Whose Logic Prevails? Guest Blogger: Rosa Acevedo Villarreal

Throughout the course of this class, I have been reflecting on the power of policy development and implementation. More so, as someone who has and will continue to have a say in organizational policy development and adoption, I reflect on unintended consequences or hidden agendas inherent in the course of policy making. I will be employing a critical paradigm to frame my dissertation research and can’t ignore that, oftentimes, policy language is a tool used within power structures to abuse and perpetuate political power (Fairclough, 1995). Moreover, viewing policy as ideology in practice positions the enactment of policy as a form of dominant logic. I conceptualize dominant logic in policy development as the way in which leaders conceptualize policies and make critical decisions based on their dominant assumptions. The dominant logic, which Bettis and Prahalad (1995) consider to be the fundamental aspect of organizational intelligence, i.e., information relevant to policy, can have either an empowering or detrimental effect on the process of learning about change.

I further this argument by emphasizing that the dominant logic beyond the process of learning, infiltrates the very cores of organizational systems. The power of policy language needs to be openly and reflexively investigated, not just assumed as a self-evident fact, as policies benefit from critical scrutiny, particularly concerning dominating logic (Alvesson, Kärreman, Fairhurst, Ashcraft, 2011). Educational
policy is oftentimes enacted with an assumption that somebody, somewhere, pursued some type of systematic investigation of an educational practice, and considered the likely impact of the practice, before adopting it as policy. Brady, Duffy, Hazelkorn, and Bucholz (2014) argue that, in recent years, a plethora of policies have been generated in legislatures and elsewhere with profoundly disturbing unintended consequences—some of which were quite predictable by professionals “on the ground.” In my opinion, the ills of educational policy development rest in the unintended impacts of the unproblematized and unexplored dominant logic. This critical discourse will guide me as I continue to learn and possibly produce policy that disrupts normative assumptions.

Alvesson, M., Kärreman, D., Fairhurst, G., & Ashcraft, K. (2011). Decolonializing discourse: Critical reflections on organizational discourse analysis. Human Relations,64(9), 1121- 1146.
Bettis, Richard A., & Prahalad, C.K. (1995). The dominant logic: Retrospective and extension. Strategic Management Journal, 16(1), 5.
Brady, Michael P., Duffy, Mary Lou, Hazelkorn, Michael, & Bucholz, Jessica L. (2014). Policy
and Systems Change: Planning for Unintended Consequences. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas,87(3), 102-109.Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical Discourse Analysis: The critical study of language. London: Longman.
Kovačević, J., Rahimić, Z., & Šehić, D. (2018). Policy makers’ rhetoric of educational change: A critical analysis. Journal of Educational Change, 19(3), 375-417.

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1 thought on “Whose Logic Prevails? Guest Blogger: Rosa Acevedo Villarreal

  1. Marigold Holmes July 28, 2019 — 11:04 pm

    I appreciate Rosa’s question, whose logic prevails? As an educator whose responsibilities include navigating competing policies on behalf of students, this is a question that I contend with on a daily basis. For example, a university policy may be enacted with the best of intentions to promote student success. The policy may be based on seminal student development theories that attest to the effectiveness of the said policy. However, in my experience, herein lies the problem. Even the most trusted theories were developed based on studies of a specific population – for example, English-speaking, middle class, urban, heterosexual, able-bodied, Christian, males – or at best, a narrow set of populations – throw in suburban, females to the mix. In addition, these studies are most often bound by time. Given the fast pace with which society is changing, even a longitudinal study that spans decades can become outdated before its findings are published for public consumption. I argue that such theories are not necessarily universal, and ignore the diversity of the contemporary student body. Thus, policies based on best intentions and seminal theories may, in fact, disadvantage certain student populations.

    So whose logic prevails? As Rosa points out, those directly impacted by the policies or working with such people would be able to offer insight, but often such voices go unheard by policymakers. This is where I think that researchers across paradigmatic worldviews may collaborate. Although I am a pragmatist and am employing an interpretive lens for my dissertation, I see the potential for collaboration with those who employ other paradigms. For example, my work may help inform the problems that are brought to light by the critical paradigmatic approach. In turn, my colleagues who approach problems from a post-modern lens may be able to offer solutions by taking into consideration the voices of those brought to light by interpretivists like myself. So whose logic prevails? My hope is that we can all work together to come up with a logic that upholds the basic principles of public education, “to do no harm” to the students we serve.

    Liked by 1 person

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