Managing the Intersection between Pedagogy and Politics: Innovations in the Public School Sector

Anna Holte Thorius

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis explores the school managers’ potential for being successful in creating innovations in upcoming reforms in the public school sector. As the actors in the managerial cross field have been converging in recent years, complexity has arisen as the requirements and demands for management capacity have been increasing. The thesis is structured upon three pillars that collectively constitute a foundation for a discursive analysis of the drivers of innovation and the coherence between practice, theory and management capabilities. The first pillar describes the changes in the managerial space through the different reforms and purposes of the public school sector, and presents the objects clauses formulated in the major school reforms within the last 40 years. The second pillar explores the development of management literature as it presents the content of centralisation, decentralisation, self-management, and new public management. Furthermore, the theory of dynamic capabilities is introduced as a potential theoretical foundation for the sector. The third pillar depicts the development of individual management capacities and outlines the facts about school managers in Denmark. Through the analysis the affects of innovations regarding the term “school management” is explored by a semantic trace of the different meanings-attributions that constitute the current complexity. The strategic responses to the innovations performed by the school managers are analysed as the continuum between deliberate and emergent strategies are explored. The analysis reveals the government as the driver of present innovations, whereas the school managers deploy the means to meet the goals articulated in the different reforms. As professional management has been on the political agenda since 1993, but nonetheless have not resulted in employments of professional managers in the public school system, the analysis generates grounds for recommending professionalism as a way to ensure the success of implementation processes, whereas pedagogical concerns must be the responsibility of educated teachers. Furthermore, the analysis exposes a necessity for dynamic organizational capabilities, as the sector is constantly evolving, requiring a readiness to adapt in the schools. Finally, the thesis outlines a necessity for stabilizing the meaning of the term “school management”, as the concept previously has been over-filled with attributions and perceptions leaving it at the verge of becoming nothing, as the managers struggle to position themselves in the intrinsic flux of the public school sector.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages106