This essay was first published as Chapter 9, "Controlling the School: Institutionalization"
in Gary K. Clabaugh & Edward G. Rozycki Understanding Schools: the Foundations of Education (1990) NewYork: Harper & Rowe.

edited 9/20/18

See prior essay, School Images: expectations & controversites

Controlling the School: Institutionalization

…the idea of unlimited… growth, more and more until everyone is saturated with wealth, needs to be seriously questioned on at least two counts: the availability of basic resources and … the capacity of the environment to cope with the degree of interference implied. -- E. F. Schumacher [1]




Discipline and Authority

Authority and Power

Tradition, Uncertainty & Deference

Knowledge and Charisma


Informal Control

Different Modes of Control

Control as Command

Control as Cause

Control as Rationale


The Functions of Policy

The Costs and Benefits of Policy

Ritual, Program and Treaty

The Teacher as Technician

Formality and Efficiency

Technical Problems: some perplexing examples

Evaluating with Grades

Special Programs: who is not normal?

Public School Textbooks


Products of Schooling: Substantial and Symbolic

Organizational Environments

Faith vs. Evaluation


  Different implementation models of the school locate power at different sites in the organizational structure. Now we will look more closely at authority, control and policy. Depending upon our expectations for the school, they relate to power in very different ways. Next we consider whether a technical notion of production jibes with the realities of teaching practice. How much like a well-run factory is the school?

  Schooling is not necessarily education. This is crucially important in understanding a major development in American schooling: institutionalization. We will see that institutionalization occurs when concern in an organization shifts from efficiency to formality. Seen from one point of view, institutionalization is an attempt to reconstruct the Temple, a moral community, from the Factory. From another point of view, institutionalization is the sacrifice of productive activities to political pressures.


  A large school district in the Eastern United States spends $20 million dollars a year auditing $3 million in discretionary funds given to principals.[2] The public scandal of misuse of funds by a principal some years back makes top school officials feel particularly vulnerable on the issue. Although we can understand the desire for school officials to be above reproach, does it make sense to spend $17 million a year to guard against the rather remote possibility that a principal will embezzle petty cash?

  The reality is that the city council, which controls school district funding, resists budget requests with the argument that the school is not administered well financially. With budget requests for the district approaching a billion dollars, their criticisms excite a wide audience. Here is power and control unrecognized by the Temple image of the school! So the audit money is spent, although a standard audit is not a cost effective means of control. Its virtue is its impartiality. In deference to the Town Meeting, the resources of the Factory are sacrificed to maintain the purity of the Temple.

Image and Authority

  In the essay, "The School as Organization," we saw that our images or models of the school varied depending upon whether we considered expectations or implementation. Within those dimensions we considered how power is distributed in the school organization. We will return to the expectation models in this chapter to show that authority, control and policy vary depending upon the image of the school. We will see that for the Temple, authority derives primarily from tradition. For the Factory, authority derives from knowledge of causes. For the Town Meeting, authority is based on power. Controlling the school will be seen to be a substantially different process, depending upon the image of the school that is considered.

Discipline and Authority

  In the 19th Annual Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, the greatest problem believed to be facing community schools, after drug abuse, was lack of discipline.[3] Perhaps this is so. But there are two importantly different conceptions of discipline we should take care to distinguish: the discipline of cause [4] and the discipline of form. They differ in the reasons given for a command:

the discipline of cause: Do it this way! Why? Because it works.

the discipline of form: Do it this way! Why? Because it's right.

Children have little trouble understanding the discipline of cause. They will happily go along with it if there is something they want to learn how to do. When adults complain about discipline, it's generally the discipline of form that's at issue.

  The discipline of form and ideas of deference and esteem are bound together. There is an intimate connection between authority and what many people perceive as an important part of discipline: showing deference to particular people. When adults worry about discipline in the schools, they worry whether their children will come to esteem those things they, as adults, esteem.

  It is important to realize that the role of the teacher is different in these two cases. For the discipline of cause, the teacher is a guide or a coach. For the discipline of form, he or she is a socializer, a molder of character. Clearly, the discipline of form is a concern of the Temple; the discipline of cause, a primary concern of the Factory. Conceptions of authority and control will vary with these images.

  Let's look at the relation of power and authority and examine what the sources of authority are for the different image of the school. These have an important bearing on the "problem" of discipline.

Authority and Power

The ability to exercise power may, of course, be a necessary condition for the exercise of authority. It may also be a ground of entitlement as in the old saying, "no legitimacy without power." But a necessary condition for the exercise of authority or a ground of entitlement to it should not be confused with what "authority" means. (See Benn and Peters [5])

  Power rests on resources and the influence they confer; authority rests on consensus.[6] ultimately, upon assent. To have power is to be able to act despite lack of consensus. To have authority is to be conceded a decisionmaking role. It is common to muddle these distinctions, but the maxim, "Might does not make right" expresses ancient yet accurate wisdom. In our terms this translates to "Power does not confer authority."

  Tyrants presume that might makes right. But power, by itself, does not confer authority, although it may inspire fear. A gun in your hand gives you power. It may frighten others into conceding you a decision making role: they obey when you say, "Hands up!" But your "authority" such as it is has no moral status. Its sole support is physical force and will disappear with your gun. However, if you hold the gun long enough, people may adapt traditions that legitimate your authority so that it is recognized even when the gun is no longer visible.

  The other side of the story is that recognized authority may have little power. Educators are often given authority with no power: they are assigned a decisionmaking role but are not provided the resources to accomplish the job. Authority alone does not suffice to get the job done.

Tradition, Uncertainty and Deference

  Authority may be conceded by someone to elders, teachers, or policemen, for example, as a result of having been socialized at both the formal and informal levels of culture to showing deference. Authority is acknowledged through displays of deference. These traditions of displaying deference are a primary basis for authority.

  Who are your authorities? Those people you habitually show deference to whether that habit of deference has its beginnings in custom or fear. One source of the "discipline problem" mentioned earlier may be that students are not acculturated into the forms of deference behavior that certain people in the school expect of them.

  Granted that we can be socialized at both the formal and informal levels of culture in deference behavior toward certain people. But ought we show them that deference? This question pushes for a rational basis to support the authority of the Temple. It dismisses the consensus that forms a moral community. This question also estranges us from that community, making it an object of investigation rather than a forum of participation. It leads us from the Temple to philosophy.

  Some theorists suggest that where traditions of deference are weak, authority ultimately derives from mystery. Mystery supports command. Military historian John Keegan comments

Orders derive much of their force from the aura of mystery, more or less strong, with which the successful commander, more or less deliberately, surrounds himself; the purpose of such mystification is to heighten the uncertainty which ought to attach to the consequences of disobeying him. The taskmaster who eschews mystification, who makes himself, his behavior and his responses familiar to his subordinates, must then evoke compliance either by love or by fear. But love and fear … are ultimately selflimiting in effect.[7]

In the language of organization theory, mystery is called "uncertainty." Slogans which incorporate unanalyzed concepts such as "the pursuit of Truth", "improving American competitiveness" and "strengthening democracy" call up ideas which are mysteries to the great majority of those who concede them authority. So it is that the most materialistic philosophies invoke uncertainty in much the same manner as the most otherworldly religions. What distinguishes them are their approaches to consensus. We will look more carefully at this elsewhere. It is enough for now to note that those things which allay our most basic uncertainties we concede to be (or are acculturated to accept as) our basic authorities. If someone can manipulate these uncertainties, their power over us is substantial.

  Now, uncertainty (or "mystery"} is not merely a psychological reaction by people who feel uncertain about something. We are all uncertain about the existence of plant life in other galaxies, but we do not feel any compulsion to concede someone authority on that basis. What seems to be necessary to conceding deference, is the possibility of suffering some sanction. This possibility tends to create an exaggerated perception of its likelihood.[8]. What we fear, we believe more likely to happen. So we are disposed to treat with deference anyone we think has the power to control such sanctions. Basically, we hedge against a potential evil by controlling our own behavior instead of trying to control the threat.

