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Article
Publication date: 10 April 2017

Chris Senior, Colm Fearon, Heather Mclaughlin and Saranzaya Manalsuren

The purpose of this paper is to understand the nature of staff/employee (i.e. learning and teaching, curriculum support and administrative staff) perceptions, anxieties…

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1236

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand the nature of staff/employee (i.e. learning and teaching, curriculum support and administrative staff) perceptions, anxieties and worries about early merger change in the UK further education (FE) sector.

Design/methodology/approach

Survey data were collected from 128 out of 562 employees to examine perceptions of psychological contract (post-merger announcement) on an FE college in England. Paired t-tests were used to analyse quantitative data. Additionally, a content analysis of open-ended questions was incorporated as part of a combined methods survey evaluation approach for discussion and triangulation purposes.

Findings

Quantitative results from t-tests showed there had been a decrease in the perception of fulfilled obligations in nine of the ten areas of the psychological contract. Qualitative results indicated that communications, job security and uncertainty were common negative outcomes post-merger announcement. Implications for education managers from the case study include: a need for improved organizational communication; developing trust and mentorship for greater employee support, as well as; promoting further employee training and new opportunities for teamwork.

Research limitations/implications

Psychological contract theories for evaluating organizational change are useful given the recent interest in sharing public services and institutional mergers in the UK. This research demonstrates the benefits of using psychological contract, as well as how to apply such an evaluation for understanding staff concerns.

Originality/value

The paper demonstrates a usable (psychological contract) survey evaluation approach for studying the impact of early merger change on staff in the FE, or higher education sectors in the UK (or elsewhere).

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 31 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

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Article
Publication date: 4 October 2011

Colm Fearon, Simon Starr and Heather McLaughlin

The aim of this paper is to explore student views of blended learning in a university setting based on the use of audio lectures, seminars, discussion boards and wikis.

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1789

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to explore student views of blended learning in a university setting based on the use of audio lectures, seminars, discussion boards and wikis.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 14 seminar (focus) groups consisting of approximately 20 students each, over a two year period, provided qualitative views of how students believed blended learning would be useful for their degree and future careers.

Findings

Students found the blended learning approach very flexible and preferable in many cases to traditional face‐to‐face learning. Key themes in terms of emerging benefit themes included: flexibility and support; motivation and sharing ideas; class interaction and explanation of ideas; better than pure eLearning; communicating and teamwork; developing project leadership skills.

Research implications/limitations

This exploratory study of university students is important because they are aware of the value of blended learning and transferable skills for the workplace. The research is limited because it is qualitative, yet it still provides a useful insight into the benefits and value of blended learning from the student perspective.

Originality/value

There is a paucity of qualitative research on the benefits of blended learning and this paper examines the value of the overall approach for university students and the workplace.

Details

Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 43 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0019-7858

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Article
Publication date: 8 June 2012

Judith Crayford, Colm Fearon, Heather McLaughlin and Wim van Vuuren

This article aims to discuss the changing role of entrepreneurial education for promoting personal development, learning and employability skills.

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3121

Abstract

Purpose

This article aims to discuss the changing role of entrepreneurial education for promoting personal development, learning and employability skills.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors review key literature and policy from the EU, in conjunction with recent UK initiatives and organisations that are urging greater action to develop the skills and entrepreneurial mind‐set necessary for the graduates of tomorrow.

Findings

There is a sense of urgency and change in mainstream higher education (HE) to promote and embed greater entrepreneurial and workplace skills among graduates. Students are expected to demonstrate greater employability skills and signs of the entrepreneurial mind‐set that will help organisations innovate and succeed.

Originality/value

The article clearly makes the link between the need for personal development, employability skills and attributes of an entrepreneurial mind‐set among graduates for the post 2011 workplace.

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Article
Publication date: 10 February 2012

Colm Fearon, Simon Starr and Heather McLaughlin

The purpose of this paper is to create a conceptual analysis of key strategic issues for developing blended learning within a university or higher education (HE) setting.

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2356

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to create a conceptual analysis of key strategic issues for developing blended learning within a university or higher education (HE) setting.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper identifies key issues based on focus group analysis with students and reflections from staff. A conceptual grid framework was used to develop insight into blended learning and to enable a pragmatic approach for strategy making.

Findings

A discussion of key issues for strategic analysis is presented. Traditional lectures are not as popular as more interactive seminars. “Pure” e‐learning in terms of computer‐based training is not as desirable as a blended learning approach because face‐to‐face interaction between students and staff is not present. Blended learning is useful as a supplementary resource for students and a way of improving collaboration and group work. It takes time to develop a blended learning strategy and care must be taken to balance stakeholder needs as well as preserve the wider HE student experience.

