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Title:An Exploration of Collaboration Among Education Agencies as a Means of Promoting Local School Improvements
Author(s):Scannell, June Alice Pound
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Administration
Abstract:Interorganizational collaboration--the process through which different kinds of service agencies, at varying levels of the administrative hierarchy, cooperate in assisting clients--can reduce needless duplication of services, improve interagency communication, and promote more efficient use of human and material resources. The major objective of the study was to learn more about the collaborative process, particulary with respect to state, intermediate, and local education agencies working cooperatively toward school improvements. More specifically, the purpose of the research was to isolate and analyze operational factors which either promote or hinder joint efforts at desirable educational change.
To achieve these objectives, the dissertation (a) reviews general theory on interagency collaboration, (b) describes a variety of typical field situations involving prospective collaboration among educational agencies, (c) defines specific practices which promote workable partnerships among state agencies, regional units and local districts, (d) identifies circumstances that interfere with cooperative efforts, and finally, (e) outlines a series of recommendations for circumventing barriers and fostering effective interaction among school organizations.
Through a participant-observer technique, various "real-world" situations with a potential for interagency collaboration, and conducive to conceptual analysis, were examined. Each of these selected field situations was documented in detail, subjected to evaluative interpretation, and ultimately summarized in vignette form. The data was gathered over a nine month period by the investigator, a state education agency consultant engaged in assisting local districts to improve practice.
From the data collection and analysis, particular factors influencing the collaborative process were identified. It seems clear, for example, that cooperating organizations must have a reasonably strong interest in the objectives being pursued. Secondly, virtually every successful collaborative benefits from the services of a strong and competent leader who devotes his or her energies to making the partnership work. Collaboratives often fail, on the other hand, because their energies are not directed toward clear-cut goals; because the alliance threatens the special interests of one or more members; or because a minimal degree of trust does not exist among the group.
The dissertation also documents specific recommendations for practice. For example, since effective collaboration and school improvement are both dependent upon able leadership, substantial advantage would be gained in focusing administrator pre-service and in-service training on techniques for developing locally-initiated changes, as well as for exploiting the potential of collaborative endeavor. In addition, state agencies might do well to develop several exemplary models of the collaborative process that could serve as prototypes. Moreover, inasmuch as collaborative networks do not materialize automatically, state and federal officials should establish some kind of incentive structure which encourages and facilitates various kinds of joint partnerships. Finally, because school organizations are deeply concerned about their own welfare and survival, collaboratives must be organized in such fashion that autonomy and self-direction are preserved.
In sum, the study is useful in drawing attention to: (1) the importance of collaboration in educational improvement, and (2) particular conditions which affect the collaborative process. The investigation should be of considerable interest to those involved in locally-determined school improvements, new service coalitions, and better interagency cooperation. State agencies, especially, because of their need to use diverse resources in perpetuating school improvement, should find the various conclusions reached in the study worthy of consideration.
Issue Date:1980
Description:131 p.
Thesis (Educat.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8108652
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-12
Date Deposited:1980

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