Manufacturing consent in primary schools: An exploration of the impact of human resource management (HRM) on primary school work cultures

Year: 1994

Author: Ozga, Jenny, Nicholls, Pete

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The paper will address the following main themes: the need to study teachers' work (and its management) from within a theorised framework that draws on ideas current in sociology of work and organisations; the connections between changes in the management of the teaching labour force and occupational restructuring in the service sector generally; the exploration of the relationship between marketisation of schooling and the popularity of HRM precepts and forms; an analysis of the main elements of HRM that may be identified in primary school management practice, and discussion of its impact on management-workforce relations and on the labour process of teaching; and a discussion of the function of the HRM discourse in the restructuring and redefinition of teaching.

The paper draws on work in progress on a funded project that seeks to explore these themes through detailed case study work. The project consists of comparative case studies of the marketisation/HRM connection (and its impact) in three service providers-primary schools, nursing homes and restaurants. These organisations provide a spectrum of exposure to market forces and a similar range in relation to penetration by new management forms and discourses. The emerging evidence identifies strong connections between primary school work practices and HRM precepts-for example, group work, flat hierarchies, flexibility and unified cultural norms-suggesting important implications for the manufacturing of consent and compliance in this feminised, semi-professional occupational group.