  Some cross cultural research indicates that avoidance of uncertainty correlates directly with "power distance," the readiness to concede authority to persons with power.[9] People who need to know in detail "who can boss who" are most likely to accept something "because the boss said so." This supports the connection we are making here between uncertainty and authority.

  An "authority", therefore, may be someone towards whom we show esteem on the chance that some possible threat will be averted. If students are neither socialized to show deference behavior, e.g. "good manners", nor fear sanctions, or if they believe the teacher not to have the power of sanction, how can we expect them to show the discipline of form? "Discipline problems" may be no more -- and no less -- than an indication of cultural pluralism. And if schools pursue or support cultural pluralism, they may well have to look for other bases of authority than tradition or the mysteries of rank.[10]

Knowledge and Charisma

  There are other bases of authority. They are knowledge and charisma. Once the basic goals are set, authority in the Factory is the authority of knowledge. To recognize someone as possessing knowledge is to concede authority to those who can produce. This tends to disperse authority (and often, power) throughout the organization. The distinction between authority and power is again underscored.

  Why it is that in our pluralistic society, authority is conceded to the most charismatic among us? Celebrities of all kinds regale us with answers to deep questions. Charisma relies upon individual ability to psychologically manipulate other people, not actually upon tradition or implied threat of sanction.-- although it may invoke both tradition and threat to create a mood.

  It is important to realize that the authority of knowledge may conflict with the authority of tradition or charisma. No small part of the sex education controversy is that a technical approach to sex is seen by many parents as a threat to the esteem they wish their children to demonstrate for certain systems of belief and attitude. Knowledge threatens to "demystify" certain traditional authorities, undercutting the esteem thought to be their due. Remember, what Adam ate was the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

  This brings us to a consideration of the main source of political authority. It is power, i.e. control of resources, including such resources as charisma, skill at intimidation or persuasion, etc., together with the uncertainty about its focus. Power is not authority, but it can generate authority by compelling a practical consensus about patterns of deference. However, such coerced political authority may be criticized as immoral or illegal.

  It is important here to reiterate an important point: power derives from resources, but authority depends upon consensus on the concession of esteem and the decisionmaking roles that go with it. Powerholders of all kinds want us to ignore the distinction between power and authority. But there are two important consequences of muddling the difference:

• if we treat power as conferring authority in and of itself, we undermine our ability to criticize power as illegitimate; teachers could not, for example, legitimately resist racist school boards.

• if we treat authority as a kind of power, we undermine our ability to criticize delegations of authority as empty gestures, failing to provide resources. Being appointed a teacher would be sufficient to raise kids' test scores.

  Both religion and philosophy can provide a basis for the concession of authority. These invoke traditions of esteem or acculturations of deference behavior that can generate authority in the Town Meeting. (The Declaration of Independence, for example, invokes "unalienable Rights" -- a mysterious concept --as a basis for political authority.)



In many books, including this one, you will find charts such as figure 9.1. They indicate the formal structure of an organization. [12] What do they mean?

Figure 9.1

This a chart of formal control. It starts at the top and flows down. Such charts are generally used to indicate lines of authority. They are generally constructed as an administrative aid. As a result, they tend to muddle the distinction between power and authority in order to persuade compliance from lower levels. We can avoid this confusing of power and authority if we take such charts to be laying out lines of authority. In this one, for example, the governor's authority is derived from the state constitution. The authority of the state board of education derives from governor, etc.

Informal Control

  Many organizational theorists distinguish formal from informal control.[13] Formal control is official authority. Informal control is power to influence, in an unofficial way, what gets done . If we were to indicate on the chart of formal control how influence really flows, our chart might look like figure 9.2.

Figure 9.2

Note that influence flows in two directions as the arrows show. Even the state constitution can be influenced through the legislature (not shown on this chart) from lower sources. Newberg and DeLone comment on control in a large school system:

Neither the board nor the top administrators of a large school district have ability to control what happens in other layers of the system. They may shift marginally some allocations of resources; may block some thing from happening; they may set instructional standards, revise curriculum, or launch teacher training programs. But with the possible exception of improving the quality of professional staff appointed to key positions ..., their support and official actions, while often necessary to instructional change, are not sufficient. The normal processes of policy making, planning and management do not constitute a strategy for instructional changes in a looselycoupled bureaucratic system owned by the employees. The system adapts to such processes but it is not changed by them.[14]

Different Modes of Control

  The nature of control depends upon the school image under consideration. For the Temple, control is command. For the Factory, control is cause. For the Town Meeting, it is rationale.

  These distinctions have a very practical import. Principals and teachers are often judged as good or bad depending upon whether they have things "under control." Is the school under control? If so, we have a good principal. Is the class under control? If so, good teacher! The reality, however, may have less to do with being a good principal or a good teacher than with having good luck. If you have no causal control over events so that all you can do is issue commands and hope, or rationalize after the fact, then you are indeed a hostage to fortune.

Control as Command

In the beginning was the Word…(St.John1,1)

  Only in the most egalitarian groups does the leadership help implement commands. Every organization tends to be a Temple with respect to the way its leadership controls: leaders command and the mystery of command gives the spoken word the appearance of cause. The distinction between command and implementation mirrors the distinction between authority and power. That a divide between the two is possible is caught in the saying, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." If this distinction did not reflect a reality, homework would never be undone and grades would always be in on time.

  When we look at formal control charts it is important to understand what they do not indicate. Nothing put into a state constitution guarantees that a governor will behave in a certain way. No directive from the governor guarantees specific behavior from a member of a state board of education. And so on down the line. Neither the written nor the spoken word is a cause in and of itself. It must be supported by an intricate social organization.

  Many of us tend to overestimate the power of command. All events in an organization, we convince ourselves, are commandable, thus controllable. So it is that the expectation develops that if there is a social problem, say, drug abuse, school authorities need only command an appropriate curriculum and the problem is addressed, if not already on the road to solution.

Control as Cause

  In the factory, control is cause. If you can't produce results, you don't have control. March and Olsen point out that there is no causal justification for supervision (which they call "attention structures") if frontline decisions are necessary to keep things working.

As a result, we would expect symbolic, educational and traditional factors to rise in relative importance...The definition of attention structures under conditions of ambiguity will be somewhat more attentive to discovering and communicating meaning, and somewhat less to decision efficiency.[15]

In other words, ambiguous school goals and the technical expertise of teachers make supervision less causal and more ceremonial. This ties into the "discipline problem" in the following way: if school goals are ambiguous then what is demanded of students is the discipline of form, rather than the discipline of cause. Are students learning? becomes less important than Are students behaving? Consequently, supervision shifts its focus from teaching technique to class control.

  Administrative control and technical control are distinct and not infrequently in conflict. In highly politicized societies such as China during the Cultural Revolution or Kampuchea under Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge technical control was sacrificed for uniformity in political command. The technological, economic and educational consequences were devastating. But these are only extreme examples of the commonplace tradeoff between what is thought to be socially or morally desirable and what is technically possible. To recall an example from Chapter 2: think of how highly we could motivate students if each school had a torture chamber and a brothel! But only if the ends justified any means.

  Below we will examine the extent to which the school is a Factory to see whether control in the school is a matter of knowledge of causes.

