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The role of biography in the development of administrators : a critical appraisal


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Winkler, CB 1985 , 'The role of biography in the development of administrators : a critical appraisal', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The central concern of this thesis is to explore the role of biography in the post-experience development of administrators. To this end the thesis uses a case study approach to examine the use of biography in the Administrative Staff Colleges of Britain and Australia, the case material then forming a methodological spring-board for a prospective study of alternative approaches.
The use of biography toward educational ends has its roots in classical antiquity, but its evolution has been strongly influenced by the fluctuating status of the individual in social thought and science, and it was perhaps not entirely coincidental that biography appeared in its first major institutional setting at a time when the individual was experiencing something of a revival as an object of legitimate concern.
In this pioneering use of biography, the Administrative Staff College at Henley-on-Thames adopted the generalized study of past lives as a catalyst in the process of administrative socialization, an approach which was later replicated in its Australian counterpart at Mount Eliza. From their inception in 1948 and 1957 respectively, both Colleges maintained this generalized approach rather than adapting to their biographies any of the previous or subsequent developments in applied biography. This was atypical of the Colleges which were generally responsive not only to changing priorities in
the development of administrators but also to pedagogical innovations. Accordingly, the extent to which their biographies meshed with the overall pattern of their programmes progressively diminished: at Henley the biographies gradually became absorbed in an attenuated form within other elements of the course; at Mount Eliza they ultimately succumbed to the effects of that College's response to changing administrative needs.
The case studies not only reveal the need for a theoretical underpinning and for an approach which is sufficiently flexible to meet changing needs, but also highlight the opportunities presented by biography as a means to programme integration and in facilitating the organization of experience which gives an overall clarity to life as an administrator.
In developing alternative approaches to the use of biography in the post-experience development of administrators, the thesis draws upon both the case material and the literature of a number of disciplines. From generating a set of prescriptive criteria
to serve as a paradigm for this application of biography, the thesis turns to an exploration of the first of the alternative approaches, using administrative style as a conceptual base. After mapping the various perspectives on style, the thesis develops guidelines for, and an illustration of, the application of the concept. The second of the alternative approaches is an amalgam of the intuitive method of personalistic psychology with an analytical framework. The thesis discusses the theoretical underpinning of this approach and illustrates how it may be applied.
The overall conclusion drawn by the thesis is that biography not only can but should play an integral role in the post-experience development of administrators.
To paraphrase Lasswell: administration without biography is a form of taxidermy.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Winkler, CB
Keywords: Biography, Management
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Copyright 1985 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (MA)--University of Tasmania, 1986. Bibliography: leaves 251-263

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