Introduction to Networks & Innovation

 

As OECD countries come increasingly to be described as "network societies", to what extent can educational networks replace cumbersome bureaucracies as forms of management and as sources of innovation and professionalism?

 

Some predict the demise of large, slow-changing public services. If these predictions prove accurate, what will take the place of fallen institutions, and what will ensure that this transformation will be for the better? As schools become more autonomous and the world more complex, what forms of organisation and governance will ensure that the education system continues to meet the changing needs of students?

 

Education is being transformed from a producer-led, planned system to one more guided by external demands, as are many other public services. It is called upon increasingly to be responsive to the needs of the knowledge society, and partnerships offer one way in which the new demands can be met.

 

Networks and partnerships are of particular interest to the governance, management and organisation of education. They may be understood as themselves forms of governance growing in importance. Chapman makes this connection explicit in the Networks of Innovation article by stressing their participatory, horizontal nature and their potential to displace hierarchical and bureaucratic decision making structures. Equally important, they are important constituents of the “meso” level, lying between the macro level of government policy-making, on the one hand, and the micro level of individual schools, on the other. This intermediate level of action and decision-making, through creating linkages and connections, becomes especially important as schools acquire considerable autonomy. They risk to be isolated and unconnected while the centralised authorities have fewer direct planning powers. Without close attention to the mediation between the macro and micro, educational provision could disintegrate into an assembly of disaggregated actions and units.

 

Articles:

Networking in Society, Organisations, and Education

Networks of Innovation

Networking for Educational Innovation: A Comparative Analysis

Governance, Management and Leadership

Schooling for Tomorrow – Principles and Directions for Policy

Understanding Networks for Innovation in Policy and Practice

The Management of Learning, Schools and Systems

 

Related topics:

micro level of individual schools