• Making sense of cranial osteopathy: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

      Banton, Amanda Louise (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-02)
      Purpose: This study arose from a praxial problem: how best to communicate with patients about the mechanism of cranial osteopathy. The problem was explored in a way that presented cranial osteopathy as a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon in the domain of healthcare practice. The resulting research question was phenomenologically inflected and was articulated as ‘What sense do osteopaths and their patients make of the phenomenon of cranial osteopathy?’ The concept of ‘sense-making’ was applied to both the manner in which osteopaths and their patients experience and understand cranial osteopathy and also the meaning that emerges in the course of giving or receiving cranial osteopathic treatment. Method: Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to explore cranial osteopaths’ understanding and lived experience of their practice and to simultaneously explore patients’ understanding and lived experience of cranial osteopathy. Four cranial osteopaths who were Fellows of the Sutherland Cranial College of Osteopathy participated, as did a patient each of theirs. The cranial osteopath participants were experienced practitioners and the patient participants were people who had had positive experiences of cranial osteopathy. The participants were interviewed about their lived experience and understanding of the phenomenon of cranial osteopathy. The semi-structured interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed by the researcher. The researcher kept a reflexive diary and an account of her theoretical fore-structure, in order to understand and audit the influences on her hermeneutic analysis of the data. From the data analysis, ongoing reflexion on praxis and a reading of the theoretical literature emerged three Super-Ordinate Themes and a hermeneutic model of cranial osteopathy. Findings: The IPA revealed that both patients and practitioners establish epistemological grounds for their sense-making about their embodied experience of cranial osteopathy (Super-Ordinate Theme 1: Making sense of sense-making), that they use embodied metaphor and linguistic meta-metaphor to understand their lived experience of cranial osteopathy (Super-Ordinate Theme 2: Metaphors for mechanisms), and that the mechanism of cranial osteopathy is considered by both patients and practitioners to arise from the therapeutic relationship (Super-Ordinate Theme 3: The meaningful osteopathic relationship). Conclusions: The main outcome of the study is a hermeneutic model of cranial osteopathy, which posits that the shared, embodied therapeutic relationship facilitates a collaborative rapport which enables the osteopath and the patient to come to an understanding of the source of the patient’s malady, and that furthermore this understanding supports the mobilisation of the physiological mechanisms of healing to ‘unconceal’ health. iv ongoing reflexion on praxis and a reading of the theoretical literature emerged three Super- Ordinate Themes and a hermeneutic model of cranial osteopathy. Findings: The IPA revealed that both patients and practitioners establish epistemological grounds for their sense-making about their embodied experience of cranial osteopathy (Super-Ordinate Theme 1: Making sense of sense-making), that they use embodied metaphor and linguistic meta-metaphor to understand their lived experience of cranial osteopathy (Super-Ordinate Theme 2: Metaphors for mechanisms), and that the mechanism of cranial osteopathy is considered by both patients and practitioners to arise from the therapeutic relationship (Super-Ordinate Theme 3: The meaningful osteopathic relationship). Conclusions: The main outcome of the study is a hermeneutic model of cranial osteopathy, which posits that the shared, embodied therapeutic relationship facilitates a collaborative rapport which enables the osteopath and the patient to come to an understanding of the source of the patient’s malady, and that furthermore this understanding supports the mobilisation of the physiological mechanisms of healing to ‘unconceal’ health.
    • Exploration of the characteristics of German osteopaths and osteopathic physicians: survey development and implementation

      Dornieden, Ralf (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-01-30)
      i. Background Osteopathy and its practice in Germany is unregulated without nationally agreed competencies, frameworks or practice standards. The heterogeneity of practice makes it likely that there is a great variety in the nature and scope of practice. Educational programs vary greatly in length and content and no nationally agreed curriculum exists. The high number of osteopathic associations with varying political goals and perspectives suggests a fragmentation of the osteopathic community. Little formal research has been reported on standards and practice of osteopathic care in Germany. The lack of data contributes to uncertainty and makes it difficult to build a case for a more united regulated profession. ii. Purpose A series of connected studies aimed to develop an instrument to survey the osteopathic profession in Germany. The purpose was to obtain data about the characteristics of the osteopaths and osteopathic physicians and their practice in order to provide a coherent picture of the profession in Germany. iii. Methods A scoping review and appraisal of cross-sectional studies was conducted to create an overview of the literature from cross-sectional studies in the field and to identify possible survey tools usable in the German context. This phase led to the decision to develop a survey instrument specifically for the German environment which was informed by the results of the scoping review. Previous questionnaires informed the first draft of the questionnaire. Mixed methods enhanced the design of the questionnaire utilising a consensus group, cognitive interviews with stakeholders, expert rating and feedback methodologies with participants nominated by national associations. After a final online pilot test the survey was implemented in a national cross-sectional survey with the participants recruited from eight national associations. Invitations were disseminated by the associations with 2 follow-up reminders. Data were collected using the SmartSurvey® online questionnaire system. iv. Results The validated questionnaire consisted of 55 items subdivided into 8 sections and was used in a cross-sectional study with a sample group of 8,331 osteopaths and osteopathic physicians from November 2017 to February 2018. The response rate was 18.9% (n=1578), from which 1,175 were active practicing respondents who had complete data sets. Osteopaths and osteopathic physicians in Germany provide osteopathic care for a wide range of patient age groups presenting with various complaints and conditions using a variety on methods and techniques. Some differences were observed between German practice nationally and practice internationally. v. Conclusions Cross-sectional studies of osteopathic practice are commonly poorly reported and many are weak methodologically. A newly validated questionnaire has provided data on the nature of practice in Germany. There is some variability in practice between and within stakeholder osteopathic groups in Germany. There is a need for unification of the osteopathic groups and regulation to improve professional identity and to support the implementation of nationally agreed standards of practice, education and safety.
    • The beam and shadow of the spotlight: visibility and invisibility in women’s experiences of domestic violence and abuse

