In the discussion to follow I would like to share my opinion about the applicability of collegial model to Kazakhstani educational context. For my groupmates from HE cohort this topic might seem as one of the topics which we already discussed, although, I hope that both our peers from other cohorts and my groupmates will have thoughts to add to the topic. As a person who is interested in pursuing a career in education I’m interested to find out more about the realities of Kazakhstani educational context as my experience in the field is somewhat limited.
We had a very interesting discussion in our Educational leadership, change and management class about applicability of the three models by Bush (2011), namely, political, formal, and collegial, to Kazakhstani context. Before I go further, let me give short definitions of each model.
According to Bush (2011) collegial model can be defined as the model in which organizations make decisions on the basis of discussion with members of the organization “leading to consensus” (p. 72). In other words, power to make decisions is shared among all members of the organizations.
Political models emphasize the importance of “negotiation and bargaining” process in making decisions (Bush, 2011, p. 99). It is assumed that organization members form groups which are engaged in activities depending on their interests (Bush, 2011, p. 99).
Formal models apply to hierarchical systems which promote the “authority” of leadership and the “official structure” of the organization (Bush, 2011, pp. 40-41). More specifically, organizations are considered to have a hierarchical structure in which the head is the central figure, possessing formal authority over other members of the organization (Bush, 2011, p. 41).
The majority of our group was in agreement that some kind of “hybrid” model would work best for Kazakhstan. Despite the fact that it might seem that Kazakhstani context is not yet ready to pure collegiality, I strongly believe that the reform initiatives of Kazakhstani government on granting autonomy to education institutions and introducing shared governance system can be successfully implemented if collegial model is gradually introduced in academic organizations. This way leaders will be able to benefit from the expert knowledge of the faculty and acknowledge their needs as well as the needs of students, as faculty are the ones who do research and teach, not the leaders. As it was emphasized by Altbach (2011) faculty are the heart of academic organizations.
Moreover, I had an experience of working with leaders practicing both formal and collegial models. Interestingly, when you work under the formal model you get used to your role of an executor where your boss is the central figure who decides everything and you don’t need or can’t take charge and responsibility to change something. In other words, you are comfortable with your role and don’t strive to change or improve anything in the organization. I feel less devotion to the mission of the organization with this model, because your boss, rules, and instructions seem to have more importance than the organization as such. I also met some leaders who pretended to practice collegial model, but not in reality. More specifically, they would ask for your opinion just to make an impression that your opinion is valuable, but in most cases your opinion is not taken into account when making final decisions. I noticed that the majority of staff members became discouraged by this because they didn’t feel the value of their contribution. Whereas with the collegial model I noticed positive influence on my work performance and responsibility as I had so much trust and freedom in organizing my work and I clearly felt that my participation and opinion are important for the unit. And I can initiate changes if necessary. This way I noticed that not only me, but my colleagues became devoted to their work and the unit. The work atmosphere was encouraging and motivating.
At the same time, with so many changes happening to the education system in Kazakhstan, it is important to consider their process of implementation in places. Change is a painful process, especially when it is not “owned” by the organization members (Bush, 2011, p. 59). In my opinion, the successful implementation of the reform initiatives of the Kazakhstani government is not possible with the current formal model practiced in most universities. It may lead to failure of reforms, because participants may not be committed to these changes. It is crucial to consider the realities to ensure the successful implementation of these reforms which is not possible to achieve with “top-down” approach (Bush, 2011, p. 59). Collegial model will help to acknowledge the needs of the major customers including teachers and students, and will help to adapt the reforms accordingly.
To conclude, I would like to add that there is no best single model that suits all organizations. It depends on many factors including the type of the organization, staff, aims, and other. Therefore, the leadership should consider all factors when choosing the model and the approach. However, in my opinion, the education system of Kazakhstan could benefit from implementing collegial model.
What about you? Do you agree that the collegial model is applicable to our education system? How do you see this working in practice?
Altbach, P.G. (2011). The past, present and future of the research university. Economic & Political Weekly, 46 (16), 65-73.
Bush, T. (2011). Formal models. Theories of educational leadership and management (pp. 40- 71). SAGE Publications.
Bush, T. (2011). Collegial models. Theories of educational leadership and management (pp. 72- 95). SAGE Publications.
Bush, T. (2011). Political models. Theories of educational leadership and management (pp. 99- 123). SAGE Publications.