26 SES 05 B, Communication and Relations
Drawn from the classical work of new institutional theory in the 1970s and 1980s (Meyer & Rowan, 1977; Meyer & Scott, 1983), two nested images of how schools function as organizational systems have been widespread. The first image refers to the school’s technical core as only loosely coupled or even decoupled from the administrative apparatus of the school organization, and from the external policy environment – a pattern found in four areas of school behavior: (1) Inconsistency and unintended variation in work process and outcomes across school units, (2) school leaders’ systematic de-emphasis on instruction, (3) inactivity of evaluation and control systems over classroom work and (4) lack of implementation of reform elements. The second image refers to the observation that schools primarily seek legitimacy in the institutional environments through mimetic isomorphism (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983) of organizational forms and “pedagogical fashion” (Hanson, 2001). In consequence, schools tend to be portrayed as reluctant to external reforms, over-administrated and under-lead (Rowan, 1982). Moreover, many reform-efforts tend to be “ceremonial” implementations of “pedagogical scripts” (Hanson, 2001; Meyer & Rowan, 1977) decoupled from classroom work, however strengthening the school’s basis for seeking legitimacy in the institutional environments.
As demonstrated in theorizing of new-institutionalism during the last decade (Greenwood, Oliver, Suddaby, & Sahlin, 2008; Meyer & Rowan, 2007; Rowan & Miskel, 1999), the global movement of standardization and accountability has modified these main inferences significantly (Rowan, 2007). Through standardization, external control and accountability demands, a strengthening of the couplings between the policy environment and schools’ work has been observable. Specifically, by means of curriculum control (Rowan, 1990) and standardization of assessment practices, the couplings between the central policy environment (of state agencies) and schools’ work is strengthened. However, as noted by Spillane and Burch (2007), the patterns of tight and loose couplings between policy and administration on one hand and classroom work on the other follow different paths: In literacy and mathematics, as prioritized by OECD bodies, the global tendency is for tight couplings and control, whereas in other subjects like social sciences, loose couplings are still a predominant pattern (Spillaine & Burch, 2007). The current paper follows this line of reasoning, and by means of empirical evidence drawn from the Norwegian vocational training sector a dynamic pattern of tight and loose couplings between stakeholders and school professionals is shown. For example, operating units of the vocational schools tend to be loosely coupled to their policy environment and top apex of the school, yet tightly coupled to important workplace stakeholders. Second, external control over schooling in this segment is therefore not primarily exerted from national quality assurance regimes, yet rather from working life actors in the local environments due to asymmetric power distribution. Third, a diverse blend of loose and tight couplings across different occupational domains, i.e. subject departments, is analysed, and finally, adaptive strategies for schoolteachers and leaders at the “street-level” are discussed.
DiMaggio, P., & Powell, W. W. 1983. The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields. American Sociological Review, 48(2): 147-160. Greenwood, R., Oliver, C., Suddaby, R., & Sahlin, K. 2008. The Sage Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism. London: Sage. Hanson, M. 2001. Institutional theory and educational change. Educational Administration Quarterly, 37: 637-661. Maaløe, E. 2002. Casestudier af og om mennesker i organisationer (Casestudies by and about people in organizations). Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag AS. Meyer, H.-D., & Rowan, B. 2007. The New Institutionalism in Education. Albany: State University of New York Press. Meyer, J. W., & Rowan, B. 1977. Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony. American Journal of Sociology, 83(2): 340-363. Meyer, J. W., & Scott, W. R. 1983. Organizational environments : ritual and rationality. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications. Ragin, C. C. 1992. Casing and the process of social inquiry. In C. C. Ragin, & H. Becker (Eds.), What is a case? Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rowan, B. 1982. Organizational structure and the institutional environment: The case of public schools. Administrative Science Quarterly, 27: 259-279. Rowan, B. 1990. Commitment and control: Alternative strategies for the organizational design of schools. In C. B. Cazden (Ed.), Review of research in education, Vol. 16. Washington DC: American Educational Research Association. Rowan, B. 2007. The New Institutionalism and the Study of Educational Organizations: Changing Ideas for Changing Times. In H.-D. Meyer, & B. Rowan (Eds.), The New Institutionalism in Education. Albany: State University of New York Press. Rowan, B., & Miskel, C. G. 1999. Institutional theory and the study of educational organizations. In J. Murphy, & K. S. Louis (Eds.), Handbook of research on educational administration: A project of the American Educational Research Association. San Francisco: Jossey Bass Spillaine, J., & Burch, P. 2007. The Institutional Environment and Instructional Practice: Changing Patterns of Guidance and Control in Public Education. In H.-D. Meyer, & B. Rowan (Eds.), The New Institutionalism in Education. Albany: State University of New York Press. Weick, K. E. 1976. Educational Organizations as Loosely Coupled Systems. Administrative Science Quarterly, 21: 1-19. Yin, R. K. 1994. Case study research. Design and methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
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Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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