Understanding of assignment and responsibility through learning process within organizational change/development
Anette Oxenswärdh, Phd
Uppsala University /Campus Gotland
Cramérgatan 3, 621 67 Visby, Sweden
The starting point of this study is the changed governance of schools in Sweden. Decentralization has not only increased the freedom of schools but also responsibility at the different levels of the school system. This in turn has given greater scope for interpreting the assignment. In recent years, however, a certain return to regulation has been evident.
Theoretically the concept of responsibility is elucidated as a term in philosophy, organization theory, and psychology-education. Responsibility in school can be described as a relationship between the commissioner’s exaction of responsibility and the contrac- tor’s assumption of responsibility. This can cause uncertainty in matters of responsibility. Active school measures may be viewed as a way to clarify responsibility issues.
Two models of school development have been selected in order to study how they affect the school actors’ understanding of assignment and responsibility. Two case studies examine a number of conceptual dimensions that illustrate different aspects of the assumption of responsibility.
The results show that these two development models and the active measures to which they give rise shape in various ways the actors’ understanding of assignment and responsibility. These can be considered to place the emphasis on different parts of the control system. The Scope for Action Model emphasizes the role of the local school with the aid of a bottom-up strategy as regards the school’s assumption of responsibility. The Effective Schools Model emphasizes the political level in a more top-down strategy.
The main results show that the school development models contributed to increased cooperation between professionals, partly by exposing the organization and its boundaries, management, and different occupational roles. The cooperation exposes the obstacles but also the opportunities for change and development in the school’s own organization.
A further finding is that the school development models led to the exposure and creation of responsibility structures in the schools. Structures revealed included the organizational structure, management structures, communication and cooperation structures such as the teacher team and different kinds of development groups.
All these active measures furthered the individual and collective learning processes through which the professionals’ understanding of assignment and responsibility is (re)shaped. This understanding in turn constitutes an essential part of the professionals’ competence development and professional development.
The professionals’ autonomy is essential for increased commitment, motivation, and understanding. Proceeding from the professionals’ own needs when implementing de- velopment measures further increases their motivation and serves as a motor driving the work of development.
The learning process should be staged and designed as different arenas for more effectively satisfying the different needs of competence in the professionals. School development as learning should be continuous, with the aid of organization, support, leadership, and encouragement. School development should be the responsibility of all levels.
Key words: responsibility, accountability, understanding assignment and responsibility, learning, professional development