations.
    • Methods of analysing ordinal/interval questionnaire data using fuzzy mathematical principle

      Hassall, John (University of Wolverhampton, 1999-09)
      Two methods of analysing interval/ordinal questionnaire data based upon principles from fuzzy mathematics and artificial intelligence are described.
    • Strategic analysis: a scientific art

      Worrall, Les (University of Wolverhampton, 1998)
      The word “analysis” is relatively uncontroversial and involves the decomposition of complex phenomena into their component parts as a first step in the better understanding of issues and problems - it requires an essentially reductionist stance. While defining analysis is relatively easy, it is somewhat more difficult to define the concept of strategy as there are many interpretations and misinterpretations which pervade the academic literature. However, the phrase which best encapsulates my own view of the word strategy is “the deployment of resources to achieve organisational objectives”. If we were to put these two components together - with some additional embellishments - my definition of the term “strategic analysis” would be: “developing a theoretically informed understanding of the environment in which an organisation is operating, together with an understanding of the organisation’s interaction with its environment in order to improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness by increasing the organisation’s capacity to deploy and redeploy its resources intelligently”.
    • Survivors of redundancy: a justice perspective

      Campbell, Fiona (University of Wolverhampton, 1999-06)
      Organisations in and around Britain continue to restructure and downsize their workforce. Redundancies and reorganisation of staff remains a major aspect of internal organisational change. However, the effects of redundancy on those who remain, the survivors, are still little understood (Armstrongstassen, 1993a). This paper attempts to rectify this situation by reviewing theories principally developed in North America within a British context. In particular, the research identifies how organisational justice theories (e.g., Bies et al, 1988; Greenberg, 1990; McFarlin & Sweeney, 1992) are a means to understand the potential effects on survivors of redundancy. The literature review is supported by empirical research which has been conducted in two major British organisations who have experienced significant downsizing and restructuring. The research aim was to explore the range of reactions; emotional attitudinal and behavioural which were experienced by the survivors of a redundancy programme. Data was collected using a variety of methods, including focus groups, in-depth semi-structured interviews and a company wide survey in both case study organisations. The results enabled the development of a conceptual framework which extends previous understanding of the effects of redundancy on survivors. The conceptual framework draws together the current findings with previous research in this field formulating an overview of the factors which influence survivor reactions. Understanding survivor reactions helps to further the knowledge of the potentially damaging effects of redundancy on the future of an organisation. The results indicate that organisational justice theories indeed promote the understanding of the effects of redundancy. In previous studies the emphasis has been laid on distributive and procedural justice (e.g., Daly & Geyer, 1994; Brockner & Greenberg, 1990), however, the current study highlights the importance of interactional justice. The results suggest that survivors reactions are particularly dependent on the interpersonal treatment they receive from both the management team and their immediate line manager or supervisor. Further analysis shows that the communication and amount of interaction a survivor receives from their line manager influences their level of organisational commitment, job insecurity, job satisfaction and turnover intention. Survivors who perceived they had a 'good' relationship with their line manager were less likely to react negatively to the redundancy programme. The research also indicates that survivors were influenced by their work environment and their work colleagues. The analysis found that when survivors perceived their work colleagues to react negatively to the redundancies, they were more likely to react negatively themselves. In practical terms, when implementing redundancies, management should be aware of the potentially damaging effects not only on those who leave, but also on the survivors. The research indicates that the 'line manager' holds a very important role in maintaining the morale and motivation of the remaining staff. The ability to maintain good communication and support to employees can help in the future success of the organisation. The framework developed in this study builds on previous research and introduces new variables found to be important in the field.