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Organizational Culture And Leadership Styles Education Essay

4727 words (19 pages) Essay in Education

5/12/16 Education Reference this

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Human learning in the 21st century will be as different from human learning in the 20th century as the micro-chip and neural networks are from the valve.” (Lepani,1994, p. 3). In this century the scope and pace of change seem to be accelerating in all areas of human existence. We have to move with it or ahead of it if we are not to be left behind. Academic institutions are feeling this tidal wave of change in ways that “have left many educators – consciously or otherwise – confused, exhausted and disillusioned”. (Deal, 1990, p.131) Change can be seen as evolutionary and dynamic with an emphasis on continuous learning and adaptation (Dixon, 1994; Fullan, 1991; Fullan and Miles, 1992). The challenge for academic institutions is to adopt change strategies that provide internal stability while moving ahead. This challenge may be able to be met in education and elsewhere by focusing on a change strategy where learning comes to be seen as “the single most important resource for organizational renewal in the postmodern age” (Hargreaves, 1995).

The nations that lead the world into the next century will be those who can shift from being knowledge transformational bodies to those that will have the capacity to possess, renew and utilize knowledge successfully. The major issue that confronts educators is whether or not we can transform education and create academic institutions that can successfully prepare our nation’s students for life. This process calls for leadership at all levels, a good school culture and personal commitment of those who are responsible for these institutions. They must take the time to seriously consider the kinds of changes that are needed. They have to address the needs of students and teachers and then a fundamental transformation of education could happen.

There are many routes for organizational development through change, which can be used to improve an organization’s quality. Learning organization models provide one administrative method that can be used to provide direction for organizational achievement for both public and private organizations (Makasarnont, 1997). As Hoy and Miskel (2001) state, academic institutions are service organizations that are committed to teaching and learning. The academic institutions functions as a learning organization in order to continue to improve performance and build capacity to manage change (Corcoran and Goertz, 1995) in an environment where academic institutions are becoming increasingly borderless.

Conceptualizing academic institutions as learning organizations is appropriate, given the new challenges of a fast-changing world. To be relevant in a knowledge society, new skills, capabilities and knowledge are required. The focus of each academic institution should therefore fall on the enhancement of individual commitments to continuous learning by creation of an enabling enterpreutionial culture and transformational leaders for the development and growth of academic institutions as Learning Organizations. Teachers have to be awake to these changes and must try to improve their skills all the time. They cannot stop their learning simply because they have graduated from school or the university and have been employed; if they would like to be successful, they must grow. They have to keep on learning from their experiences, environment, or their organization. As Lassey (1998) shows successful people are people who learn. Without learning, there is no improvement; and without improvement the institutions stagnate. The institutions should be places where participants continually expand their capacities to create and to achieve. If academic institutions are to be effective learning organizations, they must find ways to create structures that continuously support teaching and learning and enhance organizational adaptation. Therefore the learning organization is the important thing that an administrator has to create in her/his school in order to give leaders, teachers and students an opportunity for learning continuously, based on the belief that the more people learn, the better they can perform when they go on in life.

