A multiple case study approach investigating sustainable Indonesian school adaptation in unstable public policy times

Author: Sabilil Muttaqin

Muttaqin, Sabilil, 2020 A multiple case study approach investigating sustainable Indonesian school adaptation in unstable public policy times, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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Indonesia’s reformation era in 1998 triggered popular unrest manifesting in social, cultural, economic, and political contexts within the country. These external events, together with other inter-related factors within organisations, have engendered in some organisations the need to adapt and adjust their structures/design in order to remain competitive. Adaptation and adjustment challenges also present in schools. Here, the governance structure of Indonesian schools fosters further change complexity to their situational context because they are governed by two Government Ministries: the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan/’Kemdikbud’) and the Ministry of Religious Affairs (Kementerian Agama/’Kemenag’).

Within Indonesia’s educational context, continually changing environmental conditions are made even more problematic for schools because political and public policy instability regularly enters their organisational life and educational projects. The reasons for this are multifarious and nuanced as to how they impact schools working in particular contexts, including: (1). Regular and significant curriculum change policies in recent years; (2) Public policy change and expectations for addressing change at the school level within very short time frames; and (3) How an ever-changing policy environment is made more complex for those schools located in geographically isolated locales within large scale logistical considerations for the 363, 029 schools that must adapt, adopt or fail.

This research is an investigation into the nature of organisational sustainability in Indonesian schools. It investigates the adaptation process of three different types of schools in Indonesia operating within times of unstable public policy. The research endeavoured to disclose the key organisational components of the selected case study schools and their responses to considerable flux in public policy. The study examines the possibility of integrating key aspects of learning from change situations into systemic approaches to the organisational design of schools in Indonesia. Using a multiple case study approach, the study sought answers to the following research questions: 1) How do schools respond to turbulent situations? 2) How do schools adjust to extreme flux in their internal and external contexts? 3) What are the factors that contribute to the effectiveness of schools’ responses under extreme environmental flux and sustainable school organisational design? 4) Does flux force schools to change their structure/organisational design?

The findings indicate that key dimensions of Dynamic Capability, which was first proposed by Teece (1997), and adapted by many scholars such as Zahra et al. (2006), were orchestrated in unique ways across the three schools. The depicted important actions implemented by the schools, corresponded with dimensions of dynamic capability, namely, sensing, seizing, and transforming. The cross-case analysis of the findings suggested that the area of adaptation for these schools could be formulated within the following phases: a) questioning and understanding the situation; b) identifying and defining school identity in order to guide adjustment efforts; c) maximizing communication, network, and school resources; and d) insights into the school structure.

This study highlights the significance of particular approaches to organisational design that features dynamic capabilities and substantive capability to help schools manage their resources in order to successfully adapt within unstable environmental periods. However, there are certain organisational contexts that are idiosyncratic from one school to another, calling into play the overarching need for school leaders to always understand the nature of their school organisation and the presenting change agenda, requiring a contextual application of the model.

Keywords: Indonesian school adaptation, dynamic capability, organisation design, school adjustment, organisational change, policy change.

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2020
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Dr. Michael Bell