The complex dynamics of performance management and improvement in Local Authorities. A psychoanalytic study of how a Local Authority organisation functions and survives an Ofsted inspection

Madembo, Ruth Pazvaitanda (2018) The complex dynamics of performance management and improvement in Local Authorities. A psychoanalytic study of how a Local Authority organisation functions and survives an Ofsted inspection. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of East London. Full text available

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The aim of this study was to explore how Children’s Services Departments respond to inspections undertaken by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) to improve performance. The fieldwork setting for this study was in frontline Children’s Service Departments in two Local Authorities. Information referred to in this study pertains to the period when the two Local Authorities were going through a process of change in response to the Ofsted inspections. Information was obtained through qualitative research using ethnographic methods: psychoanalytic participant observation, interviews and organisational documents. A combination of a psychoanalytical theoretical framework and organisational metaphors was used to explore the conscious and unconscious process experienced by individuals going through a process of change. This study has highlighted the complex issues arising from the inspection regimes and the impact of such regimes on individuals and groups in organisations. Within this, the unconscious processes play a significant role. The anxieties and the subsequent defence mechanisms deployed at an individual and organisational level influence the direction of the organisation. What was apparent in this study was the critical role leadership plays in determining the health and functioning of an organisation in implementing the primary task in particular during periods of organisational stress. This study shows that to understand the journey of performance improvement in organisations and organisations’ relationship with the inspection institutions, it is important to understand the organisations’ culture and ‘organisation held in the mind’ of the workers. Organisation in the mind is what the workers perceive to be the organisation they are working for. It is equally important to understand ‘the inspection in the mind’ of the workers. The dynamics between the ‘organisation in the mind’ and the ‘inspection in the mind’ is crucial in understanding the responses of individual and organisations to inspections. This study confirms that for any sustainable transformation to occur to improve performance, leadership needs to work through understanding the organisation ‘in the mind’ of the workforce before implementing any changes. The understanding of the organisation ‘in the mind’ should determine what change is required. Changing the mind-set of the workers and subsequently the culture of the organisation is paramount in effecting any sustainable organisational development. It is only then can real transformation take place when workers have a clear realistic view of their organisation and its function and the view of the internal and external institutions.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of East London in collaboration with the Tavistock Clinic for the award of Professional Doctorate in Social Work
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Social Work, D60
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Children and Families - Social Work
Groups & Organisations > Groups/Institutions/Organisations
Social Welfare > Social Welfare Personnel
Social Welfare > Social Services
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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