Need for the Study

Many academic institutions are struggling to meet the requirements for academic performance. In this study academic institutions is narrowed down to only schools, as they are base in the description of an academic institution. Despite numerous promising initiatives from the government to promote student success in schools, overall gains in student performance have been disappointing. Some commentators have suggested that nothing less than a fundamental redesign of the educational system will begin to address the hurdles faced by students in succeeding at school (Boyd & Shouse, 1997). Coleman (1997) noted that the highly bureaucratic nature of Government schools stifles creative problem solving and blocks receptivity to large-scale and transformative system reform. He described schools as “administratively driven organizations” with long feedback loops from the top of the organization (for example, the principal) to component subsystems (for example, teachers and students). Coleman considered schools with decentralized authority structures and norms of accountability and social support, which he labels as “output-driven organizations,” as having more promise than ones with traditional bureaucratic forms for increasing teacher and student performance. With growing concerns about the ability of the public education system to respond to the needs of students (Orfield et al., 2004), many voices in the school reform movement have discussed the need for schools to operate as “learning organizations,” which addresses the importance of faculty and staff working together to solve problems through networking and team learning (Senge et al., 2000). The degree to which schools function as learning organizations may not only influence the willingness of school employees to embrace new innovations for promoting student achievement, but also their personal well-being, their sense of efficacy in working with students, their work satisfaction, and their evaluation of the school as a high-performing organization. A burgeoning number of empirical investigations offer support for these types of positive effects from schools functioning as learning organizations (Lick, 2006; Orthner et al., 2006). I believe that understanding schools as learning organizations offers the potential to unlock the creative and dynamic processes that schools require to undergo fundamental and significant change initiatives. Only then do we believe that schools will begin to address the challenges they face in educating children and youths and in closing the significant gaps in educational achievement and life success. The phenomenon known as the learning organisations has during the past three decades been discussed widely in the literature (Khadra & Rawabdeh, 2006; Moilanen, 2001, 2005; Hawkins, 1991; Watkins & Marsick, 1993; Senge, 1990; Pedler, Burgoyne & Boydell, 1991).

Unfortunately, the concept of the learning organization remains abstract and elusive for many school level practitioners, which reflects, in part, a strong leaning toward a constructivist approach in the study of organizational learning. School personnel also have relatively few tools available to examine this aspect of their schools, and assessment is the first step in the evidence-based practice planning sequence.

During the past century much has been learned about how the brain works and how students learn. We have also learned that how schools can be organized in what that can enhance the quality of learning that students experience and we know a great deal about the kinds of conditions that are necessary for change to occur. The issue in Indian Educational system is to find a way to create the conditions that will encourage the learning organization concept which is needed to transform Indian academic organizations. What is also clear is that leadership is a critical component of the transformation of education. However, the kind of leadership that is needed is fundamentally different than what has traditionally been the case. Leaders must be able to transform their academic institutions. This has been widely discussed the literature (Jones & Rudd, 2007; Reed, 2006; Bartling & Bartlett, 2005; CASEL, 2006; Bamburg, 1997; West, 1999; Telford, 1996; Barnett, Marsh & Carven, 2003; Stander & Rothmann, 2009) and hence the inclusion of this as a variable in this study.

As small schools become more autonomous, they create new identities and establish unique school cultures. It is also believed that the school’s culture is inextricably linked to classroom culture. Many researchers have explored the challenges of building school culture (Silver, 2003; Zilwa, 2007; Ferreira & Hill, 2008; Niemann & Kotzé, 2006; Thomas & Willcoxson, 1998; Raywid, 2001;). The researches explore various approaches to the issue of organizational culture, including techniques from the business world, the connection to physical spaces, and the use of traditions (Berg & Wilderom, 2004; Fard.et.al, 2007;). A school’s culture includes the obvious elements of schedules, curriculum, demographics, and policies, as well as the social interactions that occur within those structures and give a school its look and feel as “friendly,” “elite,” “competitive,” “inclusive,” and so on. Just as culture is critical to understanding the dynamics behind any thriving community, organization, or business, the daily realities and deep structure of school life hold the key to educational success. Reforms that strive for educational excellence are likely to fail unless they are meaningfully linked to the school’s unique culture and hence the inclusion of this variable in this study.

Teachers play an important role in the success of any school. The personal commitment of the teacher has a very strong influence in the smooth functioning of the school and the school to develop into a learning organization. Personal commitment could be commitment for one’s own development and commitment for the development of the school and students. Research on commitment has generally focused on either the antecedents or the consequences of commitment. Early studies of commitment explored the antecedents of commitment and found four general antecedents, namely: personal characteristics, job characteristics, work experiences, and role-related characteristics (Mathieu and Hamel 1989; Mowday, Porter and Steers 1982). Some of the earlier studies also explored the role played by demographic variables on commitment. The demographic variables found to have influence on commitment are: age (Mathieu and Zajac 1990), organizational tenure (Mathieu and Hamel 1989), position tenure (Gregersen and Black 1992), and education (DeCotiis and Summers 1987). Furthermore, Glisson and Durick (1988) identified skill variety and role ambiguity as predictors of satisfaction and leadership, and the age of the organization as predictor of commitment.

