Theories and Organizations


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Dr. William Allan Kritsonis earned his BA in 1969 from Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington. In 1971, he earned his M.Ed. from Seattle Pacific University. In 1976, he earned his PhD from the University of Iowa. In 1981, he was a Visiting Scholar at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, and in 1987 was a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.
In June 2008, Dr. Kritsonis received the Doctor of Humane Letters, School of Graduate Studies from Southern Christian University. The ceremony was held at the Hilton Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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Theories and Organizations

  1. 1. Organizational Theory in Education William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Potential Questions Question 1: Different theories have been used to describe how school and school systems are organized and managed. These organizational theories include bureaucratic, scientific management, human relations, and the open systems approach. Compare and contrast two of these theories in the following areas: organizational structure, basic philosophic perspective of employees, duties and authority of administrators, and effective leadership styles. Justify why one approach might be more effective for an educational entity than the other. Question 2: Education is a state rather than a federal responsibility. Briefly compare and contrast the responsibilities and educational activities that are associated with state and local level educational entities. Describe how three values, equality, efficiency, and liberty have impacted the establishment and implementation of educational policies at all levels (federal, state, and local). Organizational Theory in Education
  2. 2. Three theories have influenced school organization and management: (1) classical (bureaucratic & scientific management), (2) human relation, and (3) open systems. Classical Theory of Organization Bureaucratic Organizational Model - Max Weber This formal model includes (1) a hierarchical arrangement with separation of authority, (2) task specialization among employees (division of labor), (3) hiring of professional personnel based on technical knowledge, (4) separation of personal & organizational property and, (5) implicit rules and regulations that govern official decisions and actions. The intent is to maximize rational decision-making and facilitate increased efficiency. It is based on rational-legal authority rather than power and persuasion. Rational legal authority is a belief that laws can be enacted and changed by formally correct procedures. This organizational model has drawn the following criticisms: (1) hierarchical authority can perpetuate rigidity and adherence to rules, (2) the impersonal focus can result in low morale and alienation, (3) division of labor can stifle initiative and, (4) informal relationships and individual needs are ignored. Scientific Management - Frederick W. Taylor
  3. 3. This perspective focuses on increasing efficiency and maximizing human productivity by identifying the "best" way to do a job. Scientific analysis and time and motion studies were used to identify and help eliminate muscular and physiological activities that lead to worker fatigue. In an effort to optimize work performance, pay was linked to output. This theory has been criticized because it embodies a mechanistic view of workers as extensions of machines. Human Relations Approach The focus in this organizational theory is on the social and affective needs of employees and emphasizes the importance of feelings, attitudes and social climate of organizations. Although the basic organizational structure may resemble a bureaucratic model, informal interactions that exist outside bureaucratic norms or formal dimensions of an organization are identified. Employees whose social and psychological needs have been fulfilled are motivated to work more productively. The impact of human relations on employee productivity has been demonstrated in two studies. The results are known as the Hawthorne Effect. The first experiment investigated the effect of increased light on productivity. The results showed that increased productivity was due to subjects' responses to attention and novelty of the experiment and not to an increase or decrease in light. The second
  4. 4. experiment (bank-wiring room), investigated the relationship between increased financial incentives and productivity. Results showed that workers establish informal standards that define a "satisfactory" day's work. Production greater or less than standard was unacceptable to the group. These two experiments showed that (1) group norms are equal to or greater than managerial or administrative norms in importance in determining a productivity level, (2) noneconomic rewards can increase productivity, and (3) group satisfaction and commitment are enhanced through participatory decision making. The Hawthorne studies also showed that leadership style has an effect on group performance. A "democratic" style was found to be more effective for group performance than either a "laissez-faire" or "authoritarian" style. Leaders who give equal attention to initiating structure (task performance) and consideration (friendship, trust, respect, warmth, and concern) tend to be more effective as measured by worker satisfaction and performance. Within groups, there exists both formal and informal leaders. Formal appointed leaders are concerned with task performance while informal leaders emerge for the group and attend to the group's social and psychological needs. Systems Approach
