Meningsskabelse og kerneopgaveforståelse i en periode frisat af styringskæden

Flemming Jørgensen & Jon Lissner

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


This master thesis examines the understanding of the ”core task” and the sense-making in the Danish public school, in the context of a chaos perspective as a consequence of Covid-19. In March 2020 Denmark got hit by the world wide pandemic Covid-19, which put the whole society in a crisis situation, where large parts of society was closed down. This put pressure on and forced new demands upon the public sector to solve the core tasks in a very special context. As school principals for two separate public schools we were both involved in, how the teachers chose to solve the tasks with the pupils in a time where the “line of command” was (momentarily) disengaged. The sense-making became a beacon for all, and everyone had to figure out by themselves how the task should be understood, and therefore the understanding of the core task became a central theme. Our problem statement is: Which existential understanding of the core task organized the teachers sense-making in the emergency teaching time frame, which today can present us with a more profound insight and an opportunity to reevaluate our leadership according to the normative core task? Theoretically we build on Karl E. Weick ́s concept of sense-making, explained by Sverri Hammer and James Høpner. We have a distinct assumption that the elements in Weicks ́ 7 characteristics for sense-making were significant for the teachers ́ handling of their tasks in this time frame, considering that organization and creation of purpose, according to Weick, are interconnected. Through creation of purpose the teachers organized meaning. The concept of “core task” is interpreted by two thesis: Peter Hasles normative approach to the core task, as well as Justine Pors and Niels Åkerstrøm Andersen ́s perspective on the “coreless core task”. Furthermore we apply the three analytical perspectives of Gordon Lawrence as a frame of understanding; the normative core task, the existential core task and the phenomenological core task. Finally we employ Anders Raastrup Kristensen and Michael Pedersens thoughts on the ideal strategic self-management, which combined with Christian Maravelias ́ definition of “freedom at work” gives an analytical basis to examine, to which extent the teachers were using self-management and self-determination/self-realization in a time of emergency legislation. We have chosen an analytical inductive design, inspired by Ground Theory to discover and subsequently analyze the considerations, which occur in our empiri consisting of six focus group interviews with teachers, pupils and “middle managers” at our schools. The analysis is divided into three parts; the teachers ́ understanding of the core task, their sense-making and their understanding of management, and we identified three essential discoveries:
1.The teachers put the pupil in the center of all their understanding.
2.The teachers especially picked cues, which strengthened their sense-making according to their teacher-identity.
3.The teachers were existentially self-managing according to their teacher-identity.
These three discoveries contribute to a discussion of what we, as leadership, should be attentive to in our pursuit of the ideal mutual core task understanding. The culture of teachers has a strong inherent profession identity, which in a management-free setting transforms into existential self-management. The creation of purpose takes its cues from that which confirms the self-understanding and the intrinsic motivation. Therefore the sense-making arises from various criteria and is created into complex connections of cues, where every individual teacher finds plausibility. Conclusively there is a general mismatch between the public school ́s normative purpose clause and the teachers existential approach to the task regarding the school`s pupils, which in the inquiry period was evident, but we also assess that this is a general status in the schools. Consequently there is a qualified management task in supporting the teachers ́ professional judgment, so that it becomes meaningful for them to have a stronger focus on the motivation of the pupils and a more relatable connection in their choice for the normative core task -the purpose clause for the public school - and, - accordingly supporting the teachers in a normative and phenomenological perspective on their core task.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages82
SupervisorsJustine Grønbæk Pors