Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Business

Faculty

Business and Law

First Advisor

Associate Professor Llandis Barrat-Pugh

Abstract

This thesis is about an unfolding management development process over time. Interconnections influencing corporate capability are explained and insight provided into the social construction of strategic organisational change. Studies of strategically-focused change don’t generally address the part management development plays in innovation and corporate capability construction. This research thus fills a persistent knowledge gap in the understanding of the way management development is provided within organisations and the value of the process.

This empirical study is in the process research tradition. A longitudinal, in-depth case study of BankWest, an Australian financial services company undergoing significant change between 1997 and 2009, is used to investigate how management development is constructed and assess the role it plays in constructing corporate capability. This unique study combines a constructionist paradigm, a contextualist and a processual design, temporal bracketing strategies and a narrative analysis to scrutinise organisational change and innovation, detail the role of management development, and identify its constitutors, enactors and integrators. Through linking literature on management development, capability, change and innovation, a novel and interwoven analysis of strategic change endeavours is produced.

The findings of this study show that management development can be an enabler of strategy to gain or maintain organisational competitive advantage and to design, apply and advance change approaches. Through the adoption of a capability-driven perspective, strategy can be actualised, desired managerial identity and behavioural productions can be facilitated, and organisational capability and manager capability can be aligned to achieve strategic, operational and professional outcomes. The manager of management development is identified as the central player crafting the strategic change endeavours’ purposes, practices and positions through conversations with other organisational actors that enable composition and rendition of the management development events.

Three major contributions to knowledge are made First, theoretical understandings of management development as a strategic change endeavour from capability and innovation perspectives reveal how and why people act as they do within changes processes. The production of a framework that models management development’s role in innovation provides new empirical insights into how organisational actors through networks of conversation socially construct change. Second, management practice is informed through a narrative analysis of polyvocal accounts of individuals engaged in the management development process. A framework of strategic change endeavours is provided that practitioners could use to increase understanding and provide considerations for future action. The exploration of management development as a socially constructed reality illuminates how it is constituted, enacted and integrated and enables managers of the process and change agents to adapt insights to their local situation. Third an understanding of how research into contemporary corporate companies is undertaken is provided by illustrating how management knowledge can be built and making explicit the inter-relationship between the researcher and the research product.

This study empirically identifies and portrays strategic change endeavours through the lens of management development before locating them within the wider context of capability construction and innovation. The reflexive approach taken enables the tale to be told of how the research was undertaken. This thesis thus provides valuable contributions to management theorists and those undertaking research and offers practitioners insights that can be applied to constructing management development and change programs within their own organisations.

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