An Analysis of the Issues involved in Managing an Effective Organizational Culture in an International School

“The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture” (Schein 1985 in Stoll 1999, p.105)

Management is a contentiously-defined term; organizational culture is a notoriously difficult concept to pin down; and international schools not only come in many sizes and shapes, but also bring with them relatively little research. In the following paper we will explore the often clashing concepts of leadership and management, the various discourses on culture in schools, and finally how these things can and should be successfully combined. At each step we will begin with a review of the literature, expand as best we can to include international contexts and concerns, and then compare these theoretical concepts with a real life example of an international school in Southern Africa.

Managing and Leading

In a 2006 report for the UK’s National College for School Leadership, Leithwood et al. present ‘Seven Strong Claims about Successful School Leadership’. They argue that school leadership has a powerful effect on student learning; that successful leaders build vision, set direction, understand and develop people, redesign the organization and manage the teaching and learning programme; that they are responsive to context, as opposed to dictatorial; that they see staff motivation, commitment and working conditions as key; that distributed leadership is preferable, and that parallel or coordinated patterns of leadership are the most effective; and that leaders demonstrate the personality traits of readiness to learn, flexibility, open-mindedness, persistence, high expectations, resilience, optimism, and the holding of consistent core values (Leithwood et al. 2006). This may be true. This may also be true in international education. We will examine all of these claims during the course of this paper. But first, we need to address the fact that these claims are about ‘leadership’, whereas our remit is to discuss the ‘managing’ of schools.

At first the distinction might seem unnecessary; after all, for many years leadership was considered to be what the business of good management was about. However it is now widely accepted, in the literature at least, that the two things, while not being mutually exclusive, are distinct activities. As early as 1957, Selznick was writing that “it is not helpful to identify leadership with whatever is done by people in high places”, and that “only some (and sometimes none) of the activities of decision-makers are leadership activities” (Selznick 1957 in Rost 1991, p.98). Joseph Rost, on whose distinction and definitions we shall focus, backs this up, similarly stating that people in authority positions are not automatically leaders by virtue of their holding a position of authority (1991, p.112). Rather, as echoed below by one of our interviewees, he would have it that “managers are people who do things right, and leaders are people who do the right thing” (ibid, p.100); or, by another distinction, “leadership is the use of influence and management is the use of authority” (ibid, p.98).

In these distinctions, managers are seen as those who take care of the necessary, the day-to-day, the routine and the ordinary. They manage the systems and the people within those systems so that everything runs smoothly and efficiently and effectively. They are not, however, agents of change: “they may excel in the ability to handle the daily routine, yet never question whether the routine should be done at all” (ibid, p.100). Despite this apparently negative distinction, the work of the manager is vital. Effective managers, Rost tells us, are a joy to behold and a pleasure to work with in any organization (ibid, p.106). And in an environment where management is poor, and people have little power to change either their managers or the system, effective management is a process sorely missed (ibid, p107).

Leadership is seen as something different, something ‘greater’. “Leadership”, it is claimed, “is often the key difference between schools that work and those that don’t” (Zhang 1994, p.18). Leadership is largely seen as a more personality-based, change-based activity requiring a complex range of skills and competencies. Yukl (2002 in Bush and Glover 2003, p.3) rather dryly has it that leadership involves ‘a social influence process whereby intentional influence is exerted by a person or group over other people or groups to structure the activities and relationships therein’. This, while it might serve as a nutshell summary to an extent, is of little real help: the truth, if there is a measurable one, reveals leadership as a far more multifaceted and dynamic set of processes. Dimmock and Walker (2002, p.73), for example, list eight elements of leadership: collaboration and participation, planning, decision-making, interpersonal communication, conflict management, evaluation and appraisal, and staff professional development.

Even under the umbrella of ‘leadership’, there are sub-categories. Rost lists, among others, moral, participative, managerial, interpersonal and contingent leadership (1991, p.10). It is the idea of transformational leadership, however, that attracts the most attention. Transformational leadership is seen as process largely of inspiration, motivation, and leading by example in the facilitation of change. Keith Leithwood has written extensively on this. As well as co-authoring the NCSL report mentioned above, he has documented the attributes present in transformational leadership, and is a contributor in a solid definition of transformational leadership for change, useful for this paper. In this definition, Yu et al. (2002) list the dimensions of transformational leadership for change as:

  • Setting directions;
  • Developing people;
  • Redesigning the organization;
  • Identifying and articulating a vision;
  • Fostering the acceptance of group goals;
  • Creating high-performance expectations;
  • Providing individualized support;
  • Offering intellectual stimulation;
  • Providing an appropriate model;
  • Strengthening school culture;
  • Building collaborative structures.

