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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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Chapter Two: The foundation and development of EA as a field of study 29


29 Chapter Two: The foundation and development of EA as a field of study Since the foundation of the field of EA as an academic field of study some of its scholars have been concerned with its philosophical and historical foundations (e.g., Callahan, 1962; Culbertson, 1988; Donmoyer, 1999; Murphy & Forsyth, 1999) and have sought to understand the theoretical and practical nature of the field (e.g., Boyan, 1981; Heck, 2006; Ribbins, 2006). From these scholarly ac- counts we learned that the field’s history is replete with intellectual struggles and ferments as well as reflections on its nature, methodologies, purposes, bounda- ries and knowledge base. Some scholars throughout the history of the field re- viewed its knowledge base to obtain an overview of the dominant concerns and trends within the field using textbooks, curricula, course syllabi, proceedings of international conferences, doctoral dissertations and journal articles (e.g., Fitz, 1999; Haller & Knapp, 1985; Oplatka, 2007, 2008; Swafford, 1990). Yet the essence of EA as a field of study needs further clarification, as the words educational administration do not accurately indicate what kind of inquiry one should assess, as Erickson (1979) noted many years ago. Basically, EA is considered to be a field of study concerned with the management and operation of educational organisations (Bush, 1999). However, given the limited history of the field and its confused parentage, it is hard to reveal a plain, transparent defi- nition of EA, as West-Burnham (1999), explains: The definition of EA is made more complex by semantic ambiguity...

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