These criticisms of formal models suggest that they have serious limitations. The dominance of the hierarchy is compromised by the expertise possessed by professional staff. The supposed rationality of the decision-making process requires modification to allow for the pace and complexity of change. The concept of organizational goals is challenged by those who point to the existence of multiple objectives in education and the possible conflict between goals held at individual, departmental and institutional levels. “Rationalistic-bureaucratic notions . . . have largely proven to be sterile and to have little application to administrative practice in the “real world” (Owens & Shakeshaft, 1992, p. 4)
Despite these limitations, it would be inappropriate to dismiss formal approaches as irrelevant to schools and colleges. The other models discussed in this chapter were all developed as a reaction to the perceived weaknesses of formal theories. However, these alternative perspectives have not succeeded in dislodging the formal models, which remain valid as partial descriptions of organization and management in education. Owens and Shakeshaft (1992)refer to a reduction of confidence in bureaucratic models, and a “paradigm shift” to a more sophisticated analysis, but formal models still have much to contribute to our understanding of schools as organisations.
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