Managing context and the context of management : an empirical study of the nature of public sector managerial work in Scotland
To date, no single, large scale empirical study has been undertaken on the nature of the public sector management job in Scotland. Instead, accounts of public sector managerial work amount to no more than a personal epitome of skills managers need and roles that they assume, anecdotes preferred to empirical evidence. Where empirical research has been undertaken on managerial work, this is based almost entirely upon senior managers in business and industry, public managers ultimately featuring in studies as `token gestures'. Consequently, generalisations and typologies emerge about a `typical' managerial working day from the study of a selective group of predominantly business managers. Furthermore, the `New Public Management' (NPM) would appear to be the product of implicit and explicit assumptions about public management rather than the outcome of research. Academics provide an account of the reforms facing public managers based on opinions and conceptions, not on empirical evidence. Moreover, these academics pull together different managerial practices and contexts and lump them under the umbrella term `NPM'. Given that public managers have been exposed to reform in different ways, a break must surely be made from treating public management and managers as homogenous. By using a combination of observation and questionnaire research, this Thesis will attempt to redress the main deficit currently inherent in both the managerial work and NPM literatures, namely a complete disregard of the context in which individual managers work. Whilst observation will allow an in-depth examination of the impact of context on the management job, the questionnaires will provide an insight into managers' perceptions of the context in which they work and the values which they draw upon. Only by communicating with the very people who run public sector organisations can a full understanding be grasped of the nature of public sector managerial work.