Effects of management by objectives studies of Swedish upper secondary schools and the Influence of role stress and self-efficacy on school leaders

University dissertation from Umeå : Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet

Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the impacts of Management by Objectives (MBO) on upper secondary school education in Sweden. In particular the goal is to increase our understanding of how the implementation of MBO affects the schools and the role of head teachers. In addition this work seeks to generate new knowledge about the factors that influence the performance of head teachers. This dissertation includes four separate, but interconnected articles, each addressing a different aspect of the impact of MBO on schools and head teachers, it begins with an overview of all material.A multi-theoretical approach is taken here, using insights from diffusion theory, goal setting theory and role stress theory to guide the research. Even though qualitative methods are used the quantitative methods dominate the dissertation and most of the data is collected from a mail survey of head teachers. The results confirm the findings of other research that the diffusion of new ideas (in this the context MBO) stalls when it is introduced into local environments within which day to day work takes place. Goal setting and role stress theory are integrated, which makes it possible to show that role commitment had both functional and dysfunctional effects. It shows that efficacy plays a mediating role between stressors and performance and that the relationship between stressors and self-efficacy is not linear. Finally, the nature of the different stressors are described and role design has an impact on the level of them. All of these findings have practical implications for those responsible for education and school policy.The first article in the dissertation looks at how well MBO has been implemented in the upper secondary scools and its impact on student performance and school effectiveness. The results of the stydy are that head teachers report that the effects of MBO have declined over time. Its implementation appears not to have influenced student performance. On the other hand, it seems to have rediced teacher stress, but increased head teachers´ sense of frustration.The second article argues in contrast to previous research that goal commitment can have both a positive and negative effect on rple performance and conceptualizes self-efficacy as a mediator between commitment and performance. The findings of the study show that self-efficacy does act as a mediator and that high commitment can have both positive and negative consequences. In particular, high commitment can improve performance by reducing role ambiguity, but it also drives role overload, which can reduce performance.The third article builds on the findings of article two in order to deepen our understanding of the impact of self-efficacy on head teacher performance. In contrast to most of the literature it shows that stressors might have positive effects and that self-efficacy is involved in these relationships. The research presented in the article confirms that both role conflict and role ambiguity influence self-efficacy in a non-linear way.The focus of the final article focuses on the design of the role of the head teacher and how this impacts stress levels. The results show that when the head teacher´s role includes significant economic responsibility and more space to maneuver, or less, they experience role ambiguity, role conflict and role overload differently. Overall, the results suggest that it would be beneficial to take the factors that this study has shown to be important for head teacher´s performance into consideration when the role is designed.