When top-down planned reforms meet educated and independent professionals in Norwegian schools
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Presented here is a qualitative study of what happens when top-down planned reforms meet educated and independent professionals in Norwegian schools. The Kunnskapsløft in Norwegian primary schools is used as an example of such a reform/strategy, with the sampled participants (teachers and principals) for personal interviews representing five different schools from the municipality of Sandnes. The study is based on the theoretical viewpoints of Mintzberg, viewing primary schools as compliant with Mintzberg´s configuration of professional organisations, in which professional behaviour is guided by standardised skills, and decisions are made in a threelayer model with regards to strategic behaviour. Mintzberg further views strategy as emergent bottom-up patterns of action, in which the workers in professional organisations and their knowledge and skills largely influences their behavioural patterns and thereby the strategy. Due to this proposed influence of the workers, I question the usefulness and actual implementations of topdown strategies such as reforms. I therefore expect a discrepancy between the formulated reform and the behaviour of the operating core, different working strategies between schools as a result of different operating cores, and possible redefinitions of existing behaviour to comply with the Kunnskapsløft, in order to allow for continuing the existing working strategy as based on professional skills and knowledge, while not being interrupted by top-down demands. Results support all of the hypotheses, suggesting considerable influence of the professionals on strategy, and that top-down strategies may not be appropriate for professional organisations.
Master's thesis in Change management