Control as Rationale

  We often try to understand people's behavior as determined by "socialization," or "culture" or "community norms." In a similar vein, organization theorists talk of "premise setting." by which they mean socialization within an organization to a way of thinking that prevents serious challenge to that organization. Charles Perrow comments:

(Organization theorists do not)…measure the more powerful and subtle form of control found in premise setting.… We are content to speak of socialization, or culture, or community norms, thus making it both sanitary and somehow independent of the organization. But we could just as well label premise setting as indoctrination, brainwashing, manipulation or false consciousness. [16]

  The nature of control in the political arena is done through premise setting which provides rationales. Rationales are narrative patterns which structure what people accept as reasons for acting. The informal culture of the organization works to restrict the very possibilities of reasoning by inculcating rules about what may and may not be brought up for discussion. For example, in many schools, particularly those without standard pay scales, discussion of salaries is taboo. Not only is such discussion frowned upon, but any attempts to determine how people are remunerated may be criticized as "unprofessional." This, of course, benefits some at the expense of others.

  Wasting others' time is one of the ritual displays of superior rank in our culture. But it is rationalized as a display of good will. For example, premise setting prevents criticism of superiors who use meeting time to ramble on about personal interests. For example, if a peer were to preface a report by talking about his vacation or his hobbies, most people would complain that he was wasting their time. Doesn't he realize they have better things to do? But if the boss does the same thing, he or she is merely "being one of the guys." By mere display, powerholders within an organization come to define for their inferiors what acceptable powerholderbehavior is. It takes a courageous person to invoke other authorities to bring them to task. In many organizations, "whistleblowers" lose their jobs.

  If competition within an organization is not to escalate into a costly conflict, the use of power has to be rationalized so that all parties can appear to have been fairly treated. Premise setting helps remove many of the bases of criticism so that there are socially acceptable explanations available to support any change. So, we may be told, people who have "higher level" jobs deserve more pay because even though they may appear to work less, they "bear more responsibility." Symbolic benefits are stressed where substantial ones are not well--distributed.

  Premises of action are part of the informal culture of groups. Premise setting is generally done indirectly. No one stands up and declares, "These are the premises from which we will reason in this organization!" First of all, to do so would be to invite inspection, even criticism of the premises. What happens is that premises are developed through a tradition of rationales.

  Rationales are stories, explanations that are accepted because they give insight, save face, are backed up by power, etc. and become part of a network of precedents upon which organizational decision is justified. Rationales may be causal explanations which have predictive power. Or they may be after the fact rationalizations that give an appearance of intelligence to what was in fact a haphazard, garbage can decision process. Corporate researchers Deal and Kennedy comment,

People tell stories to gain power and influence -- and because they enjoy doing it. Storytellers are in a powerful position because they can change reality. Storytellers simply interpret what goes on in the company -- but to suit their own perceptions. And what is power anyway but the ability to influence peoples perceptions -- without their realizing it, of course. … The tales that storytellers tell, like myths in a tribal setting, explain and give meaning to the workaday world.[17]

  In Chapter 19 we will examine in detail the mechanism of premisesetting using rationales. We will see that the structure of rationales is remarkably universal. Indeed, the fact that the procedures developed in this book can be used among people who recognize even conflicting authorities mentioned in Chapter 3, from science to religion to tarot cards, is an indication of the broad consensus that exists on what rational action is.

  It is important to understand that constructing rationales is not manipulating causes. Very few participants in the Town Meeting may have causal power for any length of time. But everyone needs to understand their behavior as reasonable within that context: they do what they have to in order to make the best of the situation. This is their rationale and the extent of their control.

  Providing rationales is done in even the most exploitative situations. Teams of professional swindlers will have a member whose function it is to "cool the mark out", i.e. convince the victim that it is in their best interests to not make a fuss.[18] In schools, too, a similar kind of rationalization occurs. Teachers want students to obey. So they ask them to "cooperate". But cooperation, unlike obedience, presumes common goals which the students may in fact not have with their teachers. [19]


  Policy manuals: Don't bother. If they're general, they're useless. If they're specific, they're how to manuals expensive to prepare and revise. …The only people who read policy manuals are goldbricks and martinets. The goldbricks memorize them so they can say (1) "That's not in this department," or (2) "It's against company policy," The martinets use policy manuals to confine, frustrate, punish and eventually drive out of the organization every imaginative, creative, adventuresome woman and man.
Robert Townsend, Up the Organization [20]

  Here is a true story. In a large urban school district, the principal of a high school called together his best, most creative teachers to develop new ideas and programs for the next year's reorganization of the high school. Formerly admitting only tenth through twelfth graders, the school would now accept ninth graders. The present high dropout rate was a problem and there was great concern among the staff that the new students find the school an interesting place to come and to stay in until graduation. After many months of extra effort a series of proposals were presented. Every single item was rejected. They were "against school district policy."

  Policy is often thought to be a set of general rules of operation for an organization. It is distinguished from procedures in that it addresses more directly the goals publicly espoused by members of the organization. Recall from Chapter Two the characterization by Elmore and McLaughlin of policy as abstract, often not useful to solving concrete problems, and in conflict with practice. Policies are usually slogans. A formal control chart indicating lines of downward authority from goals through policies to procedures is illustrated in figure 9.3:

Figure 9.3

The Functions of Policy

  What are policies for? Why not jump from goals to procedures? If we recall some of the basic internal conflicts of a complex organization, we can begin to understand how policy functions. Remember that organizations tend to have conflicts of the following sort

a. following policy vs. sensitivity to client need,

b. delegating authority vs. pursuing authorized goals,

c. process focus vs. product focus of activities, and

d. power vs. morale.

Policy addresses itself to these conflicts. in the following way.

• It restricts the discretion of members of the organization.

• It sets priorities among conflicting goals and procedures.

• It emphasizes and defines the flow of authority.

• It depersonalizes organizational discipline.

We can expect policy to decrease organizational sensitivity, suppress the pursuit of unauthorized goals, be processoriented and emphasize power over morale. These may seem like heavy costs, but policy has its benefits also. Let's look at some of these.

The Benefits of Policy

  Depending upon a person's situation in an organization, policy has different costs and benefits. If we distinguish between the powerholders of the organization, the implementers and others, we will see that benefits for one group do not necessarily mean benefits for the others.

  The benefits for powerholders is that policy restricts negotiation. They can dismiss pleas for special consideration by saying, "that's against policy" without having to be responsible for a personal decision. Policy also tends to reinforce their position as powerholders while obscuring the realities of that power. Policy, is, after all, made by powerholders, even if it is afterwards treated as though it were divinely inspired and written in stone.

  But policy can be used by implementers and lowers against powerholders. Policy reduces uncertainty by stating publicly commitments to which powerholders may be held accountable. It also reduces the scope within which powerholders can exercise favoritism. Policies may be supported by lowers as a sign of fairness.

  For implementers the benefits of policy are that commitments are made clear, priorities are set and the scope of personal decision is restricted. They, too, can refuse a request on the grounds that it is against policy, rather than having it be seen as a personal denial. But policy has its costs, too. It reduces their independence and the scope of their professional decision.

  For lowers,.the benefits of policy have already been mentioned: reduction of uncertainty and the promotion of fairness. Its costs are that it obscures the relations of power that determine who is a powerholder, an implementer or a lower. In particular, it obscures the why of these arrangements.

  The benefits of policy to one group may be costs to others. The costs of policy to one group may be benefits to others. Figure 9.4 indicates how this may work:

Figure 9.4

Note again how what are benefits for one group may be costs for another.

Ritual, Program and Treaty

  The power of policy over spoken command rests on an ancient magic. The written word seems more substantial, more constant, more real. Linguistic scholar KarlHeinz Osterloh comments:

  In developing societies…what is written is … associated with absolute truth. Since both context and the form of texts are in principle solemn, holy, and incontestable, it follows that language learning becomes very difficult when it comes to analyzing a text and testing its validity. In order to do so a student will have to go through a series of new social experiences. He has to learn that in Western civilization something written is something man made, and that everything written is to be seen as an individual presentation or personal opinion which can be contested. [21]

  An examination of the costs and benefits of policy indicate that policy is a device for dealing with conflict. To the extent that policy can be distinguished from the morality of the Temple or the efficiency of the Factory, policy, after power, becomes the primary basis of judgment in the Town Meeting. This seems to imply that in a pluralistic society, morality and efficiency will generally be subordinated to political policy. This is precisely what happens as organizations become institutionalized! But more on this below.

