Is collegial model applicable to Kazakhstani educational context?

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.

6 thoughts on “Is collegial model applicable to Kazakhstani educational context?

  1. Zhuldyz, thank you for your post.

    I remember how we discussed and wrote about Bush’s three models in our Leadership class and thanks to Jason Sparks for his interesting course and knowledge we got from his course.

    I think,collegial model could be relevant to Kazakhstani context but our universities (except Nazarbayev University) do not possess fully autonomy and it is early to say that collegial model is appropriate to our context. And taking into account analysis of three models and the current Kazakhstani system of management with hierarchical official structure, significant aspect of bureaucracy and managerial leadership the formal model considered to be most appropriate to the Kazakhstani context.
    Talking about working experience, well I would agree with you that some of leaders (western) just pretend to show that your opinion is taking into account but actually the decision was made before they asked you)) What I like in working with foreigners is that they give you a freedom. I mean freedom to offer something new, to change and run (or manage) it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this interesting post!
    Personally, I think that the collegial model is appropriate for academic staff of universities in Kazakhstan. The involvement of teachers and instructors in leadership contributes the education system to be changed in positive way. Teachers and professors could support each other, feel responsibility and accept the common decision without any conflicts. However, the collegial model has the following limitations. Firstly, the normative character of this models differ in reality, because the pure collegial models are unreal. Secondly, the realization of the collegial models is time-consuming. From practical perspective, in Kazakhstan leaders should accept a serious decisions in very short period of time. Thirdly, the consensus between staff in practice usually unreachable because professionals have their own views and pursue their personal interests. Four, in practice, it is difficult to avoid bureaucratic problems which roots in Kazakhstani education system.
    So, in my view, collegial model is an effective style in academic sphere and in the nearest future, the majority of universities will have this approach. However, the formal model has also benefits among administrative specialists.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Zhuldyz, Thank you for refreshing your knowledge about collegial model.

    From my point of view it is good approach to HE organizations. It helps to work in cooperation. It have so many advantages as: shared responcibility, different perspectives, varying attitudes, etc. However, from my point of view, the universities in Kazakhstan are not ready to use only collegial model. One of the possible reason is the role of university in the society, It have great mission to teach/learn, research and serve the society, so it have to be understandable. That is why mixture of formal and collegial will work better, than solo version of each. University consist from faculty and administration. Each group have different needs. According to those needs for faculty collegial model, for administration formal model.


  4. In my opinion, collegial models, which are partially implemented in many educational institutions in Kazakhstan, are the most attractive. Using the elements of these models, Kazakhstani institutions can reach decisions by “consensus rather than division or conflict.” In other words, it makes possible for institutions to make decisions and solve problems by “agreement” (p.75). When the decisions are taken cooperatively, there is no risk to fail. Vice versa, shared decisions are likely “to be implemented effectively” (p.75). However, there is another side of the coin. Collegial models cannot be appropriate when it comes to “accountability” (p.77). Usually, it is demanded that only one person, a leader gives report to higher authorities on the budget allocation and provision of work quality in his/her organization. I believe, in this current era of higher education change, the combination of formal and collegial models is the most appropriate for most Kazakhstani universities. Formal models are beneficial in providing stability, as there is regular control of leaders over their staff. Collegial models give opportunity to make decisions cooperatively without conflict. Each member has own voice to express his/her point of view freely.


    Bush, T. (2011). Theories of educational leadership and management. SAGE publications
    ltd, 40-125.


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