The purpose of this paper is to clarify the concept of “school quality management culture” in relation to the general notion of “school organizational culture” and to review empirical studies that scrutinised the relation between organisational culture and quality management practices in education and business.
The paper builds on an extensive literature review that was conducted as part of a project, which intends to develop an instrument to diagnose schools’ quality management culture in initial vocational education.
The paper demonstrates that school quality (management) culture exists and differs from school (organisational) culture. A pluralist view of culture and a differentiation perspective are more appropriate to explain the complex relationship between culture and quality practices than unified or integrated approaches. However, they also pose a challenge to empirical studies because they call for longitudinal and multi-method research designs.
The reciprocal relation between quality practices and school culture asks for a longitudinal and comparative research design. The findings also suggest using multi-perspective and multi-method approaches, and recommend cooperation between different but comparable fields such as education, health or social work.
This paper offers a literature base and a theoretical model to improve existing data collection tools to support quality management in vocational and other educational institutions.
Apart from the ideological question on whether “culture” is something an organisation is or an organisation has, the paper examines the question as to whether more “quality”-conducive cultures can be discerned from less conducive ones in schools. Furthermore, it deliberates on whether an organisation’s quality management culture is part of, or different from, an organisation’s overall culture and presents models to guide empirical analyses.
Markowitsch, J. (2018), "Is there such a thing as school quality culture? In search of conceptual clarity and empirical evidence", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 25-43. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAE-07-2015-0026Download as .RIS
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