  We should expect that the nature of policy, like the sources of authority and the nature of control, depends upon the image of the school under consideration. In the Temple, where authority is not under challenge, a policy serves primarily a symbolic, ritual function. It celebrates traditions of command and deference.[22] Within the Temple, policy is treated as Scripture and may elicit commentary and exegesis, but not a critical review of its basic assumptions.

  In the Factory, policy is a program -- much like a computer program -- which sets the basic goals and allays conflicts among them. Recalling Elmore's systems management and bureaucratic models we can see how this notion of policy is supposed to work. These models also gives us insight into why public interest focuses on policy debate rather than concerns with implementation. People tend to believe that policy change suffices to get things done. To use Kenwyn Smith's terms, this shows that they are "encased" in the image of school as Temple or Factory.

  Finally, in the Town Meeting, policy functions like a treaty. It sets up structures of authority and provides a focus for the negotiation of conflict among groups. Policy provides the rationale in terms of which different DU's in the school settle their conflicts. This process not only interprets "what is there" but actually recreates policy, transforming it from the vague and problematic to something more specific and useful. The ebb and flow of this political process of policymaking is described by Lindblom:

Policy is not made once and for all; it is made and remade endlessly. Policymaking is a process of successive approximation to some desired objectives in which what is desired itself continues to change under reconsideration. ... A wise policymaker consequently expects that his policies will achieve only part of what he hopes and at the same time will produce unanticipated consequences he would have preferred to avoid.[23]

Figure 9.5 summarizes the relationships between the images of the school and sources of authority, control and policy.

Figure 9.5

  In the next section we will examine the extent to which the teacher functions in a school as a technician in a Factory. The previous chart gives us the basic elements of authority, control and policy in the Factory model. We will see to what extent they are to be found in actual school practice.

The Teacher as Technician

  As organizations become institutionalized, political considerations come to dominate decisionmaking rather than those of morality or efficiency. Science, however, can resist politics because although Nature may be ignored, it cannot be negotiated with. To the extent that schools perform needed technical functions, to that extent can they resist political pressure. But are schools very much like factories? Or is that more metaphor than substance? Let's consider the extent to which teachers perform as technicians. Perhaps that will give us an indication of the school's political vulnerability.

  To get certification, teachers have to take professional education courses. Goodlad writes that many teachers feel, however, that their training in pedagogy left much to be desired. They complain that it didn't prepare them to function in their actual schools.[24] How do you cause learning in students, given the realities of the schooling situation?

  It is hard to deny that teachers in some circumstances cause students to learn. On the other hand, that causation is difficult to control and when it doesn't occur, explanations abound to rationalize the failure. (We will see in Chapter 18 that the relationship of teaching and learning and the place of causation in it is problematic.) What we have to look at is a technical conception of teaching. This will give us a standard of comparison to judge the extent to which schools have been institutionalized.

Formality and Efficiency

"…the only measure of the efficiency of a cooperative system is its capacity to survive."
-- Chester I. Barnard, The Functions of the Executive

  Under the Factory image of the school, teachers are expected to be technicians. Their goal as a technician is to maximize student achievement as efficiently as possible. School instructional policies embodied in a curriculum provide a program to direct daily teaching.

  Every experienced teacher knows activities that bring students to learn and that some are more efficient than others. What is involved in this notion of efficiency?

  Levin suggests the following criteria of efficiency that might be suited to a technical conception of teaching: [26]

• Knowledge of the technical production process.

• Substantial manager control over the input mix.

• A basically competitive environment

• Managerial knowledge of input and output prices

• The goal of maximizing output (not necessarily just profits)

• Clear signals of success or failure (profits, losses, market shares, etc)

Let's look at each of these conditions to see to what extent they can be met in a normal school environment.

Knowledge of the Technical Production Process. This is what methods courses try to get at. Many teachers are superb technicians and get results with all kinds of children. The problem is that it is difficult to say explicitly just what it is they do. This is why many feel teaching is more an art than a science.[27] Unfortunately, pedagogical knowledge is still greatly a part of the informal culture of teaching. Many of the causal factors in pedagogy await discovery. It is difficult to generalize from one successful classroom the circumstances that led to the particular success observed. Also, the application of research results is often constrained by political and moral concerns. This tends to make people believe that good pedagogy is a mysterious matter, and to exaggerate charisma.[28] In the popular media, good teachers are evangelists, magicians or entertainers.

Substantial Manager Control Over the Input Mix. If we take this to mean that the teacher or principal controls who will be taught, the reality in schools is that such control is minimal. Public schools must take whoever applies. What the teacher can do, if resources permit it, is to control student grouping within the classroom. This seems to be an important factor in school success [29], but it is far from the ability to reject students who promise little success.

A Basically Competitive Environment. This requires that incentives exist for experimenting to find efficient means of production. Outcomes should not be indifferent to technique. This is the point of proposals to provide educational vouchers so parents can select schools they believe are more effective. There are two problems here. Schools, even private schools, for reasons we will see below, avoid such competition. Secondly, and more basically, it is not clear what would count as more efficient technique. Is a technique more efficient if it brings a few students to higher achievement, or if it brings more students up to a lower common standard? Which outcomes should take precedence in a school, divisible or indivisible ones, or absolute or positional ones? (recall Chapter 1) At whose cost should someone else's achievement be gained?

Managerial Knowledge of Input and Output Prices. What this means is that some standard method of gauging costs and benefits is needed so that a teacher could decide among different techniques on the basis of those costs and benefits. Not only does such a standard method not exist, but both law and tradition militate against this practice in the school. For example, "teaching to the middle" is a practice teachers engage in because it shows greatest gain for a given amount of effort. But special education laws and moral considerations often direct teachers to expend effort on students whose achievement will cost many times that of a normal student -- measured in teacher hours. This speaks to the next criterion of efficiency.

The Goal of Maximizing Output. This goal is not a priority in schools. Both moral and legal restraints prevent its realization -- not to mention a lack of consensus on what would count as a measure of input and output. Teaching efficiency, for example, is constrained by considerations of morality and status. Let's look more closely at this.

  Consider our previously mentioned examples of motivational devices of ancient though illrepute: the torturechamber and the brothel. No one doubts that certain kinds of behavior could be motivated by the use of torture or the promise of sex. No doubt standard learning outcomes could be enhanced through these means. Why are they not used? Many people would find them morally objectionable, particularly where children are involved.

  Teachers are careful not to single out or group students by race, sex, SES or other characteristics possibly pertinent to school achievement. Although such grouping might increase the efficiency of instruction, other outcomes are feared, such as stereotyping. In fact, there are legal barriers to grouping students on the basis of these characteristics.

  Not only means, but ends come under moral restriction. Who would teach any of the following in an American public school: cheating at cards, safecracking, mugging, or begging? Why are the following highly useful things -- economically speaking -- not taught in the public schools? For example, slaughtering pigs, fixing toilets, or handicapping horse races? Why not the following pastimes, mumblypeg, treeclimbing, halfball or solitaire? Some of these are thought to be inappropriate to the school, outofplace because of their status as crude, lowclass or trivial. We will see elsewhere that to include something in the school curriculum is to make a public declaration as to its morality and status.

Clear Signals of Success or Failure. For the reasons mentioned above, there are no such signals that enjoy wide acceptance. Good grades or bad grades, for example, are only a sign of success or failure if you trust the process which generates them. The fact is that parents, by and large, trust this process, to judge from Gallup Poll results.[30] (However, this trust gives no advantage to school people when the public believes that situations which are beyond the power of the school to deal with can be treated by a mere addition to the curriculum.)