  5. 5. Systems can be viewed from three different perspectives: biological (living organisms), mechanical (automobiles), and social (organizations). Within each of these perspectives, there are two basic system types: closed and open. Closed systems, like the bureaucratic and human relations models, have impenetrable boundaries and derive few inputs from environment. Although thought to be self-sufficient, these systems can experience entropy, a movement to disorder, lack of resource transformation, and eventually death. In contrast, open systems have permeable boundaries exchanging resources with the environment. Homeostasis exists when the system is stable and there is a balance or equilibrium between environmental resources and the system. Disequilibrium results when the system is unable to use resources as they are received from the environment or when its subsystems are out of balance. One criticism of the systems approach is that it fails to adequately account for change that results from interactions between people. Open Systems Approach The open systems approach to organizational theory emerged in the 1960s. Organizations were viewed as open systems that interact with the environments in which they exist. The relationship of organizational parts and the link between the organization and its larger environment was stressed. The input-throughput-output model was used to describe this
  6. 6. approach. Organizations maintain themselves by processing inputs from their environment and converting them into outputs. Schools as a Selective Linkage System The term, selective linkage system, is used to describe the organizational structure of contemporary schools. In some respects, they resemble a closed system and reflect many of the components of Weber's Hierarchical Organizational Structure. They utilize a (1) hierarchical structure, (2) a division of labor based on technical competence and specialization, and (3) written rules and regulations (policies). On the other hand, they are open systems with both tight and loose controls. Contemporary schools interact socially and politically with community in which they exist through the PTA, school advisory councils and a myriad of special interest groups. Interaction with the community is important in determining school goals and generating approval and support for programs. Although the organizational structure may show a hierarchical format, there are loose controls between authority levels. The superintendent has authority over staff but must operate within the parameters of board policy and contractual arrangements. Higher authority levels, such as principals and
  7. 7. district level administrators, do not exercise complete control over those at lower levels. Teachers are still in control within their classrooms, and site- based management has given more authority to lower organizational levels. School organizations still command tight control over several areas. These include requirements for teachers, promotion and graduation policies, curriculum, and student placement. Informal Dimensions of Organizational Structure Groups formed by teachers have been shown to be a powerful force in school organizations. Administrators who identify informal group leaders and establish close working relationships with them are substantially advantaged in accomplishing organizational goals. Group norms have been shown to be an important determinant of group behavior. Informal groups of teachers tend to reform after the summer break with little change and are usually dominated by older and more experienced teachers. Leadership and Types of Authority Leaders attempt to influence others through personal and positional powers such as authority. There are several types of authority that leaders employ: traditional, charismatic, and rational-legal. In the purest form, traditional authority is aligned with patriarchal authority. Charismatic authority is based on personal devotion to the leader. It is thought to be an
  8. 8. unstable type of authority because it is linked to one specific person. Rational-legal authority is based on the supremacy of the law and the position that formally established social norms should direct a person's actions in the rational pursuit of specified goals. This type of authority is closely linked to Weber's bureaucracy model. Types of Educational Organizations Educational organizations can be classified into three types: nonprofessional, professional, and semiprofessional organizations. Bureaucrats (administrators) and professionals (teachers) assume different roles in these organizations. In nonprofessional organization, the goal is to make a profit. Administrative activities are coordinated so that profits can be maximized and final authority resides in line officers (administrators) who constitute the administrative chain of command. In these organizations, professionals (teachers) are more likely to occupy specialized or staff advisory positions outside the line of authority. The goal of professional organizations, such as those associated with universities, research organizations, and hospitals, is to produce, apply, preserve, or communicate knowledge. Generally, 50% or more of the staff are professionals who have primary control over the major goal activities with administrators providing support. Final authority resides with the professionals. School and social
  9. 9. work agencies are classified as semiprofessional organizations. They are similar to professional organizations but differ in the areas of professional employee status and function. Less time is spent on training, and there is a focus on communication of knowledge. In educational organizations conflicts may arise between bureaucrats (administrators) and professionals (teachers) in the area of decision making. Classic bureaucrats (administrators) make decisions in the interest of the organization, while idealized professionals (teachers) want decisions made in the best interests of the students or norms of the profession. Public School Systems The 10th Amendment gave states control of activities that are not specifically assigned to the federal government. This resulted in the states being responsible for education. Except for Hawaii, all U.S. public educational systems are state legislated and supported but locally operated. Local school districts are classified as quasi-corporations: a political division of the state to facilitate the administration of government. This century has seen an increase in the power of local districts. There has been a movement toward consolidation of school districts, hiring of professional school managers, increased power of the superintendent, and an interest in scientific management. There continues to be an increasing
