CHANGING A SCHOOL ORGANIZATION: A PRIVATE SCHOOL CASE STUDY
Due to contextual demands, organizations face the constant need to adjust and adapt in order to maintain their stability. School organizations are not an exception and have to answer to these demands to guarantee their quality, efficacy and sustainability. Very little literature has addressed the school as organizations. However, analysing the educational environment from an organizational point of view could allow a better understanding on why school organizations change and how they strive for educational efficiency. This paper focuses on the main results of an organizational diagnosis aimed to identify the needs for a planned change intervention in a school based on a private charitable organization.
Because an organizational diagnosis is a complex process, the choice of a theoretical model is critical, as it determines the type of information to be collected, it guides the interpretation of that information, and defines the course of action. In this project, we have taken Nadler and Tushman’s Organizational Congruence Model (1980) as a basic guideline. This model assumes the organization as a whole system, whose performance is contingent on the congruent adjustment level between their primary components.
Therefore, we searched for incongruent sources, with special focus on the strategy and the fitness of the processes under internal and external environment pressure and demands. In order to get a wider vision of the organization, we carried out an organizational diagnosis using methodological triangulation, with qualitative and quantitative procedures. Following an action-research methodological framework, results of data analysis were debated with the participants and the school director. Data collection started by analyzing the school documentation, followed by individual interviews with the school director and general director. Subsequently, questionnaires intended to assess the organizational culture were applied to the school staff. A focus group was also carried out to understand the way the individuals respond to each others perceptions and how they construct shared meaning. The use of this method also served to involve the organizational members in the change process. Finally, an adapted force-field analysis has been conducted to enhance the participants’ willingness and commitment to the change process and to mitigate the resistance associated to it.
Results show that a perceived need for change exists. Specifically, participants’ wish for a clearer school strategy aligned with the mission of the organization in which it is integrated. Moreover, results indicate the need for organizational changes towards a more appropriate resource distribution, a non-bureaucratic culture that may foster potential innovation, the implementation of a regular practice of feedback on work practices, and the enhancement of the organizational communication between departments. As orientation for change, we recommend an incremental change process, based on a cooperative thinking approach on the strategy and objectives of the school, and using the current review of the school main documents as a chance to redefine the management strategy. Furthermore, effective ways to assess and publicize school outcomes, and a systematic practice of performance assessment are also needed.