      Neale, Jo; University of Bedfordshire (University of Bedfordshire, 2019-01-29)
      Although it has received greater policy attention in recent years, domestic violence and abuse (DVA) is a global problem that, at a national level, remains under-reported, under-prosecuted and under-convicted. The apparent ineffectiveness of policy approaches in reducing the incidence of DVA, or mitigating its social and economic costs, not least upon those directly experiencing DVA, forms the backcloth of this enquiry. The aim of the study presented in this thesis was to explore, from a feminist poststructuralist perspective, the processes by which heterosexual women enter, endure and leave abusive relationships. Using semi-structured narrative style interviews, I worked with fourteen women with a wide range of characteristics in terms of age, ethnicity, physicality, socio-economic status and the length of time elapsed since their experiences of abuse. Using Nicola Gavey’s (2005) concept of cultural scaffolding (the discourses and [hetero]normative practices that make it so difficult to identify a relationship as abusive), I examined the space between normalised heterosexual relationships and abuse and, in the process, provided a better understanding of women’s routes into DVA. I have shone a spotlight on the full range of perpetrators’ behaviours that entrap and oppress their female partners and have identified four key domains in which the tactics of the abuser work to: ensnare his victim; dismantle her previous identities; prevent her from leaving the relationship; and punish her for leaving. These include behaviours used to manipulate women’s social and support networks in order to prolong or sabotage their attempts to escape the abuse. From a feminist poststructuralist perspective, participants’ experiences of entering, enduring and leaving abusive relationships can be read as part of the wider cultural scaffolding of heteropatriarchy, which left them exposed to ensnarement and exploitation. Using Dark Triad (Paulhus 2002) as a model for conceptualising perpetrators’ manipulation of their ex-partners, their children, and professionals, I offer an alternative way of understanding men’s abuse of their female partners.
    • Random responses? understanding sexually exploited young women’s relationships with secondary school education

      Rawden, Helen Doreen (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-01-18)
      This thesis aims to explore the relationships that young women who have experienced, or have been at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE), have had with secondary school education. Previous studies of CSE have not dealt with the effects on young women’s education during and following CSE. Therefore, the educational outcomes for this cohort of young women are poorly understood. To respond to this gap in knowledge, this thesis asks questions about the educational and labour market experiences of young women who have experienced CSE during their secondary school years. In the light of those experiences, what are the policy and practice implications, and what effect does experiencing CSE have on young women’s perceptions of their aspirations for their future. Interviews have taken place with nine young women who have experienced CSE, 16 specialist CSE voluntary sector key workers and three professionals variously working in safeguarding children and in Pupil Referral Units (PRU’s). As a result of these interviews, this study has discovered concerning levels of school exclusion and referral to PRUs among young women who experience, or who are at risk of CSE during their secondary school years. This thesis argues that the experiences of sexually exploited young women are not being taken into account when decisions are made about their education and that their right to an adequate education is not being met. A search of historical literature established that the identification of behaviour among female pupils, which can be recognised as CSE was documented in the Newsom Report (1963). A review has been undertaken to establish how far CSE policy and procedure has advanced to meet the needs of sexually exploited young women since the recommendations made by Melrose, Barrett and Brodie (1999). Conclusions have been drawn from the literature of the previous decade that there has been a lack of attention to the educational outcomes of young women experiencing CSE. Two theoretical foundations underpin this research: firstly, a Feminist Constructivist Grounded theory approach to women who have experienced sexual violence, contributing to recommendations for policy change that will benefit young women. Secondly, the thesis employs Social Pedagogy, in terms of the relationships which can be built with young women who have experienced CSE, to support their engagement with education. This is supported by consideration of the discourse on the rights of a child to an education appropriate to their needs and aspirations. This thesis concludes that young women’s education is liable to be damaged by experiencing CSE and that there is not enough knowledge to resolve this problem. Further research is required to understand what is involved in ensuring that sexually exploited young women’s rights to education are being met.
    • Disrespect and abuse in maternity care: women’s experiences and healthcare providers’ perspectives in Nigeria

      Orpin, Joy (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-01-10)
      Background: Disrespect and abuse (D&A) in maternity care facilities is a major public health issue affecting women worldwide. There are reports of high prevalence of D&A during facility-based childbirth in Nigeria; however, studies that explore the issue in-depth from women’s and maternity care professionals’ perspectives are sparse. This study provides an understanding of women’s experiences of and healthcare providers’ perspectives on D&A during maternity care in health facilities in Benue State, Nigeria. Methods: This is a qualitative phenomenological study conducted in two phases. Using purposive sampling, focus group discussions were conducted with women (n=32) in the first phase, and in the second, semi-structured interviews with women (n=14) and healthcare providers (n=16) from various professional backgrounds, working in two maternity care facilities. All the women received maternity care in facilities and had experienced at least one incident of D&A. The sample size was determined based on data saturation. All data collected were transcribed and analysed in NVivo version 11 using a six-stage thematic analysis. Findings: Women perceived incidents such as being shouted at and the use of abusive language as a common practice and described these incidents as devaluing and dehumanising to their sense of dignity. They also highlighted the importance of accessing facilities for safe childbirth and expressed that the experiences of D&A may not impact negatively on their intended use of but the choice of maternity facilities. However, their accounts reflected a lack of choice and the adverse effect of D&A on their emotional wellbeing. Healthcare providers recognised D&A as a violation of the human rights of women accessing maternity facilities, but usually highlighted components of respectful care with a good awareness about what it encompasses. They often considered the experiences of D&A as subjective to the women and based on their expectations of care. Their views also reflected underlying gender-related notions and societal perceptions of women being considered weaker than men. The professionals recognised several adverse effects of D&A, including its impact on women, newborns and on their own job satisfaction. Both women and professionals perceived some of the disrespectful and abusive actions were not intended to cause harm but to ensure the health and safety of the mother and her child. Additionally, they reported several factors associated with service users, health professionals and the facilities perceived to contribute to the D&A of women. Conclusion: The participants’ accounts showed that the application of respectful care in everyday maternity practice is inadequate in Nigeria. The findings reveal the need for policy and practice interventions to address the issue urgently through preventive measures such as empowering women through education to reinforce their right to respectful care. It reflects the need for sensitising and training health professionals on the importance of providing respectful care and how its elements can be incorporated into everyday practice. The underlying gender-related notion highlights the need for interventions at wider socio-political and community levels including the importance of educating family members about their right to respectful care and empowering them to report disrespectful practices.
    • Development and evaluation of a tailored workplace intervention to reduce and break up sitting time in office workers

