The craft of management : a narrative approach to understanding the subjective learning experiences of individuals that craft their managerial identity : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Studies in Management at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
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Managers are claimed by Drucker (2007) to be the 'lifeblood' of businesses because they are an integral component to operations, tasked with transforming tangible and intangible resources into significant results that have organisational and economic consequences. Regarding how individuals become managers, extensive research has been conducted regarding formal and informal learning approaches, however, Becker and Bish (2017) state that inquiries into the educational needs and subjective learning experiences of managers are lacking. Thus, my thesis adopts an arts-based qualitative approach, utilising Narrative Inquiry and ethnodrama to explore how managers subjectively locate learning their managerial craft and consequential identity development. Experiential narratives from 15 practising managers were gathered through semi-structured interviews using the Critical Incidents method. The data, findings, analysis and discussion were developed through the crafting of the appended ethnodramatic script, revealing that the majority of management practice and conceptualisation is learnt through experience in workplace milieu. Though the educational experiences of the managers varied, they all had similar understandings as to the nature of management. Placing management in two distinct yet interrelated camps: managing work and managing people; with the relational, social and personal facets being salient to management craft. Further, the findings reveal that a process of 'becoming', shaping and crafting managerial identity occurred through learning situations and workplace experiences. The present study shows that managers feel unprepared when entering into their roles, despite undergraduate training. Learning while working on the job, through shaping experiences, was fundamental to crafting their managerial identity and practice.