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Strategic Learning in English local authorities: the influence of Labour's modernisation agenda 1997–2010

Williams, Graham John (2014) Strategic Learning in English local authorities: the influence of Labour's modernisation agenda 1997–2010. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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This research explores the English local government modernisation agenda of the 1997–2010 Labour government with reference to its promotion of, and effects on, organisational learning. It does this by examining the concept of learning to learn, as constructed by local authority Chief Executives.
A synthesised analytical framework is developed by exploring the commonalities of three approaches to the exchange of knowledge: organisational learning; policy transfer, and change management.
Utilising this framework, local government modernisation is examined within the broader modernisation agenda and its historical context. This, and an examination of Best Value, the Beacon Council Scheme and the Comprehensive Performance and Area Assessments, exposes the links between modernisation and organisation learning that underpin a central contention of this research; that the success of local government modernisation relied on local authorities being better able to learn from each other.
Analysis of the data unique to this research, obtained largely through interviews with local authority Chief Executives, illuminates the way in which they construct their views of learning, modernisation and central-local relations.
The major conclusions concern the significance of networks, differences and trust and how views of each are constructed. Also important is trust within central-local relations. Modernisation consolidated the acceptance of other local authorities as sources of learning and enhanced particular characteristics conducive to learning. However, through the mechanisms utilised, modernisation also inhibited instances of learning and was less successful at embedding the concept of learning to learn within local government.
Original contributions to knowledge are made in this under-researched area through innovative use of exiting approaches to the analysis of change and learning; synthesising these provides a useful tool for the analysis of those matters. Additionally, such analysis sheds new light on the way in which local authority Chief Executives construct the world-views that shape their actions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Depositing User: Elizabeth Boulton
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2015 10:34
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2015 17:54


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