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Educational Administration
Participative Decision Making in Schools: A Mediating-Moderating
Analytical Framework for Understanding School and Teacher
Anit Somech
Educational Administration Quarterly 2010 46: 174
DOI: 10.1177/1094670510361745
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Decision Making
in Schools: A
Analytical Framework
for Understanding
School and Teacher
Educational Administration Quarterly
46(2) 174­–209
© The University Council for
Educational Administration 2010
Reprints and permission: http://www.
DOI: 10.1177/1094670510361745
Anit Somech1
The increasing emergence of participation in decision making (PDM) in schools
reflects the widely shared belief that flatter management and decentralized
authority structures carry the potential for promoting school effectiveness.
However, the literature indicates a discrepancy between the intuitive appeal
of PDM and empirical evidence in respect of its sweeping advantages. The
purpose of this theoretical article is to develop a comprehensive model
for understanding the distinct impacts of PDM on school and teachers’
outcomes. The proposed analytical framework is set within contingency theory
and is aimed to predict the distinct impacts of PDM on school outcomes:
innovation, organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), and productivity;
and on teacher outcomes: job satisfaction and strain. It contains mediatormoderator components, where the mediator factors explain the relationship
between PDM and school and teacher outcomes and the moderator
factors influence the strength and/or the direction of these relationships.
University of Haifa, Hafia, ISRAEL
Corresponding Author:
Anit Somech, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel 31905,
Email: [email protected]
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Specifically, the framework suggests that two mechanisms, one motivational
and one cognitive, serve as mediators in the PDM-outcomes relationship.
Then, by taking a multilevel perspective, the author posits moderators that
may facilitate or inhibit the PDM effect: teacher personality (the Big Five
personality characteristics) at the individual level, principal-teacher exchange
(leader-member exchange; LMX) at the dyadic level, structure (bureaucratic/
organic) at the school level, and culture (individualism/collectivism) at the
environmental level.
PDM, school effectiveness, contingency theory, multilevel model, teachers
Participative decision making (PDM) is still a central theme of research,
policy, and practice in business organizations (e.g., Chen & Tjosvold, 2006)
as well as in schools (Leithwood & Duke, 1998; Pounder, 1997; San Antonio &
Gamage, 2007; Somech, 2002; Walker, 2000). This theme has been the subject of extensive research for more than 30 years in education, as exemplified
in the seminal work of Conway (1984); Conley, Schmidle, and Shedd (1988);
Bacharach, Bamberger, Conley, and Bauer (1990); and Smylie (1992). These
scholars embraced the notion that flatter management and decentralized authority structures carry the potential for achieving outcomes unattainable under
schools’ traditional top-down bureaucratic structure.
The increasing emergence of PDM may be even more crucial today, when
schools struggle to reinvent themselves to respond to a growing demand for
flexibility, concern for quality, and the requirement of a high degree of commitment by teachers to their work (Scott-Ladd, Travaglione, & Marshall,
2006; Tschannen-Moran, 2001). Scholars and practitioners often conclude that
the problems facing schools are too great for any one person to solve alone.
Involving teachers in the decision-making process offers a variety of potential benefits, which can generate the social capacity necessary for excellent
schools: improving the quality of the decisions (e.g., Scully, Kirkpatrick, &
Locke, 1995), enhancing teacher motivation (e.g., Taylor & Tashakkori, 1997),
and contributing to the quality of their work life (e.g., Somech, 2002).
Still, a discrepancy exists between the endorsements and the intuitive
appeal of participative methods and empirical evidence regarding its sweeping
advantages. The purpose of this article is to develop an analytical framework
for understanding the distinct impacts of PDM on school outcomes: innovation,
organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), and productivity; and on teacher
outcomes: job satisfaction and strain (see Figure 1). The analytical framework
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Educational Administration Quarterly 46(2)
Higher levels of moderators
Organizational level (school): structure (bureaucratic/organic)
Environmental level (nation): national culture (individualism/collectivism)
Basic levels of moderators
Individual level (teacher): teacher’s personality (the Big Five)
Dyadic level (principal-teacher): Leader-Member exchange (LMX)
School Outcomes
- Productivity
- Innovation
- Organizational
Behavior (OCB)
Teachers’ Outcomes
- Job satisfaction
- Strain
Figure 1. A multilevel model of participative decision making (PDM) for schools
contains mediator-moderator components, where the mediator factors exp­
lain the relationship between PDM and school and teacher outcomes and the
moderator factors influence the strength and/or the direction of these relationships. Specifically, the framework suggests that two mechanisms, one
motivational and one cognitive, serve as mediators in the PDM-outcomes relationship, namely, PDM arouses teacher cognitive and motivational mechanisms,
which in turn promote school and teacher outcomes. Then, taking a multilevel perspective I posit moderators that may facilitate or inhibit the PDM
effect: teacher’s personality (the Big Five personality characteristics of
Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness
to Experience) at the individual level, principal-teacher exchange (leader-member
exchange, LMX) at the dyadic level, structure (bureaucratic/organic) at the
school level, and culture (individualism/collectivism) at the environmental
level. Note that all variables might be considered in terms of a continuum and
not as either/or binary variables. The article closes with a discussion, arising
from the model, on directions for future research and implications for policy
makers and administrators in the educational system.
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Toward a Comprehensive Analytical
Framework of Participative Management
As participative decision making has become a popular theme, the definitions and
meanings of the term have grown diverse and the concept remains surrounded by
confusion (Brouillette, 1997; Somech, 2002). Although some studies have begun
to explore the conceptualization and operationalization of the construct itself, no
consensus as yet exists on the nature and meaning of PDM (Brouillette, 1997;
Sagie & Aycan, 2003). For the purposes of this article, I choose to adopt the comprehensive definition of Heler, Pusic, Strauss, and Wilpert (1998):
Participation is the totally of forms, i.e. direct (personal) or indirect
(through representatives or institutions) and of intensities; i.e., ranging from minimal to comprehensive, by which individuals, groups,
collectives secure their interest or contribute to the choice process
through self-determined choices among possible actions during the
decision process. (p. 42)
In the framework of Dachler and Wilpert (1978) and McCaffrey, Faerman, and
Hart (1995), PDM has four central properties. First, participation is a formal
intervention strategy usually manifested through management policy. Second,
it includes the direct involvement of parties—as opposed to their representation,
although the level of involvement can vary considerably. Third, the role of the
involved parties is more than advisory: They have the right to make, or
heavily influence, the final decision. Fourth, the participative systems engage
in important issues, and the parties involved regard the issues as important.
The concept of PDM is only one of a wider set of interests pursued by
others researching distributed (e.g., Gronn, 2002), shared (e.g., Wahlstrom &
Louis, 2008), dispersed (e.g., Ray, Clegg, & Gordon, 2004), or collective
(e.g., Leithwood & Mascall, 2008) leadership, all of which describe the managerial approach of shared influence in decision making. In addition, this
construct shares a close conceptual kinship with the ideas of professional
learning communities (Bryk, Camburn, & Louis, 1999; Lavie, 2006), or learning organizations (Harris & van Tassell, 2005).
