Identifying barriers to school improvement: an examination of the impact of New Public Management on the dual role of the Head Teacher in Scotland, exemplified through the application of staff absence management as a surrogate for the adoption of New Public Management techniques
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This empirical research uses interpretative enquiry in order to identify the barriers to school improvement by examining the impact of New Public Management (NPM) on the dual role of the Head Teacher in Scotland. For the purpose of this research staff absence management is employed as a surrogate for the adoption of New Public Management techniques. Three main concepts are covered within the context of this thesis: NPM; staff absence in the public sector and the dual nature of Headship in Scotland. The main frameworks that guide this research are Constructed Grounded Theory (Charmaz), Embedded Multiple Case-Study (Yin), NPM (Hood), Service-Dominant Logic (Vargo and Lusch), Co-production (Ostrom; Osborne et. al. and Pestoff et. al.), New Public Governance (Osborne), Occupational Professionalism and Organisational Professionalism (Evetts). Logic models are central to the cogency of the argument and throughout this thesis the logic models of Old Public Administration, NPM (Hood; 1991) and Service dominant logic (Vargo and Lusch, 2004) are central. Adopting Osborne’s position (2009), that the root of NPM is based on a product-dominant/manufacturing logic, this thesis argues that this logic model is at odds with the occupational professionalism (Evetts; 1994) that exists at the school level, a logic model rooted firmly within a service-dominant logic model. The thesis proffers that it is this clash of logic models that has created a void between the goals of NPM, the organisational professionalism that exists within the case study local authority, and the occupational professionalism found on the ground in practice at the school level. The thesis concludes by stating that NPM has had a damaging effect on the dual role of the Head Teacher in Scotland and offers three main themes to support this original contribution to theory. Firstly, that NPM has failed at the school level in Scotland because of an underestimation of how complex schools are and a systematic failure to understand the complex nature, and high level of variance, within the public service delivery as exemplified through a focus on absence management. Secondly, NPM has had a damaging effect by continually expanding the tasks and responsibilities devolved to the Head Teacher over the last two decades in particular. Finally, NPM has failed at the school level in Scotland because of a systematic failure to understand both the occupational professionalism of the Head Teacher and the service-dominant organisation in which the Head Teacher works.
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