      Ojo, Samson Oluseye (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-01-10)
      There is a growing body of evidence linking high volumes of sitting with adverse health risks, including cardiovascular disease and mental health problems. The workplace is a major contributor to excessive sitting, particularly for desk-based workers who spend more than two-thirds of working time sitting. Although the workplace contributes to prolonged sitting, it has also been identified as an ideal setting to combat sedentary behaviour (SB). A wide range of studies have sought to break up and reduce sitting time in the workplace using strategies like prompts to stand, environmental restructuring such as walking meetings and the use of active workstations. Although some of these strategies have been successful in decreasing workplace sitting time, results are inconclusive, with problems of compliance in some interventions. One reason for low compliance could be that few studies take views of employees into consideration when designing interventions. In addition, management might be reluctant to implement interventions if productivity is negatively affected. Finally, there is evidence that interventions developed to change behaviour should be informed by theoretical, evidence-based frameworks. Accordingly, the aim of this thesis was to design an appropriate intervention to break up and reduce workplace sitting time in desk-based office workers, then to test the efficacy of the intervention on employees’ productivity, cardiometabolic risks, and wellbeing. A multi-phase mixed-method study was employed covering the first two stages of the Medical Research Council framework for complex interventions. The first three phases covered the development of the subsequent intervention. Firstly, a systematic review found no acute effect of active workstations on productivity, although there were concerns regarding study designs and the tools used to assess productivity. Secondly, a cross-sectional study of self-reported sitting time found no differences between age, gender, and ethnic groups, suggesting that interventions to reduce workplace sitting should be targeted at all desk-based employees irrespective of age, gender, or ethnicity, although this need to be confirmed in a fully powered study. The final stage of the intervention development was a qualitative study of desk-based employees who had high volumes of sitting time. This study identified barriers and facilitators to breaking up sitting and reducing sitting time using the COM-B (Capability and Opportunity and Motivation) model, with Psychological Capability, Reflective Motivation, Automatic Motivation, Social Opportunity, and Physical Opportunity found to be predictors of workplace sitting behaviour. The Behaviour Change Wheel guide was followed, leading to the identification of 39 behaviour change techniques as active ingredients for intervention development. The final phase of the PhD was a pilot cluster-randomised controlled trial to test the efficacy of a multicomponent intervention including education, computer-prompt software and height-adjustable workstations, as well as managerial support. The intervention decreased sitting time and increased standing time in the workplace, with most participants meeting the two-hour minimum recommendation for standing up. The intervention also improved productivity but had no effect on cardiometabolic biomarkers or mental wellbeing outcomes. This study could serve as evidence for workplace managers on the benefits of such interventions and provides evidence to strengthen the need to tailor workplace interventions to employees’ needs to improve adherence.
    • Exploring first conversations with children and families: responsive, pivoting improvisation within systemically-informed practice

      Helps, Sarah (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-01-02)
      The first conversation between clinician and family is a complex, crucial encounter. This practice-based research used video recordings of my first conversations with children and families attending a specialist child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHs) for people who had already been given, or who sought, a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Condition, to examine systemically informed practice. The objectives of the research were to explore: what happens when I subject my everyday practice to systematic research, how I move with my words and my body between different domains of action in conversation with families, and how moment-to-moment interactions with words and body contribute to the unfolding of the conversation. Working from an onto-epistemological position of knowing-in-being, I used ethnographically and auto-ethnographically inspired methods of creating material, and used multiple analyses with videos of 10 first conversations. Reflexive Thematic Analysis of transcripts was used to explore patterns across the material. I created ten themes, grouped under three thematic territories: creating a space for all voices; talking about the presenting concern; therapist as an active conductor. These thematic territories serve as a systemic processual guide to the first session. Within the themes identified, the use of tailored self-stories to build the therapeutic relationship was particularly striking. Experimental analysis to picture the flow of conversation through domains of action highlighted a unique and fluid path of actions through each conversation. This demonstrates how the flow of the conversation is jointly, responsively constructed and how the themes of the conversation are performed in an improvisational way. Applied Video Conversation Analysis together with a Systemic-Diffractive analysis demonstrated the responsive complexity of moment-to-moment actions and how epistemic status and stance are navigated, particularly in creating space for the young person to share their knowledge and understanding about matters of concern. I conclude that the overall conduct of a systemically-informed first conversation is based on a process of responsive pivoting improvisation, whereby the conversation is patterned in an improvisationally fluid, intra-active and relationally-responsive way. My findings have tentative implications for how clinicians might help families know more about what to expect when they come to CAMHs. My findings also have tentative implications for the practice and training and supervision of systemically-influenced practitioners, whereby the microanalytic techniques of applied conversation analysis can be combined with a systemic diffractive analysis to notice and improve practice. Keywords: CAMHs, first sessions, applied video conversation analysis, reflexive thematic analysis, flow mapping, autism spectrum condition, systemic practice, diffraction.
    • Assessing the feasibility of using system dynamics in the evaluation of shared service centres

      Asante, Gregory Nathaniel Sekyi (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-01)
      In order to make businesses more effective and efficient, various approaches have been proposed to improve business structures and processes so as to better support corporate objectives. From the 1990’s onwards, enabled by advances in computer technology, one popular approach has been to develop a Shared Service Centre (SSC), whereby various (mostly back office) activities previously organised and attached to separate business units (often) on a national / regional basis, have been consolidated into a single SSC. In common with other business process improvement / re-engineering projects, the success of these transformations have been varied with both successes and failures reported. From the available literature, it was determined that the SSC transformation process especially with regards to the use of a decision support system such as System Dynamics (SD), that will allow for experimentation by SSC implementers has not been rigorously researched or published and thus this is the gap in knowledge that this research seeks to address. This research uses a multiple paradigm / mixed method (exploratory sequential) research approach (Case Study and System Dynamics). This research contends that, given the patchy outcomes, significant cost implications and the adverse impact on organisations when the SSC Transition / Transformation process fails, the current SSC Transition approaches (methodology) have not been effective. Given that the objective of the SSC Transition approach is to ensure a smooth implementation of the proposed Shared Service Centre, this research argues that a simulation approach, grounded in systems thinking, is a credible way of examining the transformation process and evaluating both the transition methodology and the potential outcomes from that process. This research therefore proposes the use of a decision support system (System Dynamics / Simulation) perspective as a credible way of evaluating Shared Service Centres prior to designing and building them and to enhance the project management methodology for SSCs. Furthermore, the research depicts the cause / effect relationship among the SSC Critical Success Factors. Policy intervention tools can then be generated to mitigate against any adverse findings. The research findings showed that, the proposed Shared Service Centre is impacted by three main factors, the selection of a service delivery model, SSC Critical Success Factors and the SSC Phases; and that there is a cause / effect relationship among the SSC Critical Success Factors. In addition, the motives and critical success factors for organisational change were also found to be applicable to SSCs; and that during the SSC Transition phase, SSC Critical Success Factors, Staff Management and the Management of Transactional Activities were found to be important for a successful transition. A further contribution to knowledge is that the use of SD enables the testing of the SSC phenomenon in a new setting. For future research, the constructed SD model can be used as a basis for future organisational SSC Transitions and policy development.
    • Risk and relationship in mental health practice: a grounded theory of situational connection.

