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Durham e-Theses
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Learning from the Case: A Grounded Account of Best Value Practice from within Easington District Council

QUARLESS, CHARLOTTE (2013) Learning from the Case: A Grounded Account of Best Value Practice from within Easington District Council. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The thesis provides a grounded account of Best Value (BV) practice from within the setting of Easington District Council (1974-2009); formally recognised as an 'excellent' local authority by the Audit Commission in a Comprehensive Performance Assessment completed in 2003.

Introduced by the Local Government Act 1999, BV replaced the previous Conservative regime of Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CCT). A regime which was criticised as relegating the import of quality in favour of a robust emphasis on the financial cost of local public service delivery. In contrast, conceived by the newly elected Labour government in May 1997, BV was intended to ensure "continuous improvement in both the quality and cost of services". Initially at the forefront of New Labour's improvement and modernisation agenda for local government, the 'test' of BV was intended to "be the hallmark of the modern council" (DETR 1998: 64).

Informed by personal experience, the aim of the thesis is to acknowledge the human accomplishment of BV as a collaborative process as achieved through the culturally evolved meaning making frames enacted by both elected members and paid employees working in the context of a local authority setting. The thesis provides a description of the local authority as situated in place and of that placedness as providing a bounded sense of reality determining the interpretation and implementation of national policy frameworks – specifically, BV.

Achieved by way of combination of an analysis of local authority documents, observational methods and semi-structured interviews the thesis examines the complexity of the contemporary local authority organisational form and presents an argument for a more nuanced approach in appreciating the interactions which inform the underlying accomplishment of specific performance outcomes by the local authority.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Best Value Comprehensive Performance Assessment Local Government Culturally evolved meanings within the workplace Place
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:11 Apr 2013 12:35

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