Analyzing Problems in Schools and School Systems: A Theoretical Approach

By Alan Kibbe Gaynor | Go to book overview

1
Conceptual Framework and Overview

Knowledge of a science of organization and administration can never be a substitute for specific experience in a specific organization. The usefulness of the more general knowledge to the administrators of organization comes from the rational understanding it gives of behavior that is largely based on trial and error or repetitive experience. Its immediate practical use is limited. Its ultimate practical value is great, sharpening observation, preventing the neglect of important factors, giving the advantages of a more general language, and reducing the inconsistencies between behavior and its verbal description.

-- Chester Barnard ( 1947, p. xi)

Managers and administrators have a special responsibility for knowing about organizational problems and seeing that something gets done about them. 1 Decisions have to be made and resources mobilized to gain support for needed changes. Even for experienced administrators, thinking through problems, formulating sensible policy ideas, and galvanizing interest and support are not easy tasks.

Typically, administrators are under constant pressure; yet moving an organization is not something you do easily off the top of your head. Regardless of the problems to be addressed, you will achieve better results by following a clear and systematic line of reasoning, pursuing an established set of steps, and availing yourself extensively of other people's thinking. This means drawing fully on your own experience, not just tapping the surface of it. It means taking optimal advantage of the interests others have in the problems that concern you, of the commitment they bring to solving them, and of their special skills and resources. It also means

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1
The terms manager and administrator are used interchangeably in this book. The reason for this is that although functional distinctions have been drawn between them, often suggesting that managers have a broader vision and scope of responsibility than administrators, it is also true that manager is typically used in the private sector synonymously with the common use of administrator in the public sector, particularly in the public schools. Thus, both managers in the corporate context and public school administrators have responsibility for dealing with organizational problems and a commensurate need for organizational analysis skills.

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