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Kowalski’s Problem-Solving in Educational Setting Essay (Book Review)


Main Issue Presented in the Case

Based on the conflict between Susan and Helen, the main issue emerging in this case study is differing views regarding the management and leadership roles of the school principal. While Helen and the board members think that the school principal should play a leadership role, characterized by the power to tell people what the school vision should be, Susan believed that her role as a school principal should be limited to facilitate processes, as opposed to dictating what the school’s vision should be. Largely, this conflict manifests as a clash of the board’s understanding of management and leadership roles.

Current and Desired State of Issue

The current state of the issue is that Susan, as the school principal, makes most of the decisions surrounding the formulation of the school’s vision and goals. However, the desired situation should be that the process (of formulating the vision) is democratic and inclusive of not only the school board members, but also other members of the community, in formulating the school’s vision.

Difficulty Associated with Eliminating the Gap between the Present and Desired State of Affairs

Ideological Differences

Different views between Susan, Helen, and the school board members show that ideological differences impede attempts to eliminate the gap between the present and desired state of Affairs at Lightville School. Indeed, while Susan believes that a manager’s role should be constrained in the administrative space, Helen and the board members believe that this role should also include leadership (Kowalski 2014). This ideological difference impedes attempts to eliminate the gap between the present and desired state of Affairs at Lightville School (Armstrong & Stephens, 2005).

Bullying and Harassment

Susan believes that Helen talked with the school board members before they had the meeting to determine who should develop the school’s vision (Kowalski 2014). She believes that Helen could have bullied or harassed the board members into agreeing with her that the principal was supposed to develop the vision and communicate the same to other members of the board. This way, she could have subdued the board members into agreeing with her. Such an action could impede attempts to eliminate the gap between the present and desired state of Affairs at Lightville School (Bertocci, 2009).

Influences Affecting the Issue

Many factors affect our understanding of the case study issue. Community culture is a key issue because it shapes the board’s beliefs and expectations about leadership and management roles (CIPD, 2008). Global best practices on leadership and management also affect the issue because the warring factions at Lightville School could use these practices to solve the impasse (Karadağ, 2015).

What Roles do they Play in the Decision-Making Process

Community culture and globally accepted best practices surrounding leadership and management play a critical role in affecting the decision-making processes of the Lightville School because they define how the school board members comprehend the administration-leadership problem and outline possible strategies that the board members could use to solve the problem (Runde & Flanagan, 2012). Community culture has a negative influence on the school’s decision-making processes because it obligates some board members to follow the pre-existing school culture (where the principal gives direction on most matters), instead of listening to divergent views (Armstrong & Stephens, 2005).

This pre-existing culture has made many board members to believe that there are no distinctive roles between managers and leaders. Globally accepted distinctions between managers and leaders could help solve this problem because they could provide a framework outlining the roles and responsibilities of the school principal and other employees of the institution (Bertocci, 2009). It has a positive influence on the school board decision-making process because it eliminates ambiguities in role descriptions, thereby outlining what Susan, the school principal, should do concerning the formulation of the school’s vision (Karadağ, 2015).

How Can Susan Use the Influencers

Solving the impasse between Susan and the school board requires a good understanding of the administrative/leadership problem, what has created the problem, and its possible solutions. Kowalski’s (2014) five stages of problem solving could provide an elaborate framework for doing so. Kowalski’s (2014) stages of problem solving include five elaborate steps, which include understanding the problem, formulating possible solutions to the problem, implementing the chosen solution, reflection (assessing and evaluating the outcomes), improving (determining if the issue is resolved, if it needs further improvement, or if requires a different strategy). The following table shows the application of this framework to the Lightville leadership/management problem

Stage Application
Understanding the problem A conflict between management and leadership roles
Formulating The role of community culture in defining management and leadership roles
Applying global best practices in solving the problem
Applying Applying global best practices to solve the management/leadership impasse would best solve the problem
Reflection How well do applying global best practices solve the management/leadership impasse?
Improving Does applying global best practice solve the problem? If so, how could the school make improvements to the strategy?

Based on the above table, Susan could use the above-mentioned influencers to solve the conflict she has at work. For example, using best practices would provide the compromise she needs to do her duties because it would provide a “middle ground” between what she wants and what her colleagues want. Furthermore, using this influence would help her colleagues to understand what is wrong with their pre-existing culture. This way, the board members would understand the importance of professionalism when formulating the school’s vision.

References

Armstrong, M., & Stephens, T. (2005). A Handbook of Management and Leadership: A Guide to Managing for Results. New York, NY: Kogan Page Publishers.

Bertocci, D. (2009). Leadership in Organizations: There is a Difference Between Leaders and Managers. New York, NY: University Press of America.

CIPD. (2008). Leadership and the management of conflict at work. Web.

Karadağ, E. (2015). Leadership and Organizational Outcomes: Meta-Analysis of Empirical Studies. New York, NY: Springer.

Kowalski, R 2014, Logic for Problem Solving, London, UK: Ediciones Díaz de Santos.

Runde, C., & Flanagan, T. (2012). Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader: How You and Your Organization Can Manage Conflict Effectively. London, UK: John Wiley & Sons.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Kowalski’s Problem-Solving in Educational Setting." July 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/kowalskis-problem-solving-in-educational-setting/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Kowalski’s Problem-Solving in Educational Setting'. 12 July.

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