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Title: Riding the storm out : a case study of public sector education leaders' perceptions of organizational decline and downsizing within Washington State, USA
Author: Anderson, Dana
ISNI:       0000 0004 2736 2933
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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The ripples from the global recession of 2008 continue to progress through the public sector. Faced with declining resources and accountability for increased organisational outcomes, leaders transform their organisations by setting direction during decline and redesign their organisations by downsizing. Downsizing agents, or executioners, respond to the needs of victims of downsizing, however fail to attend to their own needs or the needs of downsizing survivors. This study utilizes transformational leadership theory to frame leaders' responses to economic decline, and contributes to filling the gap in academic study regarding the influences of economic decline in the public sector. The purpose of this study was to explore perspectives of a selection of educational leaders regarding the influence of economic decline on their organisations and individuals. Participants included a sampling of executive educational leaders representing the state/regional, district and school levels within Washington State, USA. The qualitative analysis of 23 semi-structured interviews resulted in six findings 2 • participants readily recognized the existence of decline and attributed the cause to fiscal and economic contexts external to their organisations; • decline resulted in profound influences at the organisational level; • the enduring quality of organisational mission and purpose coupled with concern for worker well-being constrained leader responses to decline; • decline invariably resulted in organisational downsizing, predominantly through workforce reductions; • downsizing was most significantly experienced at the individual level, represented by the roles of victim, survivor or executioner; • leaders mediated negative influences by articulating a vision beyond the current economic crisis, providing care and support to individuals and ensuring effective and transparent communication regarding their planned responses to decline. Many participants reported no formal preparation for their role as leaders of organisations experiencing decline, indicating a need to apply the present study's findings to leader preparation and training. As lack of previous academic interest in decline and downsizing in educational settings was also found, indicating a need for further empirical research, particularly regarding the experiences of downsizing agents, or executioners.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available