Participative decision making in SMI schools

Man Tak CHAN, Yue Chor CHING, Yin Cheong CHENG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


With the introduction of School Management Initiative (SMI) in Hong Kong schools in recent years, teachers' participation in decision making becomes one of the main themes in school management. By employing a model made of three dimensions, namely decision domain, decision level and decision involvement pattern, this study aims to investigate the patterns, processes and consequences of teachers' participation in decision making in SMI schools. The research adopted both quantitative and qualitative methods in studying two secondary SMI schools. A questionnaire was developed to survey teachers' involvement pattern of making decisions on the issues of technical and managerial domains at individual, group and school levels. 19 teachers from a SMI school participated in a pilot study to test the reliability and validity of the instrument. After a slight revision of the questionnaire as a result of the pilot study, teachers from the two subject schools participated in the questionnaire survey. A total of 105 copies of the questionnaire were distributed through a teacher at each of the two subject schools and there were 84 valid responses giving a return rate of 80 percent. Then the two principals and fourteen teachers from the two subject schools were interviewed to collect information for validating the results of involvement pattern obtained in the questionnaire survey and for studying the processes and consequences of participative decision making. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed into verbatim. Besides, documentary analysis on school profiles, plans, reports and magazines provided information supplementary to the interviews. Quantitative data were run with the statistical package of SPSS for Windows 6.1" while qualitative data were analyzed with the prepared theoretical framework. The results suggested the following points: 1. Teachers were more actively participated and more satisfied with the conditions for making decision after their schools joining SMI. 2. The mean ratings of all 45 decision issues were 4.67 and 3.57 respectively for teachers' Desired Participation (DP) and Actual Participation (AP). The average Discrepancy Measure (difference between AP and DP), a variable indicating teachers' involvement pattern, was hence found to be -1.10. The negative value of the Discrepancy Measure showed that the actual involvement of teachers in decision making was less than that of desired. In other words, involvement pattern of the subject schools was in the state of decision deprivation. 3. Involvement deprivation generally existed for decision issues of both technical and managerial domains at all the individual, group and school levels. Under the multi-level analysis, decision issues of both technical and managerial domains at school level were found to bear largest deprivation while those of managerial domain at individual level unexpectedly took the second highest. 4. The processes of decision making adopted in the subject schools were mostly in a typical form that consultations and adjustments were used alternately before coming up with final decisions. 5. In rating the benefits over the costs of teachers' participation in decision making, more interviewees regarded a net gain than those rated a loss on teachers themselves and on school. In finding the impact of participative decision making on students, blurred and divergent messages were received from the respondents.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1996


Chan, M. T., Ching, Y. C., & Cheng, Y. C. (1996, November). Participative decision making in SMI schools. Paper presented at the Hong Kong Educational Research Association (HKERA) 13th Annual Conference: Restructuring Schools in Changing Societies, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


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