Practitioners' perspective on competitiveness: A Bourdieusian approach

  • Kamal Qazi

Student thesis: Phd


UK policy-makers, politicians and practitioners over the past few years have based the narrative of competitiveness around the idea of 'rebalancing the economy'. This entails viewing competitiveness as a rational process (through the Porterian lens) and identifies strategies from a top-down perspective. However, there is generally a lack of understanding of how competitiveness is practiced from the bottom-up. Therefore, this study adopts a practice-based perspective to investigate competitiveness from a practitioner's perspective.In this thesis, Bourdieu's habitus and reflexivity is used along with Maclean, Harvey and Chia's notion of life history storytelling through the lens of sensemaking and legitimacy. The thesis employs a constructivist perspective to collect and analyse qualitative evidence from 41 practitioners during the two phases of data collection. The data was analysed using thematic analysis, codes generated and inferences made. In the pilot-study (Delphi-study and semi-structured interviews), senior strategists (20) practicing in local enterprise partnerships (LEP's), universities, regional development agencies, manufacturing associations and various manufacturing firms confirmed the initial assumption that policy is prescriptive and rationalistic. The second phase consisted of semi-structured interviews (21) with senior, middle and lower level practitioners belonging to various types of manufacturing firms and allied services.The main contributions of the thesis are that (1) reflexive practitioner's past experiences shaped existing practices and perceptions of competitiveness and (2) three distinct thresholds of competitiveness inform the position of the practitioner and their desire to be competitive. This has implications for policy and practice.
Date of Award31 Dec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPaul Chan (Supervisor)


  • Cultural Capital
  • Legitimising
  • Sensemaking
  • Practice Theory
  • Reflexivity
  • Bourdieu
  • Competitiveness
  • Habitus

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