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Title: Continuous improvement in the public sector
Author: Fryer, Karen J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2688 0560
Awarding Body: Glasgow Caledonian University
Current Institution: Glasgow Caledonian University
Date of Award: 2009
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Despite a quarter of a century of policy aimed at improving quality, public sector organisations still attract criticism. Frequently, continuous improvement is cited as being integral to, or the prerequisite for, many quality initiatives and it has been described as the ultimate test of a world-class organisation. The main purpose of this research is to establish the current level of maturity of continuous improvement across the public sector and explore how that level has been reached in order to develop recommendations to help public sector organisations further embed continuous improvement. The secondary aims of the research are to establish any differences between the sectors (fire, police, health and local government) or geographical areas (Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales). The variation could be the result of different legislation or different sectoral cultures. The research methodology employs a mixed method approach using self-completion questionnaires and case stUdies. The survey of 1174 organisations achieved a 16% response rate representing organisations throughout the UK across all four sectors. Four case studies were compiled, one from each part of the public sector studied, using predominantly document analysis, interviews and focus groups to gather the data, with participant observation being employed in one instance. The research findings reveal disparity within sectors, rather between sectors, suggesting that differences in levels of CI maturity between organisations appear to be a function of organisational strategy rather than sectoral policy initiatives. Scrutiny has had a major impact on ensuring systems are in place, but the determination of senior managers appears to be the biggest driver in embedding continuous improvement. A range of tools, techniques, and approaches have been used within each sector, despite common legislative pressures. This research has contributed to knowledge in a number of ways both theoretical and empirical. Most previous research has looked at particular parts of the public sector, whereas this research study compares continuous improvement across four different areas of the UK public sector. Further, while there have been studies of CI in local government and NHS, the police service and particularly the fire service have been neglected. The secondary research provides a comprehensive review of the literature which can be used both to inform and as a benchmark for future research. During the research a three stage maturity model of continuous improvement was developed based on an adaptation of Bessant et ai's (2001) model. It is proposed that this model can be used as a diagnostic tool or for training. This is a key contribution to academia and public sector management, which combines theory building with practical application
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available