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In the third collegial phase, the participants committed to the proposed solution attempt to persuadeless active members to accept the compromise reached during the political stage. The solutions are tested against criteria ofacceptability and feasibility and may result in minor changes. Eventually this process should lead to agreed policy outcomes and adegree of commitment to the decision.

The final phase is the formal or bureaucratic stage during which agreed policy may be subject to modification inthe light of administrative considerations. The outcome of this period is a policy which is both legitimate and operationallysatisfactory (Bush, 2003, p. 193).

Theodossin (1983, p. 88) links the subjective to the formal or systems model using an analytical continuum. Heargues that a systems perspective is the most appropriate way of explaining national developments while individual and subunitactivities may be understood best by utilizing the individual meanings of participants:

Theodossin’s analysis is interesting and plausible. It helps to delineate the contribution of the formal andsubjective models to educational management theory. In focusing on these two perspectives, however, it necessarily ignores thecontribution of other approaches, including the cultural model, which has not been incorporated into any of the syntheses appliedto education

The Enderud (1980), and Davies and Morgan (1983), models are valuable in suggesting a plausible sequentiallink between four of the major theories. However, it is certainly possible to postulate different sets of relationships between themodels. For example, a collegial approach may become political as participants engage in conflict instead of seeking to achieveconsensus. It is perhaps significant that there have been few attempts to integrate the management models since the 1980s.

Using theory to improve practice

The six models present different approaches to the management of education and the syntheses indicate a few ofthe possible relationships between them. However, the ultimate test of theory is whether it improves practice. There should be littledoubt about the potential for theory to inform practice. School managers generally engage in a process of implicit theorising indeciding how to formulate policy or respond to events. Facts cannot be left to speak for themselves. They require the explanatoryframework of theory in order to ascertain their real meaning.

The multiplicity of competing models means that no single theory is sufficient to guide practice. Rather,managers need to develop“conceptual pluralism”(Bolman&Deal, 1984, p. 4) to be able to select the most appropriate approach toparticular issues and avoid a unidimensional stance:“Managers in all organizations . . . can increase their effectiveness and theirfreedom through the use of multiple vantage points. To be locked into a single path is likely to produce error andself-imprisonment”(p. 4).

Conceptual pluralism is similar to the notion of contingent leadership. Both recognize the diverse nature ofeducational contexts and the advantages of adapting leadership styles to the particular situation rather than adopting a“one size fits all”stance. Appreciation of the various models is the starting point for effective action. It provides a“conceptual tool-kit”for the manager to deploy as appropriate in addressing problems and developing strategy.

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Source:  OpenStax, Organizational change in the field of education administration. OpenStax CNX. Feb 03, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10402/1.2
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