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A bridge between worlds: understanding network structure to understand change strategy


A number of scholars are exploring district and site relations in organizational change efforts in the larger policy context of No Child Left Behind. These studies suggest the importance of the central office as a support to the work of reform and offer strategies for building relations between district offices and sites in order to implement and sustain change efforts. What is frequently overlooked in these studies is that organizational change efforts are often socially constructed. Therefore, examining the underlying social networks may provide insight into structures that support or constrain efforts at change. This exploratory case study uses social network analysis and interviews to examine the communication and knowledge network structures of central office and site leaders in an ‘in need of improvement’ district facing sanctions under No Child Left Behind. Findings indicate sparse ties among and between school site and central office administrators, as well as a centralized network structure that may constrain the exchange of complex information and ultimately inhibit efforts at change.

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