      Alexander, Kelly J. (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2019-01)
      This thesis reports the findings of a qualitative study that answers the question, ‘How do mental health practitioners working in adult community mental health settings respond emotionally to the assessment and management of risk in practice?’ Current research relating to risk assessment and management in mental health practice considers ways in which risk is understood and assessed, focusing primarily on definition, application and technical processes. Less is known about the emotional effect of the risk-related aspects of the mental health practitioners’ role. This aim of this study was to explore the experience of mental health professionals by considering: the ways in which they conceptualised risk, the emotional effect of assessing and managing risk and, the ways in which their relationships with professional colleagues and service users did, or did not, mitigate this effect. The study was undertaken using grounded theory and collected data via in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 18 participants, representing the range of disciplines usually present in multi-disciplinary teams in statutory adult mental health care. The main contribution of this study is that it provides evidence of the changing nature of mental health practice and how this is creating new organisational and personal contexts for practitioners. The current focus in mental health practice appears to be the efficiency of pathways for service users. This focus has led to organisational structures that reduce the space and time practitioners have for connection with each other. The remodelling of the organisational context is creating a new ethos in practice in which practitioners feel less attention is given to their experience of relationship, skill and therefore safety. This study has found that a consequence of professionals’ sense of lack of safety is to assess risk posed by service users as higher than they would if contained in their own practice. The evidence for this emerges from practitioners’ reflections on fragmenting teams, changing working spaces, sense of isolation and responsibility, particularly in relation to the care coordination role. Enabling practitioners to feel emotionally anchored in their work context in relation to the assessment and management of risk will facilitate the emotional management of the effect of their role. The benefit for service users will be a greater focus on recovery and less risk averse approaches. This study concludes with a model for situationally connected practice that is the emerging theory from the research. This theory was shaped by the analysis from participants for whom situational connection was both present and absent. The conclusion is that greater attention to facilitating situational connection for practitioners with regard to relationship-based practice with colleagues will contribute to the creation of safer conditions for practice.
    • An examination of performance management in Nigeria’s public health sector through two case studies

      Egbegi, Jean Engoere (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-12-21)
      Extant literature has called for contextual studies on performance management to maximise its effectiveness. Following this call is a study of performance management that considers the practice, its system and context. Scholar also presents that performance management researches conducted in less developed countries’ context loosely align their studies with a theoretical framework or use none within the study. This exploratory research study built upon Ferreira and Otley's (2009) framework as the theoretical underpinning to guide the research to address these problems and achieve its aim. This research aims to investigate performance management within the Nigerian public health sector. An interpretivist philosophy and abductive reasoning were the methodological choices employed while using a case study strategy. Data collected for this research include 40 semi-structured interviews and a document review across two Federal Hospitals in Nigeria. Thematic analysis was adopted to examine the data collected for this study using NVivo 11. The findings identified issues (such as union, godfather, organisational needs) that affect performance management. These issues elaborate the third level (contextual factors and culture) in Ferreira and Otley’s framework and pervade the organisational, sectoral and national level. Again, the findings also identified the informal activities (such as mentoring encouragement) used by managers in the study context. The findings further suggested that actors of performance management interpret the phenomenon as continuous and integrated and the practice within the context is at multi-level - departmental and organisational. The implication of the findings reinforces the significance of including the performance management practice, its system and context to fully again in-depth or insight into the contextual understanding of PM across different context. The originality of this study is the conceptualisation of performance management within the Nigeran Public Health Sector building upon Ferreira and Otley (2009). The contribution to knowledge includes the elaboration of the outer level in Ferreira and Otley’s framework with the identification of the v contextual factors challenging performance management within the Nigerian public health sector. The development of knowledge on performance management within the Nigerian public health sector is another contribution as there is a dearth in research studies. Again, the study contributes to the on-going debate by scholars on the relevance of understanding performance management within its context in order to maximise its effectiveness. The practical implication for hospitals managers is the awareness of the factors affecting performance management, which consequently will maximise its effectiveness within the Nigerian public health sector. Further studies on performance management should investigate and identify contextual factors and how these would affect its effectiveness within the different contexts.
    • Perceptions of Indian manufacturing SME employers on adopting green supply chain management practices

      Dhillon, Manpreet Kaur (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-12-18)
      Green supply chain management (GSCM) is an increasingly important aspect of today’s supply chain practices. Meeting environmental concerns in industrial operations has in recent year’s evoked interest among environmentalists, government bodies, academics and business organisations in recent years. However, current research indicates that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) globally, struggles on various grounds to implement GSCM and its practices in comparison to larger organisations and they often focus on making profits than saving the environment by adopting GSCM practices. For Indian SMEs to gain competitive advantage and succeed in the market it is essential to change their traditional practices and to adapt their strategies to the dynamic environment of today. A better understanding and application of GSCM and its practices by SMEs can help in improving their performance and succeed in their operations. This study is exploratory in nature it aims to explore the perceptions of Indian manufacturing (IM) SME employers on adopting green supply chain management practices (GSCM practices) in their organisations. In order to explore these aspects, this research will investigate various dimensions of GSCM such as GSCM practices, the motivational factors and challenges faced by IM SMEs and finally develop a conceptual framework based on, literature review and the empirical findings from this study. Qualitative research methodology is used in order to gather rich and rigorous information from experienced employers, from different geographical locations in India, namely, Kolkata, Bihar, Delhi and Punjab. To meet the proposed objectives semi-structured interviews were conducted with selected SME employers over the phone. The Semi-structured interview was used based on pre-established interview questions and the data was analysed using thematic analysis method. The procedure followed helped in determining useful results and underlined various dimensions of the GSCM practices under investigation. Based on the interviews with the target employers this study identified eight GSCM practices (namely, green purchasing, green manufacturing, green transportation, green distribution, green warehousing, green marketing, green operations and reverse logistics), sixteen motivational factors (such as, financial benefits, saving cost etc.) and twenty-four challenges (such as, lack of awareness among employers, expensive process, lack of skilled staff etc.) faced by them in adopting GSCM practices. The results further helped in determining the current status of GSCM in India and most importantly the perceptions of SME employers in regards to the adoption of GSCM practices in their firms. Hence, using the interview method allowed the researcher to capture much relevant factual information about GSCM and its practices among the IM SMEs. It can be concluded, that IM SME employers are not doing much in the adoption and implementation of GSCM practices. The employers had a lack of understanding of GSCM practices and they are reluctant to move away from their traditional business methods. This information enabled to assess the level of adoption of GSCM among the IM SMEs. It is believed this is one of the first studies that highlight the perceptions of SME employers and based on this to predict the adoption of GSCM within their organisations. Finally, it is hoped that the study will help increase awareness and importance among the Indian SME employers in adopting GSCM practices in their organisations. The evidence provided on various aspects of GSCM in India should also benefit researchers and scholars in terms of understanding the current status of GSCM in Indian SMEs and assess the adoption of GSCM practices in different settings and contexts.
    • HIV disclosure in the workplace among people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria

