Management and Marketing - Doctoral Theses

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    The role of cognitive-motivational traits in leader identity development: an expectancy theory perspective
    (University College Cork, 2022-11) Greeley, Sarah Ashley; Carbery, Ronan; McDonnell, Anthony; Barrett, Gillian; Irish Research Council
    Leader identity is the aspect of the self that is viewed as being and behaving as a leader. The development of leader identity is an important process to understand as it guides multiple facets of an individual’s leadership from affect to cognition and behavior, ultimately influencing leader and leadership development. However, there is little knowledge of how leader identities develop. While motivation is theorized to be integral to catalyzing leader identity development, no research has yet viewed leader identity development through a motivational lens. In not discerning the essential role of motivation in this process, complete understanding of leader identity development remains unclear, disallowing the practical application of this foundational leadership phenomenon. The purpose of this study is to understand the role of cognitive-motivational traits in instigating leader identity development. To clarify the antecedent relationship of motivation on leader identity development, this study develops a conceptual expectancy model which posits that self-efficacy, goal orientation, and perceived prototypicality instigate leader identity development through enhancing the motivation to engage in identity work. The conceptual model is tested by employing a three-wave, longitudinal, quantitative research design to track the rates of leader identity development of 109 individuals engaged in leadership development programs. Utilizing structural equation modeling and cross-lagged panel analyses, the findings reveal that self-efficacy and perceived prototypicality are the most influential in the development of a leader identity. However, these relationships weaken over time, suggesting that leader identity development experiences a plateauing effect. This study makes a significant theoretical contribution by advancing understanding of leader identity development as a function of expectancy perceptions. Self-efficacy and perceived prototypicality predict individual expectancies, which motivate active engagement in identity work, resulting in leader identity development. A critical methodological contribution is made through identifying a new factor structure within the currently accepted global measure of leader identity. This study suggests that to harness the power of leader identity development, it is important for organizations and practitioners to approach every stage of designing and implementing leadership development initiatives from an identity perspective. In doing so, organizations can begin to develop more effective leaders through placing a greater focus on the foundational role of leader identity within the broader leadership development process. This will have effects from the intrapersonal level of leader identity to the collective level of organizational leadership.
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    Making sense of incentive experiences: a discourse analysis of middle managers’ accounts
    (University College Cork, 2021-06-03) Fives, Olive; Linehan, Carol; Pantidi, Nadia
    Incentives (inducements to motivate performance) are a pervasive and persistent feature of middle management compensation in spite of on-going challenges to their efficacy, cost, and more recently, their impact on employees. Most research to date focuses on the achievement of organisational outcomes with very little examination of employees’ experience of incentive policy, content or practice. This thesis presents an empirical investigation of employee experiences of financial incentives in the workplace to surface richer, more nuanced insights and specifically to explore middle managers sensemaking about their experiences of and reactions to incentive practices. Understanding more about middle managers’ sensemaking about incentives will contribute to our understanding of the effects of these instruments (and other HRM practices) on the employment relationship. This study adopts a social constructionist ontology, qualitative methodology and discourse analysis method to examine middle managers’ sensemaking of workplace incentives within the micro context of the organisation and macro context of wider managerialist discourses. Selected data from the transcripts of interviews with 17 participants from different organisations and sectors is subjected to discourse analysis. The research addresses the following questions: What are middle managers’ discursive constructions of incentives and how are these are drawn upon and deployed in sensemaking of incentive practices? To what extent do dominant incentive discourses of instrumentality, meritocracy, equity etc. feature in accounts and how are these discourses mobilised by participants? Looking inside the ‘black box’ of participant interpretations of and reactions to incentives, how do they think and feel about incentives and incentive events? How are these sensemaking constructions, perceptions and (re)actions mobilised in identity construction? viii This thesis presents five main findings. First instrumental motivation theories do not fully describe how middle managers experience incentives: while instrumental economic and psychological motivation theories can explain the effects of simple piece rate incentives for discrete independent tasks, this is less true for complex, multi-layered incentives for interdependent, difficult to measure tasks. Second, incentives affect employees’ interpretation of both explicit economic exchanges and implicit social exchanges in the workplace: although set up as a straightforward economic exchange of reward for goals reached, incentive experiences involve a reciprocal exchange of both tangible and intangible resources over time. Third, incentive awards and practices provide sensegiving and sensebreaking cues which contribute to identity related sensemaking, not only in relation to ‘who one is’, but more often ‘who one is becoming’ or ‘who one will/can be’. Fourth, identity sensemaking by middle managers features ‘sensescanning’ (i.e. scanning for cues and interpretation of observations) more than sense-demanding or feedback seeking. Finally, a combination of future orientation, equity considerations, morale costs and identity related sensemaking points to cumulative and enduring interpretations of and reactions to incentive policy and practice. The research contributes new, illuminating insights into the practice and experience of middle management incentives, with implications for management and HR practice. This research makes a conceptual contribution by adopting a sensemaking lens to the study of employees’ perceptions of and reactions (within and to) incentive experiences to explain how a specific HR practice affects employees. This approach advances our understanding of the ‘black box’ of employee sensemaking of HRM.
