Shirley J. Caruso
According to Lunenburg and Ornstein (2012), “theories determine the number and kinds of phenomena that are relevant to a study” (p. 3). Theories, then, are a result of studies. The types of information obtained from these studies are valuable because this information can be used to determine the constructs of phenomena beneficial in forming a theoretical framework resulting in a guiding set of principles.
Contingency theory suggests that numerous factors or situations affect leadership, many of which cannot be anticipated or completely controlled (Lunenburg and Ornstein, 2012, p. 11). This is a realistic theory that provides administrators with the knowledge to expect the unexpected. It directs the actions of administrators to adapt rather than conform to unpredictable situations. Evans (1998) seems to support contingency theory in his suggestion that “it will be through processes such as the development and articulation of a professional philosophy, self-reflection, and the analysis of the views of values of others that the leader will best address such questions” (p. 31).
Lunenburg and Ornstein (2012) suggest that systems theory is usually discussed in terms of inputs, a transformation process, outputs, feedback, and environment (p. 28). Of these qualities, feedback speaks the loudest. Feedback can be valuable in terms of the success of the administrator and ultimately the effect on employees, culture, and curriculum. For example, positive feedback gives an administrator the information he or she needs to continue with the processes, behaviors, and/or procedures that are effective and beneficial to stakeholders.
Negative feedback, on the other hand, can be valuable in correcting inefficiencies or imperfections, and can help to put in motion a plan of action to correct these inefficiencies or imperfections. This new plan of action is then subjected to the system theory, which helps to further improve upon the necessary components of establishing professional standards and organizational structure for administrators.
Emergent nontraditional perspectives provide valuable awareness of research in ethics and values; gender, race/ethnicity, and class; as well as postmodernism. Positivism, subjectivist, and interpretive paradigms undergird these emergent nontraditional perspectives. According to Lunenburg and Ornstein (2012), “positivism is a worldview that all knowledge of the world comes to us from sense experience and observation” (p. 34). Lunenburg and Ornstein (2012) define subjectivist and interpretivist views as views that “refer to perspectives that look inward to the mind rather than outward to experience” (p. 35). There is evidence that these nontraditional perspectives are merging rather than competing.
Evans, D. L. (1998). The terrain of educational leadership: Ambiguities and answers. Journal of the California Association of Professors of Educational Administration, 10(Fall), 25-34.
Lunenburg, F. C., & Ornstein, A. C. (2012). Educational administration: concepts & practices. (6 ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.