      Adeoye, Dorcas Ibukun (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-12)
      Background: HIV/AIDS is an infectious, chronic condition that may have several physical and psychosocial consequences for those affected (Peter, 2011). Advances in HIV treatment have improved the prognosis for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and their overall health. As a result, PLWHA can be employed for longer whilst they manage their condition. There is evidence that people with infectious diseases, and especially HIV/AIDS, are being stigmatised. Stigmatisation or the fear of being stigmatised can affect the ways or whether the affected person would disclose their disease to their social or professional networks. There is currently very little known about disclosure in the workplace and especially for PLWHA who are employed in Nigeria. Main aim: This research explores HIV disclosure in the workplace among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Nigeria. Methodology: This study is into two phases: the first phase used a systematic review whilst the second phase a qualitative method. The systematic review collected and synthesised research-based evidence on HIV/AIDS disclosure in Nigeria. The qualitative approach used face-to-face semi-structured interviews with 20 employed PLWHA who had been diagnosed with HIV for more than six months before the time of recruitment in the study. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Main findings: Fourteen studies (n=14) met the inclusion criteria of the systematic review. Twenty participants (n=20) were included in the qualitative study, both male (n=7) and female iv (n=13) patients accessing HIV treatment from one hospital in Nigeria. The findings of the systematic review showed that following disclosure, a large number of respondents received support from their partners, while others reported negative reactions from their partners after the disclosure of their HIV positive status. These negative reactions included violence/assault, accusation of infidelity and divorce. Meanwhile, the qualitative findings show that PLWHA did not disclose their HIV status in the workplace and they remained in the ‘default position of non-disclosure’ because of the fear of being stigmatised, or because of concerns about their privacy and issues related to confidentiality. Some participants did not have the choice to decide whether they want to disclose in the workplace or not, because of reasons such as workplace regulation and policy, or running out of excuses. Those who disclosed their HIV positive status did so because they received workplace support/work adjustment. The workplace support/work adjustments include flexible work arrangements and requests for time off work to receive treatment in the hospital. HIV-related stigma, loss of job, and offensive remarks/gossip were reported as post-disclosure consequences in the workplace. This study showed that the reactions after HIV disclosure are not predictable both with their social or their professional networks. Conclusion: Although, no generalisable conclusions can be made from this qualitative research, this study has provided an understanding of individual’s perceptions and experiences in relation to HIV disclosure in the Nigerian workplace. This research has implications for policy, organisations and practice.
    • Supplier collaboration for sustainability: a study of UK food supply chains

      Ali, Abdul (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-12)
      Achieving sustainability in the supply chain is not a choice but an inevitable necessity for the organisation to survive and thrive in the long run. Supplier collaboration to achieve sustainability is widely recognised but poorly studied phenomena. While there is a handful of studies that focused on collaboration for sustainability in food supply chains, only a few considered sustainable (i.e. environmental, cost and social) or Triple Bottom Line (TBL) performance, and in the context of UK food industry, there is hardly any study. Building on previous studies, this thesis addressed these concerns conceptually and empirically by: a) examining supplier collaboration for sustainable performance; b) assessing supplier collaboration for environment friendly and socially responsible practices; c) measuring environment friendly and socially responsible practices for sustainable performance; and d) validating environment friendly and socially responsible practices as the mediators for supplier collaboration and sustainable performance. To achieve these objectives, first, a structured literature review was performed and identified 61 studies that documented supplier collaboration for sustainability, and a comprehensive review was also conducted to expand the research domain. Second, underpinned by Relational View (RV) theory, a set of 17 testable hypotheses (including sub-hypotheses) were developed, and a survey method was used to collect 203 useable data from UK based food businesses who maintain collaborative relationships with their suppliers. Finally, for data analysis, Partial Least Squared- Structural Equations Modelling (PLS-SEM) technique was used with SmartPLS3 software. The empirical findings validated that: a) supplier collaboration improves environmental, cost and social performance; b) supplier collaboration contributes to improved environment friendly and socially responsible practices; c) environment friendly practices enhance environmentally, cost and social performance; d) socially responsible practices have an impact on environmental and social performance, however socially responsible practices do not have an impact on cost performance; e) environment friendly and socially responsible practices mediate the relationship between supplier collaboration and sustainable performance. The results suggest that supplier collaboration enhances environment-friendly and socially responsible practices which will lead to enhanced environmental, cost and social performance. The contributions of this research to supply chain management literature are: a) to achieve sustainable performance in the food supply chain, collaboration with the suppliers is essential; b) collaborating with the suppliers, firms can improve their environment friendly and socially responsible practices; c) socially responsible practices in the supply chain enhance environmental and social performance but do not improve cost performance; c) this study extends the Relational View theory (RV) from the relation-specific assets for sustainable performance to the relation-specific assets for environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices which lead to sustainable performance. This study found that inter-organisational relationship facilitates environment-friendly and socially responsible practices which will lead to improved sustainable performance. For practitioners, this study offers the sustainability framework that suggests for greater collaboration with the suppliers to improve environment-friendly and socially responsible practices which should lead to a sustainable performance in the food industry. For the policymakers, this study offers a unique proposition to encourage a collaborative environment in the supply chain to achieve sustainable performance in the food industry.
    • Leveraging contextual-cognitive relationships into mobile commerce systems