Myth and Reality: The Impact of PDM
on School and Teacher Outcomes
The significance of PDM research lies in the links to its outcomes (ScottLadd et al., 2006). The general organizational literature reveals that most
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Educational Administration Quarterly 46(2)
studies have lauded PDM as the best approach in contemporary organizational
management (e.g., Armstrong, 2004; Witt, Andrews, & Kacmar, 2000). However,
empirically, reviews demonstrating that PDM actually improves organizational
and employees’ outcomes remain inconclusive (Parnell & Crandall, 2001). Some
quantitative reviews have reported moderately positive relationships between
PDM and certain outcomes such as job performance, job satisfaction, and
turnover (e.g., Cotton, Vollrath, Froggatt, Lengnick-Hall, & Jennings, 1988;
Miller & Monge, 1986). Others have not found these positive effects (e.g.,
Wagner, 1994; Wagner & Gooding, 1987a, 1987b). Wagner and Gooding
(1987a) perused the studies cited by Miller and Monge (1986) and found that
90% involved one source and one data collection method and employed a
cross-sectional design, hence might have been subject to bias. Wagner (1994)
reanalyzed Cotton and his coauthors’ (1988) study using meta-analysis and
found that the overall effect of PDM on job performance and job satisfaction
was positive but small, especially when the unisource studies were omitted.
That is, studies using self-report measures showed a much closer association
between participation and outcomes than studies using operational indicators
of outcomes.
After reviewing the educational literature, Smylie, Lazarus, and BrownleeConyers (1996) suggested three explanations for the lack of consistent and
conclusive evidence about the impact of PDM. First they noted that the
wide variety of structures, foci, and processes that characterize participative initiatives yielded very different outcomes. Second, concerning the level
of implementation, even the best designed participative structures were not
likely to achieve their anticipated outcomes unless they were well executed
over a substantial period of time and were provided with adequate resources.
Third, as mentioned earlier regarding the general organizational literature, a
relatively small proportion of the educational literature employed systematic
empirical investigations—either qualitative or quantitative—with identifiable questions for inquiry, specified methodologies, and collection and analysis
of original data. In addition to Smylie et al. (1996) explanations, previous
studies (e.g., Somech, 2005, 2006) have suggested that the effect of PDM
might be criterion dependent. For example, Somech (2006) found that PDM
has a positive effect on innovation but no significant effect on performance.
From the aforementioned review, the overwhelming disposition of the literature on participative decision making is far from expressing a universal
truth (Vroom & Jago, 2007). Recent literature (e.g., Latham & Pinder, 2005)
has advanced a contingency theory to resolve some of the inconsistent and
contradictory results. The contingency model theory (Vroom & Jago, 1998)
suggests that no single model of management is appropriate for all employees
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in all organizations or contexts. By its nature, effective managerial practice
varies with the particular situation at hand, so its effectiveness is deemed contingent on the nature of these situational influences (Vroom & Jago, 1998).
Accordingly, the practical question “Is PDM effective?” has no simple
answer; its impact varies across context and time, or according to the selected
criterion for effectiveness. Specifically, the proposed analytical framework
suggests that the effectiveness of PDM depends on the selected outcome
(school outcomes of productivity, innovation, and OCB; teacher outcomes
of satisfaction and strain). Furthermore, the impact of PDM depends on the
characteristics of the teacher (the Big Five personality characteristics), the
quality of the principal-teacher relationship (LMX), the characteristics of
the school (bureaucratic/organic), and the characteristics of its environment
The Impact of PDM on School Outcomes
Explicitly or implicitly, PDM carries an expectation of enhanced school
functioning and outcomes. By a “pragmatic” or “human relations” rationale,
PDM is considered instrumental in achieving productivity, efficiency, innovation, or other valued school results (e.g., Boyle, Boyle, & Brown, 1999;
Brouillette, 1997; Lam, Chen, & Schaubroeck, 2002; Wall & Rinehart, 1998).
The present analytical framework refers to two groups of outcomes: of the
school and of teachers. For the former, I focus on three well-known variables:
productivity, innovation, and organizational citizenship behavior. These were
chosen because they tap into the different dimensions of school outcomes
and represent the tension that schools endure when attempting “out-of-thebox” thinking and behavior while managing routine in-role duties (Lovelace,
Shapiro, & Weingart, 2001). Yet they might be a critical criterion for evaluating school functioning from the school’s viewpoint as it affects the school’s
competitiveness but a poor criterion from the teacher’s viewpoint. Current
literature (e.g., Quick & Quick, 2004; Wright 2003) emphasizes the importance of teacher well-being as a crucial criterion for evaluating school’s
functioning. Recent studies (e.g., Drach-Zahavy, Somech, Granot, & Spitzer,
2004; Mikkelsen, 2000) have called for more exploration of the trade-off
effects between health hazards and school functioning in designing managerial practices. Accordingly, I added two more variables: teacher’s job
satisfaction and teacher’s strain.
School productivity. The educational literature reveals that teachers have
been the major subjects in investigations of the association of participation
and productivity, and most attention has focused on the effects of PDM on
teacher in-role performance at the classroom level. In-role performance is
“behaviors which are required or expected as part of performing the duties
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Educational Administration Quarterly 46(2)
and responsibilities of the assigned role” (Van Dyne, Cummings, & McLean
Parks, 1995, p. 222). Theoretically, PDM can promote teacher productivity
directly and indirectly (Locke & Schweiger, 1979). Directly, it is thought
to improve the quality of educational decision making by giving administrators access to critical information close to the source of the problems of
schooling, namely, the classroom (Tschannen-Moran, 2001). In addition, the
participation process helps ensure that unanticipated problems that arise during
work can be tackled directly and immediately by those affected by the problem
(Durham, Knight, & Locke, 1997). Furthermore, because teachers have an
opportunity to be involved in and to exert influence on decision-making processes, their participation is believed to increase willingness to implement
them in class, hence to promote educational productivity (Griffin, 1995; Hoy &
Trater, 1993). Indirect benefits have generally been higher levels of teacher
morale and job satisfaction, manifested in less absence and tardiness as well
as reduced interpersonal conflict (De Dreu, 2006), which in turn may raise
levels of performance.
Like studies of productivity in the business sector, research on productivity outcomes of PDM in schools generally yields equivocal conclusions.
Some studies indicate that participation is positively related to teacher performance in class (e.g., Gebert, Boerner & Lanwehr, 2003; San Antonio &
Gamage, 2007), others that it may not lead to any meaningful change at the
classroom level, or can even be a source of stress for teachers hence lead to a
lowering of teacher performance (e.g., Sato, Hyler, & Monte-Sano, 2002).
