01 SES 08 B, Developing Leadership
Parallel Paper Session
Background and research questions
This paper is a progress report of the action research I am conducting for my Masters degree. With a background in UK health management I recently began to work in the publishing arm of a small international educational consultancy firm, whose aim is to enable practitioner-researchers in different professions, including education and health care, to gain higher degree accreditation for their work-based learning. My own interests involve (1) finding ways to help them develop the skills and knowledge appropriate to participating in processes of organisational renewal and sustainability; (2) helping them publish their work so their voices will be heard. My overall research questions are therefore: ‘How do I learn to lead organisational change in education and health care settings? How do I help to develop a knowledge base to explain and influence organisational change processes?’ Yet before I could answer these larger questions, I needed to learn which forms of leadership would be most appropriate to achieving my goals, and what kind of skills and knowledge this would entail. I therefore organised my research programmes as two action reflection cycles: first a reconnaissance phase (Elliott 1991) where I asked two questions, ‘What do practitioner researchers need from a leader? What do they need from a publisher?’; and second, a current implementation phase where I ask, ‘How do I help them build capacity for organisational development?’
Objectives and theoretical frameworks
The aim of my research is to enable practitioners to develop capacity in research and make it public to influence processes of organisational renewal. Many of the professionals I work with are experiencing unprecedented, often externally imposed change, exacerbated by the effects of the international economic downturn. These include:
· international market-driven policies that orient education and health care towards privatisation and managerialist practices (Ball 2007; Player and Leys 2011) and often position providers and clients as separate entities;
· historically entrenched conceptualisations of leadership as a ‘pragmatic and essentially atheoretical tradition’ (Ribbins and Gunter 2002: 359, cited in Bottery 2011: 3), contrary to calls for participative theorisations of organisational change (Nonaka and Takeuchi 1995; Senge 1990);
· many practitioners experience organisational change as something they have little power to control (Kotter 1980).
My aim instead, like Sen (1999), is to help practitioners exercise self-determination in their work and be involved in policy formation and implementation – see also Watkins and Marsick’s (1993) views that learning organisations are characterised by total employee involvement in collaboratively conducted, collectively accountable change processes directed towards shared values or principles); Winter’s (1989) views that a key form of knowledge is practitioners’ embodied learning from experience; and Senge’s (1990) ideas about the need for full participation in learning organisations. I agree with these perspectives from my beliefs as a health care practitioner and manager, that practitioners have the capacity and responsibility to be involved in policy change debates and are entitled to be so.
Ball, S. (2007) Education Plc: Understanding Private Sector Participation in Public Sector Education (2nd edition). Abingdon, Routledge. Bottery, M. (2011). Refocusing educational leadership in an age of overshoot: Embracing an education for sustainable development. International Studies in Educational Administration 39 (2): 3–16. Elliott, J. (1998) The Curriculum Experiment. Buckingham, Open University Press. Elmore, R. (2004) School Reform from the Inside Out. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press. Hargreaves, A. (2003) Teaching in the Knowledge Society. New York, Teachers College Press. Kotter, J P. (1980) ‘An Integrative Model of Organisational Dynamics’, in E. E. Lawlor, D. A. Nadler and C. Cammann (eds), Organisational Assessment. New York, Wiley, pp. 279–299. Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. McNiff, J. (2010) Action Research for Professional Development. Poole, September. Nonaka, I. and Takeuchi, H. (1995) The Knowledge-Creating Company. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Player, S. and Leys, C. (2011) The Plot against the NHS. London, The Merlin Press. Popper, K. (2002) The Poverty of Historicism. London, Routledge. Ribbins, P. and Gunter, J. (2002) Mapping leadership studies in education: towards a map of the field. Educational Management and Administration 30 (4): 359–387. Schön, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner. New York, Basic Books. Sen, A. (1999) Development as Freedom. Oxford, Oxford University Press. Senge, P. (1990) The Fifth Discipline. New York, Doubleday. Walker, M. and Unterhalter, E. (2007) (eds) Amartya Sen's Capability Approach and Social Justice in Education. London, Palgrave. Watkins, K. E and Marsick, V. J. (1993) Sculpting the Learning Organisation. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass. Wenger, E. (1999) Communities of Practice. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Winter, R. (1989) Learning from Experience. London, Falmer.
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