  10. 10. chasm between mainstream partisan political activity and school governance. School boards have secured the right as a separate taxing authority. The rise in local power has contributed to a decrease in the authority of the State Board of Education. The general areas of responsibility for state departments include finance (administration of federal and state monies), teacher certification, curriculum (textbooks and standards), testing, data collection and distribution, administration of Federal program, facilities and transportation, and nonpublic schools. Local school district adopt policies and practices to govern the operation of the school system under their control. The policies and practices that are adopted are a result of a dynamic equilibrium between three values - equality, efficiency, and liberty. Equality means the equal access to educational services for all. Several landmark cases have greatly influenced the organization and functioning of educational systems in the United States. The most influential case was the 1954 Supreme Court Case, Brown vs. Board of Education, which disallowed racially segregated schools. The "equal protection clause" of the 14th Amendment provided equal access to educational opportunities for all handicapped students. Federal funding is provided through the Education
  11. 11. for all Handicapped Children Act (1975). Bilingual students were guaranteed effective instruction and equal access to education services as a result of a landmark case; Lau vs. Nichols. Equality also means equal distribution of financial resources. This was addressed through the enactment of several programs and the passage of several federal acts. The Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA), President Johnson's War on Poverty (1960's), and Compensatory Education which focused on low income families were programs that addressed financial resource allocation to elementary and secondary schools. The needs of post secondary students were addressed through several financial aid programs: (1) Serviceman's Readjustment Act (based on years of service), (2) Guaranteed Student Loan Program (GSLP) which subsidized lending organizations), and (3) Basic Education Opportunity Grants (BEOG) which were based on financial need. Unequal tax bases and disparate expenditures result in an unequal distribution of resources among school districts. A variety of state level finance reforms during the 1970’s and 1980’s have attempted to equalize these discrepancies. A landmark case, Rodriguez v. San Antonio, found that unequal systems are not in violation of the U.S. constitution.
  12. 12. For employees, equality means equal access to decision making. Programs such as collective bargaining have increased employee participation in decision making. The 1980's saw an increase in teacher unionization (NEA, AFT). The second value, efficiency, is concerned with the conserve of resources so that "conserved" monies can be used for other endeavors such as expanding school choice. By increasing efficiency, output is maximized and options are expanded. During the 1970's state spending limits were implemented. In a landmark case, Serrano v. Priest, the California legislature imposed a spending ceiling on school districts. To increase efficiency and contain or reduce costs, school district adopted scientific management principles and patterned schools after businesses. A variety of management strategies (technocracy) became popular as a way to increase student performance while lowering costs and increasing accountability. These included President Johnson's Program Performance Budgeting System (PPBS), Zero Based Budgeting (ZBB), Program Evaluation & Review Techniques (PERT), Management by Objectives (MBO), and Competency Based Teacher Education (CBTE). Comprehensive testing programs were implemented with the purpose of using public scrutiny of test results to make teachers work harder.
  13. 13. Developed in 1964, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) testing program compares student achievement between states. The third value, liberty, refers to the freedom to choose among alternatives. Reforms focused on helping public schools increase diversity, be more responsive to their clients, and expand private offerings. A parent’s right to select a private or a public school for their child was guaranteed by a 1925 U.S. Supreme Court Case; Pierce v. Society of Sisters. Tuition tax credits for both public and private school payments were found to be constitutional in a 1983 Supreme Court Case; Mueller vs. Allen. The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act made federal funds available for nonpublic schools. Liberty also involves increasing citizen participation and control of education. This is achieved through the development of alternative schools, administrative decentralization, school site management, and the formation of Parent Advisory Councils which are required when receiving federal programs and money such as ESEA, Title 1, and ESAA. Structure of Organizations and Leadership Because organizations are composed of groups and groups have leaders, the topics of group dynamics and leadership are intertwined with
  14. 14. organizational theory. Blanchard defines leaderships as the "process of influencing the activities of an individual or a group in efforts toward goal achievement in a given situation. Situational Leadership Depending upon the situation, an effective leader must be able to select and implement the style that will be most effective. This is known as situational leadership and involves diagnosing which style to use, adapting the style to meet the demands of the situation and communicating with those involved. Situational leadership styles can be divided into four techniques: S1 (telling), S2 (selling), S3 (participation), and S4 (delegating). S1 (telling) and S4 (delegating) are effective at crisis interventions. S1 (telling) and S3 (participation) tend to see members of the organization as either "good people" or "bad people". S2 (selling) and S3 (participation) work well with average groups. Situational leaders are flexible and can adapt to the needs and readiness of the group. For employee groups at the R1 or low level of readiness, the S1 or telling style is preferred. For R2 (low to moderate readiness) groups, selling (S2) should be used. For R3 (moderate to high readiness) groups, a participatory style (S3) of leaderships works the best. For groups at a high level of readiness (R4), a delegating style (S4) should be implemented.
