Understanding Educational Leadership: People, Power and Culture

By Hugh Busher | Go to book overview

6 Creating cultures
Facilitating engagement

Leaders and the construction of cultures

Cultures in societies, communities and organizations are constructed by their members and manifested in the symbolic, practical, linguistic and interpersonal interactions of their members and in the social structures that are constructed, upheld and modified by them. Sub-communities or subgroups in an organization, such as departments in a school, have their own sub-cultures that, although reflecting many of the facets of the culture of the whole organization, also have their own particular foci and perspectives. Holliday (2005) distinguishes between sub-cultures and small cultures to indicate the autonomy of cultures that communities or groups construct, a point that is returned to later in this chapter. Hopkins (2001) perceives culture as underlying and surrounding all the actions that go on in schools. Sergiovanni (1992) perceives the shaping of culture as the key function of leadership. Schein (1992) describes organizational culture as the social glue that holds an organization together, or more accurately, that holds together the people in an organization (in schools, that of course means staff, students, governors and parents).

In this post-modern world, Harrison (1994) asserts, there is a need to have a critical ethical perspective on educational leadership and management rather than a narrowly economic one. Ethical issues are involved in every decision that is taken by leaders, be they teachers or school principals, as they struggle to meet the competing demands on them. Greenfield (1993) talks about the moral complexity that flows inevitably through administrative action and sees the central realities of educational administration being human values. Values, which are at the heart of the cultures that are constructed by communities or sub-communities (schools, departments, identifiable groups of students), lead to action in everyday life and in educational administration. So institutions like schools, which Sergiovanni (1994) considers as much communities as organizations, are

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