This is a study of how UK public sector organisations both build and define capacity for improvement. Public service quality in the UK remains a subject of ongoing importance, not least because of its contribution to economic growth of the country as a whole but also because of the needs and wants of the civil population as consumers of those services. It is considered that in order to improve service in a continuous and sustainable manner, organisations must develop the capacity for improvement through the process of capacity building.\ud The research is based in the field of Education, at school level, from which the implementation and effects of a particular capacity building policy can be examined. The policy in question is PPA time (Planning, Preparation, and Assessment time), which forms part of the government's agenda for Workforce Reform. In conducting this exploratory research, a qualitative approach to a case study based research design is adopted. An interpretive analysis of cases facilitates a richness and depth of understanding. Six detailed case studies are carried out at schools serving Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils in one Local Authority in the West Midlands. A number of research methods are employed to facilitate triangulation of the data, including semi-structured interviews, observation, a survey, and a diary study.\ud This thesis makes three contributions to new knowledge. Firstly, it develops understanding of the role of certain influences on internal capacity. Some are found to influence internal capacity directly through their impact upon internal capabilities. Others are found to influence internal capacity indirectly through the way in which they impact upon implementation of a capacity building policy. Influences are further found to be `enablers', which if present would enhance internal capabilities; `qualifiers'; without which, particular influences would `inhibit' internal capabilities, and which had the potential to become `enablers'; and `inhibitors', which had detrimental effects on internal capabilities. \ud Secondly, it examines the relationship between direct influences and internal capacity to find that several of the influences in the extant literature are less significant in the context of a policy designed to build capacity. Further, it finds that particular influences affect other influences and so are `higher order' influences. Thirdly, it interprets the literature and research findings to conclude that `capacity building' is best understood as: the process of developing the necessary resources to meet improvement objectives, and of maximising the benefits of those resources through organisational capabilities
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