Managerial work and management training : a critique of the Management NVQs
This thesis is a critical evaluation of the Management NVQ at level 4. It draws on two principal sources of literature: accounts and analyses of the nature of managerial work; and observations and critiques of Competence Based Education and Training (CBET). The Management NVQ is an attempt to set out, in behavioural terms, the activities managers engage in. These may then be used to assist individual development and assess competent performance in managerial work. This study starts by considering contemporary academic accounts of managerial work. Drawing on these, it argues that management may subsume such a wide variety of tasks, roles and responsibilities that attempts to define it in functional terms are unlikely to succeed. Moreover, such attempts do little to distinguish the peculiarly managerial aspect of management work. By contrast, the writings of more radical theoreticians, which focus on the power and authority that managers exercise, provide a far more resilient basis for distinguishing managers from their non-managerial peers. Clearly, this theoretical construction of managerial work is in marked contrast to the model put forward in the Management NVQ and that conflict is explored here. Since this study sought to focus on the NVQ's educational contribution at an individual level, an ethnographic approach was adopted in the fieldwork. Three exemplary case studies were sought out, since in these, the contribution of a competence-based approach to training and development might better be evaluated, and eighteen candidates followed through the qualification. Throughout the study, in all three organisations, the activities that these candidates engaged in, were driven by the demands of the NVQ. The conduct of the workshops, the increasing levels of paperwork in the candidates' workplaces and the emphasis on systems and procedures were all inspired by the need to supply documentary proof of managerial competence. Ultimately, most of the candidates observed in this study failed to do this successfully and gain their NVQs, and the nature of NVQ assessment, together with its impact on the candidates is considered. Finally, the thesis concludes by arguing that many of the problems noted here stem from the rigid and performance-oriented way NVQs are constructed and, consequently, many of the difficulties reported in this study may be expected elsewhere.