Handbook of Research on Educational Administration
reviewed by Jacob W. Getzels - 1993
In the early 1950s and 1960s I was quite active in research on educational administration. Indeed, the Handbook of Research on Educational Administration devotes an entire chapter to the work.1 Beginning in the mid-1960s my attention was drawn elsewhere, and I have not been seriously engaged in educational administration since. But first interests, like first loves, die hard, and so I still look with avidity into the educational administration literature as it comes to hand.
What came to hand some while ago were two histories of educational administration published within a year of each other, one, a volume entitled A History of Thought and Practice in Educational Administration and the other, a monograph-length chapter entitled A Centurys Quest for a Knowledge Base by Culbertson in the authoritative Handbook of Research on Educational Administration.2 I was astonished by the profusion of anomalies-not simply interpretive differences but substantive irregularities of the most flagrant kind. In what follows, I examine in some detail four of the anomalies.
THE INFLUENCE OF CHESTER BARNARD
Perhaps the most surprising anomalysurprising because the inconsistency is so palpable - involves the influence of Chester Barnard and his classic The Functions of the Executive.3 The Campbell history gives Barnard a central-it is not too much to say the centralplace in the development of educational administration as a field of study in the 1950s and 1960s. It describes Barnards experience as an administrator and his interest in social science and administrative theory. It quotes at considerable length from the Functions with reference especially to the concepts of organizational effectiveness and organizational efficiency," which became familiar terms in educational administration. From the first pages to the last it traces Barnards impact on the conceptual and empirical work of the period (see, for example, pp. 10, 114, 117, 119, 122). The Culbertson history does not mention Barnard or The Functions of the Executive at all, not even parenthetically or in the bibliography of over a hundred items. Barnard, center-stage in the Campbell history, does not appear even as a walk-on in the Culbertson history.
I thought at first that the omission of Barnard from the Culbertson history was a happenstance of publication space. Not everything for which there was room in the Campbell book-length history could be included in Culbertsons shorter history. But the exclusion could not be attributed to the exigencies of space. Although Culbertson gives no space whatsoever to Barnard, he devotes substantial space to Herbert Simon, presumably because of Simons sovereign influence. Indeed, the Culbertson history states, Perhaps the most influential of all social science books of the 1940s was Herbert Simons Administrative Behavior. Innovative in its design, the book influenced administration in far-reaching ways (p. 14).4
When I turned to see what the Campbell history had to say about Simon, I could not find any mention of Simon or his Administrative Behavior. Not a word. The anomaly was compounded. The history that speaks of Barnard says nothing of Simon; the history that speaks of Simon says nothing of Barnard.
I could not help contemplate the potential comic consequences inherent in the anomaly if, say, students were required to prepare class reports on the development of educational administration as a-field of study in the 1950s and 1960s, and some students used the Campbell history as their source, and some students the Culbertson history, especially if the instructor had read only one of the historiesor, as might happen, neither. Whimsy apart and more important, inherent in the anomaly are profoundly serious consequences for the study and practice of educational administration. Our perception of the past shapes our interpretation of the present; our interpretation of the present informs our work and aspiration for the future.
The most egregious aspect of the anomaly is the absence of any mention of Barnards influence in the Culbertson history. According to the Campbell history, the truly significant research in educational administration during the 1950s and 1960s could be understood as the working out of Barnards ideas (pp. 10, 113, 114, 117, 119, 122). Moreover, the ideas were embodied in the textbooks for the preparation of principals and superintendents so that by the 1960s there was hardly a text that did not refer to The Functions of the Executive.5
One need not rely only on the Campbell historys retrospective account regarding Barnards influence. Compelling contemporary evidence of Barnards impact- it is hard to envision more persuasive evidenceis found in a 1960 study by Sidney Marland, then superintendent of the Winnetka Public Schools. He listed twenty-five terms selected, as he explained, by authorities in the emerging field of administrative science as being frequently and authoritatively used in the literaturesuch terms as line and staff functions, span of control, Hawthorne effect and asked 140 fellow-superintendents to check the terms which you fully understand.6
One hundred and twelve superintendents responded to the request. Knowledge of the terms ranged from line and staff functions, which ranked first in familiarity, known by 91 percent of the superintendents, to Parsons input and output known by 9 percent. Span of control ranked eighth, known by 61 percent; rational authority ranked fourteenth, known by 39 percent; Hawthorne effect ranked twentieth, known by 14 percent. Organizational -effectiveness and organizational efficiency, the terms stemming from Barnard, ranked sixth, known by 65 percent of the superintendents. Two things are clear: One, Barnards terms were judged by the academic authorities in educational administration to be frequently and authoritatively used in the literature, and two, the terms were known by many practicing school administrators.
