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Education System and Policymaking Process. Education System in HK. Pre-school education general education technical education and vocational training higher education adult education. Education System in HK. Government Expenditure on Education ~ 3% of GDP in HK

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Education System and Policymaking Process

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  • Education System and Policymaking Process

Education System in HK

  • Pre-school education

  • general education

  • technical education and vocational training

  • higher education

  • adult education

Education System in HK

Government Expenditure on Education

  • ~ 3% of GDP in HK

  • ~ 5% of GDP in developed countries

  • ~ 4% of GDP in developing countries

    (UNESCO, 1993)

Education System in HK

  • Expenditure on each primary student

    • ~ 6% of a university student

  • Expenditure on each secondary student

    • ~ 10% of a university student

  • In developed countries, the unit expenditure for school pupils is around 1/3 of that for university students

Education System in HK


  • What makes Hong Kong so “efficiency” in the provision of education?

Policymaking Process

  • Traditional study of policymaking presumes that it is a process of rational decision making

    • identifying the problem

    • searching for solutions

    • selecting the best solution

  • Policymaking = A process of finding the optimal means to achieve an end

Policymaking Process

  • What is/are the problems with the rational model?

Policymaking Process

  • Whether a policy is good or bad is often a matter of value judgement. In a plural society, there is no single value system by which we may measure an education policy.

Policymaking Process

  • Hong Kong Model:

  • = rationality + politics

  • = procedural rationality (procedural consensus in lieu of value consensus)

  • = consultative autocracy (autocracy with enormous consultation)

  • (Cheng 1997)

Policymaking Process

  • What is/are the purpose(s) of conducting consultation in the policymaking process?

Policymaking Process

  • Purpose(s) of consultation:

  • soliciting public views and professional opinions, or

  • endorsing or legitimating government decisions












Policymaking Process

Policymaking Process

  • What is/are the problems in formulation and implementation of education policies in Hong Kong?

Understanding the education system and process of policy-making from an organizational perspective

Organization Structure


Educational Leadership

Education System: a Bureaucratic Structure

  • Bureaucracy:

    • a model of organizational structure developed from the turn of the 20th Century

    • originated with

      • Max Weber, a German sociologist

      • Henri Fayol, a French industrialist

      • Frederick Taylor, an American Engineer

    • Industrial Revolution: mass production, division of labour, high productivity and efficiency, etc.

Education System: a Bureaucratic Structure

  • Bureaucracy:

    • (in Weber’s term) an authority structure based on rational behaviour

    • Weber defined a set of organizational principles which he thought could be applied UNIVERSALLY

    • Application of the principles would lead to high productivity

Education System: a Bureaucratic Structure

  • Principles of organization

    • Hierarchical Structure

    • Specialization (division of labour)

    • Control by Rules

    • Impersonal Relationships

    • Career Orientation

Hierarchical Structure

  • Authority in an organization is distributed in a pyramidal configuration

  • each official is responsible for his or her subordinates’ actions and decisions

School Leader


Assistant Deputy

Head of Dept.

Head of Dept.

Head of Dept.

Deputy Head

Deputy Head

Assistant Head

Assistant Head

Promoted Teacher

Promoted Teacher

Promoted Teacher













Typical school structure in England

Deputy Head

Assistant Head

School Leader

Deputy Head







Typical school structure in Denmark

Organizational Structure of HKEd


  • Tasks are too complex for everyone to learn with equal competence

  • greater efficiency results when tasks are divided into specialty areas with individuals assigned to them according to their training, skills and experience.

Control by Rules

  • Official decisions and actions are directed by codified rules (Dos and don’ts) :

  • Assuring




Impersonal Relationships

  • Control over people and activities can be established more efficiently if purely personal, emotional, and irrational elements are ELIMINATED.