  We can begin to understand why parents, for one group, prefer the Temple image of the school. The Factory image does not seem to jibe with the considerations that actually underlie schooling practice. The common complaint that students are insufficiently interested in their studies identifies an important factor, motivation, to be beyond the control of the classroom teacher. The quote from Langer at the beginning of the chapter indicated that people tend to treat chance events as controllable. But this might work just the other way. Events controllable only in ways forbidden by tradition or ethics may be treated as chance events.

  Lecture is the most common teaching technique. When students fail to learn, we seldom look to see if the lecture technique can be replaced by something else. Rather, we look to SES, culture, race and parenting to account for the failure Those are beyond our control! The concept of the socioeducational system can be.used as an excuse, as well as a tool. The Temple permits command; when this fails otherwise controllable factors are relegated to Chance.

  It would seem that despite all the talk of schooling processes as technical parts of the image of the Factory, the realities are quite different. The conditions for the technical control of the pedagogical process are routinely impeded in the school. In the next section we will see to what extent a technical approach to some common school problems is permissible.

Technical Problems: ritual solutions

  So what's the answer to the problem of increasing schooling efficiency? Would it suffice to train teachers to a higher level of technical adeptness? There are, after all, numerous complaints that American students aren't learning what they should. For example, American students don't know as much math as Japanese students.[31] They don't know where the Seine is. [32] They don't know who Herbert Hoover is. [33] They read with difficulty [34] and can't write a coherent paragraph.[35] They can't function in a second language. They have little, if any conception of science.[36]

  Such complaints overlook a very important fact. Even though specific knowledge in specific subjects may be highly esteemed, it is just a small part of the outcomes of the schooling process. [37] Just training teachers to be educational technicians will not be enough. When we look at the wide range of outcomes expected of the schools with who benefits from them and who pays the costs, we begin to understand why learning technology takes a back seat. Let's consider a few examples which will indicate the degree to which schools have been institutionalized.

Evaluating with Grades

  Evaluation is indispensable to the factory. But are school grades anything like a technical evaluation system? Does the fact that grades are used to motivate students as well as evaluate them undercut their use as a technical measure of achievement?

  You can grade apples, beefsteaks and turkeys. You can also, for example, grade the turkey farm by the quality of the turkey it produces. So what's the problem with grading students? Meyer and Rowan comment

Schools use elaborate tests to evaluate pupils and to shape the course of their present and future lives. But the same data are almost never used to evaluate the performance of teachers, schools or school systems.[38]

  Why does the situation described by Meyer and Rowan exist? Teachers will say, with some justification, that it is not fair to evaluate them on the basis of student achievement because they have no control over who they get as students or over what happens to student outside of school. This is true, yet kids are evaluated, sorted and their lives affected by the grades teachers give them.

  In fact, teachers do give students a break by taking into consideration their prior level of knowledge and whether they have made an effort. Many teachers make allowances. But Goodlad suggest that such "individualization" creates an inequality of educational opportunity! [39] Note that this criticism is precisely parallel to charging a principal with inconsistency if he takes individual differences into account. (See Chapter 2). It is another conflict between the Temple and the Factory.

  Why not give exams a year after a course is taken? [40] Why not judge the mathematics achievement of a nation by testing 35year olds rather than high school kids? This would certainly place the emphasis on knowledge retained and presumably useful. Why not put an expiration date on diplomas and require their renewal by test? Again, these suggestions overlook the fact that knowledge is only one of many outcomes of the schooling process. Even though it is accorded high esteem, there are other outcomes for which a broader consensus establishes greater importance. There is more to schooling than technical process.

Special Programs: who is not normal?

  Another way of evaluating a technical process is to see how inputs are measured and compared with outputs. Lacking clear standards at either end of the process undercuts whatever technical expertise is brought to bear on it.

  What do we generally find in the schools? To begin, there is no broad consensus on what a typical student is supposed to know. What math skills should a typical ninth grader have? What knowledge of history, science and languages? There are proposals, very often in the form of curriculum documents to be followed by teachers in their classrooms. There is, of course, almost always a discrepancy between various conceptions of what kids should know and what in fact they do know. And these are the "normal" kids.

  What then are we to make of special populations? By various criteria they are judged to need special treatment to help them overcome an impediment to achievement. But achievement with respect to what? What normal students are supposed to learn? Or what normal students do in fact learn? And which population of normal students? Teachers of special students are often pressured to prepare them for the mainstream.[41] But what exactly is the "mainstream"?

Public School Textbooks

  Another hallmark of a technical process is instrumentation. Devices of production have to function in reliably consistent ways. One "device" normally found in schools is the textbook. Are textbooks produced and treated like the productive machinery of a factory? Let's see.

  Textbook costs represent about one percent of the public school budget. [42] , about $1000 per teacher per year. Yet complaints about the quality of texts used in public schools abound. [43] This would seem to be a relatively easy matter to resolve. Why should it be a matter of controversy? If we assume that textbooks are tools to aid learning, we can set up a simple test. Have some students use them, others not. See if there is any difference in what is learned.

  But the issue does not even get to the test. Parents complain when their kids don't have books. They would complain particularly loudly if they found out it was for the sake of an experiment. Students expect to get books, no matter how bad somebody thinks they are and teachers look to some kind of text to support their efforts in the classroom.

  Publishers complain that their best efforts are thwarted by technically untrained, often politically motivated textbook review committees who accept and reject books on widely disparate criteria. The same book may be criticized by one group as "soft on Communism" and by another as "soft on Apartheid.", depending on the political commitments of the reviewers. In such circumstances, book selection becomes less a technical and more a political decision.

It may be that these anomalies are a matter of expecting a Factory model of the school to be always pertinent. This expectation may well be wrong. The dominant images of the school seem to be by far the Temple and the Town Meeting. In the next section we look at this more closely. Because their constituencies are so broad, schools have traded off certain productive functions for an institutional stability that ensures their continued funding in a highly pluralistic society.

  It is disputable whether teaching does or should uniformly and universally aim at production. There is a great deal of ritual in schooling.[44] There are many rituals of participation for which it is extremely difficult to identify divisible benefits, skills, knowledge, etc. as outcomes. Pledging allegiance to the flag, singing the school song and attending the Thanksgiving Day football game are examples of this. In a sense, these rituals may produce indivisible benefits for the group that practices them, for example, a feeling of community.

  This is important. A practice may be ritual with respect to divisible benefits but causal with respect to indivisible benefits. (Or viceversa.) This is to say that something like school assemblies may cause no particular individual benefits, but produce benefits for the school as a whole. A specific student, for example, may learn just as easily in a disorderly, stressful school environment as in a calm, wellmanaged one. School assemblies might have the effect of reducing disorder in classrooms. Individual grades might not be affected but the indivisible benefit of participating in an orderly classroom might..On the other hand, individual students may be affected negatively by rituals of participation which have only a mythical benefit for the institution, e.g. forced competitions, mass detentions, etc.


  To speak of practices or procedures that are continued and transmitted without question,
to speak of meanings that become typified and transmitted to newcomers in the organization
and shared without thought or evaluation,
is to speak of the process of institutionalization.   -- Jeffrey Pfeffer

  Institutionalization theory helps us understand why bigger is not necessarily better. Often, it is the reverse. Institutionalization occurs when concern in an organization shifts from production to formality. [46] It explains why the technical criteria of production we looked at above are not applicable. Size and political control are two factors that organizational theorists suggest affect productivity.

  Many American school systems are big. And they are dependent upon local resources. They cannot allow themselves to look to bad to local taxpayers. Thus they tend to emphasize (quietly) the production of substantial benefits, such as child care. But it is the symbolic benefits of learning that they celebrate. These are seldom thoroughly and consistently evaluated.[47]

  The separation of certain learning from the processes of evaluation and control produces a situation called loose coupling. [48] Parts in a loosely coupled system work independently of each other. When teachers close the classroom door, for example, it's generally as if they have stepped onto a desert island.[49] What will matter for public purposes is what grades they give, not what they do in the classroom, so long as it doesn't attract critical attention.

