Power and Politics in Schools

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Power and Politics in Schools Powered By Docstoc
					                     Presented October 28, 2009 by
Jake Russo, Rich Moran, Peggy Pughe and Joe Manildi
“The probability that one
  actor within a social
  relationship will be in a
  position to carry out his
  own will despite
  resistance.” Weber, 1947,
  p. 152
Sources of authority—legitimate
Groups influence who
 has authority & who
 follows the authority
Authority relations in schools have
3 primary characteristics:
  • Willingness of staff to comply
  • A suspension of the staffs’ criteria for making a decision
    prior to a directive
  • A power relationship legitimized by the norms of a
Types of Authority
  – Traditional authority: belief in the sanctity of the
    status of those exercising authority in the past
  – Legal authority: based on enacted laws that can be
    changed by formally correct procedures
  – Formal authority: vested in the organization and
    is legally established in positions, rules, and
  – Functional authority: variety of sources,
    including authority of competence and authority of
  – Informal authority: stems from personal behavior
    and attributes of individuals.
Authority and Administrative
Behavior in Schools
• Chester Barnard (1938) “zone of indifference”
• Formal authority promotes limited compliance, but
  doesn’t require employees to exert responsibility or
• This poses a challenge for school leaders
• Control through
  – Leads to resentment
  – Lack of loyalty
  – Blau refers to this as the
    “dilemma of
    bureaurocrat authority”
Therefore, successful principals
do the opposite:
  • They furnish services & assistance to faculty
  • Results: enhanced development of loyalty and an
    increase in the principal’s informal authority
  • Supervisors should focus on helping, not directing
  • Research supports these assertions
  • “Close authoritarian control of teachers does not
    generate informal authority; supportive and helpful
    supervision does.” p. 223
Emotional detachment &
hierarchical independence
 Important characteristics of principal-teacher
   Emotional detachment: the ability to remain
    cool/collected in challenging situations
   Hierarchical independence: extent to which
    administrators demonstrate their autonomy from
    superiors (District level admin) as they interact w/
Principals get caught in the
middle all the time
An Administrator’s To Do List:
 – Be considerate and supportive of their teachers: help
   teachers be successful
 – Be authentic: be straight, share in the blame, and avoid
   manipulating others
 – Be unfettered by bureaucracy: substitute good judgment
   for rigid rules
 – Demonstrate autonomy: be your own person
 – Demonstrate influence: go to bat for your teachers with
 – Stay calm and cool, especially in difficult situations:
   don’t “blow up”
 – Avoid the use of authoritarian behavior: it is doomed to
 (p. 244)
Sources of Power
• Reward Power: Influence staff by rewarding a desired
•   Coercive Power: Influence the staff by punishing
    them for undesirable behavior.
•   Legitimate power: Influence behavior of staff
    because of his/her formal position (principal).
•   Referent Power: Influence behavior based on the
    staff’s liking and identification with the administrator
•   Expert power: Influence subordinate’s behavior
    based on specialized knowledge or skill
Don’t abuse your power, just be
Be polite and clear.
Explain reasons when requesting
 something from your staff.
Respond to concerns of staffers
Use legitimate authority.
Make sure you’ve got the right wine for that
cheese…it could get ugly if you don’t!
• Your effectiveness as an administrator is determined
  by pairing the right type of power with the right
• There are five types of power (you’ve got the list in your
  packet) and Yukl has identified three reactions that
  they may elicit from your staff:
  – Commitment
  – Simple compliance
  – Resistance
How’s about a little informal assessment…
 Get your “Types of Power” cheat sheet.
 Obtain a student responder.
 Wait for me to tell you when to power up your
 Log in with your three letter code located on the sheet
  at your table (press slowly).
 When answering, press only once.
Expert Power

