AERA Handbook Org Theory ReviewedCCC2 Dec 16-1-1.doc

First studying organizational theories that extend

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First, studying organizational theories that extend beyond structural functionalism and interpretivism pushes students' intellectual thinking or "stretches the mind." In the introduction to their organizational theory text, Hatch and Cunliffe (2006) note, "organization theory draws on the sciences, the humanities and the arts, and so presents the intellectual challenge of thinking in interdisciplinary ways" (p. 3). Educators expect staff to routinely challenge students with a 4
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rigorous, intellectually rich curriculum. Yet, educational leaders in the midst of their day to day work may intellectually drift, and their leadership informed by a bland intellectual diet consisting of practitioner publications that most often align with status quo thinking. Because of their epistemological unconsciousness (described later), practitioners often fail to realize that is what touted as “new” or “innovative” in education, often emanates from status quo (i.e., structural functional) epistemologies. Thus, the interdisciplinary basis of organizational theories can expand equity leaders' intellectual capacity even beyond the field of education. This critically oriented intellectual challenge and continual learning about these theories can sustain leaders in the long haul and can alleviate burnout. In some ways, continued learning about organizational theories can be an intellectual break that is a relief from the rigors of daily equity leadership. At the same time, what leaders learn during the intellectual respite from their day to day work can inform their practice in new ways. As such, the study of organizational theories does not necessarily require leaders step out of their practice. In contrast, studying organizational theories can engage leaders in their leadership practice more deeply, and in so doing, can facilitate leaders’ mindfulness about their life and work. Second, studying organizational theory can teach prospective educational leaders to examine the larger context, or "bigger picture" in which their work is taking place. Being able to step back from the day to day micro leading can help leaders not take personally the inevitable resistance to their social justice efforts (Theoharis, 2007). Being able to step back from day to day leading and examine the larger context of the educational setting can also help leaders see their educational setting as a complex system of inter-related aspects. In so doing, taking a larger perspective on their educational setting as an organization can help leaders see how the different aspects of the organization do and should work together. Understanding differing epistemologies 5
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and their associated theories can help leaders "chunk" or mentally organize into coherent groups different aspects of the educational setting. For example, when considering moving toward more equitable outcomes, leaders can consider politics, culture, and structure among other organizational aspects. Hatch (2011) concurs with this benefit of understanding organizational theories and writes that organizational theory " . . . illustrates the power of abstraction—using
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