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Dealing with the tensions and dilemmas of management: a value conflicts perspective

Dealing with the tensions and dilemmas of management: a value conflicts perspective
Dealing with the tensions and dilemmas of management: a value conflicts perspective
Dealing with competing demands and expectations is an essential feature of management work. Positioned between reportees and senior leaders, managers hold multiple accountabilities and allegiances; responding to day-to-day dilemmas is likely to call personal values and priorities into question. This thesis conceives such dilemmas as value conflicts, arising when managers’ values and priorities are at odds with the values and expectations of the organisation and others.

The research explores four key questions: What types of value conflict do managers encounter? How do they respond? How do personal values, role-related factors and the organisational context shape their responses? What are the implications of the conflicts and responses for managers and the organisation?

Adopting a critical realist paradigm and a multiple case study methodology, the research seeks to understand and explain interpreted events within the socio-structural context of the organisation and the management role. Critical incident technique was used to gather value conflict accounts from managers in four private-sector organisations. Empirically-based findings derive explanatory support from theory on personal values (Schwartz, 1992), cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957) and self-determination of behaviour (Deci and Ryan, 1995).

The thesis presents four main findings. First, it identifies the sources of value conflict and a values-based typology of responses. Second, it demonstrates managers’ use of multiple, different bases of legitimacy to justify their responses: self, others, role, and censure/sanction avoidance. Third, it relates personal and organisational outcomes to response-justification patterns. Finally, through analysis of personal values, role expectations and the organisational context, it uncovers the complex interplay of factors underlying managers’ responses.

The research contributes new, explanatory insights by applying a value conflicts perspective to management tensions and dilemmas, with implications for leadership and management practice. Furthermore, it uncovers a neglected aspect of management work in values-led organisations: dealing with mismatches between espoused and enacted organisational values. The thesis contributes a viable analytic approach to qualitative values scholarship, and suggests fruitful avenues for future research.
University of Southampton
Lee, Sarah
5f701ff9-aec4-436e-8180-dd45d8a1d1dc
Lee, Sarah
5f701ff9-aec4-436e-8180-dd45d8a1d1dc
Higgs, Malcolm
bd61667f-4b7c-4caf-9d79-aee907c03ae3

(2015) Dealing with the tensions and dilemmas of management: a value conflicts perspective. University of Southampton, Southampton Business School, Doctoral Thesis, 361pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Dealing with competing demands and expectations is an essential feature of management work. Positioned between reportees and senior leaders, managers hold multiple accountabilities and allegiances; responding to day-to-day dilemmas is likely to call personal values and priorities into question. This thesis conceives such dilemmas as value conflicts, arising when managers’ values and priorities are at odds with the values and expectations of the organisation and others.

The research explores four key questions: What types of value conflict do managers encounter? How do they respond? How do personal values, role-related factors and the organisational context shape their responses? What are the implications of the conflicts and responses for managers and the organisation?

Adopting a critical realist paradigm and a multiple case study methodology, the research seeks to understand and explain interpreted events within the socio-structural context of the organisation and the management role. Critical incident technique was used to gather value conflict accounts from managers in four private-sector organisations. Empirically-based findings derive explanatory support from theory on personal values (Schwartz, 1992), cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957) and self-determination of behaviour (Deci and Ryan, 1995).

The thesis presents four main findings. First, it identifies the sources of value conflict and a values-based typology of responses. Second, it demonstrates managers’ use of multiple, different bases of legitimacy to justify their responses: self, others, role, and censure/sanction avoidance. Third, it relates personal and organisational outcomes to response-justification patterns. Finally, through analysis of personal values, role expectations and the organisational context, it uncovers the complex interplay of factors underlying managers’ responses.

The research contributes new, explanatory insights by applying a value conflicts perspective to management tensions and dilemmas, with implications for leadership and management practice. Furthermore, it uncovers a neglected aspect of management work in values-led organisations: dealing with mismatches between espoused and enacted organisational values. The thesis contributes a viable analytic approach to qualitative values scholarship, and suggests fruitful avenues for future research.

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More information

Published date: March 2015
Organisations: University of Southampton, Southampton Business School

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 377939
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/377939
PURE UUID: 0e8513d9-9f31-4bb3-9885-1b9c365ae596

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 13 Jul 2015 10:33
Last modified: 20 Nov 2017 17:33

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Contributors

Author: Sarah Lee
Thesis advisor: Malcolm Higgs

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