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The Legacy of Educational Administration

A Historical Analysis of an Academic Field

Izhar Oplatka

In light of attempts to trace the philosophical and historical foundations of educational administration as an academic field of study that is concerned with the management and operation of educational organisations, this book aims at reviewing important epistemological developments in this field since the early 1960s. Specifically, the author poses several questions, such as what counts as the field of educational administration and what is this field in each decade since the early 1960s? What is the knowledge base of educational administration? What is its unique identity? And what are the types of publications and the methodological tools used throughout the years by the field’s members? Based on a qualitative content analysis of the field’s various academic journals since the appearance of the first journal, the author identifies six legacies – empirical, practical, evaluative, training, ideological and critical that the field leaves behind in our time.


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Introduction 9


9 Introduction The academic discipline as the basic unit of social organisation of knowledge production and development is an essential feature of modern science (Messer- Davidow, Shumway & Sylvan, 1993; Whitley, 1984). Scientific and social re- search rests primarily on and in communities of arguers, enquirers and critics. A condition for the possibility of such communities of scholars is their common language of shared recognition and references to some common rules of intellec- tual and creative behaviour (Bridges, 2006). Thus, each discipline internalises its aim and becomes increasingly specialised (Hausman, 1979). A discipline is revealed to be an interacting system in which research tasks and specialities are created, abolished, and reshaped by internal and external for- ces (Klein, 1993). Belth (1962) defined a discipline as ‘a branch of knowledge acquired through study and research requiring scholarly training’ (p. 193). Simi- larly, a decade later, Kiger (1971) defined a discipline as a ‘recognised branch or segment of knowledge within rational knowledge’, with ‘certain generally agreed-upon canons and standards’ (p. 99). From these and other definitions it is apparent that a discipline is composed of some major elements including commonly understood norms of enquiry, shared discourse, shared goals, shared systematic communication, common edu- cational apprenticeship, and relative unanimity of group judgment in profes- sional matters (Bridges, 2006; Kuhn, 1977). Additionally, despite their temporal shifts of character, disciplines have recognisable identities and particular cultural attributes (Becher, 1989). By insisting that authors refer to particular scientists and currently established evidence, reputational disciplines ensure that work...

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