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CROW Research Projects

TUC engagement projects with minority ethnic and new migrant communities

Research at Bradford identified barriers encountered by trade unions when recruiting black and minority ethnic (BME) and migrant workers within Yorkshire and the Humber.

Specific recommendations were made which influenced the Trade Union Congress (TUC) policy on BME recruitment, community engagement and anti-fascist campaigns.

Several affiliated trade unions adopted research recommendations to develop community approaches.

The recommendations were subsequently integrated into a national TUC policy document, Swords of Justice and Civil Pillars, resulting in a policy change at national level in respect of community engagement.

Equality, diversity and inclusion policy and practice development

University of Bradford academics developed a research framework to understand equality, diversity and inclusion which health organisations used in formulating policy and practice.

This led to more effective engagement in these issues thereby improving community wellbeing and addressing health inequalities.

The framework informed changes in the commissioning and delivery of local community health services and in national level human resources rationale.

A service provider redesigned their preventive services, incorporated novel employment and peer adviser opportunities and achieved higher levels of engagement and service use within their diverse community.

The framework has been used by a range of organisations including Brap and Gateway Family Services, to underpin their participation-based, voice-centred research.

Notably McMillan Cancer Support has used the voice-centred approach, developed by Brap using the Bradford framework, to develop their policy and practice.

Talent Management

Aims

This project was a study of the implementation of a talent management strategy in the UK’s National Health Service. Chief Executives, chairs and directors of personnel in 34 health organizations in the north of England were interviewed, as were focus groups of middle and junior managers from six of these organizations. The study found resistance on the part of many senior managers to the talent management strategy. They favoured an inclusive strategy that aimed to develop the talents of all staff.

Publications

Harding, N., Lee, H., and Ford, J. (forthcoming). Who is the middle manager? Human Relations

Abstract: Middle managers occupy a central position in organizational hierarchies, where they are responsible for implementing senior management plans by ensuring junior staff fulfil their roles. However, the available evidence of the identity of the middle manager is contradictory. This paper develops a theory of the identity of the middle manager using a theoretical framework offered by the philosopher Judith Butler and empirical material from focus groups of middle managers discussing their work. We use personal pronoun analysis to analyse the identity work they undertake while talking between themselves. We suggest that middle managers move between contradictory subject positions that both conform to and resist normative managerial identities, and also illuminate how those moves are invoked. The theory we offer is that middle managers are both controlled and controllers, and resisted and resisters. We conclude that rather than being slotted into organizational hierarchies middle management constitutes those hierarchies.

'Partnership' forms of privatisation

Andrew’ Smith’s doctoral research investigated organisational culture change in the largest Public-Private Partnership in the civil service. The notion behind what he terms ‘new partnership forms of privatisation’ is that private sector finance, management expertise and innovation are used to modernise public services. However, advocates fail to account for the differing aims and interests of the public and private sectors.

Andrew has published 3 articles from this research project. ‘Monday will never be the same again’ was published in Work, Employment and Society in 2012 and focuses on employment change after part-privatisation due to the private sector ‘partner’ seeking to make a profit out of a public service. This resulted in the creation of a multi-tier workforce, together with the insourcing, outsourcing and first ever offshoring of civil service work to India. A second article entitled ‘Worky Tickets’ was published in a special issue of Qualitative Research in Accounting and Management and examines workplace dissent and informal resistance. Collective and individual forms of opposition and resistance to organisational change and part-privatisation were the focus of an article published in a special issue of the journal New Technology, Work and Employment.

Lean working methods in the civil service

Andrew is involved in a major research project, along with Professors Bob Carter (University of Leicester), Andy Danford (University of the West of England), Debra Howcroft (University of Manchester), Helen Richardson (Sheffield Hallam University) and Phil Taylor (University of Strathclyde), which critically examines the application of 'lean' working methods in the civil service. The project involved detailed qualitative and quantitative research. Whilst ‘lean’ working methods are most commonly associated with the auto industry, this research investigates attempts to apply such methods to complex and varied white-collar work. We critically engage with many of the claims made by practitioner/academics around ‘people issues’ and well-being implications.

The team have a number of articles published in leading journals. ‘Lean and mean in the civil service’ was published in Public Money and Management and challenges many of the ‘win-win’ assumptions made by advocates of lean. An article published in New Technology, Work and Employment entitled ‘All they lack is a chain’ uses a labour process frame of analysis to examine the transformation of work under lean. This resulted in the fragmentation of work, with employees having less task discretion and job control, with growing work intensification. The article ‘Taxing times’, published in Public Administration in 2013 assesses how lean, contrary to the claims of practitioners, actually creates inefficiencies in the delivery of public services with excessive performance monitoring. These deleterious implications on the experience of work and ill-health are critically addressed in an article recently published in Work, Employment and Society entitled ‘stressed out of my box’. The team are currently working on further publications from this project.

Challenging gendered media mis(s)representations of women professionals and leaders (ESRC funded)

This seminar series is a collaborative project with the University of Bradford, Lancaster University, Northumbria University and Durham University, which will run from October 2014 to June 2017. 

The research focus of this Seminar Series, to challenge gendered media misrepresentations of women professionals and leaders. The media is a powerful player in the promotion or otherwise of gender equality worldwide and media representations of women have great impact on how women are viewed and view themselves.

However, a continued media focus on women's gender, not competence, ignores women's achievements as leaders and professionals, misrepresenting their ability, contribution and advancement. This innovative seminar series explores, examines and challenges how media shapes and influences the way in which women are represented as professionals and leaders. Unique in bringing together leading international researchers, journalists, lobbyists and those committed to the progress of women professionals and leaders, this series aims to:

  • raise awareness and understanding of gendered stereotypes of women and their effects;
  • challenge the gendered construction of women leaders in the media;
  • identify future research agendas for academics and practitioners in management and business.

More information

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