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Ties With Potential: Social Network Structure and Innovative Climate in Dutch Schools


by Nienke M. Moolenaar, Alan J. Daly & Peter J. C. Sleegers — 2011

Background/Context: Similar to the United States, government efforts to improve education in the Netherlands are focused on innovation and the development of collaborative structures to support the generation of new knowledge. However, empirical evidence of the relationship between social linkages and innovation in education is scarce.

Objective: The aim of the study was to examine the impact of social network structure on schools’ innovative climate, as mediated by teachers’ involvement in decision-making.

Setting: This article reports on a study among 775 educators in 53 elementary schools in a large educational system in the Netherlands.

Research Design: A quantitative survey using Likert-type scales and social network questions on work-related and personal advice was analyzed using social network analysis and multiple regression analyses.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Findings indicated that the more densely connected teachers were in regard to work-related and personal advice, the more they perceived their schools’ climate to be supportive of innovation. Highly dense work-related network structures also typified teams that perceived strong teacher involvement in decision-making. Moreover, results suggested that the positive relationship between density of work-related advice networks and innovation-supportive school climate could be partially explained by increased shared decision-making. Implications of the study for teachers, organizations, leadership, and policy are discussed.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 9, 2011, p. 1983-2017
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16180, Date Accessed: 12/19/2014 10:45:24 AM

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About the Author
  • Nienke Moolenaar
    University of Twente
    E-mail Author
    NIENKE M. MOOLENAAR is a postdoc researcher at the Department of Educational Organization & Management at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. Her research interests include social capital theory, social network analysis, school leadership, and organizational behavior. During her PhD project, she received various grants and scholarships to present her work at international conferences. As a visiting scholar, she attended the University of California, San Diego for six months before finishing her PhD project in 2009.
  • Alan Daly
    University of California, San Diego
    E-mail Author
    ALAN J. DALY is an assistant professor of education studies at the University of California, San Diego. His research interests include leadership, educational policy and reform, and social network theory. Recent journal publications include: “A Bridge Between Two Worlds: Understanding Leadership Network Structure to Understand Change Strategy” (2009, Journal of Educational Change) and “The Ebb and Flow of Social Network Ties between District Leaders Under High Stakes Accountability” (in press, American Educational Research Journal). In addition, he has a book on social networks entitled Ties of Change: Social Network Theory and Application in Education, due out in fall 2010.
  • Peter Sleegers
    University of Twente
    PETER J. C. SLEEGERS is professor of educational sciences at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. Prof. Sleegers has published extensively on leadership, innovation, and educational policy in more than 40 refereed journal articles and several edited books. Current research projects are studies into the effects of educational leadership on student motivation for school, longitudinal research on sustainability of reforms, and design studies on professional learning communities.
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