'Making a difference': a study of experimental learning and practice development of non-profit managers

Myers, J., 2006. 'Making a difference': a study of experimental learning and practice development of non-profit managers. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Much research undertaken in the non-profit field over the last twenty years has focused on size, definition and economic contribution of the sector. Practitioner literature has focused on tools and techniques for managing and working in the sector. Managerial experience in the sector has been largely absent from mainstream management discourse. This study seeks to address gaps in knowledge by exploring the subjective experience of managers in non-profit local development agencies (LDAs).

Qualitative research, undertaken with 20 LDA chief executive officers (CEOs), aims to describe and explain how these CEOs make sense of what they do. More specifically, to consider how concepts of self, image and identity influence CEO thinking and capacity for action; how CEOs construct the concept of leadership and what effective leadership looks like for their sector; and how they manage, learn and enhance their practice.

In doing so, a pragmatist philosophical framework links life, work, theory and practice. A social constructionist research methodology provides a means to consider how CEOs make meanings and construct personal theories, and concepts of sensemaking, autopoiesis and legitimate peripheral participation provide a robust analytical approach. Research methods include in-depth interviewing, adaptation of repertory grid technique and a period of intense shadowing of two CEOs.

Findings from the research make significant contributions to understanding and current knowledge of managerial experience in a non-profit context. The thesis points to the need to extend current thinking on conventional approaches to management development. It brings in to view concepts of modal participation, networked practitioners and positive marginalisation as aspects of expert practice for LDA CEOs. The methods used to elicit leadership constructs and produce a model of leadership dimensions has potential for exportable, future use and encourages further debate around social entrepreneurship and social change leadership. Additional implications for further research include learning in inter-organisational settings. As such, the context for the research is non-profit LDAs, however the learning gained from the research extends beyond non-profit boundaries.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Myers, J.
Date: 2006
ISBN: 9781369314113
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Jeremy Silvester
Date Added: 10 Aug 2023 08:30
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2023 08:36
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/40804

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