The Research Context

  • Sheila Rosenblum
  • Karen Seashore Louis
Part of the Environment, Development, and Public Policy book series (CIPS)


The topic of organizational change has received increasing attention from organizational and administration theorists and researchers in recent years. Although there has been some interest in natural adaptation or modification of organizations in response to unplanned events (Grusky, 1961; Meyer, 1975; Terreberry, 1968), the greatest emphasis in applied research has been placed upon the processes, determinants, and outcomes of planned change. This concern has nowhere been more evident than in the area of education, where schools and school districts have been subjected to considerable internal and external pressures during the past 20 years to change their curricula, their structures, and even their goals. Recent syntheses of the literature in this area have covered the research findings in considerable detail (see, e.g., Fullan & Pomfret, 1977; Gaynor, 1975; Giacquinta, 1973; Pincus, 1974).


School District Organizational Change Organizational Behavior Research Context Change Program 
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  1. 1.
    An alternative view of organizational behavior and the role of leadership had its origins in the work of Weber (1947), who emphasized the inherent instability of “inspirational” leadership, and focused on the notion of interchangeability of parts including the human occupants of positions within bureaucratic organizations. In such a system, it is rules and a formal authority structure that make the system work, and not any personal characteristics either of subordinates or of the chief administrator. The Weberian view tends to predominate in organizational and management theory today, perhaps because of a general decline of faith in government and leadership. Whatever the cause, one can read through recent volumes of the Administrative Science Quarterly or other similar journals and find few references to administrative leadership or the functions of the executive. Recent articles that have drawn empirical attention to the importance of the elite in determining organizational behavior seem to have had relatively little impact on the overall course of organizational research (see, e.g., Hage & Dewar, 1973).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Though throughput and output are no less important, they are the major focus of other products of the research on the Rural ES program. See, for example, Abt and Magidson (1980).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    There are exceptions to this generalization. Baldridge and Burnham (1975) examine the relative contribution of leader characteristics, structure, and environment to innovation in schools. Hage and Dewar (1973) test the relative importance of values and structure as they relate to change. Corwin (1973) examines competing theoretical approaches to change, several of which parallel the traditions presented above.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheila Rosenblum
    • 1
  • Karen Seashore Louis
    • 1
  1. 1.CambridgeUSA

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