District strategic planning: Is there evidence of strategic thinking and acting? (A study of three Rhode Island school districts)

Mary C. Holland Canole, Johnson & Wales University

Abstract

The strategic planning process is a key strategy in adapting to, managing, and instituting change in the area of school improvement. “Strategic planning is a process that involves stakeholders in determining priorities and setting future direction. It is a process of organizational renewal that allows a school district to anticipate and react to change in a proactive manner” (Goodin, Myers & Nichols, 1988, p. 12). Both strategic thinking and acting behaviors are desired products of an effective strategic planning process. The impact of strategic planning on strategic thinking and acting, however, had not been documented. ^ The purpose of this study was to answer the research question: Is there evidence of strategic thinking and acting being demonstrated in school districts engaged in strategic planning? ^ This qualitative study investigated the impact of the strategic planning process on strategic thinking and acting in three Rhode Island public school districts with prolonged experience in strategic planning. An interpretive case study approach was used to investigate districts' perceptions of their own strategic planning experiences. ^ A strategic thinking and acting typology was constructed based on the work of Fullan (1993), Snader (1998), Mojkowski (1998), and others during an extensive review of the literature. This typology provided a baseline of indicators of strategic thinking and acting in an educational context. It was used to categorize and document evidence of strategic thinking and acting behaviors found in the three school districts. ^ The first strategic planning cycle does not seem to be enough to foster habits of strategic thinking and acting in district personnel. However, there are key lessons to be learned from the first planning experience that will make the second strategic planning cycle stronger and more effective. Prolonged strategic planning can teach participants how to think and act strategically. ^ The researcher-developed Strategic Thinking and Acting Typology and the Dimensions of Strategic Thinking and Acting Model provide educators construct-valid instruments. These instruments can be of considerable utility to the educational community as more studies are done on the effects of the strategic planning process. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration

Recommended Citation

Mary C. Holland Canole, "District strategic planning: Is there evidence of strategic thinking and acting? (A study of three Rhode Island school districts)" (January 1, 1999). Dissertation & Theses Collection. Paper AAI9941903.
http://scholarsarchive.jwu.edu/dissertations/AAI9941903

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