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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Dimensions and determinants of school workflow structure Marshall, Michael Anthony


The study was an investigation into the workflow structure of junior and senior secondary schools. It constituted an attempt to develop a conceptual framework for identifying dimensions of school workflow structure and possible determinants thereof. The study incorporated seven stages: (1) development of a theoretical model of possible determinants of school workflow structure, (2) adaptation and refinement of an existing instrument to measure school workflow structure in junior and senior secondary schools, (3) use of the instrument to identify underlying dimensions of school workflow structure, analysis of the relationships between variables of organizational context and school workflow structure, (5) examination of a particular orientation of professional staff towards students, namely, the degree to which staff are concerned with the control of pupil behavior, (6) analysis of the control orientation, or Pupil Control Ideology (PCI), of professional staff with respect to school type, size, and school district affiliation and, (7) clarification of the relationship between pupil control ideology and school workflow structure. School workflow structure was measured by Kelsey's Diversification of workflow instrument. This instrument is based on the notion of diversification of workflow structure in schools and is an adaptation of Perrow's concept of technological routinization. Two separate major dimensions, 'Diversification of Control' and 'Diversification of Equipment', were found to underlie workflow structure. School districts and school types (junior or senior secondary) differed significantly on school scores on both dimensions. School types were significantly different in size but when size was controlled for type, size was not associated with scores on either dimension. PCI scores differed significantly across school districts in only two of eighteen pair wise comparisons. Junior secondary schools and senior secondary schools were, however, significantly different with respect to their mean PCI scores. Size of school, controlled for type, was not significantly associated with Pupil Control Ideology scores. School mean PCI scores and Diversification of Control scores showed a significant positive association in junior secondary schools. The attempt to explain this finding and the evident lack of relationship in senior schools led to the discovery that the amount of within-school variance on the PCI scores may be a mediating variable between school PCI score and Diversification of Control. When PCI variance is taken into account, prediction of the probable extent of diversification of control is possible for low variance schools but not for high variance schools. PCI scores were also significantly inversely related to Diversification of Equipment in junior secondary schools. The findings were incorporated into a revised model of possible determinants of school workflow structure. The revised model carries implications of a theoretical, methodological, and practical nature. The theoretical implications are found in the clarification of the nature of the relationships among dimensions of school workflow structure, variables of organizational context, and a psycho-sociological variable. Methodologically, the results indicate that, while it is possible to take an instrument such as Kelsey's, which was designed for comparative research, and apply it to a geographically restricted study, it is wise in such cases to consider using the unrefined form of the instrument in order to test not only the applicability of the instrument but also its initial conceptualization. Finally, the relationship of pupil control ideology to school workflow structure has implications for school principals and for the recruitment and placement of professional staff.

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