The Applicability of Market-Based Solutions to Public Sector Problems.Report as inadecuate

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This paper examines the ways in which private- and public-sector location affects organizational structure and functions, and the implications for school reform. It identifies the differences that are often overlooked when policymakers utilize market-based organizational reform models to address public school problems. Two fundamental questions are asked: How useful are market-based models in addressing public-sector organizational problems?; and What organizational characteristics are central to the successful implementation of market-based organizational reform efforts? The paper first discusses two theoretical perspectives--organizational ecology and resource dependency--to explore the specific organizational features likely to result from market and public-sector contexts. The next part examines two current market-based educational reform models--school choice and school-based management. The analysis suggests that market-based models are potentially useful for addressing public-sector organizational problems. However, the models should be applied with care, recognizing the underlying conditions present in the private sector that may or may not be present in public schools. The public educational system is constrained by: (1) the lack of an educational market; (2) the weak link between school performance and funding; (3) operating procedures and organization that are structured to manage existing environmental resource dependencies; (4) a locus of control that stresses strict control over inputs rather than outcomes; and (5) diverse organizational goals. Two tables are included. (LMI)

Descriptors: Educational Economics, Educational Policy, Elementary Secondary Education, Free Enterprise System, Organizational Theories, Private Sector, Public Education, School Based Management, School Choice, School Restructuring

Author: Kelley, Carolyn


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