Practical implications

Findings are not generalizable because the approach adopted is qualitative and conceptual in nature, yet useful insights are provided into key issues regarding blended learning within a HE setting. The conceptual analysis approach used in this paper is useful for practitioners in the organizational development of blended learning.

Originality/value

There is a paucity of useful qualitative research regarding the analysis of blended learning for strategy makers and this paper examines some key issues for analysis and organizational development.

Details

Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, vol. 26 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7282

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Article
Publication date: 8 February 2013

Rachel Davey, Colm Fearon and Heather McLaughlin

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the role of organizational grief in understanding employee reactions to redundancy, managing change and personal development in the…

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3171

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the role of organizational grief in understanding employee reactions to redundancy, managing change and personal development in the UK public sector.

Design/methodology/approach

In today's UK public sector, learning and managing the realities of redundancy and organizational change is explored using a case study of a civil service/ public sector agency. The authors use the lens of the Kübler‐Ross grief cycle to examine employee reactions to organizational change.

Findings

There is no easy way of managing this type of change, and many employees were at different stages of coming to terms with organizational closure and eventual redundancy. Some employees were reacting to change progressively and accepting their new organizational reality, whilst others had not yet reached acceptance. Nevertheless, an important finding has been that a number of staff did appear to be moving on, readjusting and thinking about their future career aspirations and wider life options.

Originality/value

The article uses a unique narrative style to examine common employee emotions and behaviours associated with organizational change in a redundancy and closure situation. It offers unique insight for senior managers in public sector administrations, in both the UK and elsewhere.

Details

Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, vol. 27 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7282

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Article
Publication date: 5 January 2015

Lucy Bowden, Colm Fearon, Heather McLaughlin and Stephen Jackson

The purpose of this paper is to explore a possible strategic role for computing ethics and investigate how they might align with corporate values and higher education (HE…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore a possible strategic role for computing ethics and investigate how they might align with corporate values and higher education (HE) strategy making.

Design/methodology/approach

A longitudinal study of a university in the South East of England is used to examine qualitative findings and develop a formative discussion. The findings, discussion and conceptual framework draw upon documents analysis and 14 semi-structured interviews with senior informants involved in strategy making and implementation within a HE case study setting.

Findings

Findings are discussed in terms of: first, dealing with everyday computing ethical issues facing HE, such as common information technology (IT) threats and data protection; second, responding to ethical opportunities, dilemmas and challenges associated with the adoption of new information and communication technology in areas such as eLearning; and third, harnessing aligned IT opportunities, computing ethics and organizational values for long-term strategy development.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is important for strategic decision makers as they consider the joined-up nature of computing ethics and organizational strategy. Explicating hidden ethical opportunity and threat dimensions of eLearning, computing networks and organizational design should be an area for future research. The authors are limited by the use of a single case study, and generalizability of findings.

Originality/value

The contribution of the paper is a macro-analytical and conceptual approach that explores tentative links between computing ethics, corporate values and strategy making, while supporting future empirical studies between traditionally disparate research domains.

Details

The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-4880

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 23 March 2012

Loise Waikayi, Colm Fearon, Lynn Morris and Heather McLaughlin

Increasingly, post credit crunch, organisations are seeking to develop new ways of attracting, recruiting and retaining staff in the UK high street for less or even no…

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7573

Abstract

Purpose

Increasingly, post credit crunch, organisations are seeking to develop new ways of attracting, recruiting and retaining staff in the UK high street for less or even no financial reward. The aim of this paper is to investigate volunteerism and volunteer management, based on an exploratory case study of two British Red Cross (BRC) shops. It also aims to examine the reasons why people volunteer and why they keep doing so in the context of BRC, as a charitable organisation.

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory case was used to gain an insight into how BRC recruit and retain volunteer staff. This was achieved by interviewing volunteers and the shop management personnel. An overview of BRC structures, strategic direction and views on volunteerism is also developed as part of the case study.

Findings

Exploratory findings from the research show that people decide to volunteer mainly for a variety of reasons such as social interaction, to carry out work that is valued in the local community and for self‐satisfaction. Volunteer satisfaction is derived from helping BRC to help others and also being part of The Red Cross. Volunteer retention is attributed to a proactive management style in terms of creating a favourable work environment. The shop manager's leadership skills are crucial in establishing a friendly and positive attitude towards volunteers. In addition, youth volunteers are attracted in order to gain work experience and learn new skills.

Research limitations/implications

The study is exploratory, based on preliminary interview findings from 17 informants in two BRC shops. However, the insight gained helps in understanding the reasons why volunteerism is successful within the BRC.

Practical implications

The paper can help policy makers reflect and decide on useful tactics and strategy for developing and improving volunteer management within the retail sector.