By whatever index one takesrepresentation in the academic educational administration literature or knowledge by practicing school administratorsthere can be no doubt that Barnard was a visible and influential figure. Yet the Culbertson history does not recognize his existence or make any mention of his work or influence.
THE CONTENT OF A PSYCHO-SOCIOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE STUDY OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION
An even more puzzling anomaly than the Chester Barnard enigma involves an article I wrote, entitled A Psycho-Sociological Framework for the Study of Educational Administration, which was published in the Harvard Educational Review in 1952.7 Both histories designate this article as the initial formulation of educational administration as a field of study. The Culbertson history states that the framework was the first to provide the field with a needed example that went beyond abstract descriptions of theory (p. 15). The Campbell history similarly states that it was with the publication of this article that the beginning of a framework for the study of administration had been set forth (p. 115).
But here is the anomaly. Although the two histories agree that the article was a key documentperhaps the seminal documentin formulating educational administration as a field for study, they disagree about what was in the article. Their reports of the content of the article do not correspond to each other, and in the case of one of the histories the report does not correspond to what was in the article itself. The Culbertson history states that the article offered a set of logically related concepts featuring, for example, institution, role, individual, and personality " (p. 15). The Campbell history says nothing about logically related concepts, or about institution, role, individual, or personality. Instead, the Campbell history states that the article posited administrative relationships as the basic unit for inquiry in the systematic study of educational administration; and that [three] aspects of these relationshipsthe authority dimension, the scope of the relationship, and the affectivity dimensionwere crucial (p. 115). The Culbertson history says nothing about administrative relationships as the basic unit for inquiry, or about the authority dimension, the scope of the relationship, or the affectivity dimension, described by the Campbell history as crucial in the formulation.
A reading of the article reveals the following. The article begins by observing that there is a lack of systematic research in the field of educational administration, a lack due to the dearth of theory to guide systematic research. The first page specifies the purpose of the article as, one, to formulate a framework for the study of educational administration, and two, to indicate the nature of the research that might follow from such a framework. The ensuing pages are divided into five sections, each section headed by a freestanding capitalized title, as follows: The Administrative Relationship as the Basic Unit for Inquiry; The Authority Dimension of the Administrative Relationship; The Role Dimension of the Administrative Relationship;8 The Affectivity Dimension of the Administrative Relationship; Some Empirical and Research Considerations.
The exposition of the framework proceeds as outlined by the section headings. The administrative, process is seen as functioning in a network of superordinate-subordinate authority relationships. The relationships serve as the locus for assigning statuses, providing facilities, shaping procedures, regulating activities, and evaluating performance. Although these functions are the responsibility of the superordinate, each function becomes effective only insofar as it takes with the subordinate member. The subordinate is not passive in the relationship; the superordinate not altogether dominant.
The relationship is conceived as being enacted in two separately perceived situations, one as perceived by the superordinate, the other by the subordinate. In the words of the article,
On the one hand is the relationship as perceived and organized by the superordinate member in terms of his own needs and goals; on the other, the relationship as perceived by the subordinate member in terms of his needs and goals. The situations are related through the existential objects and symbols which have to some extent a counterpart in both situations. The functioning of the administrative process depends on the nature of the interaction of the two situations as they determine the superordinate-subordinate relationship.9
Three facets of the relationship are of paramount significance. The first is the authority dimension: What is seen as the source of the superordinates dominance and the subordinates acceptance of this dominance? The second is the scope of the relationship: What is seen as the effective range of roles and facilities encompassed in the relationship? The third is the affectivity dimension: What is the nature of the emotional interaction between the participants in the relationship? The article ends by suggesting research directions pertinent to the authority, scope, and affectivity dimensions of the relationship that will contribute to understanding the administrative process.
