Change Management Strategy And The Achievement Of School Goals In Public Secondary Schools In Akwa Ibom State (Msc)

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1.1    Background to the Study

The school like any other organization is established for the pursuit of a particular purpose or some purposes. The principal purpose of a school is education. Education entails the training and molding of the entire individual to conform with the set societal standard in order to meet its demands. For integral education to be achieved, the school engages in the pursuit of discipline, punctuality, professional development of teachers, co-curricular activities, teaching and learning. These activities form the basis of the school goal.

School goal is a future expectation, something the school organization is striving to accomplish consciously. According to Mbipom (2000), goals are targets to be reached, and they set a mark for the organization to either attack or defend. This means that goals are the sources for organizational standard of performance. A goal can be used in a very broad sense to refer to the overall purpose of an organization for example, to educate and graduate students into the labour market (long-term goals). It may also be used to refer to a more specific desired accomplishment for example, to improve either academic performance of students or to improve teachers’ morale (short-term goal).

Every public secondary school is described as a formal organization and as such, has some goals to accomplish, these goals are collectively called school goals and they include:

  • Maintenance of school discipline
  • Improvement of teachers’ morale
  • Creating anxiety for learning
  • Improvement of students’ academic performance
  • Encouragement of co-curricular activities
  • Improvement of students’/teachers’ punctuality to school
  • Improved record keeping
  • Professional development of teachers
  • Parents’ involvement in students monitoring and so on.

The attainment of these goals calls for a change in behaviour, a change in approach to work and a change in working conditions. These changes are sometimes accompanied by certain negative emotions which Patnaik (2009) enumerated to include shock, confusion, denial, anxiety and fear, hostility, resistance, sadness and stress. This implies that, change breeds conflict in the minds of organizational members and this is why Agbolo (1990) said that, change and conflict are facts of organizational life. This is because, if a planned change is implemented in the school by the principal, the staff in the school would not at first be comfortable, imagining the impacts of the change on their psychic, and the task the organization assigned to them. For a successful implementation of planned change in any school organization to achieve the intended school goal, the entire change process needs to be managed effectively in order to control and eliminate the negative tensions interwoven with change implementation. Therefore, achievement of school goals can be influenced by change management strategies.

Change management is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired state (Wardale, 2009). The concept of structured approach depicts change management as a planned process during which the changes of a system are implemented in a control manner by following a pre-defined framework to some extent, reasonable modifications. Therefore, the change management strategy adopted by a school principal could affect school goal achievement. The strategies investigated in this study included empirical rational strategy, normative re-educative strategy, power-coercive strategy and Environmental Adaptive Strategy.

Empirical rational strategy is rooted on the belief that people are rational beings, who follow their self interest once it is revealed to them. Implicitly, this strategy is based on persuasion since it assumes that people follow that which is beneficial to them as soon as it is made clear to them (Kulkarni, 2011).

The underlying assumption of normative re-educative strategy is that people are social beings and will adhere to cultural norms and values. It addresses group norms, personal values, and common goals. Here, for a successful change management to be achieved, the school principal must be able to redefine and reinterpret existing norms and values in the school organization and development commitment to new ones (Nickols, 2010).

Power-coercive strategy is based on the exercise of authority and the imposition of sanctions. This originates from the assumption that most people like to associate with those who have greater power or authority and would gradually do what they are told or could be made to do (The Way of Strategy, 2010).

Environmental-adaptive strategy is based on the belief that people oppose loss and disruption, but adapt readily to new circumstances. Thus, a school principal needs to gradually transfer the teachers from the old organization to the new organization in order to accomplish the goal of a planned change in the school (Nickols, 2010).

Provoked by this background the researcher was motivated to investigate the difference in levels of principals’ change management strategies – empirical-rational strategy, normative re-educative strategy, power coercive strategy and environmental adoptive strategy of change management and achievement of school goals in public secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State.

1.2    Statement of the Problem

It has been observed that the level of school goal achievement in public secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State is not so encouraging, (Eddy and Akpan, 2009). They attributed this to poor performance of students in internal and external examination, teachers’ poor attitude to work, poor discipline among students and staff, and low level of teachers’ morale. It is against this backdrop that some members of the public and even educators blamed this on the poor leadership style exhibited by school principals. Others attributed this to the inability of the school principals to utilize appropriate strategies in managing change. At this point therefore, it is pertinent to ask the question. To what extent does principals’ change management strategy influence the achievement of school goals in public secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State? The study was poised to provide answer to this question.