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    Multi-party working relationships in the gig economy: examining the experiences of app-workers and the role of algorithmic management
    (University College Cork, 2021-03) Duggan, James; Sherman, Ultan; Carbery, Ronan; McDonnell, Anthony; Irish Research Council
    The gig economy has emerged as a significant theme of debate in the world of work. Gig work is non-standard in nature and facilitated by digital platform organisations who use algorithmic technologies to intermediate between gig workers and customers. The aim of this research is to examine the nature of multi-party working relationships in the gig economy, with a specific focus on understanding app-based gig workers’ experiences with algorithmic management. As a publication-based thesis, this research draws on multiple theoretical perspectives from employment relations and human resource management (HRM) to examine the unique features of gig work. Adopting a constructivist approach, this study draws on semi-structured interviews with 56 gig workers to examine their role in the working relationship, their perceptions of algorithmic management, and career-related issues in this form of labour. Findings illustrate that the pervasiveness of algorithmic management results in significant fragmentation of the working relationship. While some workers are content with the arrangement, most report concerns over the intense labour process control enabled by algorithms. Findings also indicate that algorithmic management hinders workers’ abilities to develop transferable competencies useful in seeking more secure arrangements, potentially trapping individuals in the hyper-flexible work forms found in the gig economy. This research articulates several contributions. Conceptually, this study proposes a complete typology of gig work, thereby departing from monolithic conceptualisations and identifying the most significant HRM and employment relations implications of algorithmic management. Empirically, this thesis adopts labour process and boundaryless career perspectives to contribute novel insights on the role of algorithmic management in shaping workers’ experiences in an especially insecure work form. Practically, this research provides insights on the most complex and problematic aspects of app-work, which hold particular relevance given ongoing efforts to develop effective policy responses.
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    Social media resource mobilisation in B2B relationships of entrepreneurial firms
    (University College Cork, 2020) Drummond, Conor; Mcgrath, Helen; Mccarthy, Mary; O'Toole, Thomas; Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences
    Digitalisation has increased the importance of online forms of marketing. In the past decade, social media (SM) has had a notable influence on practices in a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) marketing context. Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing has begun to slowly follow suit. SM’s low cost, resource commitment and simplicity in use compared with traditional marketing communications, has distinctive appeal for business relationship development. Entrepreneurial firms are particularly poised to gain from these new technologies. These organisations lack critical resources from the outset and find resource access more challenging when compared to larger firms. These difficulties can be partially overcome through B2B relationships as entrepreneurial firms mobilise resources through network ties. Moving beyond the traditional perspective of SM platforms as just another set of communication tools, SM may be an attractive resource for entrepreneurial firms in their interaction in their B2B relationships and networks. SM when conceived as a resource in interaction can be combined with other resources and with those of the partner firms to solve problems. This may help the entrepreneurial firm to overcome some of the challenges associated with being small and new. Although an emergent area of study with empirical research and relevant literature remaining scarce, we currently know little about SM from an entrepreneurial B2B context. Exploring how entrepreneurial firms mobilise SM as a resource in interaction is the focus for this research study. The aim of this thesis is to conceptualise SM as a resource for entrepreneurial firms and B2B partners, mobilised in interaction between the firm and its B2B relationships. This is explored using an Industrial Marketing and Purchasing (IMP) group perspective. The objectives for this study are focused on understanding: 1) If entrepreneurial firms use SM strategically and if so, what SM B2B network marketing strategies and tactics are used by entrepreneurial firms? 2) Through which processes are SM mobilised as a resource? That is, what are the processes of Social Media Resource Mobilisation (SMRM)? 3) How one of these processes, collaborative SMRM, is developed in interaction? The findings from this study indicate firstly, that entrepreneurial firms engage in four SMRM strategies and 15 SMRM tactics to complement their development of SM B2B relationships and networks. Secondly, four processes of SMRM are identified. These are; Dyadic and Network Actor Engagement, Information Search and Share, Operational Processes Co-ordination and Reconfiguration, and Collaboration. Finally, this research details how the collaborative SMRM process - mobilising SM as a resource in interaction in a collaborative setting - occurs in interaction between the entrepreneurial firm and collaborating SM B2B network actors. These findings contribute to the field of SM B2B marketing and entrepreneurship theory, including a classification of strategic SM B2B network marketing, and a collaborative SMRM process model. Ethnographic Content Analysis (ECA) is also applied to an IMP based SM B2B study for the first time, making a methodological contribution to the area.