To return to the anomaly. Although the two histories agree that the article was a key document in the development of educational administration as a field of study, they disagree utterly regarding the content of the article. The Campbell history reports the content along the lines of the present reading, specifying the articles focus on administrative relationships as the basic unit for inquiry and on authority, scope, and affectivity as the crucial elements in the relationship. The Culbertson history says nothing about any of this. It reports instead that the focus of the article is on logically related concepts, featuring institution, role, individual, and personality, given in quotation marks, as if these rather than administrative relationships, authority, scope, and affectivity were the topics under discussion in the article.
ADMINISTRATION AS A GENERAL OR SPECIFIC PHENOMENON
The reading of A Psycho-Sociological Framework for the Study of Educational Administration divulged another anomaly. The Culbertson history lists six ideas that were at the heart of the theory movement during the 1950s and 1960s (p. 16). One of the six ideas is said to be that administration is best conceived as a general phenomenon (p. 17). That is, according to the Culbertson history, the emerging theories of educational administration advocated that administration be thought of as an undifferentiated process applicable without modification to all organizations no matter of what kind; distinctions need not be made among educational administration, industrial administration, and military administration. In the words of the Culbertson history, Adjectival definitions of administration had to be jettisoned (p. 17).
But here is the anomaly. Contrary to this idea regarding the generality of administration and the jettisoning of adjectival formulations, the article A Psycho-Sociological Framework for the Study of Educational Administration states expressly that administrative relationships cannot be subsumed under a general conception of the administrator and the administered, of superordinate and subordinate.10 The article points out that contrary to administrative relations prevailing elsewhere, in education both members of the central administrative relationshipthe teacher and the administrator -"occupy professional status and are in effect experts in their separate fields.11 Accordingly, in the words of the article, The teacher cannot tolerate an administrative relationship of the sort that is maintained between the foreman or the platoon sergeant and his men.12
Similarly, Andrew Halpin, designated by the Culbertson history as one of the three leaders of the theory movement-during the 1950s and 1960s, also insisted on the special province of educational administration. Halpin wrote:
Obviously, business administration, hospital administration, public administration, and educational administration have many characteristics in common, and to the extent we can identify a g (or general) factor, a theory of administration is meaningful. But there are "s (or specific) factors, too, that distinguish educational administration from other forms of administration. These "s factors require examination.13
The anomaly could hardly be more palpable. On the one hand, there is the insistence by this leader of the theory movement in the historys own designation that (1) administration entails both g (or general) and s (or specific) factors, (2) s (or specific) factors distinguish educational administration from other forms of administration, and (3) both the g and the s factors must be considered. On the other hand, there is the insistence by the Culbertson history that at the heart of the theory movement was the key idea that administration is best conceived as only a general phenomenon without any reference to s or specific factors.
The discrepancy between what the Culbertson history states regarding the generality of administration and what the so-called exemplar article states in that regard is equally flagrant. Far from conceiving of administration as a general phenomenon, the article explicitly distinguishes administration in the educational setting from administration in other settings. It points to the special conditions in education and contrasts the administrative relationships there to those in industry and the military. To quote directly from the article,
In this connection also [the affectivity dimension] there is another matter already referred to, that both members of the administrative dyad in education hold professional status within the institution, and neither may relinquish his right to expertness and a certain amount of autonomy without serious loss of face. The teacher cannot tolerate an administrative relationship of the sort that is maintained between the foreman or the platoon sergeant and his men. . . . Conclusions from industry or the military cannot be taken over without carefully scrutinizing the distinctive circumstances of the educational setting.14
The language of the article called by the Culbertson history the exemplar of the theory movement and the language of Halpin, designated as one of the three leaders of the theory movement, could hardly be plainer. Halpin states: There are s (or specific) factors . . . that distinguish educational administration from other forms of administration; the exemplar article: Conclusions from industry or the military cannot be taken over without carefully scrutinizing the distinctive circumstances of the educational setting.15 Yet the Culbertson history states that one of the six key ideas at the heart of the theory movement in educational administration was that administration is best conceived as a general phenomenon and that adjectival definitions of administration [like educational administration, industrial administration, and military administration] had to be jettisoned (p. 17).