Yet other studies suggest that the link between PDM and productivity is not
linear, that is, midlevel participation is the best practice for improving teacher
performance (Conway, 1984).
School innovation. Schools face a highly competitive and dynamic environment, which necessitates flexibility and fast adaptation to new situations and
changing contexts (De Dreu, 2006; Koka, Madhavan, & Prescott, 2006), so
innovation has become a vital asset to ensure school sustainability. School
innovation is defined here as the intentional introduction and application in
the school of new ideas, processes, products, or procedures designed to benefit
it significantly (West & Wallace, 1991). Proponents of PDM (e.g., Murphy &
Beck, 1995; West, 2002) see participative administrators as seeking to encourage teachers to discover new opportunities and challenges and to learn through
acquiring, sharing, and combining knowledge (cf. Edmondson, 1999). The
research literature (e.g., De Dreu & West, 2001) suggests that participation is
critical for the school’s ability to turn new ideas and individually held knowledge into innovative procedures, services, and products.
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As Cohen and Levinthal (1990) noted, participation of teachers each possessing diverse and different knowledge will augment the school’s capacity
for making novel linkages and associations beyond what any individual can
achieve. Innovation needs the absorptive capacity to recognize, assimilate,
and apply creative ideas. This capacity will be higher when teachers participate in decision making (Kahai, Sosik, & Avolio, 1997; Peterson, 1997;
West, 2002). Teachers in participative environments can increase the pool of
ideas, materials, and methods (Somech, 2006). Participation in the decisionmaking process might also encourage teachers to experiment with innovative
practices in curriculum and pedagogy (Firestone & Pennell, 1993).
Empirical research yields generally consistent evidence of a positive link
between PDM and innovation (e.g., Bryk, Easton, Kerbow, Rollow, & Sebring,
1993; Somech, 2006; Wong, 1994). For example, O’Hara (2001) examined
the effects of leadership style on innovation; 64 teams were instructed to
perform some type of school/community service project, and independent
judges rated them on two dimensions: how creative and how worthwhile.
Overall, the results indicated that a more participative style produced more
creative and more worthwhile projects than a directive style. Similarly,
Somech (2006) found that strong emphasis on the participative management
approach encouraged teachers to engage more in innovative practices at the
school level (whole school projects) as well as at the class level (curriculum
and pedagogy).
Organizational citizenship behavior. Operating under changing circumstances,
schools are necessarily becoming more dependent on teachers who are willing to contribute to school, regardless of formal job requirements (DiPaola &
Hoy, 2005). These nonprescribed organizationally beneficial behaviors are
known as organizational citizenship behavior. OCB is defined here as those
behaviors that go beyond specified role requirements and are directed toward
students, colleagues, and supervisors, or the school as a unit, in order to promote organizational goals (Somech & Drach-Zahavy, 2000).
Theoretically, PDM is linked to OCB in a number of ways (Bogler &
Somech, 2005). First, recent literature (e.g., Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine, &
Bacharach, 2000; Tepper & Taylor, 2003) suggests that teachers perform
OCBs more frequently when they perceive as fair the means by which their
schools and their representatives make allocation decisions (i.e., procedural
justice). Teacher participation can enhance a sense of fairness and trust in the
school because they can defend their own interests and because they get
information on the shaping of decisions to which they would not otherwise
be privy. This sense of fairness enhances teacher willingness to engage in
OCBs (VanYperen, Van den Berg, & Willering, 1999). Second, because
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Educational Administration Quarterly 46(2)
teachers understand work processes and challenges better than administrators or policy makers, their participation ensures that better information will
be available for making decisions to facilitate a better performance (Conley &
Bacharach, 1990). Teachers who view their school as behaving in their interest should experience greater job satisfaction, but also act to return the favor
by exhibiting more OCBs (Rhoades & Eisenberger, 2002). Third, participation, especially in managerial issues, which deals with school operations and
administration (e.g., setting school goals, hiring staff, allocating budget,
evaluating teachers), widens the teacher focus from the immediate outcomes
in their own classrooms to the organization as a whole. Through participation
and the exercise of influence, teachers develop an organizational system
approach, which expands their perspectives beyond their formal role (Senge,
1990, 1993). This approach may thereby lead them to invest extra effort in the
school, namely, OCBs, such as volunteering for roles and tasks that are not
obligatory (Somech & Bogler, 2002).
A review of the educational literature revealed two studies on the link
between PDM and teacher OCB (Bogler & Somech, 2004; Somech & Bogler,
2002). Consistent with research in private organizations (e.g., VanYperen
et al., 1999), their findings demonstrated a positive link between PDM and
OCB. Teachers who were invited to participate in decision making on issues
related to the school as an organization tended to exhibit higher levels of
OCBs toward their students and colleagues and toward the school as a whole.
The Impact of PDM on Teacher Outcomes
Another pragmatic rationale of PDM was its contribution to the quality of the
teacher’s work life. It was argued (Conley et al., 1988) that teacher’s participation in school governance could serve as a form of “job enlargement” to
offset the traditional lack of career advancement opportunities and incentives
for teachers (Duke & Gansneder, 1990). Maeroff (1988) maintained that
PDM was essential for the teacher’s self-esteem and status.
Teacher’s job satisfaction. Participative studies have usually concentrated
on the relationship of participation to job satisfaction, which is defined here
as positive teacher attitudes and beliefs regarding several aspects of the job
or the profession (Organ, 1990). Affective models see this link as crucial
(Kim, 2002). Researchers in the tradition of McGregor (1960), Likert (1967),
and Coch and French (1948) still assert strongly the importance of participation in causing affective changes in workers. They predict that participation
will influence satisfaction in a wide variety of situations.
Evidence from general organization suggests that PDM increases employees’ job satisfaction (Sagie, Zaidman, Amichai-Hamburger, Te’eni, & Schwartz,
2002; Witt et al., 2000). Locke and Schweiger (1979) reviewed laboratory
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studies, correlational studies, and univariate and mulitivariate field studies
and concluded that with respect to satisfaction the results generally favored
participative over directive methods, although nearly 40% of the studies did
not find participation superior. Later, Miller and Monge (1986) conducted a
meta-analysis and concluded that PDM was positively associated with job
satisfaction. Wagner’s (1994) meta-analysis suggests that PDM exerts a statistically significant effect on satisfaction, but the average size of this effect
is so small as to query its practical significance.
A review of the educational literature demonstrated a positive link between
PDM and teacher job satisfaction (e.g., Taylor & Tashakkori, 1997). Most
PDM research in the educational setting used a discrepancy approach, which
is probably related to the discrepancy theory introduced by Morse and Reimer
(1956). When applied to participation, it takes the form of the amount of
participation desired versus the actual participation perceived as occurring.
