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Graduate development, discursive resources and the employment relationship at BAE Systems

Jenner, Shirley (2008) Graduate development, discursive resources and the employment relationship at BAE Systems. Education + training, 50 (5). pp. 423-438. ISSN 1758-6127

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Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the evolution of an employee opinion survey and to evaluate its impact on the graduate training programme and associated employment relationships. Design/methodology/approach – The paper provides a detailed, longitudinal case study of one large-scale UK organisation. The approach recognises that discursive resources have a material existence in the sense that they are embodied in the social practices of individuals and the institutions and organisations within which these social practices take place. Drawing on qualitative and quantitative data, the paper demonstrates how the design, delivery and evaluation of the graduate programme formed a learning nexus between management, graduates and other stakeholders. Findings – The case study highlights the contested nature of organisational life, particularly in relation to matters of control and autonomy. However, improved graduate opinion survey ratings over time suggest that the evolving surveillance offered by internal research has been successful in achieving changed management behaviours. The case study has shown how graduate training, development and career management are best understood as discursive practices. Shared understandings about the nature of work are constructed though a communications nexus of key stakeholders. Originality/value – The main contribution of this paper is to highlight the pivotal role of the corporate training programme and associated communications in the development of shared understandings of the nature of the employment relationship.

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