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    Disrupting routines, facilitating control: exploring a change towards healthier food purchasing behaviour using a health app
    (University College Cork, 2019) Flaherty, Sarah Jane; Mccarthy, Mary; Collins, Alan; Health Research Board
    Background: Unhealthier food consumption patterns constitute a leading risk factor for ill health. As an important step in the food consumption process, changing food purchasing may improve the healthfulness of dietary patterns. Changing behaviour towards healthier food purchasing may be viewed as effortful by consumers due to inadequate nutrition knowledge and skills which may inhibit their ability to make healthy choices within the supermarket. A dominance of routines and habits further impedes the use of deliberative decision-making, which makes information provision and goal-setting less effective. Behaviour change may be supported by disrupting undesirable behavioural patterns, building of personal resources, and reframing behavioural outcomes. This should prompt a greater use of reflective cognitive processes during food purchasing and aid healthier behaviour. However, there is limited evidence in relation to food purchasing. Given recent technological advances, apps offer a potential tool to facilitate such change. The high use of apps across social groups suggests that they may be appropriate for supporting behaviour change in lower socioeconomic groups. It is unclear if existing apps are appropriately designed or acceptable for use for the necessary time period, particularly for individuals from a lower socioeconomic background. Such knowledge gaps must be addressed to inform intervention design. This thesis aims to contribute to the theoretical understanding of the interplay between mobile app technology and behaviour change with food purchasing as the behaviour of interest, and a particular focus on women from a lower socioeconomic background. Methods: This thesis was grounded in a pragmatic philosophical perspective and consisted of four phases. In phase one, structural equation modelling was undertaken to examine the individual-level determinants of a healthy eating habit and the extent to which personal goals and self-control are linked to a healthy eating habit. A content analysis of existing apps was undertaken in phase two to examine their capacity to support healthier food purchasing behaviour. A structured analytical matrix was employed where relevant literature and theory was drawn upon. A phenomological methodology was used for the remaining two research phases. In phase three, the researcher explored the experience of using a health app to support healthier food purchasing behaviour. Women from a lower socioeconomic background were recruited and asked to use two, of three possible, apps over a two-week period. Subsequent semi-structured interviews explored the experience of using an app including those personal and app-related factors of importance. Inductive thematic analysis was conducted to explore common patterns across participants’ experiences. In the fourth research phase, the lived experience of changing purchasing behaviour was explored in women from a lower socioeconomic background using a health app over an 8-11 week period. Participants were asked to use one, of two possible, apps. Multiple data collection methods were employed to capture the lived experience of behaviour change and app use. At baseline, an accompanied shop, incorporating the use of think-aloud protocol and researcher observations, was conducted, followed by an in-depth interview and questionnaire completion. At the midway point, participants were asked to complete a reflective account of their experience thus far. They were also asked to share their till receipts for the study duration. At follow-up, an accompanied shop, in-depth interview, and questionnaire completion was again employed. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was conducted to gain insight into the behaviour change experience. Theoretical thematic analysis was employed to examine app use through the lens of engagement theory. Findings: Self-control and deliberative cognitive processes were central to maintaining a healthy eating habit. This challenges the current conceptualisation and suggests the need to view complex food behaviours as highly routinised; this is an important consideration for behaviour change. Food purchasing behaviour was not a primary focus of existing apps with behavioural outcomes, such as weight-loss, as their main goal. While existing apps have the potential to support healthier purchasing behaviour, there is an opportunity to broaden their capacity. Health apps, through the process of self-monitoring, problem solving, and behavioural prompts, disrupted existing purchasing patterns. This prompted the use of reflective cognitive processes such that purchasing behaviour was directed by personal resources and healthy food goals. However, the extent to which reflective cognition continued to be employed during behaviour change was influenced by the broader goal system in which healthy food goals resided. The importance of user engagement was highlighted through this exploratory research. Engagement was expressed at an intrinsic level as a sense of personal autonomy, an increased perceived capacity to change, and viewing the app as a confidential and empathetic ally. App features that facilitated their expression were considered to result in optimal engagement. Findings suggest that an individual’s involvement, in relation to healthy food, may act as a trigger for different phases of engagement as variations in goal saliency lead to flux in involvement levels. The importance of individual characteristics on app engagement was evident which emphasises the need to integrate tailored features into health apps to ensure that it is congruent with personal goals. Conclusions The present findings add to the existing understanding of the interplay between app technology and behaviour change. If appropriately designed health apps may facilitate a more conscious approach to food purchasing and support healthier purchasing behaviour. An individual’s goal system architecture may influence the extent to which the reflective cognitive system is employed during behaviour change, which progresses existing knowledge of the influence of goal systems on behaviour change. The present research contributes to the extant literature in relation to user engagement. The intrinsic expressions of engagement are proposed to result from different configurations of engagement dimensions which suggests an interaction between these dimensions rather than an isolated existence. The potential role of involvement as a trigger of engagement phases further challenges the current conceptualisation of engagement. Such findings add to the call for the use of alternative non-quantitative, context-specific means of measurement to adequately capture the engagement process. In conclusion, findings suggest the potential to expand existing behaviour change theory, to integrate components of engagement, for improved relevance in the app technology space. Future health app design must consider the individual user and incorporate tailored features to ensure user self-congruence and support continued engagement to facilitate change. Health apps may be an effective tool to support healthier food behaviours in women from a lower socioeconomic background but they may be most effective when implemented as part of a range of individual, community, and broader structural measures.