Lancaster Professor receives award for research paper

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Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University has won the top prize in the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Management Articles of the Year competition. The prize was won for his role in a study which advises managers on how to build a successful business whilst still maintaining employee well-being.

The piece, co-written with a Coventry University professor, was judged as the ‘must read’ article produced by a UK university in the past year. The CMI Management Articles of the Year competition is designed to take management research and help it become beneficial to practising managers of companies by giving them the five best articles in the past year which will help their company the most.

The report, entitled ‘Improving the Quality of Working Life: Positive Steps for Senior Management Teams’, studies the cycle of decline that most companies in Britain are suffering from thanks to our recession which according to financial statistics has been going on since 2008.

Professor Cooper spoke to SCAN about the project, stating that “the paper we wrote was based on our Quality of Working Life survey of a cohort of 10,000 managers in the private and public sector, and at all levels of management.” Professor Cooper and his colleague spoke to employees in order to “explor[e] what they feel about how they are managed, their hours of work, their relationships with colleagues, the amount of change taking place and how this change is managed”.

Professor Cooper revealed that they discovered an increasing problem with what he described as “presenteeism, where people feel they have to come early and stay late at work”, the consequence being that “these long hours are increasingly damaging to their health and their family life.” Not only that, but Professor Cooper also revealed that his most interesting finding was that managers perceived their own line managers as “autocratic and bureaucratic and not participative or engaging.” Cooper stated that the findings are a reflection of the stresses and strains the public face in “contemporary recession-hit Britain”, where job insecurity leads to the driving of long hours, heavier workloads, and more bottom-line managers.

The Lancaster Guardian reported that one of the solutions proposed in the paper is to ensure that managers should be seen as being more proactive within the workplace, and to take an active interest in employees with regards to performance and well-being; in order to counteract stress, low motivation and low productivity. Professor Cooper told the Lancaster Guardian that he was “really pleased to win”, and that many managers who have viewed the report “felt that improving the working life was a worthy topic that makes a difference.”

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