A.) Commitment
B.) Simple Compliance
C.) Resistance
Reward power

A.) Commitment
B.) Simple compliance
C.) Resistance
Coercive Power

A.) Commitment
B.) Simple Compliance
C.) Resistance
Legitimate power

A.) Commitment
B.) Simple Compliance
C.) Resistance
Referent Power

A.) Commitment
B.) Simple compliance
C.) Resistance
So, what do we get out of this?
Two of the five types of power will
 maximize commitment from the
 school community.
At the very least, the type of power
 you choose should avoid resistance
 and alienation.
Issues with each type of power.
 Referent power most effective, but also most
  difficult to achieve because it requires longevity.
 Expert power requires the constant demonstration
  of knowledge and skill (you may also have to
  relinquish some control )
 Reward power may guarantee simple compliance,
  but we want to avoid bringing Ivan to the party.
 Legitimate power is a possibility but limited in its
  scope (i.e. grades).
 Coercive power just gets ugly. You didn’t do what I
  want so I’m going to do this to you…
There is also the possibility of sharing power.
 Sharing EMPOWERS staff. Components of sharing
  power include:
    Shared decision making
    Delegation of authority
    Promotion of teamwork/collaboration
 Minimizes the need to yield less productive types of
  power and may have positive outcomes on student
Mintzberg’s Perspective on Power
 Power is controlled by the individuals in a school that
  control a resource, a technical skill, or a body of
  knowledge. Do you have power if most people have a
  skill that you have?
 Case study – me.
 Power can also come from a legal perogative.
 Some people can wield power because they have
  special access to those in the power structure.
Four Sets of Internal Power Systems
 The System of Authority
  Personal control (Administrative
  Bureaucratic control (contractual
   obligations, etc.)
 The System of Ideology
 The System of Expertise
 The System of Politics
What to do?
 Combining systems of authority and ideology with a
  pinch of expertise will allow you to maximize the
  effectiveness of your power on campus.
 The overarching message…
Pg. 234-238
Rationality vs. Rationalization
 Rationality is the application of evidence and reason
  to make decisions
 Rationalization is an attempt to make a decision
  seem rational after it has already been made.
The influence of Power on Reason
 Possession of power spoils the free use of reason (Kant,
 People in Power spin the truth to suit their own
  purposes. (Sweetland and Hoy, 2000b).
 Power defines reality!
 People in power reinterpret evidence.
The influence of Power on Reason
 Nietzsche 1968
   Interpretation is itself a means of becoming master of
    something and subduing and becoming masters
    involves a fresh interpretation.
   Self delusion may be part of the will to power.
 Machiavlli (1984)
   Two types of power use
        People who can force the issue
        People who must use persuasion.
Rationalization and Power
 Administrators often believe their own
 An administrator unwilling to present a rational
  argument is using the power to act.
 Administrators are more likely to listen to reason when
  power is Stable.
 “Knowledge is power” Bacon (1597) but also “power is
POLITICS pg. 236 – 238
 Organizational Politics is informal and illegitimate.
 Coalitions are groups of individuals who bargain for
 Individuals have parochial needs and attempt to satisfy
  those needs by forming groups.
 Groups may be professional, departmental, gender,
  ethnic, internal or external.
External                  Internal
 Achieve goals outside    affected by external
  of official decision      coalitions
  making process.          Five types
 Three types                 Personalized
   Dominated                 Bureaucratic
                              Ideological
   Divided
                              Professional
   Passive
                              Politicized
THE POWER GAME pg. 238 – 240
       Power Matters!

Your options are…
 Stay and play for power
 Stay and contribute as
Politics can be good!
 Politics creates conflict and can bring attention to an
 Politics ensures and promotes:
   Strongest members become leaders
   All sides of issue are debated
   Change
   Action on decisions.
 Now let the GAMES BEGIN!!!!
Political power is

A.) legitimate
B.) illegitimate
C.) Either depending on the situation
When a group of students begin to
protest an event, then students and
teachers take sides. The type of
internal coalition formed is
A.) personalized
B.) ideological
C.) bureaucratic
D.) professional
E.) politicized
Political Tactics
• Ingratiating: a tactic used to gain the goodwill of
    another group doing favors.
•   Networking: The process of forming relationships with
    influential people
•   Information Management: A tactic used to control
    others or build status
•   Impression management: Create a favorable
    image…tout your accomplishments.
•   Coalition building: the process of individuals banning
    together to achieve a to; oppose or support a proposed
    policy or change.
•   Scapegoating: is blaming and attacking others when
    things go wrong or not working
•   Increasing indispensability: individuals make
    themselves necessary to the organization.
Political Games:
• Rules establish opportunities or pathways by which people
  gain access to positions, power and materials.
• Insurgency games: used to resist formal authority
• Power building games: Games that are used by participants to
  build a power base.
• Alliance-building game: individuals develop a concern and
  seek supporters or a group of individuals concerned about an
  issue seek out an informal leader to effectively present their
• Empire building game: the attempt of an individual to
  enhance his or her power base by collecting subordinates and
  groups. Individuals are typically fighting over territory. This
  type of game typically takes place during budgeting; Secure
  resources, satisfy your constituents; retain power.
• Expertise game: Secure power through the development of
  specialized skills necessary to the success of the organization
 Lording: Those with legitimate power “lord over” subordinates;
  often seen in the classroom.
Rival Games:
• Line and staff game: Conflict between middle managers
  with formal authority and staff advisors with specialized
  expertise (District level coordinator -vs -principal)
• Rival-camps game: Two well defined groups square off.

Change Games: Designed to alter the organization or its
• Strategic-candidates game: Use the legitimate system of
  authority to promote a proposal or project.
• Whistle blowing game: The use of inside information on a
  particular behavior that violates an important norm or
  perhaps the law. The informant typically circumvents the
  legitimate channel of control and is subject to reprisal, the
  contact is typically kept secret.
• Young Turks-game: an attempt to affect a change so
  fundamental that is throws the legitimate power into
              Conflict Management
               Your needs      -vs.-      needs of others

                Uncooperative            Cooperative

Assertive          Competing            Collaborating

                     Avoiding       Accommodating

• Conflict-management styles: Two basic dimensions of
  behavior that can produce conflict: attempting to satisfy
  one’s concerns and attempting to satisfy others’ concerns.
  • Avoiding style: Unassertive and uncooperative. Ignore
  •   Compromising style: Balancing the needs between the
      organization and individuals. Negotiate; focus on middle
  •   Competitive style: creates win lose situations-assertive and
      uncooperative style which produces rivalry and creates a
      situation in which the winner achieves his/ her goals at the
      expense of others.
  •   Accommodating style: Unassertive and cooperative;
      submissive and compliant.
  •   Collaborating style: Assertive and cooperative. Problems and
      conflicts are seen as challenges. Differences are confronted
      and ideas and information are shared. Attempting to s satisfy
      organizational demands can be viewed along an assertive-
      unassertive continuum: attempting to satisfy individual needs
      can be conceptualized from uncooperative to cooperative.
              Need                 Decision



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