Notes from the field: Is corporate management the same as education management?

Once upon a time, yes. Education drew on management principles from industry. But the two have parted ways. That’s why you can expect the latest change management craze to double down on business solutions to solve education problems rather than the other way around. Why is this? Here is what the educational research says about management:

“Educational management as a field of study and practice was derived from management principles first applied to industry and commerce, mainly in the United States. Theory development largely involved the application of industrial models to educational settings. As the subject became established as an academic field in its own right, its theorists and practitioners began to develop alternative models based on their observation of, and experience in, schools and colleges. By the 21st century the main theories, featured in this chapter, have either been developed in the educational context or have been adapted from industrial models………………..”

Theories of Educational Management by Tony Bush

Here is a list of education management models from Theories of Educational Management by Tony Bush:

The formal model represents best practices in industry. It’s not hard to find research, it’s one of the oldest out there. As educational research matured it discovered corporate management models unable to keep pace with a diverse learning environment:

Structural, systems, bureaucratic, rational and hierarchical models constitute the formal models of educational management. These models assume that the structure of the organizations is hierarchical and predefined objectives are pursued based on a rational method. The authority and power of heads is the product of their formal positions and also these managers are responsible and accountable to sponsoring bodies for the operation and execution of agreed policies in their institutions (Bush, 2010). Formal models of educational management are linked with the managerial leadership style (Bush, 2010). This style of leadership has some assumptions such as concentration on execution of actions, tasks as well as activities proficiently as a means of facilitation of other organizational members activities, high degree of rationality in the behaviour of organizational members and allocation of authority and influence to formal positions based on the status of the positions within the organizational chart (Leithwood, Jantzi, & Steinbach, 1999). Moreover, managerial leadership, unlike most of the leadership styles, does not encompass vision as a core concept since it is concentrated on successfully management of existing activities rather than dreaming a better future for the educational organization (Bush, 2010).

A Review of Theories of Educational Management and Leadership Majid Ghasemy PhD Candidate (Educational Management), Faculty of Education, University Malaya Sufean Hussin Professor at the department of educational management, planning & Policy, Faculty of Education, University of Malaya

Like people who are famous, for no other reason than being famous, the formal model stands in the spot light. People have suspended reasonable doubt. So much for making an informed decision. Here is a critique of the formal model:

  • Formal objectives may have little operational relevance because they are often vague and general, because there may be many different goals competing for resources, and because goals may emanate from individuals and groups as well as from the leaders of the organization.
  • Formal models focus on the organization as an entity and ignore or underestimate the contribution of individuals. They assume that people occupy preordained positions in the structure and that their behaviour reflects their organizational positions rather than their individual qualities and experience.
  • A central assumption of formal models is that power resides at the apex of the pyramid. Principals possess authority by virtue of their positions as the appointed leaders of their institutions. This focus on official authority leads to a view of institutional management which is essentially top down. Policy is laid down by senior managers and implemented by staff lower down the hierarchy. Their acceptance of managerial decisions is regarded as unproblematic. Organizations with large numbers of professional staff tend to exhibit signs of tension between the conflicting demands of professionalism and the hierarchy. Formal models assume that leaders, because they are appointed on merit, have the competence to issue appropriate instructions to subordinates. Theories of Educational Management by Tony Bush

Education has the capability to create a learning space that can keep pace with smaller more agile companies. Agility in education means closing the gap between a management model and a leadership model with practical solutions. This is the new frontier that corporations have failed to acknowledge – Fut