ONE WAY OF KNOWING OR WAYS OF KNOWING
Two of the six key ideas postulated by the Culbertson history to be at the heart of the theory movement are attributed to the work of Andrew Halpin. The first of the ideas is, according to Culbertson, that,
effective research has its origins in theory and is guided by theory. Halpin wrote about the poverty of theory in the field and expressed dismay that research was anchored in naked empiricism. Only by developing and using theory in research could the field move beyond its state of poverty. (p. 16)
The second idea is presented as follows:
Hypothetico-deductive systems are the best exemplars of theory. Halpin argued, as had the Vienna Circle scholars before him, that theory given its diffuse meanings, should be defined as "hypothetico-deductive systems. He quoted Feigls widely used definitiona set of assumptions from which can be derived by purely logico-mathematico procedures, a larger set of empirical laws. (pp. 16-17)
That is, according to the Culbertson history, Halpin advocated a particular way of knowing, namely that of science as represented by hypothetico-deductive theory and more especially logical positivism. This way of knowing, the history contends, became the mark of thought in the study of educational administration between 1951 and 1966, a period Culbertson consequently names The Leap Toward an Administrative Science (p. 14).
But here is the anomaly. In the same article in which Halpin is said to be advocating logical positivism for the study of educational administration and urging hypothetico-deductive systems as the best exemplars of theory, Halpin was writing this, to which the Culbertson history makes no reference:
Theories do not come in a standard brand; we find them in packages of different size and shape, wrapped in different ways, and labelled differently. One must respect these differences and must recognize that theories like the human beings who create them, follow different courses of development and grow at different rates.16
With regard specifically to the Culbertson historys attributing to Halpin the idea that there is one best type of theory or explanation in educational ad- / ministration, Halpin was writing in the same article, This standard [testing theory with reality] will guard against a search for the theory of educational administration and will help to recognize the possibility of alternative explanations.17 With regard to Halpins advocating Feigls positivistic definition of theory, Halpins words were, Specifically we may want to examine the advantages and the disadvantages of restricting this term [theory] to the meaning assigned to it by Feigl,18 which is hardly advocacy.
Far from advocating only the single scientific way of knowing represented by logical positivism, Halpin was suggesting something different not only in his 1958 paper but at the Midwest Administration Centers theory conference in 1959 attended by professors of educational administration and school administrators from throughout the United States and Canada. He urged the conferees to consider not one way of knowing but a wide variety of ways of knowing, including art, poetry, philosophy, and even-can anything be further from logical positivism?the no-knowledge of the East as represented by Taoist philosophy.19
The title of Halpins address was Ways of Knowing, published in 1960 as the first chapter of the widely circulated proceedings of the conference. The opening sentence leaves no doubt about Halpins position: My thesis is indecently simple: that there is more than-one gate to the kingdom of knowledge. Each gate opens upon a different vista but no one vista exhausts the realm of reality-whatever that may be.20
With regard to the superiority of science and the hypothetico-deductive way of knowing that Halpin is said to have advocated and that is said to have had a profound impact on the ideas at the heart of the theory movement and the leap toward an administrative science, Halpin was telling the conferees this:
Science has become a sacred cow in our culture. Yet the crowds gullible acceptance of science as a panacea contains a promise of hidden but inevitable disillusionment. For the protagonists of science have forgotten the simple thesis which I intend to develop here: that no way of knowing is intrinsically superior to all others, that knowing and the specific purpose of the knower must be examined conjointly. All human knowledge is partial, and as human beings none of us is so rich in understanding that he can afford to ignore any of the several gates to the kingdom of knowledge.21
Halpin told the conferees to seek guidance in the humanities:
I suggest that if we are to learn how to observe, how to see what is out there we had better avail ourselves of a rich heritage which superintendents and scientists alike have studiously ignored: the heritage of the humanities. For what else is the function of the poet, the playwright, the novelist than to examine and describe the ineffable ambiguity of the human condition? Who other than the creative artist is better equipped to describe man in the round?22
