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The leadership model most closely linked to organizational culture is that of moral leadership. This modelassumes that the critical focus of leadership ought to be on the values, beliefs and ethics of leaders themselves. Authority andinfluence are to be derived from defensible conceptions of what is right or good (Leithwood et al, 1999, p. 10).

Sergiovanni (1984) says that“excellent schools have central zones composed of values and beliefs that takeon sacred or cultural characteristics”(p. 10). The moral dimension of leadership is based on“normative rationality; rationality based on what we believe and what we consider to be good”(Sergiovanni, 1991):

Moral leadership is consistent with organizational culture in that it is based on the

values, beliefs and attitudes of principals and other educational leaders. It focuses on the moral purpose ofeducation and on the behaviours to be expected of leaders operating within the moral domain. It also assumes that these values andbeliefs coalesce into shared norms and meanings that either shape or reinforce culture. The rituals and symbols associated with moralleadership support these values and underpin school culture. (p. 326)

Limitations of organizational culture

Cultural models add several useful elements to the analysis of school and college leadership and management.The focus on the informal dimension is a valuable counter to the rigid and official components of the formal models. By stressingthe values and beliefs of participants, cultural models reinforce the human aspects of management rather than their structuralelements. The emphasis on the symbols of the organization is also a valuable contribution to management theory while the moralleadership model provides a useful way of understanding what constitutes a values-based approach to leadership. However,cultural models do have three significant weaknesses:

1.There may be ethical dilemmas because cultural leadership may be regarded as the imposition of a cultureby leaders on other members of the organization. The search for a monoculture may mean subordinating the values and beliefs of someparticipants to those of leaders or the dominantgroup. Morgan (1997, p. 150-51) refers to“a process of ideological control”and warns of the risk of“manipulation.”

2.The cultural model may be unduly mechanistic, assuming that leaders can determine the culture of theorganization (Morgan, 1997). While they have influence over the evolution of culture by espousing desired values, they cannotensure the emergence of a monoculture. As we have seen, secondary schools and colleges may have several subcultures operating indepartments and other sections. This is not necessarily dysfunctional because successful subunits are vital components ofthriving institutions.

3.The cultural model’s focus on symbols such as rituals and ceremonies may mean that other elements oforganizations are underestimated. The symbols may misrepresent the reality of the school or college. Hoyle (1986, p. 166) refers to“innovation without change.”Schools may go through the appearance of change but the reality continues as before.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Organizational change in the field of education administration. OpenStax CNX. Feb 03, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10402/1.2
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