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Organisational transformations in the New Zealand retirement village sector: A critical-rhetorical and -discursive analysis of promotion, community, and resident participation.

This thesis examines quotcustomer-focusedquot communication and resident participation within the retirement village sector which is one part of the increasingly quotmarketisedquot aged-care services in New Zealand. In this respect the sector is no different from other domains of consumer life where marketing-oriented organisations aim to find out what their customers want and give it to them. This research examines communication related to customer-focused organisational activities and residents' enactment of participation within retirement village organisation (RVO) settings with respect to these processes of marketisation. Taking a critical-interpretive perspective, the thesis undertakes a collective case study involving two major New Zealand RVOs. Both organisations were defined as quotretirement villagesquot within the meaning of the Retirement Villages Act 2003, established in the 1990s, and offered quotretirement livingquot independent housing and apartments across a range of locations. A significant part of the study also examined publicly available promotional material from six RVOs operating multiple sites in various New Zealand locations. This thesis explores retirement villages as co-productions between the corporate entities that develop and market villages and the residents who live in them. The thesis also explores RVO rhetoric about quotretirement living for active 55 plusquot, RVO enactment of customer focused communication and activities, and residents responses to and expectations of both. It is argued that this co-production has implications for residents' participation, their roles and relationships with employees, as well as for organisational communication processes and structures. The rhetorical and critical discourse analysis reveals the complexity of what quotparticipationquot means for the residents. Through a close examination of these meanings, the thesis extends current understandings of relationships between quotcustomersquot and quotcustomer-focusedquot organisations and highlights the role of older people in Western Society as co-producers of the very product they purchase: the retirement village. It also raises practical and theoretical issues for organisational communication. At the practical level it highlights how communication messages, structures and processes within RVOs experience tensions in meeting the needs of both internal, current, and long-term customers, and external, potential, and future customers. The thesis offers insights into issues of individual action and freedom within the frame of market-driven and avowedly quotcustomer-focusedquot organisations and consequently suggests a reconsideration of participation in organisations in which customers are also quotinsidersquot.
Type of thesis
Simpson, M. L. (2007). Organisational transformations in the New Zealand retirement village sector: A critical-rhetorical and -discursive analysis of promotion, community, and resident participation. (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2666
The University of Waikato
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