Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a post-conflict and divided nation in need of social cohesion. In order to increase trust among different ethnic groups and between civilians and public institutions, a decentralized school governance system has been introduced. This study sought to understand whether and how the internationally driven school-based management (SBM) reform in BiH functions in enhancing schools' roles of promoting social cohesion. In light of the research purpose, the study focused on school professionals' participatory democratic accountability (Kogan, 1986), and examined secondary school directors' perceptions regarding school board influence in social cohesion areas, their interactions with school boards, and their accountability to the school-based governing body. At a broader level, the study sought to contribute to the debate concerning international reform isomorphism.
The study employed a mixed methods approach. A census survey with 294 secondary school directors was conducted to find general patterns in school directors' perceptions. Concurrently, interviews were conducted with 16 school directors to complement the survey findings as well as answer additional research questions.
The study results show that the SBM reform was not functioning as intended. School boards, supposedly representing the interests of local stakeholders including parents, and school directors did not appear to be actively engaged in the deliberative process to promote social cohesion policies and practices. School boards influence school directors to promote social cohesion, but only in subtle and limited ways. Furthermore, school directors tended to view themselves as independent from the school boards, though, instead, their keen sense of professionalism can be utilized to facilitate local stakeholder participation. These findings indicate that a gap exists between a global reform policy and its implementation even in a post-conflict nation where the international donor community is closely involved. The study calls for donor agencies to attend to the historical, political and economic factors that might affect school-level policy implementers when they recommend educational reforms.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. April 2012. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: Dr. David W. Chapman. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 210 pages, appendices A-D.
Decentralized school governance and social cohesion in a post-conflict society: school leaders’ participatory democratic accountability in Bosnia and Herzegovina..
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