The impact of compulsory competitive tendering on the role of the local authority leisure professional
The principal aim of this thesis is to establish the extent of the impact of the introduction of CCT on the changing role of the local authority leisure professional. CCT was introduced into the management of local authority leisure facilities in phased stages between January lst 1992 and January 1st 1993, following the publication of the Parliamentary Order (Competition in Sports and Leisure Facilities, November 1989). As a policy it was one of a series of measures implemented by the Government in the 1980s and early 1990s to reduce the power of local authorities and reform the processes, systems and structures of these institutions. Change initiated at this structural level, stimulated change at the operational and individual levels of the policy process and it is at this individual or `agency' level that this thesis is most concerned. The empirical work undertaken to identify the impact of CCT at the agency level was based on 26 in-depth qualitative surveys administered on local authority leisure professionals who had worked in leisure services between the mid 1980s and 1998. At the individual level, the research considered in detail the role of the leisure professional as s/he was both a participant and spectator in the implementation of CCT. Individual officers' responses to the implementation were mediated by factors such as training, background, previous work experiences and the contextual local authority situation within which they found themselves. The findings demonstrate that the dominant values in the institutional environments within which leisure professionals operated, changed significantly with CCT as `goal governance' and `competitive individualism' came to the fore. Within this often aggressive and competitive environment, the implementation of CCT resulted in staffing restructuring and realignment of responsibilities and there was severe pressure to achieve the policy requirements. Relationships between colleagues became strained and some elements of leisure provision suffered as a result. Terms and conditions of employment deteriorated and many staff became de-motivated and disillusioned. However, in some instances CCT was seen as beneficial as it gave officers opportunities for career enhancement, it led to the development of generic leisure managers and heightened the profile of the leisure professional. Thus, CCT had a huge impact on local authority leisure professionals, as it imposed significant constraints and inhibitions on officers in their working relationships and environment. However, it also enabled some officers to advance within the leisure management industry and benefit from improved employment opportunities and heightened status. CCT as a policy both constrained and enabled leisure professionals. It was at the individual level that these constraining and enabling effects were most felt although previous research has given scant recognition to the human resource implication of CCT implementation through statistical analyses of outcomes. This research, however, recognises that one should use statistics `for support rather than illumination" (Lang as quoted in Cohen, 1960) and in so doing underlines the importance of the `bottom up' approach to policy analysis where the emphasis is on the role of the individual in the policy process.