As mentioned previously, core consistent values are also necessary for effective leadership, and indeed it is these values which shape all of the dimensions in the above list. Day et al. (2001 in Bush and Glover 2003, p.3) tell us that “good leaders are informed by and communicate clear sets of personal and educational values which represent their moral purposes for the school”. These values are identified by Wassenburg (1999 in Bush and Glover 2003, p.3) as the following:

  • Schools are concerned with learning and all members of the school community are learners;
  • Every member of the school community is valued as an individual;
  • The school exists to serve its pupils and the local community;
  • Learning is about the development of the whole person and happens in and out of classrooms;
  • People prosper with trust, encouragement and praise.

The International Effect

Yu et al. (2002, p.383) argue that an international context has little impact on the effectiveness of transformational leadership. “This approach to leadership”, they write, “may be a ‘functionally’ universal form of school leadership. That is, while the magnitude of its effects may vary across cultures, the same patterns and relationships tend to remain stable”. However, it must be recognized that cultural factors will inevitably play a role; as Dimmock and Walker (2002, p.77) attest, status, respect and power are variously attributed according to different cultural norms, and in societies where power is linked to extrinsic factors, leadership tends to be from the ‘top’ and exercised in an authoritarian or autocratic manner. These are mitigating factors to the effectiveness of some of the dimensions of transformational leadership, particularly with respect to redesigning an organization and building collaborative structures, with which this paper is interested.

Bishop Mackenzie International School

BMIS, a non-profit, international-curriculum K-12 school in Southern Africa, has a new school Director, responsible for two Head Teachers (Primary and Secondary) and responsible to an elected Board of Governors. In addition, the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) contains three programme coordinators: one each for the three strata of the International Baccalaureate (IB). Below this come Heads of Department, then classroom teachers. The comments and opinions below and beyond were collected during one-on-one personal interviews carried out in January 2012.

The Head of Secondary sees his job as a combination of leadership and management. He agrees that there is a great deal of day-to-day work which comes under the umbrella of management, but also, “that some things are better managed and others better led”. When asked, he said that it is the interpersonal, communicative side of the role which calls for leadership, and that he prefers to take a hands-off approach to the running of teaching and learning, leading the Heads of Department and trusting in them to, in turn, lead the teachers.

The Director largely agrees. “The roles vary in a school”, he says. “As a Department Head you have aspects of leadership but a lot of it is management”. He continues: “the higher you go, it’s more about leadership”. Like Rost, above, he makes the distinction that “management is about doing things right, and leadership is about doing the right thing”. Despite this, he sees his role as primarily one of direction-setting followed by delegation to expertise; as he puts it, “I know I’m doing my job [well] when I don’t need to be there”.

For the remainder of this paper we will consider the ‘managing’ that goes on in creating/maintaining an effective organizational culture in international schools as multifaceted, and as both leading and managing. Leaders lead, managers manage, and, as claimed above, the roles vary in a school and overlap. As Cuban (1988 in Bush and Glover 2003, p.5) wrote, “I prize both managing and leading and attach no special value to either, since different settings and times call for varied responses”. And most importantly, as stated by Sergiovanni (1994, p.232), “both management and leadership are very important in schools understood as organizations”.

Organizational Culture

“School culture is one of the most complex and important concepts in education” (Stoll 1999, p.96): complex, because it has proven difficult to define; important, because it is closely tied to a school’s performance (James and Connelly 2009, p.404). Connelly et al. (2011, p.422) tell us how for over 30 years organizational culture has been linked with school performance and how having ‘the right culture’ is considered central to improving school and staff performance. Yet it is not clear that everyone is discussing the same thing when on the topic of organizational culture. Some see it as the structures, hierarchies, procedures and so forth of a school, possibly coupled with its ethos and its student-staff body; others see school culture as a metaphor, a set of symbols shared, providing a unifying (or possibly divisive) identity. These problems are noticed by James and Connelly (2009, p.404):

It is easy to load too much into the concept of organizational   culture, this overloading can occur if organizational culture is seen as both the symbols, meanings and interpretations and the practices that are framed by such symbols, meanings and interpretations.