The impact of commitment on organizational level outcomes has also been explored in a number of studies. However, it is the consequence of affective commitment which is more often studied in the literature. This is because high levels of affective commitment are shown to be related to a number of positive behavioral level outcomes and job attitudes (Hislop 2003; Cooper-Hakim and Viswesvaran 2005). Further Organizational commitment and professional commitment of teachers in schools have been researched on (Sood & Anand, 2009; Karakus & Aslan, 2009; Weber, 1990; Coladarci, 1992; Menep. I, 2010; Iqbal, 2010; Borgei. et.al, 2010;). Although the study of commitment has been advanced from a range of theoretical perspectives, it is interesting to note that very few attempts have been made by researchers to work on personal commitment. The belief is that an understanding of the relationship between leadership, culture and commitment is necessary. As a teacher educator I think that personal commitment of teachers is very important in transforming schools into a learning organization and no researches have been done in this area, hence the inclusion of the variable in this study.

Conceptual Framework

Schools as Learning Organization

To present a theoretical framework in which the school as learning organization can be grounded, the study is using ‘The learning disciplines’ (Senge et al., 1996:4). According to Peter Senge (1990: 3) learning organizations are: …organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together. While all people have the capacity to learn, the structures in which they have to function are often not conducive to reflection and engagement. Furthermore, people may lack the tools and guiding ideas to make sense of the situations they face. Organizations that are continually expanding their capacity to create their future require a fundamental shift of mind among their members. For Peter Senge, real learning gets to the heart of what it is to be human. We become able to re-create ourselves. This applies to both individuals and organizations. Thus, for a ‘learning organization it is not enough to survive. ‘”Survival learning” or what is more often termed “adaptive learning” is important – indeed it is necessary. But for a learning organization, “adaptive learning” must be joined by “generative learning”, learning that enhances our capacity to create’ (Senge 1990:14).

The dimension that distinguishes learning from more traditional organizations is the mastery of certain basic disciplines or ‘component technologies’. The five that Peter Senge identifies are said to be converging to innovate learning organizations. They are: Systems thinking, Personal mastery, Mental models, Building shared vision & Team learning

Personal mastery

According to Senge et al. (1996:194) “the term mastery evolved from the medieval French, maitre, which meant someone who was exceptionally proficient and skilled – a master of a craft”. Maitre as it is used today means the capacity, not only to produce results, but also to master the principles that underpin the way an individual produces those results. Mastery is a commitment to be the best in whatever is done (Secretan, 1997:54). Educators who strive to become “masters of their craft” are often those who would be described as being committed to their work in their respective schools. According to Zecha (1994:6) and Kushman (1992:6), “there are two types of educator commitment, namely organizational commitment and commitment to student learning” which are effective ingredients for transforming schools into learning organisations.

Mental models

Research by Senge et al. (1996:235-236) indicates that “mental models are subjective images, deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations and stories that people carry in their minds about themselves, other people, institutions and events that take place in the world”. These mental maps act as a filtering system for our judgments and influence how we take actions based on these judgments. If these mental maps or models are not questioned they could become blockages to change. To succeed in transforming schools into learning organizations it is important that individual educators learn how to unearth their internal pictures (subjective images) of the world and bring these to the surface and critically scrutinize them. This can be done if meaningful conversations are encouraged in the school, where educators expose their own thinking patterns and also listen to other colleagues. These conversations can influence individuals to shift their thinking patterns and see the other side of the story.

Shared vision

“A shared vision is an all-encompassing world view which provides focus for an individual and the team concerning what is to be learnt and what is to be valued” (Bierema & Berdish, 1996:6). This shared vision answers the question: “What will success look like”? This question acts as a motivating force for sustained action to achieve individual and school goals. It is a guiding image of success formed in terms of a contribution to the school. According to Johnson and Johnson (1994:9) “a shared vision creates a basic sense of sink or swim together among the members of the school.” A powerful vision binds educators to mutual commitments through collaboration to achieve individual and school goals.