      Hooper, Mark Alan (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-12)
      Mobile smart devices are becoming increasingly important within the on-line purchasing cycle. Thus the requirement for mobile commerce systems to become truly context-aware remains paramount if they are to be effective within the varied situations that mobile users encounter. Where traditionally a recommender system will focus upon the user – item relationship, i.e. what to recommend, in this thesis it is proposed that due to the complexity of mobile user situational profiles the how and when must also be considered for recommendations to be effective. Though non-trivial, it should be, through the understanding of a user’s ability to complete certain cognitive processes, possible to determine the likelihood of engagement and therefore the success of the recommendation. This research undertakes an investigation into physical and modal contexts and presents findings as to their relationships with cognitive processes. Through the introduction of the novel concept, disruptive contexts, situational contexts, including noise, distractions and user activity, are identified as having significant effects upon the relationship between user affective state and cognitive capability. Experimental results demonstrate that by understanding specific cognitive capabilities, e.g. a user’s perception of advert content and user levels of purchase-decision involvement, a system can determine potential user engagement and therefore improve the effectiveness of recommender systems’ performance. A quantitative approach is followed with a reliance upon statistical measures to inform the development, and subsequent validation, of a contextual-cognitive model that was implemented as part of a context-aware system. The development of SiDISense (Situational Decision Involvement Sensing system) demonstrated, through the use of smart-phone sensors and machine learning, that is was viable to classify subjectively rated contexts to then infer levels of cognitive capability and therefore likelihood of positive user engagement. Through this success in furthering the understanding of contextual-cognitive relationships there are novel and significant advances that are now viable within the area of m-commerce.
    • Parental involvement behaviours and attainment: student perceptions in FE

      Darnell, Judith Alexandra (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-12)
      Research into parental involvement and links with attainment have been well documented for young children. However, parental influences for FE college-aged (16+) students have rarely been investigated in the UK. The project was based on investigating student perceptions of parental involvement within one FE college in South East England, and as such represented a case study. It involved 240 level three learners. The FE college at the focus of this project is clear through its “Parental Involvement Strategy Document” that parental engagement directly influences student attainment. However, this research project challenged this assumption and investigated student perceptions of parental involvement in respect to attainment. The project used mixed-methods to accomplish four aims. These were: 1. To investigate students’ perceptions of Parental Involvement Behaviours (PIB) regarding its influence on attainment and to identify similarities and differences between students’ perceptions and college policy/practice and inspectorate views. 2. To examine associations between student outcomes (UCAS points) and both a) reported PIB and b) the factors of student age, gender, ethnicity, cultural capital and course. 3. To identify if students of different ages, ethnic group, gender and course respond differently to questions about their PIB and, if so, whether the difference in response to Likert scale items is statistically significant or not. 4. To establish whether the quantitative and qualitative data gathered from the investigation of student perceptions of PIB discovers distinct models of student experiences and, if so, whether these reflect the hypothesised categories of DAPSS (Directive, Authoritarian, Parenting Support Style), PAPSS (Passive, Affable Parenting Support Style), NEAV (Negative Expectations, Aspirations and Values) and PEAV (Positive Expectations, Aspirations and Values) (or not) and also whether these models have an association with attainment (or not). Students voiced appreciation for independence and autonomy in relation to ownership for learning in FE and the project found that intrinsic motivation was more likely to associate with grades than external factors (such as parental involvement). Although there were individual PIB that appeared to associate with student attainment (respect, trust, high expectations and aspirations) this relationship is likely to be more complex since when these behaviours were grouped together as a model of experience (called ‘Clarified Independence’) the association with attainment was less apparent. Additionally, the idea of ‘causation’ and the ‘reactive hypothesis’ are deemed important when referring to high expectations and aspirations, since parental behaviours are likely to reflect prior student performance and so the link between high expectations and high attainment is more complex than it first appears. The project concludes that many parental behaviours are displayed as a result of previous student performance and so challenges the assumption that these parental behaviours can influence attainment directly, as has been reported in previous projects. Instead of devising parenting ‘styles’ as has been observed in previous research, the project presents a theory relating to ‘layers of influence’ in relation to different parental behaviours where six ‘models of student experience’ (MoSE) are highlighted for FE college students. This theory has been devised from a culmination of quantitative data and qualitative findings, which have been triangulated to demonstrate a holistic view of the complex patterns in relation to students and their perceptions of PIB. Overall, parental experiences in early childhood are more likely to have a bearing on and pave the way for influential factors in relation to high attainment, (which centres on students’ intrinsic motivation) rather than individual parental behaviours at college-stage. Additionally, the college provides mixed-messages in relation to parental involvement through its strategy document and its prospectus. There is also a mis-match between college policy and student perceptions surrounding expectations for parental involvement and its influences. A minority of students experience neglectful parental behaviours and voice their appreciation for positive connections with college tutors, who often offer emotional support in place of the parents/carers.
    • The effectiveness of a multimedia exercise programme among postpartum women with lumbopelvic pain in Taiwan

      Tseng, Pei-Ching (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-12)
      Background: A substantial number of women are affected by Lumbo Pelvic Pain (LPP) follow-ing pregnancy and childbirth. Physical exercise is indicated as a beneficial method to relieve LPP, but individual studies appear to suggest mixed findings relating to its effectiveness and do not provide sufficient evidence on their own to warrant definite conclusions about effec-tiveness. Studies examining the effectiveness of different modes of exercise instruction for postpartum women for LPP are sparse. Aim: The aim of the study was to synthesise the evidence relating to the effectiveness of var-ious exercise programmes on LPP and to assess the effectiveness and acceptability (uptake, adherence and completion rate) of an exercise programme delivered using Digital Versatile Disc (DVD), the Internet or leaflet (usual care), on LPP among postnatal women in Taiwan. Methods: Phase 1: a systemic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) published be-tween January 1990 and July 2014 was conducted by searching several databases, electronic libraries and grey literature. Phase 2: a primary study (pragmatic randomised controlled trial) design with two intervention groups and a control group with outcomes measured at dis-charge period (as baseline), six weeks and four months follow-ups. The outcomes of LPP, physical endurance, exercise uptake, adherence and completion rate across the three modes of delivery were assessed. Findings: Phase 1 of the systematic review established that four RCTs met the selection crite-ria, involving 251 postnatal women. The trials included physical exercise programmes with varying components, differing modes of delivery, follow up times and outcome measures. Intervention in one trial, involving physical therapy with specific stabilising exercises, proved to be effective in reducing LPP intensity. An improvement in gluteal pain on the right side was reported in one trial and a significant difference in pain frequency in another. Phase 2 PRCT study: Of 213 pregnant women with LPP recruited, 158 took part in the trial. The women reported significant reduction in LPP in the Internet-based group (pain in the past week, p< 0.005) at six weeks postpartum. Physical endurance of DRI outcome revealed a significant result in the DVD-based group at six weeks postpartum (standing bent over a sink (p<0.008)). Acceptability of exercise interms of completion rate, adherence and uptake was not significantly different between the three groups; even though the Internet-based group undertook exercise more frequently. Conclusion: The systematic review revealed that only a few RCTs evaluated the effectiveness of exercise on LPP, and there is variability in the components of the exercise programmes, modes of delivery, follow up times and outcome measures. The trial determined that the Internet-based postpartum exercise programme was effective in reducing pain and the DVD-based exercise programme in improving disability status, in women with LPP post-pregnancy. However, the Internet-based instruction increased adherence to exercise in postpartum women. The findings have implications for developing appropriate intervention programmes.
    • The relationship between internal corporate governance mechanisms and the quality of external audit process - empirical evidence from Jordan