It is for this reason that we will largely, though not exclusively, focus on organizational culture as an objective, external, ‘real’ phenomenon, a view which arguably dominates the literature (Connolly et al, p.426).

For Hofstede (1991 in Dimmock and Walker 2002, p.71), culture is defined as an enduring set of beliefs, values, ideologies and behaviours. Dimmock and Walker (2002) write of there being six dimensions (each a scale) of organizational culture: process- to outcome-oriented; task- to person-oriented; professional to parochial; open to closed; that of levels of control; and pragmatic to normative. MacGilchrist (in Stoll 1999) claims that this culture is expressed through the ways people relate and work together, the management of the school’s structures, its systems and physical environment, and the extent to which there is a learning focus for both pupils and adults. It is also worth noting that, while these are all valid outlines and interpretations, Stoll (1999, p.104) is undoubtedly correct in pointing out that the concept of one holistic culture is too simplistic, and that any school may be composed of different and competing value systems and thus different cultures based on age, gender, race and so on.

Obviously, there are a number of factors which will inevitably have an influence on a school’s organisational culture. These factors largely exist under the surface of everyday experience: people’s beliefs and values influence their actions and reactions (Stoll 1999, p.103); teachers’ professional values and codes are important cultural influences (James and Connelly 2009, p.392); pupils’ and teachers’ identities are strongly affected by their histories and social backgrounds (Busher et al. 2007, p.407); and indeed the school’s culture is shaped by its own history and context as well as those of the people in it (Stoll 1999, p.96). Furthermore, as mentioned above, cultural divisions exist within a school, allowing sub-cultures to develop. In addition to these sub-cultural divisions, the organizational structure will influence the cohesion of the school’s overall culture. For example, in larger schools, teachers’ perceptions of their primary community are likely to be their subject area (Busher et al. 2007, p.414), and as Stoll (1999, p.104) attests, “departmental divisions can prove powerful barriers to whole school communication and collegiality”.

The literature is seemingly unanimous when it comes to identifying what constitutes ‘effective’ organizational structure: “the extent to which teachers work together”, write Hofman et al., “and their use of efficient planning procedures concerning the instruction process in general…exert significant effects on…achievement” (2002, p.266). Louis et al. (1996 in Hayes et al. 2004, p.522) identify five elements they claim are critical to establishing an effective organizational culture: shared norms and values, a focus on student learning, reflective dialogue, deprivatization of practice, and collaboration. This definition finds echoes in James and Connelly (2009), who list cultural uniformity (small groups, similar people, collaborative/shared values and beliefs, inclusivity, careful selection of staff, robust socialization of new staff, focus on teaching and learning), reflective practice, and leadership of the head teacher as the most important influences on organizational culture. Hayes et al. (2004, p.532), writing up interview responses from a very successful school in Australia, found that teachers placed great value in trust (as opposed to scrutiny), staff professional development based around teaching and learning, and, once again most noticeably, the importance of collegiality, cooperation and shared practice. This collegiality, according to Stoll (1999, p.99), derives from greater interdependence, collective commitment, shared responsibility, and perhaps most importantly, greater readiness to participate in the difficult business of review and critique.

The International Effect

 “There are no recipes for success that can just be copied and applied without consideration of time and space” (Alvesson 2002 in James and Connolly 2009). This is true of any school, but much more so of schools in international contexts, for the factors of time and space here are amplified.

Organizational culture cannot exist in a vacuum; it is always embedded in the regional and national culture (Sun et al. 2007, p.98). We are all aware of the collectivist/individualist and active/passive dichotomies of different world cultures, and the literature on the cultural differences between Eastern and Western traditions of education is well established. This is mirrored in what is attainable in terms of organization culture in these contexts, and what external factors come into play in such instances. As Dimmock and Walker (2002, p.77) explain, some societies tend to be more creative and innovative, while others seem to be more replicative. Furthermore, group-oriented cultures tend to place the preservation of relationships above pursuit of task, whereas self-oriented societies do the opposite. Adding to this, Reynolds et al. (2002 in Sun et al. 2007, p.95) note that effective schools depend partly on the value society places on the educational system and the importance of the teaching profession, a fact that is certain to affect the dynamic and motivation for change and success within a school.