  • The members are subject to strict and systematic discipline in the conduct and control of their offices

Career Orientation

  • Employment is based on expertise

  • Promotion is given according to seniority and/or merit

  • Salary is tied to rank in the hierarchy

  • pension and retirement provision exists

  • On the whole, this promotes the establishment of a STABLEcareer oriented class or staff

Education System: a Bureaucratic Structure

  • Leadership

    • The leader is seen as the ‘HERO’ who stands at the top of a complex pyramid of power

    • To assess the problems, consider alternatives, and make ‘RATIONAL’ choices

    • To fend off threats from the environment


Quality Control








School as a Factory














School as a Factory

School as a Factory

  • Our schools are, in a sense, factories in which the raw materials (children) are to be shaped and fashioned into products to meet the various demands of life. The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of the society, the it is the business of the school to build its students according to the specifications laid down. This demands good tools, specialized machinery, continuous measurement of production to see if it is according to specifications, the elimination of waste in manufacture, and a large variety in the output.

Activity (15 mins)

  • Consider the extent to which the classical/bureaucratic model applies in the school where you work or one known to you. Identify its strengths and weaknesses.

Unanticipated Consequences of the Bureaucratic Model (1)

  • Attempts to incorporate rational procedures in organizations such as schools can lead to unintended consequences that are inefficient and limit the system’s overall operation.

Unanticipated Consequences of the Bureaucratic Model (2)

  • The limits of rationality

  • Goal Ambiguity

  • Deterring the process of change

  • Anticipating the unexpected

  • Minimum performance levels

  • Goal displacement

  • Coordination collapse

  • Hyperrationality

The limits to rationality (1)

  • Decision in schools may be anything but a rational process. The considered choice from among a range of alternatives is the exception rather than the rule in many school situations.

  • When different people interpret and implement the same rule, the possibility of different courses of action being taken is very real.

The limits to rationality (2)

  • Three types of constraints to rationality (Herbert Simon):

    • The skills, habits, and reflexes that are more or less unconscious and that determine automatically an individual’s performance

    • The motivations, values, loyalties, and vested interests of individuals

    • The amount of precise information available on the subject

Goal ambiguity

  • It may not be easy to establish the real goals of the institution as opposed to their formal aims.

  • It is even more difficult to judge whether these often vague purposes have been achieved.

  • Example 1

  • Example 2

Deterring the process of change (1)

  • The bureaucratic model is best suited to stable conditions but operate less well in periods of rapid change.

  • In a hierarchy of 5 levels, for instance, there are at least four people who can veto a good idea coming from the lowest level (which, of course, is nearest to the problem at hand.)

  • Professional staff have an authority of expertise which may be just as legitimate as the official authority of the head

Deterring the process of change (2)

  • Good teachers often leave the classroom for administrative positions in order to become a “success” in their profession.

  • Good teachers may become poor administrators.

Anticipating the unexpected

  • Bureaucratic and rational perspectives require a measure of predictability.

  • Constant battering, relentless change, means the need to adapt, respond, react to events rather than measured actions.

  • Long-term planning gives way to planning one or two years ahead at most, and often less.

Minimum performance levels

  • Rules provide cues for organizational members about minimum levels of acceptable performance

  • This type of knowledge can direct the work force of an organization to program its efforts to the minimum acceptable level

Goal displacement

  • The conformance with regulations in all types of situations results in the goal displacement of the original goals, develops into rigidities and an inability to adjust readily (doing things right at the expense of doing the right things).

  • Bureaucratic dieases → “trained incapacity”, e.g. incapacity in adopting change in pedagogical practice (teacher-centred → student-centred) Hanson, E.M. (1996)

Coordination collapse

  • The bureaucratic model implies that supervisors discharge their tasks of coordination by serving as vertical communication channels.

  • When a problem exists between departments, a decision is delayed until sufficient information on the issue can be passed up the hierarchy to enable a higher-level resolution.

  • Professional staff have an authority of expertise which may be just as legitimate as the official authority of the head.

