An investigation into how public sector and community-based practitioners authorise constructively awkward interventions.

Naylor, David (2008) An investigation into how public sector and community-based practitioners authorise constructively awkward interventions. DProf thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

The project investigated a practice question. How can public and third sector managers and clinicians develop their capability to be constructively awkward? That is, to confront and challenge while keeping relationships in tact. The literature on ineffective leadership links such out comes to a failure of followership and the loss of an individual and collective capacity to critically evaluate accepted ways of behaving and thinking and their consequences for self and others. The experience of leaders and practitioners is that while challenge is espoused by the leadership literature and frameworks, there is insufficient guidance on how to enact such challenge, belying the ambivalence towards challenge in the workplace. Ten people were interviewed, each with a reputation for constructive awkwardness and the ability to reflect on times when they had been silenced. The data was transcribed and analysed according to grounded theory principles and a Critical Realist ontology. The major elements of the theory to emerge were: the presence of a self-authorisation mechanism, constituents of which were reflexivity, holding a boundary position and having an explicit value base; a self-silencing mechanism reflecting the anxiety some felt in relation to looking stupid; and a reparation mechanism, that some used to backtrack when their emotive expression alienated the recipients of their challenge. The project theory was consistent with the finding of Archer (2003) and her study of reflexivity as the means by which personal concerns are negotiated with one’s social context. The project suggests that the capacity for self-authorisation was relied on more by community-based practitioners, who could not rely on professional and institutional derived authority. The project drew upon the insights into the causes of bad leadership and suggested how an active followership, described in the literature as necessary, could be practically enacted via a valid development activity. The conclusion notes the project’s shortcoming in relation to the lack of ethnic and cultural diversity in the interview group. This resulted in a lack of depth to the conclusion that community-based leaders may authorise their interventions differently. The conclusion ends with four propositions. It would be useful to: further develop the theory in relation to self-authorisation; to continue to explore the application of the concept of the psychological contract to understanding how one learns about how to manage feelings and challenge in the workplace; to test the assumption that community leaders authorise their interventions differently to public sector practioners and that there is a distinctive community-based leadership theory that is different to the public sector discourse that currently defines such leadership.

Item Type:Thesis (DProf)
Additional Information:

A project submitted to Middlesex University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Professional Studies.

Research Areas:Theses
School of Law > Social Policy Research Centre
ID Code:6894
Deposited On:17 Jan 2011 09:42
Last Modified:18 Jul 2014 13:54

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