Caring And Community: A Study Of Professional Norms And Controls In A School

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Daniel D. Sage


Administration, Organizational Theory, Special education

Subject Categories

Special Education and Teaching


Statement of the Problem. A reoccurring problem in most if not all human service organizations concerns the relationship between professionals and their employing organizations. Research in organizational sociology of occupations and professions documents the existence of tension, conflict and/or accommodation between professionals work and their employing organizational standards. This relationship is described as the professional/bureaucratic problem. Of studies that document these findings, few if any examine the conditions that surround this relationship and/or describe its resolution. This study describes those conditions. It reports on professional work behavior in a public preschool for handicapped children.

Methodolgy. Qualitative research was employed in this study. Participant observation and in-depth unstructured interviews are the qualitative methods used to collect data. Three sets of data were collected: (1) Ten months of field notes on all meetings, occurrences, informal conversations, and general observations in school. (2) In-depth unstructured interviews were recorded with all professional staff and a small number of non-professional staff. (3) Transcripts, excerpts relevant to research concerns from student records, and administrative meetings were collected.

Data analysis was carried out according to Glaser's & Strauss' (1967) constant comparative methods.

Results. Entrepreneurial activity, recruitment procedures and first year work relations are conditions that combine to effect the structure, operation and the organization's later development. These conditions, noted as tension resolving aspects, are based upon professional judgment. Moreover, the regulatory controls that influence and monitor staff are also professionally based non-bureaucratic. Implications drawn from the study that are applicable to schools suggest that a school's climate and normative structure should be non-bureaucratic, participative and professionally based.


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