System reform: an exploration of policy interpretation and translation through the enacted role of Regional Education Officers

PhD Thesis


Leach, Tania Helen. 2021. System reform: an exploration of policy interpretation and translation through the enacted role of Regional Education Officers. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/q75yz
Title

System reform: an exploration of policy interpretation and translation through the enacted role of Regional Education Officers

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorLeach, Tania Helen
Supervisor
1. FirstProf Dorothy Andrews
2. SecondProf Lindy-Anne Abawi
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages320
Year2021
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/q75yz
Abstract

Within an educational context, the aim of policy translation is to achieve policy coherence enabling whole system reform. This is realised when key components within an organisation are structurally and strategically aligned. In an educational system this alignment usually spans three levels, that is, the schools, the district or region and the state educational system. Current research suggests that policy coherence can be achieved through the development of shared values articulated as a vision, shared practices, accountabilities and co-ordinated policy support at the middle organisational level. Whilst acknowledging the importance of this conceptualisation, the current literature perspective appears to lack a dimension that identifies policy coherence as the product of how individuals individually and collectively interpret and translate policy into actions. Based on a review of authoritative literature and with a focus on how roles influence policy translation, the aims of this study were twofold. First, to broaden the research base of how policy coherence is developed within the regional middle system level, through an exploration of the enacted role of regional education officers. The second aim explored the interconnection and impacts of middle level leaders' role enactment on policy coherence for system reform.

Utilising an interpretivist approach to exploratory case study methodology, the study's research question was 'What emerge as significant policy implementation factors influencing how system middle leaders interpret and translate policy as they enact their role?' The research design had three phases of data collection with data collected through a variety of methods which included document analysis, qualitative survey and semi-structured interviews with regional education officers from a large Australian state government education system. The collection, analysis and interpretation of data occurred in three distinct phases which resulted in the development of the theoretical Policy Role Enactment Framework.

The Policy Role Enactment Framework comprises of three critical aspects: coherent policy implementation, policy role and policy alignment. The framework details the interconnection between policy implementation and policy role factors in the attainment of structural, strategic and cognitive policy alignment.

The insights gained from the attainment of policy coherence were explored to enhance current understandings of the cognitive alignment of policy messages. To this end, the notion of collective cognitive cognisance was constructed. This notion highlights the impact that cognitive cognisance has on policy interpretation and translation practices, as policy messages move through a system. The study highlights the importance of utilising practices that promote collective cognition across a system, is a vital component of developing policy coherence. Further, through the development of a detailed account of how role perceptions and expectations influenced policy translation and role enactment, the significance of this research is twofold. First, the role enactment dimension to the concept of policy coherence. Second of the importance of this dimension in developing collective cognitive coherence of policy messages.

Keywordsschools; district or region; state educational system; regional education officers
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390201. Education policy
390399. Education systems not elsewhere classified
350707. Leadership
Public Notes

File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
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