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Title: A critical analysis of Thomas B. Greenfield's subjective approach to the field of educational administration in the context of an interdisciplinary initiative to the field, drawing on sociology of education, anthropology, philosophy and organisation theory in general
Author: Kirkham, John Alan
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 1994
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In 1974, at the International Intervisitation Programme (I.I.P.) in Bristol, Thomas B. Greenfield launched a subjective approach to educational administration, with an attack on what he saw as the prevailing systems perspective of the "New Movement", which grew up in the late 1950's and early 1960's centred on the University of Chicago, but drawing inspiration from the work of Herbert Simon. The resulting subjective/systems debates plunged educational administration into a period of uncertainty, and yet, paradoxically, at the same time, produced an examination of the very philosophical and theoretical bases of the field of educational administration and brought to the forefront of the debate many issues, for example, the role of science in educational administration, the nature of theory, the reality of organisations and the 'right' way to conduct educational research. The first section provides an overview of events surrounding the Greenfield/Griffiths Debate. It focuses on the period immediately after the I.I.P. Address at Bristol, where Daniel Griffiths' challenges to Greenfield's stance led to what was called the Greenfield/Griffiths Debate. Finally, the critiques of Jean Hills and Donald Willower are considered in the aftermath of the Greenfield/Griffiths Debate. This provides a foundation on which to build the specific debates of the later sections, where comparative and analytical methods are used . The methodological implications of the way this thesis has attempted critically to analyse the thoughts of various writers, and to suggest new insights that the author brings to the debate, are considered in the Preface. The writer's physics background has enabled him to provide examples and comparisons from the natural sciences and to clear up what he regards as misconceptions about the nature of science that Greenfield and other contributers exhibit in their work. Section 2. explores the justificatory philosophical sources which Greenfield and his critics use to buttress their views. Greenfield, for example, draws on the work of Weber, Laing and Hodgkinson, but does so in such a way that makes it difficult to locate his exact philosophical position. Labels such as action theorist, phenomenologist and existentialist, appear only to have limited applicability to Greenfield's stance. Investigations have been undertaken into the philosophies of Husserl and Schutz to try to clarify this position, but in no sense is it claimed that this is a philosophical thesis. Its concern is with educational administration. Sections 3. and 4. compare Greenfield's 'new perspective' with the so called, 'new directions' in the sociology of education, which, while superficially sharing similarities with the 'new perspective', also indicate underlying fundamental differences in the way the two fields progressed. For instance, although a phenomenological period is claimed by Sarup for the 'new directions' in the sociology of education, on analysis, it does not appear really to have existed, there being, instead, an early push towards neo-Marxist perspectives. Hence, the need to examine neo-Marxist perspectives in both fields in Section 4. Section 5. discusses the importance of anthropological and ethnographic research methods in educational administration, as a result of their almost inevitable use, as the only methods available, if research is to remain within subjective approaches. Section 6. examines ambiguity models such as the 'Garbage Can' model of Cohen, March and Olsen, and the 'loose coupling' of Weick. Such models are often considered to have a sympathy with subjective approaches, in their citation of 'fuzzy' organisational goals and unclear technologies, and notions of 'organised anarchy'. Yet, the thesis shows that this philosophical orientation is much closer to systems perspectives, i.e. goals may be 'fuzzy', but they are still organisational goals, something impossible under Greenfield's subjective approach. Section 7. examines the concept, 'paradigm' and the idea that the subjective/systems debate has given way to paradigm diversity. However, appeals to Kuhn's scientific notion of paradigm help to reveal inconsistencies in the way the term is applied in educational administration, and to question its appropriateness to the field. Section 8. examines the INLOGOV Report, (a report by the Institute of Local Government Studies and School of Education, University of Birmingham, on the arrangements of the Education Department of Strathclyde Regional Council), in the light of the various philosophical and theoretical approaches put forward in this thesis, to provide an example of the relevance of such work to a specific educational administration situation, i.e. the arrangements for educational administration in Strathclyde Regional Council's Education Department. Section 9. attempts to break new ground over the problem of intersubjectivity, the attempt to bridge the gap between subjective and systems approaches.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available