Evaluating a programme of business improvement

  • Joan Henderson

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The aim of this thesis is to show how a university‐industry partnership can be used in two key ways. First, to contribute to academia through the development of new research methodology and improved understanding of the subject area (total quality management (TQM)). Second, to add to organisational learning by developing critical reflection and reflexivity in employees and managers involved in the partnership and the development of TQM in the organisation. Design/methodology/approach – The thesis critiques the partnership between the author's university and a large utility organisation over a four‐year period. The development of academic and organisational learning over this period is discussed, with particular emphasis on the need for developing appropriate research methodologies in this type of environment. The findings has shown that partnerships between universities and organisations often experience difficulties due to apparently differing and incommensurate desired outcomes. Any partnership activity must involve deep learning transfer and practitioner reflection and reflexivity as opposed to training. The overall method of working, which included the research methodology, was that of critical action learning. The emphasis on criticality involving this cycling process enabled practitioners to critically reflect and to carry out reflexive change actions. This approach ensured that grounded TQM models were produced which represented the complexity and dynamics of TQM implementation within the organisation. Once again, the practitioner's reflection and reflexivity added to the richness of the findings and developments. Overall, the partnership produced a range of successful outcomes.
    Date of Award1 Jan 2002
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRodney McAdam (Supervisor)

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