Exploring the role of UK public sector managers in rewarding their employees: a self-determination theory perspective

Gunton, Lesley-Ann (2018) Exploring the role of UK public sector managers in rewarding their employees: a self-determination theory perspective. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

gunton.lesley-ann_phd.pdf - Submitted Version

Download (4MB) | Preview


Not only are line managers (LMs) in the UK public sector becoming increasingly responsible for making decisions linked to employees’ pay, for example by conducting performance appraisals, it is the LM that is the key deliverer of intangible rewards to the employee. However despite a significant body of research in the field of reward management more widely the role of the LM has been neglected. The current research aims to address this gap in the literature by utilising self-determination theory (SDT) as a theoretical framework for developing an in-depth understanding of the role of LMs in rewarding employees.
A constructivist approach involving 30 in-depth interviews with LMs at varying levels of seniority in five UK public sector organisations was employed with interpretative phenomenological analysis applied to interpret the interview data. The themes identified from the analysis provide an insight into the complex role of the LM in the UK public sector in rewarding employees through a period of austerity.

The findings, framed in line with the theoretical propositions of SDT, offer a novel approach to understanding how LMs seek to satisfy the basic needs of their employees through the rewards they utilise and further, how the satisfaction of LMs’ basic needs may influence their reward choices. The identification of both supportive and thwarting organisational mechanisms allow a consideration of the ways in which organisations can adapt to supporting LMs in this complex role of rewarding employees.

These findings address the gap in the current reward management literature, which focuses predominantly on financial rewards, by considering reward in its broadest sense to include both financial and non-financial rewards. Further, to address the lack of theoretical integration in the field, framing the findings within the theoretical propositions of SDT has resulted in the development of a conceptual framework. This framework highlights the subtleties and intricacies of the LMs role in rewarding employees by understanding the basic need satisfaction of both employees and LMs.

Although the wider application of these research findings requires caution, the organisations involved in this study have a number of features that suggest the experiences of managers are likely to share commonalties with LMs in other organisations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: N100 Business studies
N200 Management studies
Department: University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Ellen Cole
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2019 16:06
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 21:49
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/38090

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics