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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 Four: The years of epistemological expansion 77


77 Chapter Four: The years of epistemological expansion The 1980s witnessed governmental policy changes in many countries, leading to new education reforms and legislation. In the US, the National Commission on Excellence in Education’s report, ‘A Nation at Risk’, encompassed the recogni- tion of the need to ameliorate the principalship (Owens & Shakeshaft, 1992), while in England, a left-wing government introduced market forces into the pub- lic sector, including education (Oplatka, Foskett & Hemsley-Brown, 2002). This was oddly also a time of public budget cuts, which in turn resulted in a period of decline in the field (Willower, 1983), and in a wave of examination of prepara- tion and scholarship in EA. This was largely expressed by critical questions posed by a few field members about the evolution of the field and its quality, and by the appearance of the first ‘Handbook of Research on Educational Adminis- tration’, compiled by Boyan (1988) as an attempt to offer part of the knowledge base in the field. Two new journals focusing on EA were founded in this decade – SLM and IJEM. Although the majority of the papers were still authored by one person, a pat- tern of the field’s authorship that had characterised also the former decades, of the several dozens of papers with two authors, most were published in the Ame- rican journal or by American field members publishing in international journals. Similar to the 1970s, very few papers were written by more than two authors, probably an expression for a high individual...

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