De legitime roller: De institutionelle logikkers betydning for PPR’s rolle og opgavevaretagelse

Marie Lønstrup Nicolaisen

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


This master’s thesis is inspired by the present debate on the role and task of the educational psychologists – the PPR. Through the intensified claim of inclusion of children in the public schools, focus of the role of PPR has been increased. Furthermore, a changed legislation means, that the legitimacy of PPR’s role is not as inherent as before. A change that has intensified the debate of the role and tasks of PPR even more. This thesis seeks, on the basis of the institutional theory and the theory of institutional logics, to consider, in what way the discounted institutional logics may affect the organizations ability to redefine organizational role and tasks. Furthermore the thesis seeks to identify how these different logics may affect the organizational legitimacy, with regards to the redefinition of role and task taking. The analysis focuses of the managerial level in respectively the municipality’s management, school management and the management of the PPR. The empirical foundation is;  a budget analysis of PPR (ordered by the municipal of Frederiksberg in 2012)  a presentation of the budget analysis and a presentation from the municipality’s management, prior to a merger between the PPR and the speech therapists (until 2011 organized in a ‘Center for Communication’)  an analysis implemented by Deloitte on behalf of KL and The Ministry of Finance ( “Special education – pathways for better organization and control”)  interviews with the director of “Children and youth” and the School manager (PPR’s municipality-management), the municipality of Frederiksberg, three headmasters of public schools on Frederiksberg as well as the leading psychologist/manager and the deputy leading psychologist, both from PPR. The analysis shows five different institutional logics; the legalistic-bureaucratic logic, the market logic, the managerial logic as well as two different professional logics. One based on an educational, didactic profession and the other in developmental psychology. In the presentations from the municipality’s management and the analysis from KL/The Ministry of Finance there is a profound focus on the legalistic-bureaucratic logic as well as a market logic. The goal is redefining the role and task of PPR towards a more demand-oriented approach. At the same time, there is a desire for a PPR with authority responsible tasks, aimed at reducing costs of special education and the segregation of children into special schools. Within the frame of the legalistic-bureaucratic logic, PPR is seen in the role of watchdog, assessor and gatekeeper. The NPM-inspired managerial logic sees PPR in the role of a kind of change agent. It is a role similar to that of an organizational consultant, focused on managerial primacy, where PPR is expected to guide the school management towards the cultural change, that is seen as a necessary prerequisite for solving the task of inclusion. In the schools, however, the legalistic-bureaucratic as well as the market logic and the managerial logic have no legitimacy. Here it is the pedagogical, educational and didactic-based professional logic that sets the scene. And it is within this logic, that the role of PPR in the inclusion effort is defined. Within the institutional settings of the schools, legalistic-bureaucratic considerations are seen as a straitjacket. And the task of inclusion as a bottom-up process, where the stakeholders 'on the ground', are seen as crucial to the success of inclusion. A success which to a great extend depends on PPR's ability, as part of the school setting, to assume the role of educational, didactic adviser, with a collegiate relation to the professional players in schools – primarily the teachers. The professional logic is also dominating the PPR - however it's a logic grounded in the psychological profession. The focus is on the academically-based (expert-) advice offered by PPR. It offers a different and broader perspective - an insight with the aim of a nuanced and targeted educational, didactic effort. It is advice based on the developmental psychology (language, motor and cognitive skills), expressed in the educational psychological assessment (PPR-assessment) summoned by law. In other words, a role, practice and task performance, providing legitimacy within one institutional logic - a professionally based authority, legitimate within a legalistic-bureaucratic logic and the psychological professional logic - would mean an illegitimate practice within another institutional logic, the educational professional logic. And thus also the equally discounted market logic. Conversely, a redefined role for PPR, as a pedagogical, didactic tutor and 'good colleague' would grant legitimacy within the educational professional logic. However, this would challenge both the intra-organizational dominating logic - the psychological professional logic – as well as the views of role and task performance for PPR from principals. A core challenge is this fundamentally different view, of what has been legally established as the organizations task; the PPR-assessment. In the view of PPR, the organization is to provide educational psychological counseling and guidance based on an academically sound and informed assessment. The same assessment is perceived quite differently by both the schools and the municipality’s management. Here the assessment is a diagnostic tool, an expression of a medical system aimed at finding errors and flaws, putting labels on children and first and foremost it is and cannot be part of an inclusion effort. The PPR-assessment is a legally established task and as such, an assessment that because of forced isomorphism, is to be found in most PPR offices around the country. Keeping in mind the reinvigorated and intensified debate of PPR's role and task, the very different institutional logics by which to understand the PPR- assessment can be seen as a key challenge for the legitimacy of PPR's role and task performance. If PPR should rethink its role, aimed at legitimacy among both principals as users, it is essential that there is a more common understanding of the central core service. In other words, the PPR must challenge the meaning and relevance of the PPR-assessment attributable to the discounted logics. A meaning based on the psychological, professional logic, clear of a medical diagnostic perspective, but with the focus on professionalism and perspective. In this way PPR can also, based on the primacy of the professional logic, seek to achieve the authority bringing legitimacy in a legalistic-bureaucratic- institutional logic.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages46