University of Eastern Finland (FINLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 31-39
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
The purpose of this paper is to focus on and analyze the role of headmaster in innovation practices in the context of Finnish school service. I describe these innovation practices through narratives concerning innovation processes in two different comprehensive schools. One school has created new kind of school model and course of action. The school wants to be some kind of action centre in a village offering total school service for villagers. Other school has endeavoured to enhance its education service and activities in very challenging school area. The school emphasizes some subjects, has established novel learning path for pupils who are in danger to drop out. Furthermore, regarding the vision of the school it aims to be the most attractive school in the area. In addition it tries to find new ways to cooperate with parents. My paper highlights, especially, the role of headmasters has been pivotal and they have worked as ‘champions’ in these emerging service innovations.

Despite increasing studies focusing on service innovations, we still have few research concerning innovations in schools or in public services, in the first place. Hartley (2005) has studied innovation literature focusing on service innovation in public sector. She states innovation is not just a new idea, novelty in action or new ideas that work, but a new practice. She especially underlines the emerging process of innovations: In the post-war period there has been substantial innovation, which becomes more evident in reflecting on how innovations arise. She points out, concerning the difference in services between private and public sector, in the private sector, the focus is on managers and staff as sources of innovation, both working inside the organization, and networking outside it. However, for the public sector, addition to managers and staff, we also have to consider the role of policy-makers and policy advisors in the innovation process.

I studied lived experiences and gathered my ethnographic data during the year 2009. I understand the reality is multivoiced (Denzin 1997) and truth is layered in the sociomaterial world where practices, things and practitioners are entwined together (Sandberg & Tsoukas 2011), thus, I used many methods (interviews, notebooks, curriculums, minutes etc.) in the study. The purpose of this study is to focus on and understand headmaster’s role in these emerging innovation practices. Two Finnish schools were studied in this paper and the paper endeavours to answer the question: What is the meaning of headmaster’s role in emerging innovation practices in the context of Finnish schools.
The paper points out headmasters worked as a champion or ‘godfather’ in studied innovation practices. The headmaster’s role was pivotal in these emerging innovations. They, inter alia, had clear vision and believed in and supported the novel idea, gathered information, cooperated with politicians and staff, constructed networks; moreover, they put at risk of their status and position in the process of emerging innovations.
Acknowledgement: This research has been supported by the strategic funding of the University of Eastern Finland.
Service innovation, headmaster, practice, ethnography.