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Governance and Heterachy in Education. Enacting networks for school innovation

TitleGovernance and Heterachy in Education. Enacting networks for school innovation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsGrimaldi E
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Date PublishedJune 2011
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2035-4983
KeywordsEducational governance, hetarchy, innovation policies, school drop out

The paper deals with the complex issue of the shift towards heterarchical modes of coordination in educational governance, exploring the nexus established by the contemporary discourse on networking between networking itself and innovation. Once presented the main features of such a discourse, the work develops addressing those critical positions that challenge the ‘magic properties’ attributed to networks by the prevailing governance narratives in the field of education. A contribution to this critical pathway of analysis is given, presenting the findings of a case study on a policy program for combating social exclusion and school drop out developed through the establishment of a network to innovate the practices of teaching and learning in a group of Italian failing schools. The study highlights how the discourse on networks tends to offer a partial and simplitic view on the functioning of the networked forms of coordination and self-organising, eliciting those analytical dimensions that could be related to the issue of power. On the contrary it is crucial, it is argued, to take seriously into account the issue of power, if the dynamics of networks are to be understood. The study will also highlight and address the tension and the clash bewteen two different and conflicting representations of innovation. The prevailing of one or another understanding in the enactment of innovation policies can be regarded as strongly influencing, it is argued, the possibility to effectively pursue the development of a bottom-up innovation and the embedding of the innovations themselves in local contexts.