Hyperrationality (1)

  • Policymakers focus their efforts to rationalize the system by prescribing inputs, throughputs and outputs.

  • The intentions to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability are often imposed on schools without changing existing conditions. The results are often logical and practical inconsistencies.

Hyperrationality (2)

  • Distinguishing proper and excessive rationalization in education (Arthur Wise 1996):

    • Does the policy introduce new procedures without altering or deleting old procedures?

    • Does the policy prescribe output without taking notice of existing input and process prescriptions?

    • Does the policy imply that a structural problem can be solved by the education of an individual?

Hyperrationality (2)

  • Distinguishing proper and excessive rationalization in education (Arthur Wise 1996):

    • Are tentative research findings being used to define the policy?

    • Are solutions being proposed on the basis of superficial, incomplete, or incorrect analyses of the problem?

    • Are uniform solutions being proposed for non-uniform solutions?

Political Models

The Hawthrone Studies (1927-32)

Until late 1930s, the basic assumption was that the chief factors behind employee motivation and morale were wages and physical working conditions.

Political Models

The Hawthrone Studies (1927-32)


  • to test the effect of illumination on worker productivity


  • The production rose or fell without direct relation to the intensity of illumination at the work bench

  • Workers tend not to act or react as individuals but as members of informal groups (a system of interpersonal relations and norms formed within an organization)

Political Models

The Hawthrone Studies (1927-32)


  • A worker’s decisions about his or her level of effort depend to a great extent on the expectations and social norms of the informal groups.

  • For instance, workers were controlling their own productivity because they feared that management would change the piece-work rate if the consistently produced at higher levels.

Political Models

  • Political perspectives

    • Organizations are coalitions that consists of a number of individual interest groups.

    • Individuals and interest groups have different values, preferences, beliefs, information, and perceptions of reality.

    • The goals and decisions of organizations develop by means of an ongoing process of negotiation and jockeying among individuals and groups.

    • Because resources are scarce and because there are lasting dissimilarities and differences, power and conflict will always remain central elements in the life of an organization.

Political Models

  • Political models are concerned with interests and interest groups. Individuals are thought to have a variety of interests which they pursue within the organization.

  • Decision-making is portrayed as a bargaining process.

  • Policy outcomes depend on the distribution of power and emerge following negotiations between interest groups.

Political Models


  • The emphasis onbargaining and negotiating reflects the reality of many institutions.

  • The recognition of the possibility of conflict is a welcome corrective to the bland consensual assumptions of the democratic models.

Political Models


  • The society is assumed to be fragmented into interest groups which compete to establish the supremacy of their objectives. In reality, schools often lack this fragmentation.

  • The political model overstates the inevitability of conflict and understate the potential for professional collaboration.

  • Students’ interests are often ignored.

Douglas McGregor’s Theory X

Assumptions that the administrator may hold:

  • The average person inherently dislikes work and will avoid it whenever possible.

  • Because people dislike work, they must be supervised closely, directed, coerced, or threatened with punishment in order for them to put adequate effort toward the achievement of organizational objectives.

  • The average worker will shirk responsibility and seek formal direction from those in charge.

  • Most workers values job security above other job-related factors and have little ambition.

Douglas McGregor’s Theory Y

Assumptions that the administrator may hold:

  • If it is satisfying to them, employees will view work as natural and as acceptable play.

  • People at work will exercise initiative, self-direction, and self-control on the job if they are committed to the objectives of the organization.

  • The average person, under proper conditions, learns not only to accept responsibility on the job but to seek it.

  • The average employee values creativity, I.e. the ability to make good decisions and seeks opportunities to be creative at work.

System 4

System 1

System 2

System 3

Theory X

Theory Y

Likert’s Theory

Educational Leadership in the 21st Century:towards the self-organization

Leadership in 21st Century

  • Reflection

  • Compare and contrast the kinds of leadership exhibited by a military leader and the coach or captain of a soccer team.

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