Analyzing Problems in Schools and School Systems: A Theoretical Approach

Analyzing Problems in Schools and School Systems: A Theoretical Approach

Analyzing Problems in Schools and School Systems: A Theoretical Approach

Analyzing Problems in Schools and School Systems: A Theoretical Approach

Synopsis

Although there are many textbooks in the field of educational administration describing various organizational theories, this text is unique in tying organizational theory explicitly and systematically to a well-formulated problem- analysis methodology. It provides particular examples of bureaucratic, political, and leadership theories as well as descriptions of two broader theoretical frameworks: Burrell and Morgan's conceptual matrix and systems thinking.

Special features include:

• a fully developed methodology for describing and documenting problems in schools;

• a systematic method for using different theoretical perspectives to analyze the causes of problems in schools;

• carefully formulated questions illustrating how different theoretical frameworks lead policy analysts to look at problems differently and to focus on different types and sources of information concerning their possible causes;

• substantial sample papers illustrating the methodology; and

• a range of illustrative organizational theories, amply described and succinctly grounded intellectually.

This book is directed toward students in organizational theory and problem analysis classes and their professors, as well as to school administrators seeking to examine their problems and policies from perspectives that go beyond personal experience.

Excerpt

We live in a world which is an impressive and irresistible mixture of sufficiencies, tight completenesses, order, recurrences which make possible prediction and control, and singularities, ambiguities, uncertain possibilities, processes going on to consequences as yet indeterminate. They are mixed not mechanically but vitally.... We may recognize them separately but we cannot divide them, for unlike wheat and tares they grow from the same root.

-- John Dewey

This book is directed toward an audience of students in organizational theory and problem analysis classes, and their professors, as well as to school administrators seeking to examine their problems and policies from perspectives that go beyond their own personal experience. Hopefully, the book will provide readers with a logical structure for describing, documenting, and analyzing organizational problems and methodological insights that go beyond those currently available in the literature.

Most importantly, the book explains and illustrates a methodology for describing, documenting, and analyzing organizational problems. The methodology is put forward in Part I, comprising the first four chapters. Chapter 1 previews the major elements of the methodology and includes a flow chart showing a 13-step process from identifying a high priority problem to targeting action recommendations to particular stakeholders. Chapter 2 discusses problem indicators, standards of comparison, and the importance of identifying and profiling stakeholders and decision makers. Chapter 3 moves from problem description to causal analysis. It provides a perspective on causal analysis, supplies guidelines for selecting appropriate conceptual frameworks to use, and employ selected conceptual frameworks to analyze the causes of organizational problems. Chapter 4 is the final chapter in the methodology section. It deals with the very practical task of developing an action strategy based on the causal analyses explained in chapter 3. Specific issues addressed include (a) drawing conclusions from particular theoretical analyses, (b) drawing conclusions across diverse theoretical analyses, (c) formulating and evalu-

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