  As organizations become institutionalized, they tend to become more loosely coupled for activities whose outcomes cannot be highly controlled. They cannot afford to be judged on haphazard outcomes.

  Schools engage in some activities because they look right, or are traditional, or are required by law. These activities may actually interfere with the learning processes of the classroom. Surprise fire drills are a good example. In the very least, these activities use up resources that might otherwise support the teaching mission. How much knowledge of mathematics or French does a football team cost? Meyer and Rowan put it succinctly

...the formal structures of many organizations ... dramatically reflect the myths of their institutional environments instead of the demands of their work activities.[50]

This is to say that schools are structured according to expectations of a broad community rather than according to teacher and administrator concerns for the implementation of learningoriented policies.

  Principals and teachers who get their school's name in the newspapers for musical or artistic productions, for sports or community service, or for having the mayor speak in the assembly, are better thought of than those who merely take average kids and make them slightly better than average readers and writers. The symbolic learning goals of the school are not hot news. School people and parents appreciate them. Others tend not too. For example, the Gallup Poll indicates that parents tend to think more highly of public schools than the general public. [51] This may be less a matter of lack of information than of interest.

  Zerobased budgeting and "sunsetlaws", which require justification of every budget item, represent attempts to counteract institutionalization in organizations. Without them, most school items are budgeted this year because they were budgeted last year. Seen from one point of view, institutionalization represents the triumph of form over function, of ritual over reality, of symbol over substance. It is, on this view, a tragedy.

  But from another perspective, institutionalization represents the ascendency of wider, social goals over narrow, instrumentalist interests, the transformation of administration into statesmanship , a developing sensitivity to moral concerns that tempers a compulsive need for efficiency. Institutionalization happens to the degree that the Factory transforms itself into the Temple. This is a desirable, almost heroic transformation. In the celebratory words of a famous organizational theorist:

…the executive becomes a statesman as he makes the transition from administrative management to institutional leadership.[52]

  The most alarming part of institutionalization theory is that it claims that certification interests, the gaining of grades and diplomas, takes precedence over educational interests of all kinds.[53] It is not the content of what kids learn that matters, but that they get a grade for a class. If this is so, then institutionalization goes a long way to explaining the lack of student interest in subject matter.

Products of Schooling: Substantial and Symbolic

An institutional leader … is primarily an expert in the promotion and protection of values.
  -- Philip Selznick

  We can approach institutionalization theory from another angle. Let's recall the distinction between symbolic and substantial benefits. That distinction rested on the notion of consensus. If something is recognized across many communities as a benefit (or a cost) then it is a substantial benefit (or a substantial cost). Gold is a paradigm (perfect example) of substantiality. If on the other hand, something is recognized as a benefit (or a cost) only within a community (or narrow range of communities) then it is a symbolic benefit or cost. A certificate of award is a paradigm of a symbolic benefit. Recall also that substantial benefits tend to be regarded as means within a community, while symbolic benefits are regarded as ends.

  If we consider now the various outcomes of the schooling process we can rank them as they are more symbolic or substantial. When we speak of outcomes of the schooling process most people tend immediately to think of such things as diplomas, knowledge, skills, tastes, varsity letters, attitudes and the like. These are the celebrated outcomes: they're announced, written up in the newspapers, discussed in public and worried about in reform reports.

  Schooling aids in socialization and people who study a little about schools readily recognize it as an outcome. The same with child care. But unless you're an economist, you probably overlook employment and consumption as outcomes of the schooling process also. Schooling provides employment and consumes materials. These uncelebrated outcomes are very important to school employees and to the many, many businesses that provide supplies and services to schools. [55] Socialization, child care, employment and consumption are not normally celebrated. They are too pedestrian, seen as means to greater ends. But, it turns out, they are of vital importance to understanding the organizational dynamics of schooling.

  In figure 9.6 we see schooling process outcomes charted in terms of their being symbolic or substantial. Whether, for example, specific tastes, attitudes and knowledge are benefits depends very much upon which community we focus on. Such outcomes tend to be valued intrinsically as ends, as what it means to be educated. At the other extreme, the fact that schools provide child care and employment and consume goods produced by in a wider society is recognized as benefits across many kinds of community. Yet few people see them as anything more than means to other more important things.

Figure 9.6

The celebrated benefits of schooling are the most symbolic. It's important to realize though that public declarations about the importance of tastes, attitudes and knowledge is almost invariably done in slogans; specifics are avoided. When was the last time that anyone praised a school because its students had an extensive knowledge of:

• the poems of Robert Frost;

• the theory of functions;

• distinctions among annelidae;

• the writings of Charles Dickens?

There exist communities where such knowledge in its specificity is highly prized. But, they are small.

  Grades and diplomas represent knowledge, one would think. But everyone knows that grades are highly variable in what they represent. Consequently, so are diplomas. These function more as passports to other more substantial benefits than as guarantees of educational achievement. Grades and diplomas are more the symbols of a rite of passage than they are the outcomes of a measurement procedure. The existence of such things as the College Board exams attests to the extent to which schools have been institutionalized.

  Teachers' employment or school funding is a more substantial benefit than student grades. To use grades to evaluate a teacher or school system threatens benefits in a way that would probably not withstand legal challenge. In addition, the teachers' organizations involved here tend to be politically powerful. Trying to avoid local political influence by developing national assessment procedures might help in evaluating teachers and school systems, but this might also be seen as taking decision--making authority away from local government.

Organizational Environments

  The specific symbolic academic values celebrated in the school do not enjoy a sufficiently widespread consensus to keep the river of money that nourishes the schools flowing from year to year. So schools come to closely control and subtilely emphasize those things that appeal to the most general public. Have you seen the following slogans?

• If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
• Education for Democracy.
• Open your mind. Open your life.
• We prepare today's professionals to meet tomorrow's challenges.
• Can management education solve ethical problems?
• Education for Leadership
• Celebrate your originality!

They also try to decouple from any procedure that might reveal the academic mission to be a failure. Grades, then stand in for, rather than stand for, achievement. Diplomas, rather than learning, becomes the benefit pursued. Schools become credentialing agencies. Education comes to be understood by what Meyer and Rowan call the schooling rule:

The schooling rule: Education is a certified teacher teaching a standardized curricular topic to a registered student in an accredited school.[56]

Notice that learning outcomes are not mentioned at all. The schooling rule is compatible with both the Temple and Town Meeting images of the school. Like any model of schooling it has its costs and benefits. We will be examining them throughout this book and looking to see if other models of schooling might preserve the benefits of the schooling rule while providing something more explicit in the way of production.

  There is another thing. Because of its size schooling creates what is called a "turbulent environment." [57] What happens in the schools affects the situations that other institutions have to deal with and plan for.[58] Consider, for example, how a heavy snowfall affects a city. Administrators who have to deal with snow days find themselves in a dilemma. If they make the kids come to school, they will contribute to the traffic jams and bring about a certain level of sickness from exposure to the elements. But if they close the schools, they create an immense childcare problem. Many parents won't make it into work; kids will be left alone in the house, etc.

  It is important to emphasize that the schools are not unproductive in some absolute sense. The situation is that they do not consistently produce the benefits, mostly symbolic, that they celebrate, e.g. academic knowledge. (For a flowchart representation of an institutionalized organization and an example of an institutionalized school, see the Technical Appendix to Chapter 9.) They do produce other benefits. The child care, alone, provided by the school is a real bargain. (See chapter 1) But this is not the kind of benefit that attracts the resources for schooling activities that pursue the visions of our greatest educators: the School as the instrument of an Enlightenment and Liberation, the firmest foundation of our democratic society.