1.3    Research Questions

  1. What is the difference in levels of principals’ empirical-rational strategy and achievement of school goals?
  2. What difference exists in the levels of principals’ normative re-educative strategy and the achievement of school goals?
  3. What is the difference in levels of principals’ power-coercive strategy and the achievement of school goals?
  4. What difference exists in the levels of principals’ environmental adaptive strategy and the achievement of school goals?
  5. What is the difference between the change management strategy of principals with regards to the achievement of school goals?

1.4    Research Hypotheses

The research questions were converted to hypotheses and stated as follows:

  1. There is no significant difference in levels of principals’ empirical-rational strategy and the achievement of school goals.
  2. There is no significant difference in levels of principals’ normative re-education strategy and the achievement of school goals.
  3. There is no significant difference in levels of principals’ power-coercive strategy and the achievement of school goals.
  4. There is no significant difference in levels of principals’ environmental adaptive strategy and the achievement of school goals.
  5. There is no significant difference between principals’ change management strategy with regards to the achievement of school goals.

1.5    Purpose of the Study

This study was designed to find out the difference in levels of principals’ change management strategies (empirical-rational, normative re-educative, power-coercive and environmental adaptive and school goal achievement in terms of:

  1. Maintenance of school discipline
  2. Co-curricular activities
  3. Teachers’ morale

1.6    Significance of the Study

The findings of this study would be beneficial to Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), State Secondary Education Board (SSEB), Local Education Authority (LEA), principals of secondary schools, teachers and the general masses on how to implement change in the school system in order to achieve the desired school goals. The study may enable government to correct the lapses in the administration of change implementation and imbibe a more suitable process and strategy of change management which emphasizes more on the impact of change on the people rather than the process of change management. This could be achieved by presenting the work to the commissioner of education in the State and suggesting to her the need for government to organize public lecture and seminar based on the findings of the study.

The popularization of the study finding could go a long way to helping the school principals in public and private schools in managing and applying appropriate change management strategy in order to realize optimal school goals achievement in various fields.

Additionally, lessons learnt from this study would help the members of the SSEB, and LEA to approach the issue of change management with confident and certainty. This stems from the fact that data generated from this study may enlighten them on the process of change management vis-à-vis the achievement of the desired goals in the school system.

The study would also help the principal of various schools to know the type of change management strategy(ies) to adopt that will yield positive result in term of school goal-achievement. It may help them to know how to assist the teachers when confronted with the negative influence of change such as fear, shock, confusion, denial and anxiety.

Moreover, the study would assist teachers to know how to fit in well in the course of implementing a change. By informing them before hand the facts about change management and how they should adjust to the various strategies of change implementation in other to achieve the desired school goals.

Lastly, the recommendations of this research, if holistically adopted and administered may fortify the entire process of change management, and the lessons drawn from the study will go a long way to aid in providing lasting solution to the future problems of change management in our secondary schools and beyond. Besides, the research will also serve as a reservoir of knowledge and information for further research work. It will also create avenue for attitudinal change towards the manner of approach adopted by various actors in the implementation of change in our various public secondary schools.

1.7    Assumptions

  1. Achievement of school goals varies from school to school.
  2. School goals can be identified and measured in secondary school.
  3. Change management strategy varies from one principal to another.

1.8    Scope of the Study

The scope of this study covered public secondary schools and their principals in Akwa Ibom State, during the 2011/2012 academic session. Although there were private secondary schools in the state, they were not included in this study. Principals’ change management strategy as used in this work was classified into empirical-rational, environmental adaptive, power-coercive, and normative re-educative strategies. School goal achievement was measured in terms of maintenance of school discipline, co-curricular activities and teachers’ morale.

1.9    Limitations of the Study

In the course of the study, lukewarm attitude exhibited by school principals towards the response to the questionnaire items, and lack of funds to cover all schools, were the hindrances experienced by the researcher in the course of this study.

1.10  Operational Definition of Terms

The major variables in the study are operationally defined as follows:

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