Enabling School Structure
- Roxanne M. MitchellRoxanne M. MitchellUniversity of Alabama
Schools are organizations with a formal bureaucratic structure. Hoy and Sweetland applied the work of Gouldner, who viewed organizational structure as ranging from representative to punishment centered, and Adler and Borys, who viewed bureaucracy as ranging from enabling to coercive, to schools. They coined the term “enabling school structures” (ESS), which they defined as “a hierarchy of authority and a system of rules and regulations that help rather than hinder the teaching learning mission of the school.” Hoy and Sweetland then developed and validated a reliable instrument to measure this construct. This spawned a considerable body of research on the antecedents and consequents of ESS. A comprehensive literature review from 2000 to 2018 produced 22 articles that utilized ESS as conceptualized and operationalized by Hoy and Sweetland. This review did not include book chapters or unpublished dissertations. Findings from the research suggest that ESS fosters trust relationships and collaboration among teachers. It helps to establish a culture of academic optimism and promotes the development of professional learning communities.
ESS has been shown to have both a direct and indirect effect on student achievement. ESS is correlated with a host of factors deemed important in schools, such as teacher and principal authenticity, collective teacher efficacy, teacher professionalism, and collective responsibility. It is negatively associated with dependence on superiors, dependence on rules, truth spinning, role conflict, and illegitimate politics. It appears to be higher in smaller schools, particularly schools situated in rural areas. Studies have been conducted in China, Turkey, and South and Central America, which have given credence to the notion that ESS has applicability beyond the United States where the work was originally conceptualized. ESS was not affected by socioeconomic status in schools in the United States, and therefore, it may serve as one way to ameliorate the negative effects of poverty on student success.