Developing leaders in the workplace: An empirical research of line managers’ wants and needs from leadership development programmes

Loumpourdi, Maria (2024) Developing leaders in the workplace: An empirical research of line managers’ wants and needs from leadership development programmes. Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Over the past decade, leadership development has been identified as the largest expense in the overall learning and development budget of many organisations across various industries worldwide (Ardichvili et al., 2016). Despite substantial investments, Leadership Development Programmes (LDPs) have consistently faced criticism for their perceived failure to develop the leadership capacity of line managers and, ultimately, produce the desired organisational outcomes (Hieker & Pringle, 2021). This recurring issue is commonly attributed to the challenge of 'training transfer', which entails the effective application of newly acquired knowledge, skills, and behaviours from training to the trainees’ job (Baldwin & Ford, 1988). To unravel the intricate dynamics surrounding training transfer within LDPs, this research explored the wants and needs of line managers, the targeted participants of these programmes, and their perceptions of how these wants and needs could be fulfilled.

Situated in an interpretivist paradigm, this empirical research adopted a qualitative research design, involving semi-structured interviews with line managers employed by large (over 2,000 employees) international companies across various industries worldwide. Eligible participants possessed a minimum of two years of managerial experience and had previously participated in LDPs. The collected data was analysed using Braun and Clarke's (2021) reflective thematic analysis method.

The research findings illuminated several critical elements of LDPs valued by line managers, including the importance of relevant and personalised content, experiential and interactive programme delivery, and opportunities for practical application in an enabling work environment. The analysis revealed that, according to the perceptions of line managers, content personalisation and relevance can be achieved through a systematic learning needs analysis, meticulous participant selection, alignment of programme objectives with participants’ leadership needs and challenges, and the contextualisation of the programme’s content. Participants also emphasised the value of experiential methods and interactive learning environments, underlining the pivotal role of competent leadership facilitators, whose desirable characteristics were also identified. Additionally, this study underscored the value of post-programme evaluation and feedback, on-the-job opportunities for practice, and the support provided by the participants’ direct manager as critical components of effective LDPs.

The distinctive contribution of this research lies in its integration of a combined theoretical framework that blends Baldwin and Ford's (1984) model of training transfer with adult learning theories (Knowles, 1984; Kolb et al., 1986; Vella, 2002), introducing a theoretical approach not previously applied in the study of leadership development. Furthermore, this study distinguishes itself by employing a qualitative research design in a field traditionally dominated by quantitative methodologies (Mabey, 2013), thereby providing nuanced insights and understandings of the intricate and multifaceted dynamics of leadership development.

Item Type: Thesis (Ed.D)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Slade, Professor Bonnie and Hedge, Professor Nicki
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84393
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2024 09:04
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2024 09:09
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84393
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