Managing and Adapting to Organisational Change
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Southampton
Unit of AssessmentSocial Work and Social Policy
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services: Business and Management
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration
Summary of the impact
Research by the University of Southampton's Work Futures Research Centre
has contributed significantly to the design of management change processes
and policies across a range of organizations in the UK and
internationally. The Centre's research has informed a new training and
qualifications framework and improved programme performance for healthcare
workforces involved in digital innovation; led to new recommendations for
sustainable workplace design to enhance employee well-being and
productivity promoted by the British Council of Offices as part of their
evidence base on office re-design; and influenced the development of
organizational and professional guidelines for gender equality at work.
The modern workplace is changing, driven by advances of globalisation,
the proliferation of digital technologies, increasing worker mobility and
challenges of sustainability. Spending cuts necessitate fundamental
redesigns to public sector work and organizations, and longer term changes
to the structure of the workforce are underway. Employees' expectations
are shifting as the workforce becomes more diverse, and employers are
struggling to adapt organisational cultures to changing gender, race and
The University of Southampton's research into changing forms of work and
organisation began in the late 1990s with studies by Susan Halford,
Professor of Sociology, and Pauline Leonard, Professor of Sociology, into
issues of gender and race in the workplace. In 2010, Halford and Leonard
co-founded the Work Futures Research Centre (WFRC), a University Strategic
Research Group. They provided evidence of sustained inequalities despite
legislative and cultural change. Their 2001 book Gender, Power and
Organizations [3.1], is a defining text in the field, adopted in
countries from Brazil to Finland and Australia as a key teaching text and
receiving 200 citations (Google Scholar).
Halford and Leonard's ESRC project (1997-2001) on gender, race and
professional identities in the NHS established the importance of
differentiation between hospitals in professional identities and work
practices. Based on this, a 2003 report [3.2] found racism
manifest in access to training and careers among UK graduates,
highlighting the need for more transparency in selection processes. A 2006
book [3.3] drew on empirical research of doctors and nurses in the
NHS to show how gendered organisational cultures impact on individuals'
identities in their daily working lives.
More recently, Halford and Leonard turned to how the physical design of
workplaces affects employee wellbeing and productivity. A study in 2008
funded by The British Council of Offices (BCO) explored the effect of
office design on performance, productivity and practice in FTSE 100
companies and public sector organizations. Leonard found [3.4]
workplace design has a significant bearing on individuals' motivation,
working relationships and wellbeing, leading her to devise new models of
consultation that can be replicated in other work environments. She
discovered scepticism among employees towards environmental initiatives,
which are often viewed as cost- cutting measures.
From 2007 to 2013 Halford carried out studies [3.5, 3.6] into how
increasing digitisation of healthcare work impacts on the organization and
delivery of services. Two projects funded by the RCN (2005, 2010) examined
the impact telemedicine, electronic booking and large scale information
systems have on the professional and organizational aspects of healthcare
work; in particular for older workers. In two National Institute for
Health Research (NIHR) projects (2008, 2011), Halford evaluated a new
Computer Decision Support System (CDSS) for emergency and urgent care,
intended to achieve workforce savings by enabling clerical staff to make
clinical decisions and to rationalize and integrate services in line with
Darzi recommendations. She also explored work, training and organizational
practices required to implement CDSS. An evaluation of the NHS 111
service, to replace NHS Direct, found that the work required to make the
system function effectively was considerable and varied significantly from
place to place. This research demonstrated that innovations are not quick
or cheap technical fixes to current funding constraints.
References to the research
3.1 Halford, S., and Leonard, P. (2001) Gender, Power and
Organisations Palgrave, Basingstoke, 270pp.
3.2 Cooke, Lorelei, Halford, Susan and Leonard, Pauline (2003)
Racism in the medical profession: the experience of UK graduates,
London, UK, British Medical Association, Health Policy and Economic
Research Unit, 22pp.
3.3 Halford, S., and Leonard, P. (2006) Negotiating gendered
identities at work:place, space and time. Palgrave, Basingstoke
3.5 Halford, S., Obstfelder, A., Lotherington, AT. and Dyb, K.
(2010) `Getting the Whole Picture? New information and communication
technologies in healthcare work and organization' Information,
Communication and Society, 13(3): 442-465.
3.6 Turnbull, J., Prichard, J., Halford, S., Pope, C. and
Salisbury, C. (2012) `Reconfiguring the emergency and urgent care
workforce: mixed methods study of skills and the everyday work of
non-clinical call-handlers in the NHS' Journal of Health Services
Research & Policy 2012: 1-8.