He Summarized his views about knowledge of individuals and about individuals as members of formal organizations as follows:
We need a re-affirmation of intellectual tolerance, a recognition that knowledge about human beings, whether as individuals or as members of formal organizations cannot be secured cheaply and certainly not through the blandishments of a single discipline.23
And finally, by way of peroration, he said:
My plea is for a more balanced appreciation of various ways of knowing. In the present context, we have touched on only a few; we have not referred to knowing through faith or the role of myth in knowing. Nor have we examined the no-knowledge of the East as advocated, for example, in Taoist philosophy.24
Can the ideas regarding the superiority of hypothetico-deductive science and logical positivism that the Culbertson history says Halpin advocated for the study of educational administration be more at odds with what Halpin himself was saying at the time: that theories do not come in a standard brand; that science has become a sacred cow; that no way of knowing is intrinsically superior to all others; that knowledge about human beings, whether as individuals or as members of formal organizations cannot be secured through the blandishments of a single discipline; that we had better avail ourselves of a rich heritage which superintendents and scientist alike have studiously ignored: the heritage of the humanitiesnone of which is mentioned by the Culbertson history even in passing?
The discrepancy was so great, I thought the explanation for the anomaly was that the Culbertson history was referring to one set of Halpins papers and I was reading another set. But no, the papers I read and from which I quoted here are the same ones to which Culbertson referred.
The question remains: How are the anomalies to be accounted for? How can one explain the omission of Barnard from a description of research and theory in educational administration during the 1950s and 1960s? Even as I write this, I return to reread the Culbertson history fearful that I had overlooked a reference to Barnard, which I find it hard to believe is not there. How can one explain the peculiar report of the content of what Culbertson calls the exemplar article of the theory movement, which does not correspond to the content of the article itself? Or how is one to explain the Culbertson historys assertion that at the heart of the theory movement was the idea that administration is best conceived as a general phenomenon, having himself designated Halpin as one of the three leaders of the theory movement and A Psycho-Sociological Framework for the Study of Educational Administration as its exemplar article, both Halpin and the article having emphasized in no uncertain terms that administration cannot be conceived as a general phenomenon? And how can one explain the disjunction between the Culbertsons attributing to Halpin advocacy of only hypothetico-deductive science and logical positivism for the study of educational administration (and said by his history to be two of the six ideas at the heart of the theory movement) and the insistence by Halpin himself at the same time that science had become a sacred cow and that knowledge of the humanities and philosophy was indispensable for the proper study and practice of educational administration?
I was unable to find a satisfactory solution or even a decent hypothesis for the problem of how to account for the anomalies. It is of course possible to say simply that the anomalies were aberrations, mistakes. But this is unsatisfactory. Mistakes, like slips of the tongue, tricks of memory, or idiosyncratic perceptions, have reasons and explanations. Try as I might, I could not discover a reason or conceive of an explanation for the anomalies.
I was in fact able to identify the source of one of the anomalies. The mistaken summary of the article A Psycho-Socrological Framework for the Study of Educational Administration from the 1952 Harvard Educational Review is easily recognizable as a summary of the same authors chapter Administration as a Social Process in the 1958 volume Administrative Theory in Education, which did deal with the concepts of institution, role individual, and personality as the 1952 article did not.25 But to identify the source of the anomaly as the substitution of the content of the 1958 chapter for the content of the 1952 article is not an explanation for the displacement or the anomaly.
Whatever the source or explanation of this or the other anomalies, the anomalies exist and must be considered in reading the history of educational administration during the 1950s and 1960s. It is not only a matter of accuracy regarding the past in an academic sense, although I would argue that that is important enough. The issue is also of profound consequence for the study and practice of educational administration. As I have already said, our perception of the past shapes our interpretation of the present; our interpretation of the present informs our work and aspiration for the future.