Discrepancies in a given number of decision areas provide a measure of how
satisfied the teacher is with his or her level of decision participation (Conway,
1984). For example, Taylor and Tashakkori (1997) identified four types of
teachers: empowered: those who want to participate and do; disenfranchised:
those who want to participate but do not; involved: those who do not want to
participate but do; and disengaged: those who do not want to participate and
do not. Overall, the results indicated that most teachers expressed a relatively
strong desire to participate, and teachers declaring the greatest job satisfaction were those who reported high levels of actual participation.
Teacher’s strain. Strains are harmful and maladaptive reactions to stressors.
Teaching as a typical people-contact profession is exposed to a variety of
stressful events and circumstances (Miller, Ellis, Zook, & Lyles, 1990),
which may impact teacher physical and psychological well-being. Research
findings suggest that exposure to job stress increases the probability of high
blood pressure and larger heart mass; it is estimated that almost one half of
all employee absences involve workers under stress (Slate & Vogel, 1997).
While the personal effects of stress can be devastating to the individual,
schools are also negatively impacted. Stress can prove costly in terms of
decreased productivity, turnover, health care costs, and absenteeism (Wright,
In research on job enrichment, leading thinkers have viewed high PDM as
functional for schools and their members. The magnitude of the motivating
potential inherent in job enrichment is commonly regarded as a motivator
rather than a stressor (Xie & Johns, 1995). Communication serves a critical
role in many stress models in terms of reducing the experience of strain. The
type of communication often considered effective is participative decision
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Educational Administration Quarterly 46(2)
making (Miller et al., 1990). Two theoretical frameworks are particularly
useful in considering it: social information processing theory and uncertainty
reduction theory. The former, developed by Pfeffer and Salancik (1978), suggests that job attitudes can be best understood in terms of the “informational
and social environment within which behavior occurs and to which it adapts”
(p. 226). The applicability of this approach to the study of stress rests on the
conceptualization of strain as a job attitude that could be influenced by the
communication of salient others, particularly supervisors and coworkers. In
this vein, Miller and Monge (1986) and Zalesny and Farace (1987) suggest that
participative decision making can provide information that aids people in
interpreting and dealing with stressful situations.
The uncertainty reduction theory, proposed by Berger and Calabrese (1975),
posits that the need to reduce uncertainty provides a compelling explanation
for social behavior in developing relationships. Sutton and Kahn (1987) proposed that control is a crucial determinant of well-being in the organizational
context. They consider PDM a means to increase control, which in turn can
reduce strain and burnout, and suggest that through participation teachers can
actually reduce the level of stressful characteristics. The role of control in reducing strain is also an essential feature in the demand-control model of Karasek
(1979). This analytical framework proposes that as perceptions of control increase,
job strain is expected to be lower. Participation can also serve to increase
control by changing the meaning of stressors that cannot be eliminated. PDM
has been found to influence stress in studies considering perceptions of influence and actual participation and empowerment (Aryee & Chen, 2006; Avolio,
Zhu, Koh, & Bhatia, 2004; Carless, 2004; Probst, 2005; Slate & Vogel, 1997).
However, this line of research ignores the potentially negative impacts of
PDM on teacher well-being. Studies (e.g., Dwyer & Fox, 2000; Jarvis, 2002;
Sato et al., 2002; Xie & Johns, 1995) point out that job enlargement could be
a source of stress that leads to additional strain. Very few studies have examined the possibility that participation can generate stress when present in high
levels. For example, Haimovich (2006) found that teachers who evaluated PDM
as threatening showed deterioration in their well-being and health, whereas
teachers perceiving PDM as challenging evinced improvement in theirs.
French, Caplan, and Van Harrison (1982) found that high responsibility for
others was associated with stress. Similarly, Schaubroeck and Ganster (1991)
determined that heavy mental demands and socially complex demands were
associated with stress.
In sum, the inconsistent findings on the relation of PDM to employees’
strain might lead to the conclusion that it is not linear. Xie and Johns (1995)
suggested a curvilinear relationship (U-shaped) between job enrichment
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and strain: with low level of participative decision making, stress may arise from a
lack of meaningfulness and control at work; with high level of participation, stress
may arise from the limits (or perceived limits) of human adaptability for responsibility, time pressure, and work load. In terms of Johnson’s (1992) notion of
constraints on behavior and attitudes, an individual’s preference for elevated job
enrichment might be motivated by needs but also constricted by ability.
The Mediating Role of the Motivational and
the Cognitive Mechanisms in the Relationship
of PDM to School and Teacher Outcomes
Theories have advanced a variety of models to account for the effect of
PDM on school and teacher outcomes; each proposes mechanisms through
which participation exercises its effects. The literature (e.g., Miller & Monge,
1986) differentiates two main types of models: motivational (affective) and
Motivational Models
Most past research has implicitly or explicitly focused on PDM as a motivational technique, as a means of raising job satisfaction, which in turn fosters
school outcomes (Durham et al., 1997). The idea that happy teachers are also
productive teachers (the “happy-productive worker hypothesis”) has a long
history, starting with the human relations movement in the 1920s (Taris,
2006). This movement was largely responsible for the increased attention
paid to participation in organizations over the past several decades. As an
outgrowth of the human relations movement, the participative decision-making movement focuses on the needs of employees and posits organizations’
responsibility to meet them. This perspective proposes that participation will
lead to greater attainment of high-order needs, such as self-expression,
respect, interdependence, and equality (McCaffrey et al., 2001), which in
turn will elevate morale and satisfaction; and improving employee satisfaction should result in higher organizational outcomes (Fisher, 2003; Taris,
2006). The cycle is reinforced when individuals whose needs are satisfied put
in greater effort toward achieving organizational goals, which then enhances
satisfaction outcomes (Scott-Ladd et al., 2006). However, no empirically
strong or theoretically compelling relationship between job satisfaction and
organizational outcomes is apparent.
With respect to the educational setting, the literature suggests that PDM
promotes school and teacher outcomes through two motivational mechanisms:
organizational commitment and teacher empowerment (Somech, 2005). First,
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Educational Administration Quarterly 46(2)
the motivational factor of commitment corroborates motivational theories
that emphasize identification and self-control as central motivational factors
(Latham & Pinder, 2005). PDM provides teachers the opportunity to be
involved in and exert influence on decision-making processes. Their participation is believed to promote commitment to the decisions that are made and
to increase willingness to execute them in their work. Therefore, active participation enhances involvement and commitment, because individuals tend
to place greater trust in, and accept more readily, information discovered by
themselves (Fishbein & Azjen, 1975; Fullan, 1997; Tschannen-Moran, 2001).
For example, Evers (1990) suggested that the success of teacher participation
might lie in the sense of ownership they enjoy through the initiation of ideas,
as opposed to responding to the proposals of others.
