Developing Leadership in Middle Managers

  • Arthur Turner

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis has been prepared over the past five years of Study as part of a Doctorate in Business Administration programme with the Welsh Public Service cohort; part sponsored by Public Service Management Wales (PSMW) on a University of Glamorgan Business School programme, October 2008 – September 2013.

    The focus of the research was, originally, the Welsh Public Service but the scope of the research soon widened to view the management of learning in leadership development across both public and private organisations. The focus of the research was a case history on a large engineering company and the journey of four cohorts of middle managers from a wide range of different specialist sections within that international company.

    The research has been cast as Action Research (McNiff 2013, Easterby-Smith et al 2012, Morton-Cooper 2000) and as such was designed to look into leadership development practice through co-inquiry, critical reflective practice and researcher curiosity. The approach to the research was based on a social constructivism focus whilst relying on a phenomenological methodology of ‘capturing’ themes as they emerged from the group activities and wider learning opportunities created through workshops and tutor/delegate interactions and support.

    The programmes were run in four cohorts in the Brecon Beacons and were based on a programme model designed to allow the delegates to achieve a qualification in the shape of a Leadership and Management programme at Level 5 on the National Qualification Register, accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management. This programme allowed for 32 hours of face-to-face contact, an hour of tutorial support and allowed the registered student access to the learning resources with the Institute of Leadership and Management.

    The research focus was on the experience of the programme, which was designed to take into account the latest (Jenner 2009) programme design, and the collection of data was formulated to take in as many views as possible. Place and space were considered important in creation of stimulating workshops. Therefore, the outdoor world, movement and reflective practice were all considered to be of value in the design of the interventions. Of particular importance was to approach the emergence of themes in a way that least intruded into the learning experience of the delegates and one which sought to minimise the role (specifically in terms of power and authority) of the facilitator, other than the facilitation team holding the space for learning to occur.

    The data collection reflected this desire to observe the emergence of themes and overarching the whole programme was the technique of triangulation, which was applied to the approaches taken. For example, reportage, workshop available video booths, interviews, reactionairres and direct observation were all used to glean the themes as they emerged from the naturalistic focus of the learning opportunities.

    A wide range of themes emerged that began to reveal the experience and impact of the delegates and allowed for reflective patterns to be established between both the delegates and the facilitators in order to contemplate the nature of their joint experience.

    This study has led to contributions to methodology, knowledge and theory as well as practice. In addition, the development of future leadership interventions has been effected by the wider considerations between the ways in which individuals are treated through development opportunities. Surprising factors have emerged. The role of abstract ideas and the establishment of a wider use of artefacts in development have emerged as unbidden unlooked-for side effects of the development approaches undertaken.

    Future research opportunities are open to continue to consider the role of art-based approaches in the management of learning, of how individuals are supported in their learning through interactions with a group or network of learners and how the use of artefacts can improve the experience of the delegates and their impact on the leadership within their companies and organisations.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish

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