ERIC Number: ED233453
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982
Reference Count: 0
Stages in Decline: How an Educational Organization Scales Down.
Berger, Michael A.
As studies of organizational development have focused increasingly in recent years on stages of decline and death, theories of revolutionary adaptation have gained currency. The theory of organizational retrenchment developed in this paper is divided into five chronological stages: (1) preresponse, (2) emerging awareness and buying time, (3) alarm and relatively safe responses, (4) crisis and confrontation, and (5) postcrisis equilibrium. Hypotheses developed from these five stages were tested through case studies of declining enrollment in 53 school districts over a 10-year period. A questionnaire/checklist and followup interview examined 15 variables divided into 3 categories: organizational structure, including such variables as pupil-teacher ratio and per-pupil expenditures; pattern of relationship, including board-superintendent conflict and superintendent succession; and strategic responses, such as hiring freezes and school closings. Results of five statistical tests of collected data reveal (1) relatively abrupt change over the phase of decline, (2) a rigidifying tendency in organizational structure and the pattern of relationships, (3) relatively late utilization of strategic responses to declining enrollment, and (4) a tendency toward revolutionary adaptation to decline. Such findings indicate that educational organizations should anticipate that each new threat will bring an initial period of relative rigidity, followed by a period of revolutionary change. (JBM)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Researchers; Policymakers
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New York, NY, March 19-23, 1982). For related documents, see EA 015 726 and EA 015 871-877.