• 1997-01: Gendered Organisations, Gendered Identities? Contemporary
Change in the NHS, ESRC, Halford and Leonard, £35,000.
• 2001-04: Workplace Transformation, (industry funded, details
removed to preserve anonymity), Halford c. £5,000.
• 2005-08: Space, Power and Communication: the dynamics of convergent
ICT in the Norwegian Health Care System, Norwegian Research Council
5.75million NOK (approx. £530,000). Halford (CI) with Aud
Obstfelder (PI), Ann Therese Lotherington and Kari Dyb (Norwegian Centre
for Telemedicine/NORUT Social Science Research).
• 2005-06: New Working Spaces and Motivation, University of
Southampton, Leonard, £1,000.
• 2007-10: Office Space: Performance, Productivity and Practice
British Council of Offices, Leonard. £15,000.
• 2008-10: Same Technology, Different Settings: workforce management,
planning and training implications, Service Delivery Organization,
NHS. Halford (CI), with Cathy Pope (PI), Val Lattimer, Carl May,
Chris Salisbury, Jane Prichard and Wendy Hall (Universities of
Southampton, Bristol and Newcastle), £397,000.
• 2010-14: Organizing the Third Sector, ESRC, Halford and
Leonard, c. £300,000 (as part of the ESRC Third Sector Research
• 2010-13: Ageing healthcare workers and ICT: Making healthcare
workplaces healthy for 50+, Norwegian Research Council c.7.8m NOK. Halford
(CI) with Ann Therese Lotherington (PI), Aud Obstfelder, Gier Bye, Britt
Kramvig and Natalia Kukarenko.
• 2011-13: The work, workforce, technology and organisational
implications of the introduction of a single point of access for urgent
(non-emergency) care in England, NIHR, Halford (CI) with
Turnbull (PI), Pope, Prichard and May, £300,000.
Details of the impact
Our wider research impacts
Twenty years of influential research by the University of Southampton's
Work Futures Research Centre have informed international public and
practitioner understandings of managing and adapting to organisational
change. The research has informed debate over the introduction of digital
technologies to health services, challenging practices of workspace design
management, providing the research evidence underpinning best-practice
equality policies in the NHS and other professional contexts. Halford and
Leonard have produced a number of high quality research outputs which have
been widely cited in public and practitioner debates and influenced
conceptual debate on the nature of a fair and vibrant society.
Digitized technologies at Work
A series of projects (RCN (Research Council Norway) & NIH) have
explored the impact of digitization on the organization and delivery of
healthcare. The research, which has been significant for policy makers, IT
manufacturers, hospital managers and professional leaders, has revealed
unanticipated outcomes of digital innovation, and suggested strategies for
inclusive innovation, workforce training and management. The RCN research
was conducted in close collaboration with those responsible for
technological innovation, who used our findings to improve the
implementation process. For example, Ann Britt Neilsen, leader for
implementation of Electronic Patient Record (EPR) in nursing, University
Hospital North Norway ``Your research has been very helpful ... it was
`research in action' [and] it changed my understanding in the process,
which made implications for my decisions". `The NIHR research evaluated
the organisational implications of a new Computer Decision Support System
- NHS Pathways (NHSP) - designed to enable clinical triage by
non-clinicians. Southampton's research informed the Department of Health's
strategy for national roll-out of the new 111 service, set to replace NHS
Direct as a cheaper and more effective solution for `urgent but not
life-threatening' health issues', in two key ways: first, the research
contributed directly to revising existing training provision and is paving
the way for the establishment of a new national qualifications framework
for NHSP; second, by providing critical support to the on-going
performance improvement programme with 111 providers, strengthening the
case for clinical supervision and leading to improvements in both 111 and
999 call sorting. The research has shaped Department of Health analysis of
the work and workforce implications of NHS Pathways and 111 roll-out.
Jackie Shears, Head of NHSP, Department of Health attributes the
improvements made to their processes as a direct output: "Members of
the NHS Pathways team have ... benefitted directly from the findings of
the research, both from the published work and in the presentations that
the researchers have made to us and at workshops for our commissioners
and service providers ... The first project ... has had a direct impact
on the design of our training programme ... The second ... is providing
critical support to enable us to implement a performance improvement
programme with all 111 providers, and to support reinforced compliance
with conditions in the license that were being flouted by 111 providers
... As a result we are seeing improvement in 111 call sorting and 999
call sorting". Insights from this research were included in recent
WFRC evidence to the 2012 Parliamentary Health Committee report Education,
Training and Workforce planning.
