Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"A successful school improvement intervention will generate staff commitment to actions that are designed to promote greater effectiveness." (Bennett, 2001, p. 120)
This seems fairly self-evident, but is well put, and good to keep at the front of our minds as we consider leadership within schools.
Other thoughts from
Bennett, N. (2001). Power, structure and culture: an organisational view of school effectiveness and school improvement. In A. Harris & N. Bennett (Eds), School effectiveness and school improvement: alternative perspectives, (pp. 89-122). London: Continuum.
We can consider an organisation, such as a school, as a system, in that:
  • it is oriented towards the pursuit of particular goals
  • participants share a common interest in the survival of the system (organisation)
  • participants engage in collective activities
  • it is influenced by its environment
  • there is interdependence between different parts of the whole
  • the whole is interdependent with other systems (organisations)
  • participants (members) 'are' the system (organisation)
  • it has a defined purpose, task and technologies which may be influenced or even defined by outside conditions (organisations are effected by societal institutions and norms)

The structure of an organisation:

  • implies that tasks and responsibilities are allocated to best meet the overall system purpose
  • can change
  • includes the physical 'workplace' structures such as classroom/school design and arrangement
  • includes work group structures such as class and faculty groups
  • includes job descriptions and procedures
  • is effected by legal requirements such as OHS
  • is effected by social norms and expectations (ie: what a school/class 'should' look like)

The culture of an organisation:

  • is the concept of what the organisation is about, its 'mission'
  • is the norms 'how we do things' and expectations 'how we should do things'
  • includes what the members believe about their work
  • defines an organisation as distinctive from other organisations
  • often rests upon wider norms and expectations 'how schools do and should do things'

Structure and culture both impact the relationships between members of an organisation.

Power is exercised in exchanges between members of the organisation. The structures and cultures of the organisation define the legitimacy of this exercise of power. Some exercise of power is seen as illegitimate and leads to mere compliance rather than commitment.

This brings us back to our original effort to generate staff commitment to effective actions. It is therefore essential that power is used legitimately.

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