Empowerment as a motivational construct is manifested in four dimensions (meaningfulness, self-efficacy, autonomy, and impact; Spreitzer, 1995)
and corresponds to an intrinsic need for self-determination (e.g., Wilson &
Coolican, 1996) or a belief in individual efficacy (e.g., Short, Greer, &
Melvin, 1994). Accordingly, PDM, which gives teachers more input into the
decision-making process, enhances teacher sense of control (autonomy) on
the job (Aryee & Chen, 2006) and validates their professionalism (Firestone &
Pennell, 1993); these constitute the foremost component of empowerment.
Moreover, when teachers are actively called to participate in decision making,
their doing so ensures that better information will be available for making
decisions that facilitate successful teaching, and this might strengthen their
sense of self-efficacy and self-determination (Blase & Blase, 1996; Short &
Greer, 1997). Overall, as previous authors suggest (e.g., Edmondson, 1999),
participation might satisfy human growth needs of self-determination and
self-actualization, and through these mechanisms promote school and teacher
Evidence on the role of teacher organizational commitment and empowerment as motivational mediators in the relationship of PDM to school and
teacher outcomes is inconsistent. For example, Wu and Short (1996) found
a positive link between PDM and teacher commitment. However, Somech
(2005), who examined the link of PDM to teacher organizational commitment
and to empowerment simultaneously, found that although a positive relation
existed between commitment and empowerment, PDM was significantly and
positively associated with teacher empowerment, but no significant relationship was found between PDM and organizational commitment. Accordingly,
the author concluded that teacher empowerment serves as a motivational mechanism that mediates the relation of the participative approach to school and
teacher outcomes.
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Cognitive Models
More recently, scholars have suggested that the most consistent benefits of
PDM lie in the cognitive realm (Durham et al., 1997; Latham, Winters, &
Locke, 1994; Sagie et al., 2002; Scully et al., 1995). Cognitive models suggest
that PDM is a viable strategy because it enhances the flow and use of important information in organizations (Guzzo, 1996). Theories supporting such
models (Durham et al., 1997) propose that teachers typically have more complete knowledge of their work than management; so if teachers participate in
decision making, decisions will be made with a better pool of information.
Teacher participation is thought to give administrators access to critical information closest to the source of many problems of schooling, namely, the
classroom. Increased access to and use of this information are thought to
improve the quality of curricular and instructional decisions (Smylie et al., 1996).
Cognitive models likewise suggest that if teachers participate in decision
making they will know more about implementing work procedures after decisions have been made (Sagie et al., 2002). Accordingly, participation encourages
teachers to discover new opportunities and challenges, to learn through acquiring, sharing, and combining knowledge (cf. Edmondson, 1999; West, 2002).
This process includes clarification of problems, information seeking, data
sharing, resonance of ideas, and synthesis of viewpoints (Cannon-Bowers,
Tannenbaum, Salas, & Volpe, 1995; Sagie et al., 2002), which in turn may
promote cooperation and collaboration that foster educative exchanges
among teachers and administrators about matters of curriculum and instruction. Participative processes may engage teachers in the types of open and
collaborative interactions most conducive to learning and change (Smylie
et al., 1996). Consequently, these cognitive mechanisms have the potential to
promote school and teacher outcomes. Latham et al. (1994) and Durham
et al. (1997) demonstrated that even where no motivational effect of PDM is
present, the cognitive processes help in enhancing organizational and employees’ outcomes.
In sum, the motivational and the cognitive models are not mutually exclusive, but each emphasizes a different explanatory mechanism, and all play
important roles in the participative process.
Moderators in the Relationship of PDM
to School and Teacher outcomes
The inconsistent findings concerning the relation of PDM to school and
teacher outcomes might also be explained by the absence (or presence) of
moderating variables (Latham & Pinder, 2005). According to Yammarino
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Educational Administration Quarterly 46(2)
and Dubinsky’s (1994) view that “well-formulated theoretical models include
not only variables and relationships among variables, but also the boundaries
or domains within, which the theory is expected to hold” (p. 787), this argument
is consistent with the contingency theory framework (Vroom & Jago, 1998).
This theory holds that the effects of PDM cannot be studied without a broader
view embracing contingent factors of the overall situation (e.g., Latham &
Pinder, 2005). For the current model, I identified four factors deemed to intervene in the relationship of PDM and school and teacher outcomes: an individual
factor of teacher’s personality (the Big Five), a dyadic factor of principal-teacher
exchange (LMX), an intraorganizational factor of structure (bureaucratic/
organic), and an environmental factor of national culture (individualism/
collectivism). The criterion that makes my chosen moderators appropriate
for consideration as affecting the relationship is that they tap into the primary
levels of research significant for management, the target of influence: the
teacher at the individual level, the teacher-principal relationship at the dyadic
level, nested in the school that in turn is embedded in the school environment
(van Knippenberg, 2003). Clearly, other potential moderators exist that
might moderate the relationship between PDM and school and teacher outcomes (e.g., demographic variables, manager’s characteristics, environmental
characteristics); but the purpose here is to illustrate how PDM might affect
school and teacher outcomes from a multilevel perspective.
The Individual Level: Teacher’s Personality (the Big Five)
Current research shows that personality is the primary predictor of elements
of motivation (Schmitt, Cortina, Ingerick, & Weichmann, 2003) as well as a
predictor of organizational and employees’ outcomes (Latham & Pinder,
2005; Moss & Ngu, 2006). According to the person-situation interactionist
model (Tett & Burnett, 2003), teachers seek out and are satisfied with tasks,
people, and job characteristics that afford them the opportunity to express an
array of personality traits. An ideal work setting, they argue, is one that affords
the teacher cues for trait expression per se and one where trait-expressive behavior is valued positively by others. In fact, a review of the literature (e.g., French
et al., 1982; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Lim & Cheng, 1999; Thoms, Pinto,
Parente, & Druskat, 2002) reveals that a better fit between personality and
situational factors should positively influence job attitudes and teacher behaviors, whereas a misfit should influence these outcomes negatively.
In this vein, several studies focused on identifying which personality represents a good match with the participative decision-making process (e.g.,
Benoliel, 2007). The five-factor model of personality, commonly referred to
as the Big Five in the personality literature, has become the predominant model
for specifying personality structure (Goldberg, 1992; McCrae & Costa, 1999).
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These five personality characteristics are Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness to Experience.
Extraversion. Extraverted people seek out the company of others and prefer
a high level of social interaction with a wide variety of people (Sak, 2004).
Working in a participative management environment tends to foster more
interaction among team members and requires individuals who have robust
social skills (Lawler, 1992). Therefore, highly extraverted teachers who derive
their energy from other people and are drained by being alone (Barrick,
Mount, & Judge, 2001) may be more positively affected by PDM than introverted teachers.
