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What Is the Role of Organizational Behavior in Education?

By Osmand Vitez
Updated May 16, 2024
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Organizational behavior is a term that may carry several different definitions, though the classic one is the study of individuals in an organizational context. All organizations have some type of corporate behavior — it exists everywhere, even as organizational behavior in education. Here, the term defines the structure of a school, the process by which the school gauges performance, and how an educational institution responds to change. Each school is different, with the organizational behavior depending on school size, type, importance of structure, and other factors. Individuals are the common driving force behind organizational behavior.

An educational institution is just like any other organization — full of people that drive the activities within the group. Organizational behavior in education often has a fairly standard structure, such as a principal, vice principal, curriculum coordinator, and other administrative figures. All of these individuals are responsible for setting the tone in the institution. A lack of leadership or ethics may come from the very top, which can create fractures in the institution. A strong administrative group is necessary to create and enforce the proper tone in the organization in order to meet its goals.

One common — and sometimes controversial — aspect of educational institutions is how teachers and educators meet certain performance measurements. Properly gauging performance for all teachers and educators is necessary to ensure that students receive the best education possible. Organizational behavior in education helps the administration create a fair and equitable process by which they measure each worker’s performance. The process can be wide ranging and quite intense, measuring different aspects such as classroom performance, service to the school, and outside activities performed above regular teaching duties. Periodic reviews are often the norm in educational institutions.

Change is an internal or external force that no institution can escape, even those in the educational sector. A portion of the activities that exist in organizational behavior in education is to define the factors that drive change. In education, this may include curriculum changes, adjustments to state requirements, finding new teachers for those retiring, and handling increases in student enrollment. All these factors and others — such as changes to school districts or new educational institutions opening — are also part of this process. School administrators and upper-level teachers need to be in position to handle these changes without sacrificing the quality of education given to students at the school.

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Discussion Comments
By clintflint — On Jul 14, 2013

It makes me really sad and angry that they keep trying to introduce measures where a teacher will be paid according to their performance. It seems like a good idea on the surface, since it would, in theory, provide a good incentive for them to try and help their students more, but in reality, education just doesn't work like that.

This would just make it more likely that good teachers would migrate to rich areas where they could get better pay, because they would be with students who can afford private tutors and other advantages. Leaving the not-so-great teachers with the poor students who are already struggling and now have even fewer chances to succeed.

By irontoenail — On Jul 14, 2013

@bythewell - I feel like either that school was very poorly set up, without a good idea of organisational behavior, or somehow quite a few precautions failed. I like to think most of the time that kind of abuse isn't going to happen, because schools are supposed to be set up so that there are quite a few different ways in which they are accountable.

If anything, I think that's what the trouble with the modern corporation is. They simply don't have any overall accountability, and the end result is the only thing that matters. With schools, if they aren't treating their staff and students well, there are all kinds of options, like turning to unions, or PTAs or the Board of Trustees and so forth.

By bythewell — On Jul 13, 2013

I always thought of schools as being fairly benign organizations without much of a hierarchy, as everyone would be on fairly equal footing as professionals.

But a few years ago, when I was on vacation I met this lovely couple and one of them had been at a school that got so bad they had to be shut down. The principal apparently went somewhat mad with power and treated her employees terribly, along with a few other people at the top of the heap. Since it was such a bad job market, none of them wanted to leave, but teachers were having mental breakdowns they were being treated so badly. Eventually someone blew the whistle and the government stepped in and removed the people at the top.

But it goes to show that power can be abused in almost any situation, whether or not it seems likely.

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