Internal factors are also amplified in international schools. Staff bodies tend to consist of different nationalities and races, and teachers’ backgrounds, historically, socially and educationally, can be expected to be much more varied than that of a school in a ‘normal’, national context. This ‘social capital’ has the potential to create division, and in pupils has the capacity to shape their views of schooling and their ability to interact with each other, to interact with the staff, and to access the formal school curriculum (Busher et al. 2007). Stoll (1999, p.97) points out that school culture is very much influenced by the pupils in the school and their social class background; in an international school the diversity of these backgrounds can be simply enormous.

Bishop Mackenzie International School

 Members of the SLT were invited to share their thoughts on the organizational culture of the school as it is, as it should be, and on the concepts of organizational culture in general. Most had some idea of organizational culture, others knew the concepts in some detail, and one had to have the term explained to him.

The Director is aware of the problems in defining the issue: “culture is a hard one. You know it’s there, but is it written down? Each person would likely describe it differently”. It is apparent from this that he ascribes to the idea that it is something unseen, undefined, and subjective. Indeed, the pattern was largely that those with the most authority saw it that way, while those ‘lower down’ saw it as a structural issue. The IB Diploma Coordinator expressed this quite effectively when he said that “you could argue before [the new Director arrived] that the culture was ad hoc, based on ‘what’s coming up’, rather than an actual structure of management”.

One of the key problems identified by the Director was that of maintaining a consistent culture: “international schools pose their own unique problems; institutional memory is an issue”. This is an important feature of international schools. Teachers come and go with far greater frequency than in a national context, as do students. You can do as much as you like to promote a culture but, as the Director attests, “in six months’ time, you’ll start all over again”. And when a long-established teacher leaves, or more than one, as happened at BMIS last year, that institutional memory leaves with them.

In terms of an organizational structure, the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) Coordinator explained what she thought worked: “a collegiate structure works if there are layers”, she said, though “most people need a simple structure in which they can work”. She provided the “line-managed” student-parent-pastoral system as an example of this. She saw the major input of classroom teachers as being through curriculum design in the classroom, and through pastoral work.

The Director was less guarded on this issue. After emphasizing that BMIS has collaborative structures in place: “we’ve got the student council, we’ve got the PTA, we’ve got the Board which is made up of parents”, he qualified that by pointing out that “although we have relatively democratic processes in place, we’re not a democracy… whether you like it or not, we have a hierarchy”. This he justified fully, explaining that “at the end of the day, somebody has to make decisions”, and that “there’s a grave danger of trying to appease and appeal to everybody.”

On the subject of external cultural influence, The Director acknowledged that there are differences around the world citing contexts such as some middle-eastern schools in which the students don’t need to work due to already existing family fortunes, and some areas such as Singapore, Egypt and Korea where there is a “massive” academic emphasis.

Finally, the MYP Coordinator had a point to make about how organizational culture can be affected by change. The MYP is a new programme at BMIS, and as such is taking up a lot of the organization’s time and energy: “The impact of bringing in a new programme changes the organizational culture of a school”. She described the organizational structure at times like this as ‘pyramidal’ in form; lots of work goes on below, with the few people at the top overseeing it.

Managing and Leading Organizational Culture

“The role of school leadership in relation to school culture is central”, writes Stoll (1999, p.105). Dimmock and Walker (2002, p.71) agree, claiming that school leaders both influence and, in turn, are influenced by the organizational culture.

One of the primary roles of a school leader as outlined in the literature is that of someone with a responsibility to ‘define’ the school, arguably setting the foundations around which organizational culture can be formed. “Strong principals”, writes Weller (1998, p.256), “realize that a school’s culture provides the school with its own unique image which conveys to the students and the external public what the school represents, what its mission is”. The idea here, that, schools need to foster an identity considered to be legitimate in the eyes of their relevant publics (Sergiovanni 1994, p.232) is echoed below in interviews with BMIS staff, as are some of the reasons behind this, one of many being that outlined by Stoll (1999, p.96): “locally, a school’s community, including the pupils’ parents, may have their own conceptions of what a ‘real school’ is”. As culture (and identity) is unarguably a constructed reality, the leader of the school faces this and many other challenges, requiring considerable thought, skill, integrity and consistency, in order to build and maintain an organization that connects with all members of a community (Dimmock and Walker 2002, p.78).

The leader’s personal attributes, as well as their approach to leadership itself, will affect organizational culture. Berry (1997, p.53) sees it as imperative that leaders have the understanding, knowledge and skills – the expertise – to lead cultural change. Hayes et al. (2004, p.522) found that principals in productive schools are inclusive in orientation and focused on student learning whilst maintaining efficient management procedures. For McWilliam and Hatcher (2007, p.234), communicative excellence through high quality ‘soft skills’ (warmth, power-sharing, coaching) defines a successful leader.

