Analyzing Problems in Schools and School Systems: A Theoretical Approach

By Alan Kibbe Gaynor | Go to book overview

ating potential solution strategies, and (d) targeting action recommendations to particular stakeholders.

Because the methodology of this book is theory-based, it is important that readers, in order to understand and practice the methodology, have available to them, within the covers of this book, substantive descriptions of selected organizational theories. Included in Part II are particular examples of bureaucratic (chapter 5), role (chapter 6), political (chapter 7), and leadership (chapter 8) theories.

Also included in Part II are descriptions of two broader theoretical frameworks. Chapter 9 delineates the major elements of Burrell and Morgan's conceptual matrix. The four quadrants of the matrix represent substantially different perspectives on organizational problems and decisions. These perspectives reflect differences in epistemological assumptions about objectivity and subjectivity as well as differences between radical and conservative points of view about the purposes and guiding assumptions of organizations. Chapter 10 discusses systems thinking and offers a methodological approach to viewing the causes of organizational problems developmentally and ecologically from a systems perspective. Such a perspective views reality in terms of circular causality, causal feedback loops, and the importance of time delays and nonlinear effects in the development of organizational problems over time. Problem solutions represent interventions in such developmental systems.

Each of the chapters presents an overview of the theory depicted and a description of its focus, major assumptions, and analytic elements. Examples of the analytic elements are given, questions are suggested for analyzing problems from the perspective of the theory portrayed in the chapter, and an outline is delineated for organizing a typical analytic report. The selected theories exemplify some of the 14 categories of theoretical thought represented in the extensive bibliography at the end of the book.

In Part III the reader finds two pairs of case examples prepared by students in the my organizational analysis classes and advanced policy seminars. The first pair of examples illustrates the problem-analyzing methodology using theoretical frameworks found in the social science literature. The second pair illustrates an approach to critiquing organizational decision making through the lenses of the four paradigms of Burrell and Morgan: functionalist, interpretivist, radical humanist, and radical structuralist.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I am grateful to Karl Clauset, Mark Shibles, and Mary Rice for their reviews of various manuscript renderings and to Clauset for his ideas related to systems thinking and system dynamics. I appreciate, too, the counsel of Judith Berg at the University of Northern Colorado, whose review of the manuscript for Lawrence

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