The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of Swedish school leaders’ relational and management work orientation, in terms of both techno and socio structure dimensions. The background is the neoliberal policy regime, underpinned by OECD and PISA, and an increased focus on school leaders’ management work.
In total, 26 school leaders in a Swedish municipality were interviewed, and their responses were analysed to score their expressed orientations in terms of techno structure (object and formal) and socio structure (person and symbolic) dimensions.
The school leaders had predominantly formal work orientations, expressed in comments about organising teams, scheduling teacher meetings, shaping working routines in meetings, making plans and (in some cases) creating an infrastructure. Scores for object (goal and result) and symbolic dimensions of their management orientation were low.
The results suggest a need to increase Swedish school leaders’ attention to object aspects, and both person and symbolic aspects of the formal or organising dimension, of their work. They also indicate the importance of establishing and communicating core symbols in compulsory schooling, like democracy and equity, to avoid external accountability pressures instrumentally shaping schools’ management.
In contrast to previous research, the analysis indicates that Swedish school leaders have a predominantly formal and organising work orientation, frequently with little clear goal and results orientation, or attention to professional needs and motivations of the teachers (important aspects of person orientation).
Blossing, U. and Liljenberg, M. (2019), "School leaders’ relational and management work orientation", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 276-286. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-07-2017-0185Download as .RIS
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