Agreeableness. Agreeableness involves getting along with others in pleasant, satisfying relationships (Judge, Heller, & Mount, 2002) and an inclination
to work harmoniously (Carson & Lowman, 2002). Earlier research found
that agreeableness is a good predictor of job performance in situations where
joint action and interpersonal relationships are needed (Judge et al., 2002).
The work environment of PDM is characterized as one with a fairly high
level of interpersonal interaction, which requires tolerance, selflessness, and
flexibility that are in concert with a personality high on agreeableness (Witt &
Burke, 2003).
Conscientiousness. Conscientiousness refers to the extent to which individuals are organized, thorough, responsible, disciplined, motivated, and
ambitious (Goldberg, 1992). Conscientious teachers enjoy opportunities to
fulfill their higher-order needs, such as more challenging, meaningful, and
responsible work (Gellatly, 1996). PDM gives teachers more responsibility
and also inherently signals that the school recognizes that he or she can
make important contributions to it (Luthans, 1995). Thus, high conscientious
teachers, who have higher expectations and themselves set higher goals
(Gellatly, 1996), may be more positively affected by PDM than low conscientious teachers.
Neuroticism. The general tendency to experience negative affect, such as fear,
sadness, embarrassment, anger, guilt, and disgust, is the core of the neurotic
domain (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Teachers high in neuroticism experience
more strain in their interactions with others and perceive daily events more
negatively (Gunthert, Cohen, & Armeli, 1999). Szymura and Wodniecka
(2003) reported that when individuals undertook more demanding tasks,
higher levels of neuroticism were associated with worse task performance
and higher level of strain. The variety of demands that arise in a participative
management environment, such as interpersonal relationships, collaboration,
and responsibility for others (Thoms et al., 2002), might be perceived by
neurotic teachers as a threat and thus increases their probability of feeling
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Educational Administration Quarterly 46(2)
negative affect in response (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Suls, 2001) and
might lead to low levels of performance (Spreitzer, 2007).
Openness to Experience. Openness to experience refers to intellectual curiosity and a preference for variety (Costa & McCrae, 1992). This portrayal
suggests that teachers high in openness to experience might be especially and
positively receptive to PDM, which challenges traditional practices, institutes
autonomy, calls for openness to new suggestions or ideas, and sets innovative
objectives (West, 2002). A shared decision-making process is also likely to
provide open-minded teachers the opportunity to experience the variety
they seek, which should afford them satisfaction as they can express this
need (Tett & Burnett, 2003). As such, PDM accords with a personality highly
open to experience.
The literature yielded one study, by Benoliel (2007), on the moderator role
of the Big Five among teachers. Overall, her findings indicated that the impact
of PDM on school and teacher outcomes was contingent in nature, and the
personality dimensions of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness,
and neuroticism served as moderators in the relationships between PDM and
teacher performance, job satisfaction, and strain. However, no moderating
effect of openness to experience was found. In sum, a better fit between personality and PDM has a positive influence on school and teacher outcomes.
The Dyadic Level: Principal-Teacher Exchange (LMX)
The basic premise of the LMX theory (leader-member exchange) is that
supervisors establish fairly stable differential dyadic relationships with their
subordinates, ranging from high quality to low. Underlining notions of social
exchange, reciprocity, and equity (cf. Cole, Schaninger, & Harris, 2002), a
high-quality relationship is characterized by high levels of trust, mutual support, information exchange, and greater negotiating latitude, while a
low-quality relationship is characterized by restricted support and more
formal and limited interactions.
Previous research (e.g., Yukl, 2002; Yukl & Fu, 1999) has indicated that
for effective outcomes, PDM requires some extent of trust between principal
and teacher, agreement on job issues, and leader’s perceptions of competence. Therefore, according to the LMX model, teachers experiencing the
reciprocal trust characteristic of high-quality exchanges with their immediate
supervisors tend to appreciate the opportunity to participate (Wayne, Shore,
Bommer, & Tetrick, 2002), which in turn fosters their job satisfaction and
performance. Teachers experiencing low-quality exchanges with their immediate supervisors, which are characterized by top-down influence, restricted
support, and more formal and limited interactions, might be less content with
such an opportunity. Consequently, the latter teachers may undergo decreasing
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job satisfaction and performance and increasing job strain. Hence the advantage of PDM depends on the pattern of the teacher-principal relationship
(Ardichvili, 2001). One study on the interactive effect of LMX among teachers was conducted by Somech and Wenderow (2006), which focused only on
one outcome: teacher’s performance. Although a positive relationship was
indicated between participation and teacher’s performance, regardless of
LMX level, these authors found that nonparticipative leadership was positively associated with teacher performance in a low-quality LMX relationship.
They concluded that teachers who develop low-quality relationships with
their principals do not expect to be part of the participation process. Therefore,
nonparticipative practice, which is characterized by a top-down influence
and more formal and limited interactions, might be more appropriate to promote those teacher performances than the practice of participation.
The Organizational Level: School Structure (Bureaucratic/Organic)
An organization’s design features the integrating and coordinating mechanisms necessary to accomplish its primary task; decision making is the human
behavior inherent in these mechanisms (Neumann, 1989). The main purpose
of organizational design is to maintain a fit of strategy, organizing mode, and
individuals (Neumann, 1989). The literature identified two main designs: the
bureaucratic and the organic (e.g., Cogliser & Schriesheim, 2000; Lee &
Loeb, 2000). In bureaucratic organizations, efforts are directed to the creation of certainty through such mechanisms as centralization of authority,
routinization of the job’s requirements, and formalization of work through
extensive emphasis on documentation and written procedures (Bacharach
et al., 1990; Drach-Zahavy et al., 2004). In schools of this kind the instructional programs are more specialized and human relationships are more
formal (Lee & Loeb, 2000). While bureaucratic structuring is a mechanism
of direct control, the organic approach holds that the job is accomplished by
ensuring that teachers are given the resources and opportunities to assume
direct responsibility for it. Here, high performance is assured through the
teachers being given enough autonomy to do their job, good learning conditions, and free access to feedback and by being made to feel that they are
rewarded for their own efforts directly (Bacharach et al., 1990; Hackman, 1992).
Researchers have argued that PDM requires a certain context, over and
above a set of programs or techniques (Parnell & Crandall, 2001), as the purpose of participation is to achieve coherence within and among areas of
choices. In bureaucratic schools significant decisions about strategy, policy,
and organizing mode may lie outside the arena of participation. The school
does not require participation in order to function, and teacher potential contribution to it is generally modest; at best PDM serves as a somewhat
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noncommittal “channel of communication.” It may make a small contribution to improving the atmosphere or offer some compensation for frustrating
aspects of the work situation (Koopman & Wierdsma, 1998). Accordingly, a
participative scheme that runs parallel to the primary decision-making processes of the school might have a negative impact on school and teacher
outcomes because the participative effort might be perceived as less important to the organization, or even manipulative on its part. For example,
Hecksher’s (1995) interviews with more than 250 managers led him to
believe that participation accomplished little and rarely broke down the walls
of bureaucracy. He argued that without the redesign of work, employees’
involvement and influence efforts could even have negative effects.
