• Christian Antonio Kjær
4. term, Sociology, Master (Master Programme)
The purpose of this research is to study the organizational level interface between two schools and their upper management, in the Danish municipality of Aalborg. This project aims to identify the perspectives of both parties, which are on one hand the teachers and the schools managements and on the other hand their upper management. The focus has been to shed light on the challenges and strengths involved in the cooperation between these two parties, when dealing with such demanding and complex tasks, as inclusion in the Danish school system. One of the most important values in the Danish school system, is based on the egalitarian principle, that every child must be treated equally. The overall objective being, that the Danish public schools must include as many children as possible, into their regular teaching programs. The object of analysis is the interface between schools and upper management and is examined through inclusion as a case. The overall entry to the field was done through an explorative and inductive approach. The goal was to openly explore the subject, without any ambition of testing a preconstructed theory or thesis. The research design of the present master thesis, is based on a single case study through a qualitative approach, including interviews with the two focus groups. One interview with four teachers and four school managers, and the other with representatives of the upper management. All of the parties were selected based on the criteria, that they all have some relation to inclusion on a daily basis. The interviews were mainly executed through a drawing assignment. The participants were asked to draw, how they considered the interface relation, between the two parties, to be. For the interview with the schools, the participants were split into four groups. Two of them consisting of two teachers from the same school, and two of them consisting of two school managers from the same school. For the interview with the upper management, consisting of four informants, these were asked to divide into two groups of two of their own choosing. Along with the drawings I asked all groups to apply three strengths and three weaknesses to the relation. Both focus group interviews were concluded with a discussion amongst the participants. In addition, the interviews with the upper management concluded by me presenting them with the schools’ points of view and perspectives.

The results of the research show, that one of the biggest challenges at the level interface, between schools and upper management is, that there are too many initiatives generated at a political level and by the upper management, and the schools are having problems finding both the meaning and the time to implement them. To some extent, this occasionally make the schools feel submissive, frustrated and despondent in some, which they illustrate in their drawings as a sinking ship with no chance to anchor. Furthermore, the schools see an interface where the upper management tends to cover their ears when criticized. Lastly the schools agree that they would like the upper management to be better in the future to differentiate between the schools and recognize their different needs and capabilities. Even though the upper management agree with mostly everything the schools are saying, they have a perspective of the schools which tend to keep an ”us and them” narrative, thus preventing the relation between the schools and upper management to evolve and find common ground. They also seem to think of the schools as small ships, that sometimes have trouble sailing in the rightfully intended direction. The level interface is analyzed primarily through David I. Brown’s theory about conflict at organizational interfaces. In spite the fact that I find both parties, the upper management most of all, interested and open minded on making the relationship better that the level interface is suffering from both tendencies of an over and under organized interface. Underorganized, because of the missing structure of the initiatives and the constant implementation failures. Over organized, because of the feeling of suppression in a top-down organization, with very little involvement of the operating level, the teachers. Furthermore, some tendencies to too little conflict identified by the schools feeling suppressed and the upper management dominant. Also, the results shows that there are issues with the upper management tending to be abdicating from their power with a “fiddle while Rome burns” mentality, as they are aware of the problems the many initiatives are causing, but lacking an active effort to fix this. Besides the too little conflict, no power struggle seems to be present, and even though the interface between the two parties is challenged in some areas, both seem to have good intentions and many aspects of the relationship do seem to be based on a negotiating order where both parties see each other as equals.
Publication date1 Jan 2019
Number of pages94
External collaboratorAalborg Kommune
No Name vbn@aub.aau.dk
Information group
ID: 292604135