Innovation in Educational Markets: An Organizational Analysis of Private Schools in Toronto

By Davies, Scott; Quirke, Linda | Catholic Education, March 2005 | Go to article overview

Innovation in Educational Markets: An Organizational Analysis of Private Schools in Toronto


Davies, Scott, Quirke, Linda, Catholic Education


This study examines whether new private schools are innovative, drawing on theories of markets and institutions. Choice advocates claim that markets spark innovation, while institutional theory suggests that isomorphic forces will limit novel school forms. Using qualitative data from third sector private schools in Toronto, three hypotheses about the impact of markets on educational organizations are examined: (a) they reverse tendencies toward isomorphism as schools develop client niches; (b) they allow schools to weaken their formal structures; and (c) they force schools to more closely monitor their effectiveness. Substantial evidence exists for the first hypothesis, partial evidence for the second hypothesis, but little evidence for the third. Overall, new private schools are characterized by: small classes, unique pedagogical themes, personalized treatment of clients, and some pragmatic responses to limited resources. Their operators sometimes feel restricted by parental demand, but are able to retain a loosely coupled structure by embracing consumerist understandings of accountability. This essay concludes with a discussion of implications for market theory.

INTRODUCTION: THIRD SECTOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS

This study offers an organizational analysis of third sector private schools in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Third sector schools are private schools that are neither religious nor elite. Private schools have long served religious and elite communities in Canada, but they are becoming increasingly differentiated. One in five Ontario private school students attends third sector schools. These schools are typically small, with enrollments of less than 50, and are located in humble locales, such as office buildings, old houses, or shopping plazas. They distinguish themselves with specialized pedagogy that attracts clients who do not seek prestigious name-brand education or religious orientations.

Do markets encourage schools to be innovative? Today, many market advocates decry the paucity of invention in public schools and celebrate the entrepreneurial dynamism of the private sector. Yet, such claims are rarely empirically grounded and often ignore the diversity of private schools. Established elite schools, as an example, embrace longstanding school forms and derive their prestige on the basis of tradition, not innovation. Likewise, religious private schools have historically mimicked mainstream public schools in order to secure legitimacy (Baker, 1992). Private schools are most likely to be innovative in relatively new markets. In the United States, charter schools would meet this requirement. However, in Ontario, where there is no charter school legislation, third sector private schools best exemplify such a market.

This sector offers a strategic vantage point for studying educational markets. While elite schools conform to historic images of patrician education, and while religious schools mix standard school forms with the doctrines of their respective communities, third sector schools are free to build their own identity and mandate. Lacking an established legacy, they are arguably the most likely to embrace innovations. Attracting parents who seek neither religion nor entree into elite networks, these schools may be motivated to embrace novel pedagogies. Moreover, they are closer to the market than are charter schools or magnet schools, since they are not organized through a public bureaucracy. Needing to comply only with bare-boned health and safety and curricular guidelines and the most minimal of inspections, these schools can innovate as they choose. Bound by few regulations, they represent a purer expression of market forces than do charter, voucher, or magnet schools.

STATING THE PROBLEM: EDUCATIONAL MARKETS AND ORGANIZATIONAL INNOVATION

Advocates of educational markets claim that private schools are more innovative and responsive than are public schools (Chubb & Moe, 1990; Clinchy, 2000; Hepburn, 2001; Lawton, 1995).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Innovation in Educational Markets: An Organizational Analysis of Private Schools in Toronto
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.