  15. 15. Transformational Leadership Organizations are not static, they go through change. Effective leadership is particularly difficult when organizations are going through transformational changes. Transformation is caused by external rather than internal forces and involves substantial and discontinuous change to the shape, structure, and nature of the organization. It is caused by external, rather than internal forces. It is a deep, pervasive change that requires significantly different actions by the members. Studies of successful and unsuccessful organizational transformations have led to the identification of the particular leadership style that can effectively manage transformational change. This type of leadership, transformational, is also referred to as visionary, strategic or charismatic leadership. These leaders have (1) personal commitment to the transformation, (2) firmly and indisputably communicate the impossibility of maintaining the status quo, (3) communicate a clear and enthusiastic vision of what the organization could become, (4) identify and secure the support of key players and power holders, (5) acknowledge and effectively deal with resistance, (6) design and put into action an organization that can implement the vision, and (7) regularly communicate progress, setbacks, and achievements to all stakeholders.
  16. 16. The leader must assess the organization's readiness for change. Blanchard identifies appropriate transformational leadership strategies for each level of organizational readiness. In an OR-1 organization that is fixated, fragmented, and resistant, the leader should use an enforcing strategy (S1) such as coercive power. An OR-2 organization is inept but co- operative and concerned. The leader should use referent and reward power along with enabling strategies (S2). An OR-3 organization is perceptive but divided and ambivalent. Enlisting strategies (S3) and referent and reward power should in used. In an OR-4 organization that is versatile, integrated, and committed, an endorsing strategy (S4) and information power should be used. Definition of Terms Authority - legitimate power. Based on perception about the obligations and responsibilities associated with particular positions in an organization. Bureaucracy - administration of a "government" chiefly through bureaus and departments staffed with nonelected officials. Equality - equal access to educational services and opportunities Hierarchical Authority Structure - each higher office has control and supervision of a lower office. Structure assumes the shape of a pyramid.
  17. 17. Human Relations - attention to the social and psychological needs of workers. Leadership - the process of influencing the activities of an individual or a group in efforts toward goal achievement in a given situation. Leadership style - behavior pattern that a person exhibits when attempting to influence the activities of others. Liberty - a public value. Freedom to choose from among alternatives Organizational Theory - fundamental conceptualization of organizational structure and operational arrangements of schools i.e., classical, human relations, and open systems. Rational-legal authority - assumes existence of a formally established body of social norms designated to organize conduct for rational pursuit of specified goals. Scientific management - utilizing time and motion studies to enhance worker productivity (Frederick Taylor) Situational Leadership- selecting and implementing the most effective leadership style based on specific characteristics of the situation, group, and problem. System - a group of interacting elements forming a complex whole.
  18. 18. Technocracy - theoretical system of government and management based on principles devised and administered by scientists and professional technicians. Transformation - a vital organizational change caused by factors external to the organization that involves substantial and discontinuous change to the organization's shape, structure, and nature. Related Web Sites Equality and Education: School Choice: http// Hawthorne Studies http// Leadership http// McGregor: Principles of Management: http//˜russe/RussRP.htm Open Systems Theory: http//˜choich/open_system.html Organizational Theory: Center for Organizational Theory http//˜iir/cot/cot.html
  19. 19. Organizational Theory and Behavior http//˜DDavis/prinorg.htm Situational Leadership: http// Situational Leadership: Overview (28 slides) http// Taylor's Scientific Management http// Technocracy: http// z=1&pg=2&br=1 Transformational Leadership: ERIC Digest, Number 72 http// Transformational Leadership: A Prescription for Contemporary Organizations http// Transformational Leadership: Ethics, Character, and Authentic Transformational Leadership http// Weber and Bureaucracy
  20. 20. http// Weber, Max http//˜ddavis/weber.htm