In organic schools the possibilities of PDM are entirely different. The
functioning of such schools depends entirely on good vertical as well as horizontal participation. Affirmative results are conditional on utilization of all
available teacher expertise. PDM is not a mere accessory; it is an integral
“coordination mechanism” in the organization (Koopman & Wierdsma, 1998).
In other words, because the procedures and processes are integrated with the
participative effort, teachers will experience a fit of strategies, organizing
mode, and managerial practices, which might promote school and teacher outcomes (Neumann, 1989; Sagie 1997).
Overall, schools are considered more bureaucratic than organic organizations, namely, strategic decisions may lie outside the arena of participation.
Accordingly, most educational research has indicated that teachers and principals (e.g., Rice & Schneider, 1994; Somech, 2002) concurred that as part
of the norms of school, managerial issues of school operations and administration fell outside teacher purview while technical issues of students and
instruction fell within it. In a “test of relevance” (Rice & Schneider, 1994),
most teachers internalized this bureaucratic perspective and evinced greater
interest in areas related to in-class issues, of immediate relevance to the
teacher’s own classroom, than in areas related to school as a whole (Duke &
Gansneder, 1990). So although educational administration research has long
stressed the importance of teacher participation in managerial decisions
(concerning overall policies and goals), the bureaucratic nature of schools
seems to obstruct movement in this direction (e.g., Keedy & Achilles, 1997;
Reitzug & Capper, 1996; Somech & Bogler, 2002).
The Environmental Level: National Culture (Individualism/Collectivism)
Management scholars have recognized the sociocultural environment as one
of the most influential factors explaining the behaviors of individuals and groups
in organizations (Dimmock & Walker, 1998; Hallinger & Leithwood, 1996;
Sagie & Aycan, 2003). Various conceptualizations of culture suggest that it
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consists of values, norms, assumptions, belief systems, and behavioral patterns
that differentiate one human group from another (Triandis, 1995). Culture is
relevant for understanding the concept of PDM. It provides a backdrop to the
power relations and influences that galvanize or constrain people in their interactions and performance at work (Maddock, 1999; Somech, 2006). Accordingly,
a society’s cultural orientation may strengthen or weaken the impact of the
participative approach on various school and teacher outcomes (Sagie, 1997).
The main argument of the cross-cultural perspective (e.g., George & Jones,
1997) is that the advantage of PDM depends on the cultural context in which
the principal operates. A match between managerial practices and teacher
cultural characteristics is a prerequisite for improving school and teacher outcomes (Ardichvili, 2001). The basic idea is that teachers of diverse cultural
orientation hold different perceptions of what a good leader does, so they are
influenced differently by their leader’s actions and behaviors (Gelfand,
Bhawuk, Nishi, & Bechtold, 2004). For example, Gerstner and Day (1994)
found significant differences among the leadership prototypes rated by participants from eight countries differing in collectivism-individualism. In
Taiwan, which is culturally characterized as collectivistic, the ideal leader
was found to be perceived as relations oriented and trustworthy. In the United
States, which is characterized as individualistic, the ideal leader was perceived as determined and goal oriented. Jung and Avolio (1999) suggested
that the congruence between managerial practices and follower’s cultural
values influenced followers’ performance and attitudes.
The majority of scholars (e.g., Lam et al., 2002; Triandis, 1995) have identified individualism-collectivism as the most important aspect of culture.
Individualism-collectivism is an analytical dimension that captures the relative importance people accord to personal interests and to shared pursuits
(Wagner, 1995). Individualistic cultures emphasize self-reliance, autonomy,
control, and priority of personal goals, which may or may not be consistent
with in-group goals. By contrast, in collective cultures people will subordinate
their personal interests to the goals of their in-group. An individual belongs to
only a few in-groups, and behavior within the group emphasizes goal attainment, cooperation, and group welfare and harmony. Pleasure and satisfaction
derive from group accomplishment (Lam et al., 2002; Triandis, 1995).
The implication of these differences is that variations in individualismcollectivism should influence differently the relation of PDM to school and
teacher outcomes. For teachers, whose self-definition is interest in personal
gain, participation should prove attractive only if working with others brings
about personal benefits unobtainable by working alone. In contrast, participation is consistent with the self-definition of collectivists, who favor the
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Educational Administration Quarterly 46(2)
pursuit of group interests. In fostering group performance and well-being,
collectivists are likely to seek out and contribute to participative endeavors
that benefit their group, irrespective of the immediate personal implications
of these endeavors (Kemmelmeier et al., 2003). In fact, such a generalization
has some validity, for scholars have shown that collectivists enjoy working
together more, are generally more cooperative than individualists, and are
less inclined to “free ride” (e.g., Erez & Somech, 1996).
In sum, individualists and collectivists follow different rationalities: Individualistic rationality dictates doing what is in one’s own best interests, so to
the impact of PDM on school and teacher outcomes is determined by the
extent to which such actions are in some way instrumental in obtaining personal goals. Collectivistic rationality, in contrast, is concerned with the pursuit
of organizational goals and values. Teacher actions are evaluated in terms of
their instrumentality in the fulfillment of the needs and preferences of the collectivity, so participation may strengthen the positive impact of PDM on
school and teacher outcomes (Oyserman, Coon, & Kemmelmeier, 2002).
Conclusions and Future Directions
The increasing emergence of PDM in schools reflects the widely shared
belief that flatter management and decentralized authority structures carry
the potential for achieving outcomes unattainable by schools’ traditional topdown bureaucratic structure (e.g., Scott-Ladd et al., 2006; Tschannen-Moran,
2001). PDM may be seen as a vital practice in response to the challenges of
volatile environments, but it has not always resulted in the outcomes it was
designed to produce. This article has addressed the PDM phenomenon by
engaging in a comprehensive discussion and inquiry. By taking a contingent
perspective, the proposed analytical framework helps us to delineate the
complex nature of PDM. Focusing on multiple school outcomes (productivity, innovation, and OCB) and teacher outcomes (job satisfaction and strain)
illumines their distinct relationships with PDM. Furthermore, the analytical
framework allows us to consider how the situation in hand might constrain or
facilitate the participation process. By taking a multilevel perspective I propose that teacher’s personality, LMX, the organizational structure, and the
national culture will moderate the relationship between PDM and school and
teacher outcomes. Finally, the analytical framework also opens the “black box”
by discussing the mechanisms (motivational vs. cognitive) through which participation exercises its effects.