Originality/value

There is a paucity of literature in relation to retailing and volunteerism and this study contributes to the literature by identifying reasons why this charity has been so successful in attracting and retaining volunteers.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 50 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 5 April 2013

Colm Fearon, Heather McLaughlin and Lynn Morris

– The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of multi-level forms of efficacy and organisational interactions necessary for promoting effective work engagement.

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3713

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of multi-level forms of efficacy and organisational interactions necessary for promoting effective work engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

Work engagement is explored from a multi-level efficacy perspective (self, collective and organisational). Based on the ideas of Bandura, workplace interactions are investigated through the theoretical lens of social cognitive theory (SCT).

Findings

The ability to conceptualise engagement from individual, group and organisational perspectives, helps researchers and HR practitioners appreciate the complexities involved. The paper also highlights a need for developing new organisational interactions that promote engagement, as opposed to reinforcing stale managerial policies, or one-sided strategies for short term productivity gains. Organisational interactions should respond to job demands at both individual and collective levels. The paper also suggests that new interactions and stronger communication helps promote collective and organisational efficacy.

Research limitations/implications

This is a theoretical discussion piece that attempts to set the scene and examine broad issues, and thus there is no measurement or empirical analysis attempted. Additional work is required to operationalise constructs further, as part of a case study protocol for future in-depth empirical analysis.

Originality/value

This thought-piece paper is significant for managers in retail and researchers alike, when developing organisational interactions from a multi-level efficacy perspective. The conceptual contribution of the paper is a fresh macro-analytical perspective concerning efficacy and work engagement. Some ideas are also presented for future research.

Details

European Journal of Training and Development, vol. 37 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-9012

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 12 April 2013

Colm Fearon, Jian Yang, Heather McLaughlin and Geert M. Duysters

The purpose of this paper is to discuss and reflect upon some of the major (quality) issues concerning supply chain management (SCM) for Chinese companies.

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1297

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss and reflect upon some of the major (quality) issues concerning supply chain management (SCM) for Chinese companies.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors draw upon the literature, especially the theoretical perspectives of service orientation and dynamic capabilities, develop a macro‐analysis of SCM issues within a conceptual framework and posit ideas for further research. Discussion and reflection of interview findings is interwoven with the literature and on‐going case study analysis.

Findings

In conjunction with the conceptual framework, the influence of government, improving relationships through Guanxi and developing overall logistics capacity are identified as important dynamic capabilities for Chinese companies. Specific SCM issues such as: the role of distributors; regional supply networks; and information sharing are also identified and discussed. The authors suggest ideas for further research based on the discussion presented.

Research limitations/implications

Given the relatively small number of qualitative SCM studies in recent years concerning China, an exploratory discussion and reflection of key issues from a macro‐analytical perspective is important. However, no empirical findings, propositions, or hypotheses were developed as part of the current thought‐piece. Nevertheless, the insight gained from the conceptual framework and ideas posited are useful for developing a future research agenda.

Originality/value

The paper has been written in response to calls for a wider understanding and reflection of the quality issues associated with the development of SCM in China.

Details

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, vol. 30 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0265-671X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2013

Colm Fearon, Sharon Manship, Heather McLaughlin and Stephen Jackson

The purpose of this paper is to develop “techno‐change alignment” as an approach for evaluating the effectiveness of large‐scale technology‐enabled organisational change…

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1374

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop “techno‐change alignment” as an approach for evaluating the effectiveness of large‐scale technology‐enabled organisational change, commonly associated with the adoption of enterprise information systems (IS).

Design/methodology/approach

By developing a processual analysis of techno‐change, useful insights are developed concerning techno‐change alignment, within the confines of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) case study. Recent techno‐change literature, emerging ideas on human agency, cultural and social relations are incorporated as part of the evaluation approach taken. The paper also discusses the implications of more recent work on techno‐change and suggests directions for future research.

Findings

In terms of “structural” alignment, the ERP system was chosen because it reflected requirements of the case study in the university/education sector. As part of “strategic and intellectual” alignment, business processes were reviewed, as well as alignment with university aims and strategy goals. “Social and cultural” alignment between different groups of users is paramount for effective integration and re‐embedding of relationships and activities once techno‐change is introduced. Wider implications of processual alignment suggest that bringing users and stakeholders together as human agents for techno‐change within a high priority communication environment is essential for developing effective social relationships.

Originality/value

Given the difficulty of developing usable evaluation mechanisms for techno‐change and complex enterprise information systems, the contribution of this article is the demonstration of an effective interpretative (processual) IS evaluation approach, which the authors refer to as techno‐change alignment”.

Details

European Business Review, vol. 25 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0955-534X

Keywords

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