The role of power-sharing in organizational culture is one that appears and reappears with unerring frequency; “leadership based on personal authority”, observes Sergiovanni (1994, p.236), “places glitz over substance and results in vacuous leadership practice”. Principals, it is widely agreed, need to lead from the centre, not from the top (Schechter 2004, p.177).

This is fine in theory, but how can it be applied in practice? There are many recommended approaches, the most prevalent being the idea of devolution of decision-making to a larger number and variety of a school’s stakeholders.  For teachers, involvement in decisions related to curriculum planning can improve decision outcomes, enhance communication, extend staff commitment and increase decision ownership (James and Jones 2007, p.). In Hayes’ research (2004, p.525), the process of not moving ahead with changes until sufficient support had been built among staff and parents was a key leadership strategy for success.

Collaboration of this kind can and often does meet with resistance within and between groups of all kinds and can provide a barrier to more democratic leadership practices. Some resist because their ideas differ; others because they doubt the validity or the volume of their voice; and others still because schools are naturally conservative in nature. To address these issues, leaders must nurture trust: “trust plays a pivotal role in shaping relationships within schools and in determining the extent to which collaboration among school staff can take place” (Hammad 2010, p.99). Observation and criticism are not indicative of trust (Beck and Murphy 1998, p.374); rather, leaders should reach out to staff, nurture them, and honour their judgements. Busher et al. (2007, p.417) supports the construction of rule frameworks so that members police themselves and each other, this being less corrosive than the imposition of hierarchical authority.

Weller (1998, p.257) is very specific: “large group sessions”, he writes, “well planned with specific topics, greatly facilitate the changing of teachers’ perspectives and attitudes”. This finds support in Trice and Baker’s (1993 in James and Connelly 2009) assertion that the presence of sub-cultures is less prevalent when there is a high level of social interaction and shared experience in the organization (among other factors), though it must be noted that for Weller (1998, p.252), sub-cultures are by no means necessarily a negative feature:

 Since each organization has its own ‘underground culture’ whose population has progressive and new ideas, environments which encourage and support this kind of thinking allow these ideas to be brought into the open.

To further stimulate this, suggests Schechter (2004, p.177), principals can initiate reflexive spaces in schools, allowing for innovations and new insights.

Busher et al. (2007, p.416) summarise all of these ideas very well:

Leaders who want to sustain school improvement need to build an emancipatory organizational culture while wrestling with ambiguity and work-related disagreements by building a consensus around high-order values that members of the school community can relate to and believe in…these values include ethical and transparent approaches to decision-making.

The International Effect

 In addition to all of the factors listed above, there are one or two special features present in international school contexts that warrant discussion. Hayes et al. (2004, p.521) claims that teacher characteristics account for a higher variation in student achievement than all other aspects of a school combined. As we have mentioned previously, in an international school these teachers come and go with greater frequency, affecting the organizational culture as they do so. Thus those in leadership roles should ideally place much more focus on the issues of selection and recruitment, induction and acclimatization (Busher et al. 2007, p.413), and retention of staff, than they might otherwise do.

It is worth remembering too what Stoll, quoted above, said about different stakeholders’ ideas of what might constitute a ‘real school’; with a diversity of national, cultural and educational backgrounds among teaching staff, pupils and parents, this has the potential to be a major issue in an international school.

Bishop Mackenzie International School

 This last point is one keenly acknowledged by BMIS interviewees. The Director sees one of his priorities as being the establishment of a solid and consistent school identity, and the communication of that identity to the wider community: “your markets are different in an international school…we need to be clear what we are so that we meet parental expectations”. Indeed, as reported by the Chair of the Board of Governors, a recent Board retreat was held specifically to address the question, “what kind of school do we want to be?”; “the genesis of the push”, said the DP Coordinator, “is coming from the Board and the parents”.

 “I don’t think any school ever has a static organizational structure”, said the MYP Coordinator. The Director supported this position up to a point: “It usually takes a few years to change the culture and to get structures and procedures in place so that everything runs.” What is it that needs to be done? “It’s about relations, it’s about communication, it’s about building trust in those relationships so that we can delegate.”