Team learning

The discipline of team learning starts with dialogue, which is the capacity of members of a team to suspend their assumptions and enter into a genuine thinking together. According to Senge et al., 1996:352), “team learning is the discipline that has to do with learning about alignment.” Alignment means functioning as a whole or in a cohesive group committed to a common purpose. This alignment is achieved through sustained dialogue that may result in knowledge sharing and recognizing interdependencies among team members (Murgatroyd & Morgan, 1993:73). The discipline of dialogue involves learning how to recognize the patterns of interaction in teams that undermine learning. The patterns of defensiveness are often deeply ingrained in how a team operates. Therefore, the impact of team learning is the establishment of shared values, vision, mission, and core strategies to achieve individual and school goals. The fifth discipline, systems thinking, incorporates the other four learning disciplines.

Systems thinking

Systems thinking is based on system dynamics; it is highly conceptual and provides ways of understanding practical school issues. It looks at systems in terms of particular types of cycles and it includes explicit system modeling of complex issues. The discipline of systems thinking teaches that in any social phenomenon it is important to look at the whole picture. In systems thinking the school is looked at as a system that is interconnected to different parts of life that intersect and influence each other. These interrelated parts are bound together in such a way that they become coherent to one another (French & Bell, 1995:93). The components of a school include learners, educators, context, student learning processes and any identifiable component that affects learning. Therefore, the essence of systems thinking lies in a shift of mind to one that sees:• interrelationships rather than linear cause-effect chains; and • processes of change rather than snap shots. The discipline of systems thinking starts with understanding the concept of feedback: that is how actions can reinforce or counteract (balance) each other. In trying to build effective learning environments, educators have to learn to see the deeper patterns and interrelationships of change.

Leadership

Leadership is a described as being one of social science’s most examined phenomena (Antonakis, Cianciolo, & Sternberg, 2004). Shoemaker (1998) suggested that leadership is difficult to characterize as the field is punctured by inconclusive definitions as to the role and function of leadership. The latest chapter in the almost 100 year history of leadership research is dominated by the development of transformational leadership theory embodied in the Full Range of Leadership Model (Antonakis, et al., 2004; Bass, 1998). This approach to leadership focuses on the charismatic and affective elements of leadership. Northouse (2004) described transformational leadership as “a process that changes and transforms individuals. It is concerned with emotions, values, ethics, standards, and long-term goals, and includes assessing followers’ motives, satisfying their needs, and treating them as full human beings” (p. 169). Furthermore, as Bass (1985) advocated, by engaging in transformational leadership behaviors a leader transforms followers. In reality this means that “followers are changed from being self-centered individuals to being committed members of a group, they are then able to perform at levels far beyond what normally might have been expected” (Antonakis, et al., 2004, p.175).

The model of transformational leadership includes a continuum of transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire forms of leadership. Each form characterizes aspects of the dynamic process of interaction between leader and follower but identifies certain patterns and features to distinguish transformational leadership from transactional and laissez-faire styles (Avolio, 1999). The transformational leader pays particular attention to others’ needs, which, in turn, raises followers’ levels of motivation (Avolio, 1999; Bass, 1998). Furthermore, a leader of this type encourages others to reach their full potential while also adopting a strong ethical characteristic. Whereas, transactional leaders, “approach followers with an eye to exchanging one thing for another” (Burns, 1978, p. 4), with the leader’s use of either reward or punishment contingent on the follower’s completion or non-completion of assigned tasks. Laissez-faire leadership involves indifference and avoidance as a leader with this profile will “avoid making decisions, abdicate responsibilities, divert attention from hard choices, and will talk about getting down to work, but never really does” (Bass, 1998, p. 148).

Senge proposes that in learning organizations the leader’s “new work” should include a commitment to:

being the organization’s architect;

providing stewardship; and

being a teacher.

For schools to become learning organizations, the school’s leader(s) must accept responsibility for creating conditions that promote and enhance that learning. Principals must create opportunities for teachers to acquire information about what is occurring in the school and engage them in finding solutions to the problems that occur. A fundamental difference between the old view of leadership and that proposed by Senge is that the leader has a responsibility to create opportunities for teachers to learn about current research and apply that research in their classrooms in an environment that promotes learning. Perhaps most important of all, principals need to create a climate that promotes risk taking and eliminates the fear of failure. If these things can be done successfully schools will then possess the capacity to develop a shared vision about what needs to be done and engage in the kinds of activities that are needed to make their shared vision a reality.

Organizational Culture

Organizational culture has been defined from various perspectives (Carroll and Nafukho, 2006; Popper and Lipshitz, 1995; Shien, 1990; Alvesson, 2002; Cook and Yanow, 1993; Adler and Jelinek, 1996; Argris, 1999). According to Marguardt (2002), culture is “an organization’s values, beliefs, practices, rituals and customs”. The culture of a learning organization habitually learns and works to integrate processes in all organization functions. In effect, the learning organization’s culture is constantly evolving and travels along an infinite continuum in a harmonious learning environment. Ultimately, the goal is an exchange of useful knowledge leading to innovation, and improved learning public organizations.

The various terms used in the context of organizational culture are: values, ethics, beliefs, ethos, climate, environmental culture. Ethics refers to normative aspects to what is socially desirable. Values, beliefs: attitudes and norms are interrelated. Interaction between beliefs and values results in attitude formation and then produces norms. Values and benefits are the core, while attitudes are the next layer, followed by the norms or behavior. Then these get institutionalized, or when they accumulate and integrate we have social phenomena.

The eight important values relevant to institution building are openness, confrontation, trust, authenticity, pro-action, autonomy, collaboration and experimentation.

Openness: openness can be defined as a spontaneous expression of feeling and thoughts, and the sharing of these without defensiveness. Openness is in both directions, receiving and giving. Both these may relate to ideas (including suggestions, feedback (including criticism), and feelings. For example, openness means receiving without reservation, and taking steps to encourage more feedbacks and suggestions from customers, colleagues and others. Similarly, it means giving without hesitation, ideas, information, feedback, feelings, etc. openness may also mean spatial openness, in terms of accessibility.

Confrontation: confrontation can be defined as facing rather than shying away from problems. It also implies deeper analysis of interpersonal problems. All this involves taking up challenges.

Trust: trust is not used in the moral sense. It is reflected in maintaining the confidentiality of information shared by others, and in not misusing it. It is also reflected in a sense of a assurance that others will help, when such help is needed and will honor mutual commitments and obligations. Trust is also reflected in accepting what another person says at face value, and not searching for ulterior motives. Trust is an extremely important ingredient in the institution building processes.

Authenticity: authenticity is the congruence between what one feels, says and does. It is reflected in owning up one’s mistakes, and in unreserved sharing of feelings. Authenticity is closer to openness. The outcome of authenticity in an organization is reduced distortion in communication.

Pro-action: pro-action means taking initiative, preplanning and taking preventive action, and calculating the payoffs of an alternative course before taking action. The term pro-act can be contrasted with the term react. Pro-activity gives initiative to the person to start a new process or set a new pattern of behavior. Pro-activity involves unusual behavior. In this sense pro-activity means freeing oneself from, and taking action beyond immediate concerns. A person showing pro-activity functions at all the three levels of feeling, thinking and action.

Autonomy: Autonomy is using and giving freedom to plan and act in one’s own sphere. It means respecting and encouraging individual and role autonomy. It develops mutual respect and is likely to result in willingness to take on responsibility, individual initiative, better succession planning. The main indicator of autonomy is effective delegation in organization and reduction in references made to senior people for approval of planned actions.

