The strategic management process and changing culture in post-incorporation further education : a case study.
The past twenty years has seen radical changes in the ethos of public service provision in the UK in which the FE sector has been required to respond to new demands. Many of these changes have been grounded in an ideological framework with a supporting language using ideas which emerged from the drive to establish an Enterprise Culture. This ideological imperative has also included the prioritizing of the market place and a concomitant growth in managerialism. These ideas are explored in this study in the context of FE in general and a case-study college in particular, as it moves from LEA control and local
accountability into an autonomous setting where free-market principles are allowed to operate through a process of Incorporation. The case-study college of FE (W estshire) serves a large market town on the edge of a major English conurbation and provides empirical evidence drawn from a variety of sources - observation of meetings; semi-structured interviews, pre-dominantly with managers; college documentation and archives;
responses to two whole-college questionnaires. Meeting the requirements of Incorporation has been transformational and
the resultant changes have made a significant impact upon the
organisational culture of the case-study college and the way that it has been managed. These cultural changes are generally examined and are shown to have created problems of dissonance and anomie for many of the staff as they tried to come to terms with the new order. There has also been a particular and critical examination of the Senior Management Team (SMT) and its application of the Strategic Management Process (SMP) as
a key managerialist technique adopted from the business sector. What is revealed is the part that the SMP potentially could have played as a social process in assisting movement into the new 'business' culture and the facilitating of organisational learning. The findings challenge the current, limited orthodoxy of the SMP as a 'hard' planning device and suggest a wider, 'softer' role more contiguous with an educational ethos