Living management : an action research inquiry into a modernising role
This action research inquiry is a reflexive examination of a corporate 'Modernising'
role in a local authority in England, during the period 2000 - 2002. The researcher is
the manager who carried out that corporate role prior to, and during the period of the
research process and thus the Inquiry significantly involves first person critical
reflection on 'self in role'. The inquiry draws on second and third tier managerial
experience in a unitary local authority undergoing managerialist reforms.
The dynamic of central/local relations in the context of the New Labour
Modernisation agenda was a major influence for local government managers, in the
context of developments in local governance, with the accompanying intensification
of 'New Public Management' practices and controls.
This action research inquiry has deployed multiple research methods to explore the
implications of centralised direction and controls and related issues for the
experience of 'self and organisation'. The research methodologies were a
programme of interactive interviewing, involving fifteen managerial colleagues in
differentiated functions, autobiographical exploration and use of a reflective journal
as a data source. The research findings include a reflection on the research process
itself as being a vital aspect of the knowledge generated during the inquiry.
The thesis incorporates a critical theoretical review, drawing on relevant theoretical
sources particularly in relation to theories of the state, with reference to forms of
control in central/local relations, management theories with reference to
managerialism including the gendered impact of managerialism and theories of the
self with reference to self identity and self governance. Relevant academic comment
is integrated throughout the thesis.
The research findings highlight the impacts of centralised control on local authorities
as institutions of governance and the effects of developments in the means of
control, for managers and 'managing' in the context of central/local relations.