Managing implications of New Public Governance – Reform in the Danish Context

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The Danish public-school system was catalyzed by extensive changes in the national education policy context through the so called “School Reform” effort. The Danish School Reform (2014-current) is a very ambitious multi-faceted effort with several key elements including: a focus on increased opportunity and high quality teaching in language and math; new types of teaching approaches with the participation of both teachers and other types of educators and open schooling with greater involvement of the local community. To this end the reform penetrates both the structural level (school day and organization) and on the process level (the actual teaching routines) making it an impactful and wide-ranging change effort.

The reform itself represents a significant disruption in institutionalized beliefs about teaching in the educational ecosystem. In this context it is expected that uncertainty and lack of clear direction may be evident among educators as well as school leaders as deep questions around quality and responsibility for instruction and schooling are raised. Coupled with these disruptions at the classroom/school level, the national government also implemented high pressure accountability and monitoring around school performance. Given that the reform at its core challenges the professionalism of educators as well as publicizing performance it is understandable that the pressure on system-level educational leaders to support reform implementation is also tremendous. The way in which school and municipal leaders manage this pressure animates this study, which reports a multi-year investigation building on a case of local planning of the implementation of the educational reform with central municipal management at its core.

In this particular case, district management reflects the pressure of development deriving from the reform. District management designs new quality development systems as e.g. specific school level progression goals, dialogic meetings across school practitioners and politicians, school level analysis meetings with hypothesis building regarding problem solving. These examples of management of network quality development may reflect the ideas of New Public Governance. Furthermore, they might clash with the New Public Management tradition of principal-agent management. In this particular case networked organizational structures, vertical relations, trust and sense-making become active management tools through a type of meta governance drawn upon to implement reform. However, through meta governance, school district management seems to dislodge the legitimate political chain of management belonging to representative democracy, and as such network management decisions may be underrated by means of the representative democracy. In this way, management through New Public Governance may be undermined and ultimately run the risk of breaking down empowerment and trust in the process of reform. In conclusion, this case points to a current Danish educational situation with a growing speed of reforms, where new management designs are created, but are not necessarily built to coexist with the dominant and traditional political management chain.
StatusUdgivet - 2020
BegivenhedRethinking the futures of education in the Nordic countries - University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Varighed: 4. mar. 20206. mar. 2020


KonferenceRethinking the futures of education in the Nordic countries
LokationUniversity of Turku

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