Collaboration: Collaboration is giving help to, and asking for help from, others. It means working together (individuals and groups to solve problems and team spirit. The outcome of collaboration includes timely help, team work, sharing of experiences, improved communication and improved resource sharing.

Experimenting: Experimenting means using and encouraging innovative approaches to solve problems, using feedbacks for improving, taking a fresh look at things and encouraging creativity.

Personal Commitment

Mowday, Steers and Porter (1979, p. 226), defined commitment as ‘the relative strength of an individual’s identification with, and involvement in a particular organization’. Although many definitions of commitment have been presented since the seminal work of Mowday et al. (1979), it is the conception of Meyer and Allen (1991), which identifies three distinctive dimensions – affective, normative, and continuance – that has been the cornerstone of extant theorizing in the area of commitment (Herrbach, 2006).

Mowday, Porter and Steers (1982) Model

Commitment (Attitudinal Commitment), to an organization involves three components: (a) a strong belief in and acceptance of organizational goals and values, (b) a willingness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organization, and (c) a strong desire to maintain membership in the organization (Mowday et al., 1982). Research on organizational commitment has been examined primarily in relation to labour turnover (Ferris & Aranya, 1983; Hom, Katerberg & Hulin, 1979; Huselid & Day, 1991; Mowday, Steers & Porter, 1979; O’Reilly & Caldwell, 1980; Wiener & Vardi, 1980; Steers, 1977; Stumpf & Hartman, 1984).

Meyer and Allen (1997) Model

Meyer and Allen (1997) view organizational commitment as a ‘three component’ concept. The three components in their model are ‘Affective’, ‘Continuous’, and ‘Normative’. The affective commitment describes the emotional attachment an individual has with the organization, their identification with the goals and values of the organization and the level of their involvement (Zanagro, 2001). Affective commitment is taken as a construct closely related to identification (Bergami & Bagozzi, 2000). Continuance commitment is based on the cost that an employee associates with leaving the organizations, such as reduction in pay, pension, benefits, or facilities (Herbiniak & Alluto, 1972). Normative commitment is associated with employees’ feelings of obligation to continue employment due to the work culture and other socially accepted norms (Weiner & Gechman, 1977). The less common approach to viewing commitment is in terms of obligation. Of the three components least is known about the development of normative commitment (Meyer & Allen, 1997). The three dimensions highlight commitment from the perspectives of attachment, obligation, and necessity respectively.

From the above conceptual framework, a model is drawn for better understanding.

Organizational

Culture

Openness

Confrontation

Trust

Authenticity

Proaction

Autonomy

Collaboration

Experimentation

Leadership

Transformational

Transactional

Laissez-Faire

Personal Commitment

Own Development

Student & Institutional Development

Learning Organization

Personal Mastery

Mental Models

Shared Vision

Team Learning

Systems Thinking

Review of Literature

Schools as Learning Organization

Bowen et.al., 2007-Assessing the Functioning of Schools as Learning Organizations: Using data from the population of employees in 11 middle schools in North Carolina and building on an earlier analysis, this study examines the reliability and validity of a new assessment tool for assessing schools as learning organizations: the School Success Profile Learning Organization. The results align with the conceptual model that informed the development of the measure, including support for the two hypothesized learning organization components: actions and sentiments.

Kelleher Michael, 2007 – Learning Organization: The author designed a model for a learning organization: The model of the learning organization, with its three dimensional approach, proposes strategies within the domains of individual, team and organizational learning. He concluded by saying if lifelong learning is to become a reality, it will become increasingly important to ensure that strategies and actions support the development of learning organizations. If overlooked, the world of work could well be that area of people’s lives where learning is not explicit, supported and developed.

Moloi K.C..et al., 2006 – Educators’ perceptions of the school as a learning organization in the Vanderbijlpark-North District, South Africa: This article outlines the principal findings of research that sought to provide a comprehensive understanding of schools as learning organizations in the Vanderbijl Park-North District of the Gauteng province of South Africa. The quantitative research methodology used was of major importance in obtaining data that were grounded largely on the theoretical framework of learning organizations as wel

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