Right now, it would be hard to argue that delegation is the reality, apart from at the very ‘top’ of the hierarchy. “I think of us as a leadership team”, said the Head of Secondary; “they are my starting point for kicking off discussions about where we’re going”. He describes what he refers to as a “little group of three in secondary”, who operate by working out what they’re each good at, and working on the other stuff together. The DP Coordinator shares this view, explaining just how much gets done during SLT meetings. And this, it seems, is what the Board of Directors expect: “by the time it gets to us, we expect it to have been discussed by all parties…it’s up to the Head Teachers”.

On the subject of recruitment, the Head of Secondary explained what, to him, were the main issues: “what you’ve got to do is make sure that the teachers’ expectations when they get here meet the realities of the school and the country”; that, because of the time pressure of international recruitment, it’s hard to pick people who’ll ‘fit’; and that “you have to start pre-recruiting – you have to get your information out there”.

Analysis and Conclusions

There are many similarities, and a number of clear differences, between the theories espoused in the literature and those seen in the opinions and approaches of the staff at Bishop Mackenzie International School.

There would seem to be reasonable alignment between academic distinctions of management and leadership and the conceptions of these held by the school’s senior staff. However, it is apparent from the interviews that, while managing and leadership are understood as different things, the line between the role of a leader and a manager is not present. All those asked expressed an opinion that their job was both, and what is more that the job of every member of staff at every level in the school was both. The only variation lay in a perception that the ‘higher up’ one went, the more it was about leading, the less about managing.

Understanding of what constitutes organization culture found a broad correlation between the literature and the reality at BMIS, including the fact that both found it hard to define. Both in the reading and in conversation there were those who considered it a thing of values, ideals, symbols and memory, and others who saw it as a structural issue. Interestingly, it was rarely discussed in the interviews by the same person as being about both. And so it would seem that it is indeed a different thing to each person, and that, as a whole (if there is a whole) it is not particularly well understood. This will certainly have an effect on any attempts to create and sustain a consistent culture: a common framework for discussion would seem a fundamental prerequisite to agreeing on what that culture is, might be, or should be.

The most obvious area of agreement came in the area of identity-setting; both the literature and the leaders at BMIS see one of the key issues in managing organizational culture to be that of creating an identity and a direction that is clearly defined, consistent, and clearly communicated to the entire school and wider community. In an international school, it might be argued, this is even more important. The conflict of interests and needs between different markets is one issue. For example, Bishop Mackenzie has a fluctuating balance between local students and expatriates, and as a rule they are looking for different things, educationally. For a school to meet parents’ needs, a school needs a clear outwardly-expressed identity which matches the reality of what is has to offer. In this way it mitigates against opportunities for resistance and negative feedback from unsatisfied students and parents. This is true also for incoming staff: again, especially in an international school where they may have never visited the country before, and almost certainly not the school.

In contrast, the most obvious area of disagreement came when discussing the role and desirability of collegiality and shared decision-making within the organizational structure. Throughout the reading it is clear that power-sharing and collaboration are highly prized; and while interviewees talked of a need for trust, communication and delegation, it was very obvious that not only was this not going on outside of the Senior Leadership Team and the necessary committees responsible for the development of the MYP programme, but that it was not seen as particularly realistic or desirable. There could be a number of reasons for this. It could be that, due to the wider range of backgrounds and opinions often found in international contexts, leaders feel that too much collegiality might be unmanageable and/or unproductive, and might cause conflict rather than consensus; instead they prefer to ‘lead from the front (or the top)’. It could also be the case that because of the high staff turnover, and the constant presence of change and fluctuation in culture this brings, they feel the need for a solid, consistent core, an anchor with which to secure the school’s institutional memory and identity.  And of course the possibility exists that this approach is the result of the personal traits and characteristics of those involved.

One interesting thing that emerged from the interviews was the prominent role of recruitment and induction of staff in creating and maintaining the organizational culture in an international school. Due to high annual staff turnover and a unique recruitment process which places both schools and teachers under considerable time pressure, not only are there very often a large percentage of new staff at a school in any given year, but very often they will have little previous knowledge of the school, the country, and many other internal and external aspects of their work placements. As such, the process of staff selection should be a central focus when considering organizational culture: as a recruiter, you must be absolutely sure that you employ people who will fit in; as a candidate, you must be absolutely sure that this school has the structure, the leaders, the culture and the values that suit you. It would be interesting to see more work in the area of effective international school recruitment practices.

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