Faith vs. Evaluation

Loosely coupled organizations replace evaluation with faith. Rowan and Meyer comment:

  Organizations whose structures (reflect) the myths of the institutional environment in contrast with those primarily structured by the demands of technical production and exchange decrease internal coordination and control in order to maintain legitimacy. In place of coordination, inspection and evaluation, a logic of confidence and good faith is employed[59].

  In productive organizations tightly coupled to a market, policymaking relies heavily on knowledge-gathering. In loosely coupled organizations, efficiency is not a measure of administrative effectiveness. Compliance with policy is the primary concern.

  Members of tightly coupled organizations can use organizational resources for their own purpose only to the extent that efficiency is not affected, e.g. you can get "free" Xerox copies only if it doesn't "get out of hand." Members of highly institutionalized organizations like schools, however, can make a variety of claims for resources; a predominant one in schools is equity. Educational programs are funded not because they are proven to produce mathematical skills or whatever in certain groups of students, but because its fair, or required by law to fund them.

  Compliance with policy rather than evaluation of results is the institutional form of accountability. Little evaluation information gets used internally. For example, educational innovations are adopted not because they are found to work, but because they have been adopted by "good schools." [60] If by reading Plato in your 7th Grade classes, you get your school name into the newspapers, you might expect that the "Plato curriculum" will become an item of conversation-- for a while at least -- in the popular media. E.D. Hirsch's "Cultural Literacy" proposal is an example of this phenomenon.

  Let's recall the four situations we considered above, actual school practices of grading, special programs, exit tests and textbooks. We will compare them with correlative technical processes of a productive organization, a factory. Also, we will compare them with the procedures that would be followed in an institutionalized organization.

Figure 9.7

  When we compare actual school practices with the technical processes of the Factory and the moralpolitical processes of the Institution, it is quite clear that the school is highly institutionalized. The most technically adept teachers and administrators will not prevail against a system whose very foundations undercut the technological enterprise. If we are really serious about increasing learning across the board for all students, careful attention must be paid to restructuring the schools.


1. Power rests on resources; authority on consensus. The sources of authority and the nature of control and policy vary with the organizational model of the school under consideration. Consequently, there will be ambiguity in such concepts as discipline, effectiveness and reform.

2. Concerns for production do not dominate in school situations. A variety of circumstances discourage the teacher from developing a technical orientation. Neither grading, program criteria nor textbooks are treated in technically efficient ways.

3. The predicament of the school as Temple participating importantly in the Town Meeting, a turbulent environment, provides the conditions for the development of institutionalization. Institutionalization is seen by many as a reduction in concerns about production and an increase in politics. Others, however, understand institutionalization as the reconstruction of a moral community.

4. Schooling benefits and costs can be divided into substantial and symbolic. Symbolic benefits of schooling tend to be the celebrated ones. Their production tends to be uncertain because of the technical interference of institutionalization. Institutionalization emphasizes the production of noncelebrated, substantial outcomes. The evaluation of symbolic outcomes is replaced with faith in the adequacy of the schooling rule: Education is a certified teacher teaching a standardized curricular topic to a registered student in an accredited school.


1. As learning becomes formalized more emphasis is placed on the discipline of form and less on the discipline of cause. For example, consider the difference between "picking up" a skill on a musical instrument as opposed to being instructed on it in school. Can you list some activities which have formal and informal counterparts? Do they, too, emphasize form over cause as they become formalized?

2. Make a two-by-two chart. The columns should be headed, "Much Power" and "Little Power." The rows should be named "Much authority" and "Little Authority". Into the four identified categories enter different school related jobs, according to whether persons in that role have the authority and power to do what is generally expected of them.

3. Mystery begins where inquiry is commanded to stop. What kinds of questions are you dissuaded from asking in different social situations? For example, what would it be considered unseemly or prying for you to ask
  a. the President
  b. your parents
  c. your religious leader
  d. your roommate
  e. your professor?
How does this "boundary of impropriety" define the social relationships involved?

4. What kinds of uncertainty do fashion designers control? For whom? What about teachers?

5. People with specific knowledge or direct control of resources tend to exercise informal control in organizations. Can you cite some examples, e.g. head secretaries, janitors, etc.?

6. What kind of control, command, cause or rationale, does a teacher have
  a. over the behavior of students in the classroom?
  b. over reports and plans he or she must submit?
  c. over the implementation of the curriculum?

7. A teacher puts a list of classroom rules on the board. What premisses are set by this action? A student may violate the rules without violating the premisses. Explain how.

8. Name a school policy you are acquainted with. What are its costs and benefits? For whom? Does this policy tend to reinforce a structure of powerholders, implementers and lowers?

9. Review the different conceptions of education presented in Chapter One for their symbolic and substantial content.

10. Use institutionalization theory to :
a. explain why teachers' and administrators' salaries tend to be based on seniority and degrees attained, rather than subject taught and skill at teaching or administering.
b. predict the probable outcomes of some presently topical curriculum proposal, e.g. substance abuse education, sex education, critical thinking curricula.


[1] E. F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful. Economics as if People Mattered. Paperback. Perennial Books. (New York: Harper Row, 1975) p.30

[2] From private conversations with an auditor who wishes to remain anonymous. -- E.G.R.

[3] The 19th Annual Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools p. 28.

[4] Cf. John Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York: Macmillan, 1916) Chapter Ten, "Interest and Discipline" pp. 124--138.

[5] S.I. Benn and R.S. Peters, The Principles of Political Thought. Social Foundations of the Democratic State (New York: Free Press, 1965) p.22

[6] Cf. Paul Hersey and Kenneth H. Blanchard Management of Organizational Behavior.(Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988) pp. 214--218. Hersey and Blanchard call authority "legitimate power" and dispense with the contrast between power and authority. But to call power "legitimate" is to beg some very important questions.

[7] Keegan, pp. 315--316

[8] Cf. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky "Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases" in Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, Amos Tversky (eds) Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. (Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 1982) pp. 3--20

[9] Geert Hofstede, "Motivation, Leadership and Organization: Do American Theories Apply Abroad" Organizational Dynamics (Summer 1980) pp. 42--63. cited in Nancy J. Adler, International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior. (Boston: Kent Publ. Co., 1986)

[10] Cf. Edward G. Rozycki, "Values, Rationality and Pluralism: a plea for intolerance" Philosophy of Education 1979 Proceedings of the Thirty-fifth Annual Meeting of the Philosophy of Education Society. (Champaign, IL: McKee, 1980) pp. 195--204.

[11] Ellen J. Langer, "The Illusion of Control" in Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, Amos Tversky (eds) Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. (Cambridge: Cambridge U. Press, 1982) p. 231.

[12] Cf.Jacob W. Getzels, James M. Lipham, Roald F. Campbell Educational Administration as a Social Process. Theory, Research, Practice (New York: Harper & Row, 1968)
Wayne K. Hoy and Cecil G. Miskel Educational Administration
(New York : Random House 1982)

[13] For classic examples of this distinction see Chester I Barnard The Functions of the Executive (Cambridge : Harvard, 1938) and Charles E. Lindblom, "The Science of 'Muddling Through'", Public Administration Review, 19, Spring 1959, 79 - 88.

[14]Norman Newberg and Richard H. DeLone, "Bureaucracy as the Milieu for Educational Change" Education and Urban Society Vol. 13, No. 4 (Aug 1981) p. 44.

[15] March and Olsen, p.43

[16] Perrow, p.152

[17] See Terrence E. Deal and Allen A Kennedy, Corporate Cultures. The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life. (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1982) p.87.

[18] Cf. Erving Goffman, "On Cooling the Mark Out. Some Aspects of Adaptation to Failure" Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes Vol.15, No. 4, Nov.1952. pp.451--463.

