26 SES 06 B, Principals Performance, Legal Standards and Brand Management
Education is regulated through laws, regulation, circulars and guidelines. In Europe, there is a trend to increased legislative activity in the area of school bullying. Accoring to Ananiadou and Smith (2002), legal requirements serve several purposes. One is to create a climate of opinion, while another may be to put forth a requirement for schools to follow certain procedures. However, legal requirements may offer expectations on a more or less general level. For example, the Education Act in Norway (section 9a-1) states that “All pupils attending primary and secondary schools are entitled to a good physical and psychosocial environment conducive to health, well-being and learning.” This general requirement is further explicated e.g. as expectations pertaining to the physical environment, the psychosocial environment and the school’s obligation to implement internal control. Also, a circular (Udir-2-2010) elaborate on the meaning of the law and what it implies in terms of procedures at school level. In this paper we explore how this regulation is enacted in schools. Following Ball et al.’s (2012) arguments, we see enactment as interactions between actors, texts, talk and artefacts as responses to policies and local contexts and challenges, and it is how they creatively work with legal requirements in their situated realities that is of interest. The paper aims to identify mechanisms that mediate interpretations of section 9a-1 in the Education Act, and to examine how school leaders and teachers transform this section into professional concerns at local level. We are concerned with the work taking place at local level when “regulation becomes embodied in the school’s formal structure through organisational routines” (Spillane et al., 2011, p. 588).
Organisational routines are explicit and tacit patterns that regulate schools’ practices by enabling efficient action among individuals, reducing conflict, and preserving the organisations legitimacy (Feldman & Pentland, 2003; Spillane 2012). Pentland and Feldman (2008) suggest that we need to see organisational routines as dualities. On the one hand, the ostensive aspects of a routine consist of “abstract regularities and expectations that enable participants to guide, account for, and refer to specific performances as a routine” (p. 241). On the other hand, there is the concrete carrying out of a routine by specific people at specific times which in may involve adaptive and creative behaviour, the performative aspect of routines. Together, ostensive and performative aspects constitute the routine in that the ostensive aspects constrain and enable the performative, and the performative aspect create and recreate the ostensive. “Organizational routines depend on connections, the stitching together of multiple participants and their actions to from a pattern that people can recognize and talk about as a routine” (Pentland & Feldman, 2005, p. 795). Artefacts are physical manifestation of a routine and mediate both performative and ostensive aspects. For example, rules and written procedures may be indicators of and serve as a proxy for the ostensive aspects of a routine. But they may also guide performance when they are enrolled in activities at the discretion of participants.
In this paper we use organisational routines as a point of entry to investigate how school leaders and teachers understand the legal requirements for a good psychosocial environment (ostensive aspects), how they work to design organisational routines, and in what ways routines are institutionalised in staff performance through variation, selection and retention. When schools are studied as institutions, actions and activities cannot be seen as results of linear chains of decisions from central to local levels. Rather, they are the emergent constructions among various actors who translate new demands and initiatives through established conceptions and cultures in the educational system (Lawrence & Suddaby 2006).
Ananiadou, K. & Smith, P.K. (2003). Legal requirements and nationally circulated materials against school bullying in European countries. Criminology and Criminal Justice2/4, 471 – 491. Ball, S.J., Maguire, M. & Braun, A. (2012). How schools do policy. Policy enactments in secondary schools. London: Routledge. Feldman, M.S. & Pentland, B.T (2003). Reconceptualizing Organizational Routines as a Source of Flexibility and Change. Administrative Scinece Quarterly, 48: pp. 94-118. Johnson, R.B., Onwuegbuzie, A.J. & Turner, L. (2007). Toward a Definition of Mixed Methods Research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, volume 1, Number 2, pp. 112-133. Lawrence, T.B. & Suddaby, R. (2006). Institutions and Institutional Work. In Clegg, S. R. [et al.] (ed.) The Sage Handbook of Organization Studies, 2nd Edition. Pentland, B.T. & Feldman, M.S. (2008). Designing routines: On the folly of designing artefacts, while hoping for patterns of action. Information and Organization, 18, 235 - 250 Pentland, B.T. & Feldman, M.S. (2005). Orgaizational routines as a unit of analysis. Industrial and Corporate Change, 14/5, 793 – 815. Spillane, J.P., Parise, L.M & Sherer, J.Z. (2011). Organizational Routines as Coupling Mechanisms: Policy, School Administration, and the Technical Core. American Educational Research Journal 48(3), 586-620. Spillane, J. P. (2012). Data in Practice: Conceptualizing the Data-Based Decision-Making Phenomena. American Journal of Education, 118(2), 113-141.
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