Modelling aspects of role among middle managers in English Further Education colleges
thesisposted on 25.08.2010, 13:01 by Ann R.J. Briggs
This research examines the work of middle managers in English further education colleges holding a range of responsibilities. Middle managers occupy a pivotal role within the complex working environment of colleges, translating the purpose and vision of the college into practical activity and outcomes, yet there is little empirically-based understanding of the roles they perform. Case study research at four colleges drew on data from senior managers, middle managers and their teams, college documents and observation of meetings. The enquiry focused upon the aspects of role performed by the managers, the environment for management within which they carry out their role, and features of the college environment which enable and impede them in their work. Five aspects of role were identified and discussed, those of corporate agent, implementer, staff manager, liaison and leader. Analysis focused upon the managers' resolution of the tension between the mechanical need to support whole-college homogeneity, and the organic need to develop departmental specialisms and respond to the differentiated needs of staff, students and clients. Factors within the college environment which impact positively and negatively upon the role were discussed and modelled in order to locate the key influences upon the effectiveness of the manager role, and thereby the effectiveness of the college. The emergent factors were: the college structures and territories; the design of college operational systems; the position of the manager in relation to the college structure, purpose and values; the coherence and status of the manager role; the degree of autonomy experienced by the manager, and the manager's identification with leadership. The research generated reflection on whole-college coherence, role coherence and professionalism. Discussion throughout the investigation focused upon emerging definitions of professionalism within further education colleges, and, whilst the concept is not yet fully defined, hopefully this study will contribute to its understanding.