The paper is about a specific part of the Swedish governing system: the municipality, which has the responsibility of implementing national school goals. The starting point is an identified local governing chain including the chairman of the politically elected school board, the superintendent, principals and head teachers. It is the first link in this chain which is in focus, between chairmen and superintendents. The purpose of this paper is to investigate their role understanding and enactment: what roles do they have, formally and enacted? Is it a clear or blurred line between them? What can be seen as causing conflict or success?
The paper is part of a larger research project focussing on what happens when national policy meets local governing structures. The project as a whole has a mixed method design and includes surveys with superintendents, politicians and principals. It also includes interviews with chairmen of local school boards, superintendents and principals. In this paper the focus is on interviews made with politicians and superintendents in six (of 290) municipalities followed over time (including a political election between the authors visits). The municipalities are spread over the country, with shifting political majorities.
The authors identify that there seem to be a shared formal role understanding in that politicians are responsible for the what-side and superintendents for the how-side of the local work. The roles are, however, enacted in a blurred zone with role intrusion as an active component. What causes a conflict or not is if the two have a shared understanding of how to play the game. This makes the local work sensitive to changes on the positions. Success comes from a relationship built on trust and where there is a mutual understanding of how to work.
The study is built on a small selection of municipalities and must be complemented by further ones to be able to generalize the results. What it can say something about is, however, how actors in six different local settings enact the same kinds of assignments and if there are similarities and differences between their role enactment.
Although the study is built on a small selection of municipalities it is unique in that it follows interlinked actors over time, making it possible not only to discuss municipality stereotypes but study human relationships over time. This also makes it possible to discuss new aspects of governing chains.
Skott, P. (2014), "School boards and superintendents doing local curriculum work : Conflict or successful cooperation?", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 28 No. 7, pp. 842-855. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-08-2013-0126Download as .RIS
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