Identifying barriers to empowerment initiatives in a fire service command structure: An international comparison of the issues of empowerment in four fire brigades.

ARBUTHNOT, Kevin Brian Patrick. (1995). Identifying barriers to empowerment initiatives in a fire service command structure: An international comparison of the issues of empowerment in four fire brigades. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

Fire brigades in the UK are currently exploring initiatives aimed at improving "Quality of Service". This has most commonly been in response to challenges presented by the "Citizens Charter", Audit Commission models for quality in service delivery, measurement of performance in service delivery, and, increasingly, budgetary pressures in brigades. Of the routes that are available towards quality improvement, Total Quality Management, or TQM is one that is gaining in popularity. It is the author's contention that as an organisation, the fire service, like the police, military and other command organisations, is subtly different to commercial, industrial, and most other public sector organisations. For this reason, not all of the models for quality improvement that are offered to the service are either useful or viable, and the resistance to them is not merely a symptom of unwillingness to change. Of the package of concepts embraced by the label TQM, one of the most problematic for the fire service has been that of empowerment. Part of the reason is that empowerment is not well defined in itself. This is not to suggest that the concept is not real, or that it is impossible to apply. There are, however, distinct difficulties with both the concept and its application in the fire service. This is an organisation founded on a hierarchical and bureaucratic structure; discipline and obedience to orders on the fireground are enshrined not only in tradition but also in formal Discipline Regulations. Additional considerations of uniform, rank and a hazardous working environment, against the backdrop of a unionised workforce, central government monitored service delivery standards and local political control, all constitute barriers to the successful implementation of empowerment. The question implicit throughout this investigation is whether empowerment of a workforce, which is structured and conditioned by experience to follow identified leaders, and to operate within strict procedural and organisational constraints, can ever succeed, and whether success would be recognised. Therefore, this dissertation centres on an investigation of the issue of "Empowerment" in the context of a command organisation, against a background of TQM. For the purposes of this investigation the concept of empowerment was examined in detail, and the following"working definition" established in the context of a disciplined command organisation: "Empowerment is about giving the authority to make quality improvements to those who have the ability to make them; this must be done within a clear framework of strategy and values, by teams which have the necessary knowledge and ability, and which are managed by well trained, inspirational leaders." (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (M.Phil.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 1995.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:18
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2018 10:42
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19284

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