[19] Sharing a common goal is a criterion offered by a variety of authorities, e.g The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971) p. 963. Also, Persell, Caroline Hodges Understanding Society (New York, Harper Row, 1987) p. 67. This criterion of common goal is omitted in the school dictionary, Thorndike Barnhart Junior Dictionary. Seventh Edition (New York: Scott-Foresman, 1968).p. 139.

[20]Robert Townsend, Up the Organization. (New York: Fawcett, 1971) p. 129.

[21] Karl-Heinz Osterloh, "Intercultural Differences and Communicative Approaches to Foreign Language Teaching in the Third World." Studies in Second Language Acquisition Vol.3, No.1 (Indiana University, Fall 1980)p.65

[22]Jeffrey Pfeffer, "Management as Symbolic Action: The Creation and Maintainance of Organizational Paradigms" Research in Organizational Behavior, Vol 35 (JAI Press, 1981) pp. 1 - 52.

[23] Charles E. Lindblom, "The Science of 'Muddling Through'", Public Administration Review, 19, Spring 1959, 79 - 88.

[24] See Goodlad, pp. 183--186

[25] Barnard, p. 44.

[26] Henry D. Levin, "Concepts of Economic Efficiency and Educational Production" in J. Froomkin, D. Jamison and R. Radner, (eds.) Education as an Industry (Cambridge, MA: Balinger, 1976)

[27] Cf. H. Dawe, "Teaching: a performing art" Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 66 No. 3, pp. 548--552.

[28] Cf. Edward G. Rozycki, Review of Teaching with Charisma by Lloyd Duck. Educational Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1, Spring 1982. pp. 70--73.

[29] Cf. Barr and Dreeben, Chapter 4,"Social Organization of Classroom Instruction" pp.69--104.

[30] 19th Annual Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public, p.17

[31] Cf. Robert Rothman "Mathematics Scores Show U.S. Is a 'Nation of Underachievers'" Education Week Jan.21, 1987 p.1 Also, see David Brand et al. "The New Whiz Kids' Time August 11, 1987, pp.42--50.

[32] Cf. Alvin P. Sanoff, et al. "What Americans Should Know" U.S. News and World Report. Sept 28, 1987 pp.86--94. But see, Robert Rothman, "Teachers Dispute Studies' Counsel on Humanities. 'Fact Based' Courses Unwise, They Contend' Education Week. Sept 16, 1987, p.1.

[33] Robert Rothman, "Students' Knowledge of History, Literature 'Shameful', National Assessment Indicates. Education Week. Sept 9, 1987. p.1.

[34] Cf, Kathleen Starr and Bertram C. Bruce, "Reading Comprehension: More Emphasis Needed" ASCD Curriculum Update (Washington, D.C. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) March 1983, p.1.

[35] But see Robert Rothman, "U.S. Pupils Fare Well in Study of Writing Skills. Positive Results are Call 'a Big Shock'" Education Week Sept 23, 1987 p.1.

[36] Cf. Robert Rothman, "Groups Foster 'Hands On' Approach to Science in Early Grades" Education Week Sept 17, 1986 p.10.

[37] Cf. Lynn Olson, "Saying Reforms Fail Most Pupils, Shanker Argues for a 'New Type' of Teaching Unit" Education Week Apr 6, 1988 p.1.

[38] John Meyer and Brian Rowan "The Structure of Educational Organizations" in Victor Baldridge and Terrence Deal (eds) The Dynamics of Organizational Change in Education. (Berkely, CA: McCutcheon, 1983) pp.60--87.

[39] Cf. John Goodlad, A Place Called School pp. 132--138.

[40] Cf. Grant Wiggins, "11 SUGGESTIONS FOR REFORM THAT ARE RADICAL -- BUT SHOULDN'T BE" (Providence, RI: Coalition of Essential Schools, Brown University, 1988)

[41] Cf. Jack W. Birch, Mainstreaming: Educable mentally retarded children in regular classes. Monograph. University of Minnesota Leadership Training Institute/Special Eduction Undated. Available from The Council for Exceptional Children, 1920 Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091.

[42] "Textbooks" Covering the Education Beat. (Washington, D.C., Education Writers Association, 1987) pp. 97--99

[43] Cf. Harriet Tyson-Bernstein, Improving the Quality of Textbooks.(Seacaucus, NJ: Matsushita Foundation, 1987) Also, see Michael W. Apple "The Political Economy of Text Publishing" Educational Theory. Vol.34, No, 4. Fall 1984 pp. 307--319.

[44] James G. March How We Talk and How We Act: Administrative Theory and Administrative Life, Seventh David D. Henry Lecture (Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois, 1980)

[45]Jeffrey Pfeffer Organizations and Organization Theory (Boston: Pitman, 1982) p. 239

[46]Jeffrey Pfeffer Organizations and Organization Theory (Boston: Pitman, 1982)
March, James G. and Olsen, Johan P., Ambiguity and Choice
, Bergen: Universitetsforlaget, 1976.
Lynne G. Zucker "Organizations as Institutions" in Samuel B. Bacharach (ed.) Perspectives in Organizational Sociology: theory and research
(Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1981)
John W. Meyer and Brian Rowan "Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony" American Journal of Sociology vol 83, no. 2 p.341

[47] Meyer and Rowan, p.61.

[48]Karl Weick, "Educational Organizations as Loosely Coupled Systems Administrative Science Quarterly 23 (Dec 1978) p. 541 - 552. Also Arthur Wise, "Why Educational Policies Often Fail: the hyperrationalization hypothesis" Journal of Curriculum Studies 9:1 (1977) pp. 43 - 57. and Edward F. Pajak, "Schools as Loosely Coupled Organizations" Educational Forum. 44, (Nov. 1979) pp. 83 - 95. But see Frank W. Lutz, "Tightening up Loose Coupling in Organizations of Higher Education" Administrative Science Quarterly. 27, (1982) pp. 653 - 669.

[49] Goodlad, pp. 186--188.

[50] John W. Meyer and Brian Rowan "Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony" American Journal of Sociology vol 83, no. 2 p.341.(28)

[51] Alec M. Gallup and David I. Clark, The 19th Annual Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools" Phi Delta Kappan. Sept 1987, pp. 17--30.

[52] Philip Selznick, Leadership in Administration: a sociological interpretation (Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson, 1957) p. 4. sees institutionalization as primarily a positive development in which narrow organizational goals and competitiveness yield to wider social goals and cooperation among organizations.

[53] Cf. Randall Collins, The Certification Society. CITATION

[54] Selznick, p.28.

[55] Cf. William Montague, "Contractors See Lucrative Market for School Services" Education Week Oct.21, 1987. p.1

[56] Meyer and Rowan.p. 73.

[57] F.E. Emery and E.L.Trist, "The Causal Texture of Organizational Environments" Human Relations Vol.18. No, 1 (February 1965) pp. 21--32.

[58] Dennis A. Connors and Donald B. Reed, "The Turbulent Field of Public School Administration" The Executive Review Vol.3. No.4. (Institute for School Executives. The University of Iowa, Jan.1983)

[59]John W. Meyer and Brian Rowan "Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony" American Journal of Sociology vol 83, no. 2 p.340.

[60] See Lynne G. Zucker "Organizations as Institutions" in Samuel B. Bacharach (ed.) Perspectives in Organizational Sociology: theory and research (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1981) Also summarized in Pfeffer, Organizations and Organization Theory, pp.246 -250

See also Karl Weick, "Educational Organizations as Loosely Coupled Systems Administrative Science Quarterly 23 (Dec 1978) p. 541 - 552. Also, Arthur Wise, "Why Educational Policies Often Fail: the hyperrationalization hypothesis" Journal of Curriculum Studies 9:1 (1977) pp. 43 - 57. Both are reprinted in J. Victor Baldridge and Terrence Deal (eds.) The Dynamics of Organizational Change (Berkeley, CA: McCutchan, 1983).