chapter  8
18 Pages

The Politics of Curriculum Innovation

Prior to the introduction of Tomorrow's Schools, education in New Zealand was organized according to the bureaucratic structures best described by the concept of Weberian rationality. According to Weber bureaucracies are characterized by clearly defined work roles vested with precisely stated responsibilities and duties. These in turn are designed within hierarchically structured organizations according to which patterns of accountability and authority are clearly and unambiguously defined. The aim of such administrative structures is to create a system of control that can most efficiently meet the organization's goals. According to Weber (1978) bureaucracy:

is capable of attaining the highest degree of efficiency and is in this sense formally the most rational known means of exercising authority over human beings. It is superior to any other form in precision, in stability, in the stringency of its discipline and its reliability. (p. 223)

However, Weber also realized that such an organization created a bureaucratic personality:

The professional bureaucrat is chained to his activity in his entire economic and ideological existence. In the great majority of cases he is only a small cog in a ceaselessly moving mechanism which prescribes to him an essentially fixed route of march . . . The individual bureaucrat is, above all, forged to the common interest of all the functionaries in the perpetuation of the apparatus and the persistence of its rationally organised domination. (p. 998)

In the past the inflexible nature of bureaucracies and the personalities they created were accepted as the price that had to be paid for the reliability and control such organizations created. However, recently the nature of bureaucratic administration has come under challenge in the Western world

precisely because of its inflexibility, lack of creativity and insensitivity to what could be called market demands. Criticism of bureaucratic forms of administration and the impetus to change them have largely developed because of changes in the international economy.1 Again, Weber suggested that the modern state is organized as an 'enterprize just like a factory' (p. 1394), so it is not surprising that a change in the administration of private sector organizations should flow on to the public sector because both are concerned with the most rational forms of control of human action. Alternative, postFordist administrative structures, distinguished by their emphasis on devolved power and flexibility, have been initiated by New Right governments. This is the result of an economic crisis for which they have prescribed cuts in state expenditure (see Codd, Gordon and Harker in this volume). The New Right has also argued that, in addition to cuts, the way welfare services have been delivered needs to be changed to restore public confidence in the welfare state.