Making workplaces work
Leonard's project `Making the Workplace Work' made recommendations to
practitioner members of BCO, including commercial property developers,
architects, property tenants, facilities managers and senior managers.
Studying the effects of workplace redesigns in organisations such as
PricewaterhouseCoopers, Hewlett Packard and the National Trust, Leonard
outlined a consultative model and guidelines that can be followed by
organisations planning significant redesign of workspaces. The final
report currently forms part of the BCO's web-based research evidence base
for its members (in the BCO top ten most popular reports, with 172
downloads and 168 additional visits online). Jenny MacDonnell, Head of
Research, BCO, received feedback from the BCO Members' Peer Review Panel.
The research was `" good, interesting and useful piece of research".
Leonard's research was `Editor's Pick' in `Government Today' and also
published in `Public Servant' and its key recommendations were adopted by
construction engineers, Mott MacDonald, in their management of effective
sustainable working practices and have been disseminated via their
corporation newsletter and website. Mark Travis (Head of Workplace
Change, Mott McDonald) says "This brings a different and valuable
insight to all of us working in the area of workplace design". He
continues, "As engineers, we tend to focus on the issues of physical
design and workplace efficiency when we do our work. It is a valuable
perspective to be helped to see the issues through the eyes of those who
live and work in the offices we design".
Gender, race and ethnicity in the workplace
Halford and Leonard's 2003 research into the impact of race and racism on
the careers of medics, in collaboration with the British Medical
Association (BMA), continues to influence best practice for workplace
interventions in equality and diversity across professional and public
services. The research was widely disseminated by the BMA and has framed
their good practice guidelines as well as those of NHS managers, health
care practitioners and other contexts such as the Judiciary and the
Scottish public sector. Halford and Leonard's research into gender,
careers and organisation were recognised with plenaries at `think-tank'
discussions on `Gender and Equality- Where Next?' at Cumberland Lodge
(2011) and the House of Commons (2013), attended by Members of Parliament,
the Judiciary and Police Force, senior Civil Servants, and practitioners http://publicpolicy.southampton.ac.uk/genderequality.
Our study conducted with the BMA, based on our previous academic research
on gender, race and careers is: cited as one of `several high profile
studies' used as key evidence in constructing the BMA's (2011).
Work futures and the Third Sector
In 2010 Halford and Leonard commenced research on Third Sector work and
organisations (as part of the ESRC funded Third Sector Research Centre),
providing important evidence on the working lives and careers of paid and
unpaid workers. User-engagement activities include a one- day conference
organised by Halford and Leonard in 2011, ` Work futures in the third
sector' which was attended by 40 activists, staff and volunteers from the
third sector to inform and stimulate policy debate. In addition an article
in The Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector
Bulletin (2011) and discussions with Skills Third Sector and NCVO at the
TSRC's National Conference (2013) have informed policy debates on the
learning and skill needs of third sector workers.
Sources to corroborate the impact
5.1 Graduate Market Trends, 2009 on the limits of female
pharmacists' labour market choices: http://ww2.prospects.ac.uk/downloads/documents/HECSU/GMT/GMT%20summer%202009.pdf
See page 15 which uses Halford and Leonard (2001)
5.2 Aranda, K. & Jones, A. (2008) `Exploring new advanced
practice roles in community nursing', Nursing Inquiry, 15 (1):
See page 4 which uses Halford and Leonard (2006)
5.3 National Institute for Health Research http://www.netscc.ac.uk/hsdr/projdetails.php?ref=08-1819-2175.3
5.4 Parliamentary Health Committee report Education, Training and
Workforce planning (additional written evidence EV w221, see 5.2).
5.5 Government Today http://www.securingthefuture.co.uk/academic/13944-stop-presenting-sustainability-as-a-con?feature=1
Public Servant http://www.publicservice.co.uk/feature_story.asp?id=21869
Edition Dec 2012 Leonard's research is used in both publications
5.6 BMA's (2011) New guidance Good Management Practice:
guidance for all doctors. Available
Cooke, Halford and Leonard's (2003) report is used on page E11
5.7 Scottish Government's `Fair Enough? Fair for All Progress
Report (2011) Available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2003/11/18472/28688;
Cooke, Halford and Leonard's (2003) report is drawn upon in Appendix E
Users who have provided corroborating statements:
5.8 Head of NHS Pathways Team, Department of Health.
5.9 Head of Research, British Council for Offices.
Users who may be contacted:
5.10 Head of Workspace Change, Mott MacDonald.