      Almasria, Nashat Ali (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-11-28)
      Due to prevalent corporate scandals and audit failures around the world in the recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the relationship between Internal Corporate Governance Mechanisms (ICGM) and External Audit Quality (EAQ). This research seeks to investigate important and recent interrelated issues; specifically, the main aim of this research is to examine empirically the relationship between ICGM and EAQ. Empirical findings prior to this study are inconclusive and not comprehensive enough to address different aspects ICGM in terms of its effect on EAQ. Hence, this research extends the scope of previous empirical studies and fills the research gaps by offering empirical evidence relevant to the debate about how these mechanisms can influence EAQ in Jordan. This is essential, as the Jordanian regulations and international auditing standards highlighted the importance of these mechanisms for the external audit process such as JCGC and ISA. In order to achieve the set objectives, this research adopts mixed-methodology “sequential explanatory design”, which consists of two main phases through collecting data regarding the board of director responsibilities and characteristics, internal audit factors, audit committee responsibilities and external audit quality attributes. The first phase was a quantitative study in the form of survey questionnaire. Subsequently, follow–up semi-structured interviews were employed in order to get detail views of the external auditors to explain and clarify how the early quantitative findings are occurring as well as offer a better understanding of the study relationships. Adopting this research design (mixed methods) was mainly as a response to the recent calls as there is a lack of this kind of study that investigate the relationship between the ICGM and EAQ. This research focuses on the perception/insight of the Jordanian external auditors regarding the influence of ICGM on EAQ. Thus, this study uses a sample of 206 Jordanian external auditors for the survey and 13 participants from this sample for the interview. The results of the research aim to offer a better understanding concerning the relationships between ICGM and EAQ and what are the governance mechanisms that can influence some aspects of EAQ. The descriptive and regression findings illustrate that work performance of internal audit and audit committee as well as independence of internal auditor are the most vital monitoring factors. They have significant influence on some aspects of the EAQ. With a response rate of 66%, the majority of the Jordanian external auditors agree with the importance of the role of the board of director responsibilities in terms improving some aspects of EAQ. Moreover, the auditor perceived that audit committee plays vital role in enhancing the quality of audit process and the quality of financial reporting process especially its role in terms of reviewing and approving the company’s financial reports and auditor’s report. Further, the qualitative stage employed the thematic analysis to analyse the interview data. The interview results highlighted that there are different ways and stages that the ICGMs can influence the EAQ, for example, through holding effective regular meeting, ensuring the auditor compliance with the audit requirements “regular monitoring”, discussing the initial and significant audit results “draft of discussion”, taking necessary follow-up actions “feedback” as well as requesting the auditor to conduct additional tests which can in turn enhance the EAQ. The results also suggest that ICGM can assist improving different aspects of EAQ such as the quality of the evidence that are collected by the ICGM and the valuable guidance from the ICGM to the external auditor. The communication between the ICGM and external auditor can be focused on different issues related to the audit process such as auditors’ findings, the effectiveness of internal control, scope limitations and material misstatements which allow improving the effectiveness of audit process. This indicates that, the auditor must be aware of the dynamic deciding of the role of particular mechanisms in improving the external audit process. Moreover, the results have implications for the practitioners and regulators who are assessing the role of ICGM in improving the reliability of the financial report and auditor’s report. The empirical findings demonstrate that different ICGM can influence different aspects of the EAQ. More importantly, the results reveal that audit practice in Jordan is experiencing some difficulties in terms of the independence of the auditor especially, for the small local firms and providing non-audit service. In addition, there is no professional body for board of director; internal audit and audit committee like Jordanian association of certified public accountant (JACPA) for the external auditor, thus, responsibility of the bodies need to be formally overseen by a higher authority. For the policymakers, this study offers a unique proposition to improve the effectiveness of the ICGM to achieve EAQ. These empirical findings of this study also highlight the importance of improving EAQ as a solution for the agency problems through reducing information asymmetry, improving the disclosure practice, level of confidence and assurance of the financial reporting as well as deterring the opportunistic behaviour from different parties. Key Terms: External Audit Quality, Internal Audit, Corporate Governance, Board of Director, Audit Committee.
    • Investigating types of reading used by native and non-native English readers on academic reading: an eye tracking study

      Sheraz, Safia (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-11-08)
      The purpose of this research was to investigate the types of reading used by native English readers on a sampled academic reading-into-writing task. Secondly, this study investigated the types of reading used by non-native English readers on the same academic reading-into-writing task. This study also compared the similarities and differences in the types of reading done by both native and non-native English readers. In particular, the research explored how the participants read the informative and non-informative paragraphs in the academic texts. The present study used Khalifa and Weir's model of reading (2009) as a framework to map the physical evidence from the eye tracking data to investigate the types of reading done by the students in relation to careful, selective and expeditious reading. A mixed method approach, which included eye-tracking technology, stimulated recalls, interviews and observations, was used in this study. Eye movements of the participants were tracked by Tobii X2 60 eye tracker while they read the three academic texts on a computer screen to prepare for a piece of academic writing. Immediately after they had completed reading each text, stimulated recalls and interviews were held and the purpose of these stimulated recalls was to triangulate the data obtained from eye tracking. A total of 32 participants were used in this study which included 16 native English readers and 16 non-native English readers. The eye tracking data was analysed quantitatively through the eye tracking measures that are the words read per minute, the number of fixations, the mean fixation duration and the proportion of regressive movements (same line regressions and regressions two lines or above). Qualitatively, eye tracking data was analysed through the heat maps and gaze plots. The results from the quantitative and qualitative eye tracking data suggested that the native readers read the informative paragraphs slower than the non-informative paragraphs, but different reasons were reported by them in the stimulated recalls for adopting a specific reading type. For the non-native readers, the results from the quantitative eye tracking data suggested that they read the informative paragraphs slower than the non-informative paragraphs. On the contrary, the qualitative eye tracking data suggested that they focused on both informative and non-informative paragraphs and there were similarities in the reasons reported by non-native readers for reading the informative and the non-informative paragraphs slowly. A comparison in the types reading used by L1 and L2 readers suggested that L2 readers read the informative and the non-informative paragraphs slower than L1 readers as suggested by the words read per minute and the mean fixation duration of the participants. Native readers made more same line regressions on informative and non-informative paragraphs than the non-native readers and the proportion of regressions two lines or above made by both groups was also negligible. The qualitative eye tracking data suggested that both groups read informative and non-informative paragraphs slowly, but native readers fixated more on both types of paragraphs than non-natives, as suggested by the heat maps and gaze plots. The data from the stimulated recalls and observations also suggested that both groups read the informative and the non-informative paragraphs with attention. To the best of the researcher's knowledge, this is the first study that evaluated the types of reading of L2 participants in an academic context. It contributes a methodology for investigating the types of reading used by the L2 students by employing different eye tracking measures and the stimulated recalls. According to the researcher's knowledge, this study contributes new knowledge about the reading speed (in terms of words read per minute) and other eye tracking measures of L2 readers on an academic reading-into-writing task. This study holds implications for the universities as the findings suggested that academic literacy skills training is required for both the native and non-native readers. The findings would also help to design preparatory tasks for the first-year undergraduates as a part of pre-sessional courses in the international universities or back in their home countries where they are trained for admission in international universities.
    • Hybrid light field image super-resolution and interpolation method using multi-array cameras

