The paper seeks to show the relationship between organisational structure and flexibility of training has not been well researched. Focusing on the role of recognition of…
The paper seeks to show the relationship between organisational structure and flexibility of training has not been well researched. Focusing on the role of recognition of current competencies, this study provides evidence of the effects of the former on the latter.
In this paper evidence was obtained by comparing six emergency service organisations using comparative case study. Data were collected through individual and group interviews and from document searches. Organisations were categorised as organistic or mechanistic based on volunteer experiences and published organisational structures. The flexibility of curriculum, delivery of training, and recognition of current competence were assessed and compared with organisational structure.
The paper finds that mechanistic organisations had high levels of insular trust and relied on training as a means of socialising new volunteers into the norms and practices of the organisation. They required all recruits to undertake the same training and did not recognise competencies acquired outside the organisation. In contrast, those organisations with a more, organic structure, had more flexible training strategies and used holistic assessment to recognise current competencies that volunteers brought to their roles.
The paper could be replicated in other industries to examine the generalisabilty of the findings. The implications for the wider issues of flexibility and responsiveness of some emergency service organisations could be an area for further investigation.
The paper shows that achieving greater flexibility in training in emergency service organisations may require organisational change in order to build trust within a work context that can involve extreme risks.
The paper concludes that, while it was the fire services that were the more mechanistic of the organisations included in the study, there was sufficient diversity in their structures to allow one to conclude that across these four cases the more organic the organisation, the more flexible was the approach to training. It is concluded therefore that an inflexible approach to training is not an essential feature of the fire service industry.