I believe that the proposed approach has implications for the study of
PDM in schools. First, the general conclusion that seems to emerge from the
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present review is that the links between PDM and school and teacher outcomes are context specific. This approach allows us to identify the conditions
under which such effectiveness can be realized and to understand how and
why the impact of PDM varies in different contexts. This approach is especially important for educational research, which often attributes an augmentation
effect to PDM and tends to glorify the precedence of this managerial practice
over alternative practices (e.g., more directive management).
Second, by focusing on multiple outcomes, the analytical framework refines
our understanding of the distinct relationships between PDM and school and
teacher outcomes. Consistent evidence supports the notion that PDM has the
potential to contribute to school outcomes of innovation and OCB, but there
is no clear evidence as to its positive association with productivity. Regarding the relationships between PDM and teacher outcomes, the picture might
be even vaguer. Although PDM evinces a positive association with job satisfaction, the overall average size of this effect is so small as to raise concerns
about its practical significance. Moreover, initial empirical evidence points
to the potential risk of participation on teacher well-being through worsening
employees’ strain. This evidence may encourage researchers to explore the
potential trade-off effects between teacher health hazards and school outcomes for a better understanding of the impact of PDM in schools. Furthermore,
although we suggest that PDM affects school and teacher outcomes, most
studies employed a cross-sectional design (Wagner, 1994), therefore, the
data could not provide direct evidence of causal links between PDM and its
outcomes. Moreover, many of the relationships seem probably reciprocally
causal over time. For example, principals will arguably invite more high
innovative teachers than low ones to participate in decision making. Longitudinal studies are clearly required to explore the nature of these relationships
further. Third, the proposed analytical framework adopts a multilevel perspective for PDM by opening the inquiry to a host of moderators embedded
on the individual, dyadic, organizational, and environmental levels. The
specified moderators here are only examples of the influence that variables
may exert on the relation of PDM to school and teacher outcomes. Future
research should extend the inquiry to other moderators, embedded in different levels of the context (Golden & Veiga, 2005). Collectively, theory has
matured to a point where it makes little sense to advance hypotheses that suggest “PDM is effective” (or the reverse). But we must also avoid stopping at
the simple truism so often heard: “Effective managerial practice depends on
the situation.” We must specify what these precise contingencies are and
design creative and innovative research studies that will advance our understanding of the complex phenomenon of PDM (Vroom & Jago, 1998).
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Educational Administration Quarterly 46(2)
Fourth, the proposed analytical framework enhances our understanding of
how participation might be related to school and teacher outcomes. The analytical framework suggests that the relationship between PDM and teacher
and school outcomes might be mediated through motivational and/or cognitive
mechanisms but also demonstrates the advantage of the cognitive mechanism
over the motivational mechanism, especially to promote school outcomes
(Sagie et al., 2002). This is important because most studies have not attempted
to understand the processes by which PDM influences school and teacher
outcomes (Yukl & Fu, 1999); but also, theoretically most literature has
focused on the motivational explanations and has paid much less attention to
the cognitive aspect. To understand the underlying influence processes clearly,
further research should fathom the separate role of each mechanism and
specify their mutual role in the PDM-outcomes relationship. For example,
such research might identify whether the motivational mechanism is the
better in promoting teacher outcomes of job satisfaction and in decreasing
strain, while the cognitive mechanism has the advantage in furthering school
outcomes of productivity, innovation, and OCB. Furthermore, although the
proposed analytical framework asserts unidirectional relationships of PDM
and cognitive and motivational mechanisms to school and teacher outcomes,
reciprocal causality cannot be ruled out and might need closer examination.
The analytical framework presented here also sets a new research agenda
for scholars. Most research interprets PDM as a relatively uniform behavior
of the principal with all his or her teachers (the average leadership style,
ALS, or the between-group approach; e.g., Sagie et al., 2002; Torres, 2000).
This approach ignores the repeated calls in the management literature for
more attention to the dyadic process, namely, to describe the managerial
practice of PDM in terms of the pair relationship between people in leadership roles and each of their subordinates. This dyadic approach implies that
teacher characteristics may change from one dyad to another or that principals may treat various teachers differently (Sagie, 1997). Moreover, most
theories inherently assume that effectiveness is explained through the manager’s skills and actions while the teacher’s role is ignored (Vroom & Jago,
2007). Theories should place greater emphasis on reciprocal influence processes. This line of research suggests that teachers are not simply passive but
are proactive participants engaged in active efforts to alter their work environment. Therefore, we must embrace the dynamic aspects of the context and
grasp that teachers actively shape reality and influence decisions (Ferris &
Judge, 1991; Wayne, Shore & Liden, 1997). In line with this logic, future
research should consider PDM as a dyadic phenomenon and discover simultaneously the role of the principal as well as the teacher in this relationship
(e.g., Koslowsky & Schwarzwald, 1993; Somech & Drach-Zahavy, 2000).
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Finally, the present analytical framework encourages researchers to go a step
further by incorporating multiple levels of analysis into hypothesis generation
and testing (Sagie, 1997; Somech, 2003; Yammarino & Dubinsky, 1992). Especially, future research should pay more attention to the cultural level of
inquiry because society’s cultural orientation may strengthen or weaken the
impact of leaders’ participative approach on various school and teacher outcomes (Sagie, 1997).
Finally, the aforementioned comprehensive discussion also poses an important challenge concerning implications for managerial practice. An understanding
of PDM in terms of its processes and outcomes should ultimately render
guidelines that can be directly incorporated into school practice. First, the
emphasis on universal applicability has been too strong. The practical implications for schools need to be identified more carefully. There may be
situations where participation is unnecessary or where it has negative consequences along with positive ones. Although PDM seems widely relevant, it
is worth discussing pros and cons of its congruent conditions. Research
should help in identifying and explicating relationships that are not obvious
to managers. To the extent that outcome effects of PDM are both nonobvious
and extremely complex, studies examining these links are likely to have considerable practical significance. Furthermore, by its very nature, PDM makes
a statement about how to treat, control, and motivate teachers as resources for
the school’s success. One cannot isolate the managerial school of thought
regarding participation from its environmental culture and school structure.
PDM should be integrated with the school’s primary decision making and
reinforced through mechanisms tied to and congruent with the environmental
culture and school structure (Neumann, 1989).
To sum up, the present discussion indicates that considerable work has been
accomplished focusing on the outcomes of PDM. A rich research base already
exists, although there has been little cumulative theory building. I hope that the
comprehensive discussion undertaken in this article and the several areas for
future research identified herein will enable researchers to build on extant literature more meaningfully. Future research into the antecedents and outcomes
of PDM should strive to achieve the multiple objectives of being theoretically
sound, methodologically rigorous, and practically meaningful.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship and/or publication of this article.
The author received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article.
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Anit Somech is the head of Educational Leadership Program at the University of
Haifa, Israel. Her current research interests include participative leadership, team
work, and organizational citizenship behavior at the individual, team, and organizational levels. http://www.edu.haifa.ac.il/personal/asomech/index.htm