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Punctuated Legitimacy: A Theory of Educational Change


by Barry Allen Gold 1999

This research presents a theory of educational change grounded in twenty-three years of qualitative data that document the history of a public elementary school. The pattern of change observed supports the punctuated equilibrium theory of organizational change in which short periods of revolutionary change--usually the result of failed innovation--are followed by long periods of equilibrium or incremental change. Attempts to legitimate organizational and individual behavior--the dynamics of construction, erosion, loss, re-construction, and maintenance of organizational legitimacy--explain the sequence of stages in the change process. The study concludes that punctuated legitimacy, which created the need to re-establish legitimacy, not rational administrative attempts to improve the programs and structure of the school, was the major factor that produced significant organizational change.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 101 Number 2, 1999, p. 192-219
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10438, Date Accessed: 10/19/2017 2:24:58 PM

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About the Author
  • Barry Gold
    Pace University
    E-mail Author
    Barry Allen Gold is associate professor of Management at Pace University in New York City. He is conducting research on the implementation of Whole School Reform in New Jersey. Gold is co-author, with Anne Marie Francesco, of International Organizational Behavior (Prentice Hall, 1998).
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