      Farag, Saber (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-11-02)
      Recent advances in camera technologies have led to the design of plenoptic cameras. This camera type can capture multiple images of the same scene using arrays of microlenses, where each microlens has a shifted location providing a separate view of the scene. Such a design results in a superior performance, as compared to traditional cameras, enabling multi-view or multi-focal imaging captured in a single shot. However, the main drawback of the currently available plenoptic imaging technology is limited spatial resolution, which makes it difficult to use in applications where sharpness or high-resolution is essential, such as in the film industry. Although some previous attempts have addressed this issue, they were affected by high computational complexity as well as limited interpolation factor. To resolve this, a novel light field field hybrid super-resolution method is proposed which combines two traditional methods of multi image super-resolution and hybrid single image super-resolution to create hybrid super-resolution image for efficient application to plenoptic images. Furthermore, after this combination, the output of the hybrid super-resolution image is segmented into the objects of interest. Then, super-resolution reconstruction by sparse representation is applied to super resolve the segmented image. This technique helps to increase the resolution of light field images and maintain sharpness after super-resolution. Additionally, block matching super-resolution is proposed to provide a means of enhancement for the resolution of plenoptic images by developing corresponding super-resolution methods which exploit the disparity information, estimated from the light field images, to reduce the matching area in the super-resolution process. The proposed method is denoted as block matching super-resolution super-resolution. Following on, the proposed novel super-resolution method is combined with directionally adaptive image interpolation to preserve sharpness of the high-resolution images. In addition, light field digital refocusing with the proposed super-resolution approaches can be used to record the light field and provide maximum achievable resolution. With this simplification it is easy to explain the method of refocusing and the characteristics of the performance. The complexity of the standard light field camera configuration is also taken into account. The implemented super-resolution approaches that have been proposed are used to super resolve the ‘all-in-focus’ images. This research has narrowed the knowledge gap by creating a working super-resolution and interpolation application in order to allow higher quality to all light field images captured by plenoptic cameras. The significant advantage of this application for computer vision is the super-resolved micro images or the various angles available in a single light field super resolution image which allow depth estimation. Moreover, this research demonstrates a steady gain in the peak signal to noise ratio and structural similarity index quality of the super-resolved images for the resolution enhancement factor 8x8, as compared to the most recent approaches.
    • Population analysis of the finger millet blast pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae in Eastern Africa

      Shittu, Taiwo Adewale (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2018-11)
      The main aims of the investigation were to develop an in-depth understanding of the genetic diversity, population structure and evolutionary relationships as well as to assess the sexual reproductive capability of the finger millet blast (FMB) pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae in Eastern Africa. A set of 300 M. oryzae isolates collected during 2000 – 2017 from key finger millet growing districts in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia were utilised in this study. Two novel molecular markers designated HyP1 and HyP2 were developed in this study and two known phylogenetic markers ITS (internal transcribed spacer) and HIS4 (histone 4 gene) were identified by bioinformatic analysis. Single- and multi-locus analysis provided a clear assessment of the FMB pathogen genotype diversity and distribution pattern. At the regional level in Eastern Africa, ITS and HIS4 revealed 7 - 9 genotypes, whereas HyP1 and HyP2 identified 80 - 85 genotypes reflecting their high resolution. Multi-locus sequence (MLS) analysis revealed 207 genotypes displaying a continuous genetic variation pattern of the FMB pathogen populations in Eastern Africa. Bayesian and reticulate network analyses distinguished the vast majority of genotypes into two sub-populations (designated as Group A and B), which were geographically clustered. Diagnostic PCR revealed the presence of a high proportion of M. oryzae isolates containing the Grasshopper (grh) repeat element in Ethiopia and Tanzania (e.g. 85 %). Reference genome assemblies have been established for two M. oryzae isolates representing the sub-populations identified. Genome resequence data has been developed for sixteen isolates representing the genotype diversity. Comparative analysis provided novel insights into the genomic architecture and evolutionary relationships in the FMB pathogen. Genomic regions and/or genes, putatively isolate specific have been identified. Phylogenomic analysis revealed monophyletic nature of the FMB pathogen in Eastern Africa and Asia suggesting a common origin. Genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) ranges broadly corresponded to the sub-populations identified. Complete grh sequence has been defined and the presence of at least two versions of the element in the FMB pathogen in Eastern Africa has been shown. Mating type specific PCR assay revealed high proportions of the two mating types MAT 1-1 (56 %) and MAT 1-2 (44 %) in the contemporary population of the FMB pathogen in Eastern Africa and also in the four countries surveyed, albeit at variable levels. Mating culture assays established a high proportion of fertile isolates (60 %) and revealed the dominance of male sexual behaviour followed by hermaphrodite and female isolates. The emerging pattern is indicative of a decrease in the fertility status as well as the level of hermaphrodites and females. Integrated assessment of the mating type and fertility data along with the high genotype diversity and their continuous variation pattern observed is strongly suggestive of a mixed reproductive behaviour including episodic sexual reproduction. The new knowledge and resources generated contribute to the advancement of current understanding of the finger millet blast pathogen biology providing a framework for the effective utilization of host resistance in Eastern Africa as well as a strong platform for further research advances in the field.