The external barriers to participative management: Planning a high school for future teachers

Alan Paul Lentin, Fordham University


Education in the 1980's has gone through two waves of reform. The first reform movement did nothing more than raise the standards for entering the teaching profession and increase the requirements for high school graduation. The second wave of reform was a more thoughtful and constructive process. The core of the movement was the manner in which schools were governed.^ This researcher was given the opportunity to take a leadership role on the design of a new high school where the governance structure was to be based upon Participatory Decision Making (PDM). The assumption made was that barriers to implementation were bound to arise.^ The research design and methodology was a descriptive case study from the perspective of a participant observer. This design usually covers events over time. Field research of this type is suggestive rather than definitive.^ The data for this study were compiled in chronological order over an 8-month period. This time line comprised the planning for the new high school. The data were examined in three phases. Each phase began and ended based upon arbitrary dates selected by the researcher.^ When the analysis of the data from the planning was completed, four major external barriers to the implementation of policy were found to exist. They included the exercise of power, a multiplicity of players, unclear goals, and a breakdown in communication.^ The data revealed how these barriers were overcome. In each situation the planners either met power with power, adapted, negotiated, co-opted, or ignored the issue.^ External barriers add a complexity to the implementation process. Overcoming these barriers adds risk to the process. A typology of methods to overcome barriers emerged in this study. These moved up the scale from the least risky to the riskiest.^ It is essential that policy makers become more cognizant of the external barriers to policy implementation. These barriers only become the fuel that slows down the implementation phase of policy.^ Further research is essential to see if the central concept of the second wave of reform--PDM is working. What effect is this having on the education of the students? What impact is it having on the faculty and the administration? These questions and more should be answered before we enter the third wave of reform. ^

Subject Area

Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Lentin, Alan Paul, "The external barriers to participative management: Planning a high school for future teachers" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9226420.