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An exploration of organisational effectiveness in a college of further education.

By Peter Lycett


This thesis explores organisational effectiveness in a college of further education using a multiple constituency model and acknowledges the central position of organisational learning and leadership. Prior to the commencement of the research the college had received a damning inspection report which categorised it as a failing college. Considerable managerial restructuring had taken place with five principals in four years. In addition, the college had financial difficulties and a poor image in the local media. Taking a largely qualitative research paradigm, mixed methods including ethnography and action research are employed. To set the college in context, the research commences with an examination of the college through the eyes of its stakeholders. As the research unfolds a variety of approaches and techniques are used including an adaptation of Kelly's (1955) personal construct theory, small group interviews, a survey and content analysis. Data sources include official inspection reports, college documents, articles and letters in national and local newspapers, staff and student induction feedback, repertory grid interviews and staff coursework assignments. Major differences were revealed in the core constructs held by the staff and management respectively and in their perceptions of each other. Results of a national staff satisfaction survey employing qualitative and quantitative techniques enabled the college to be benchmarked against others and showed it in an unfavourable light. Throughout the research, interventions were attempted in an action research framework and the responses to these changes were considered in the analyses. The findings argue that an understanding of the stakeholders' constructs of the college is central to the achievement of any improvement in its effectiveness. It furthers the\ud understanding of organisational effectiveness by exploring. the importance and difficulties in reconciling the different constructs used by stakeholders. The findings\ud revealed a lack of congruence between the espoused theories and theories-in-use of the management and staff. It clearly suggests that the key groups' constructs were irreconcilable. The research emphasises the impact of managers and leaders on the process of effectiveness.\ud In addition, the work adds to the existing models of action research by revealing the constraints imposed by a hostile research environment. The thesis also shows how the\ud singular nature of a geographically isolated college impacts upon stakeholder perceptions and the consequences this has for the achievement of effectiveness

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