Decision-making processes, conflict and coordination in Italian schools in the era of distance education

Author/s Joselle Dagnes, Domenico Carbone, Eduardo Barberis, Nico Bazzoli
Publishing Year 2021 Issue 2021/1 Language English
Pages 28 P. 51-78 File size 352 KB
DOI 10.3280/SO2021-001003
DOI is like a bar code for intellectual property: to have more infomation click here

Below, you can see the article first page

If you want to buy this article in PDF format, you can do it, following the instructions to buy download credits

Article preview

FrancoAngeli is member of Publishers International Linking Association, Inc (PILA), a not-for-profit association which run the CrossRef service enabling links to and from online scholarly content.

This article is aimed to disentangle how the emergency transition to online education was coped by Italian school during the first lockdown (March-May 2020) related to the Covid-19 outbreak. In particular, combining two bodies of literature - Sociological New Institutionalism and Science and Technology Studies - we focus on the organizational solutions schools adopted in emergency, and on the consequences of a sudden introduction of technology-mediated education. We maintain that organizational choices, school climate, coordination, conflict and work-related stress were influenced by pre-existing individual (digital skills and professional attitudes) and organizational (school governance and leadership) factors. To explore these issues, we used an original study - a web survey of over 2,000 Italian teachers in every stage of the Italian education system, that was administered between April and May 2020. Our findings show that individual level features (digital skills, age, education, career) count as much as some structural dimensions (e.g. the type of school). Nevertheless, such features are mediated by relevant organizational dimensions. In particular, stress and conflicts were limited where roles for digital transformation were already in place, and where school leaders were perceived to adopted less hierarchical and more coordinated leadership styles.

Keywords: Covid-19, school, school leadership, emergency management, organizational conflict

  1. Babaheidari, S.M., Svensson, L. (2014), “Managing the Digitalization of Schools: an exploratory study of school principals’ and IT managers’ perceptions about ICT adoption and usefulness”, in Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE) (eds.), E-Learn: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education. Proceedings.
  2. Bethlehem, J. (2010), “Selection bias in web surveys”, International Statistical Review, 78(2): 161-188,
  3. Beverungen, A., Beyes, T., Conrad, L. (2019), “The organizational powers of (digital) media”, Organization, 26(5): 621-635, DOI: 10.1177/1350508419867206
  4. Blackwell, C.K., Lauricella, A.R., Wartella, E., Robb, M., Schomburg, R. (2013), “Adoption and use of technology in early education: The interplay of extrinsic barriers and teacher attitudes”, Computers and Education, 69: 310-319,
  5. Buck, M.F. (2017), “Gamification of learning and teaching in schools – A critical stance”,, 13(1), available at:
  6. Callon, M., Law, J., Rip, A. (1986), Mapping the dynamics of science and technology: Sociology of science in the real world, Basingstoke, Macmillan.
  7. Campione, V., Poggi A.M. (2009), Sovranità decentramento regole. I livelli essenziali delle prestazioni e l’autonomia delle istituzioni scolastiche, Bologna, il Mulino.
  8. Cellerino, M. (2012), “Moto uniformemente accelerato. Note per una storia delle riforme della scuola in Italia”, Storia Delle Donne, 8(1): 15-37, DOI: 10.13128/SDD-11889
  9. Colombo, M., Poliandri, D., Rinaldi, E.E. (2020), “Gli impatti dell’emergenza COVID-19 sul sistema scolastico-formativo in Italia”, Scuola democratica, early access.
  10. Crittenden, W.F., Biel, I.K., Lovely III, W.A. (2019), “Embracing digitalization: Student learning and new technologies”, Journal of Marketing Education, 41(1): 5-14, DOI: 10.1177/0273475318820895
  11. David, P.A. (1994), “Why are institutions the ‘carriers of history’?: Path dependence and the evolution of conventions, organizations and institutions”, Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, 5(2): 205-220, DOI: 10.1016/0954-349X(94)90002-7
  12. Davis, F.D. (1989), “Perceived Usefulness, Perceived Ease of Use, and User Acceptance of Information Technology”, Management Information Systems, 13(3): 319-340, DOI: 10.2307/249008
  13. Delfino, M. (2015), “La scuola, le famiglie e il registro elettronico”, in Rui, M., Messina, L., Minerva, T. (eds.), Teach Different! Proceedings della Multiconferenza EMandEM2015, Genova, 9-11 settembre 2015.
  14. Dervarics, C., O’Brien, E. (2016), “Characteristics of effective school boards”, The Education Digest, 81(7): 39-42.
  15. Dexter, S. (2008), “Leadership for IT in schools”, in Voogt, J., Knezek, G. (eds.), International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education, New York, Springer.
  16. Di Liberto, A., Schivardi, F., Sideri, M., Sulis, G. (2019), “Le competenze manageriali dei dirigenti scolastici italiani”, in Pavan, A., Di Liberto, A. (eds.), Il mondo che cambia, Milan, FrancoAngeli.
  17. Doornekamp, G. (2002), “A comparative study on ICT as a tool for the evaluation of the policies on ICT in education”, Studies in Educational Evaluation, 28(3): 253-271, DOI: 10.1016/S0191-491X(02)80008-6
  18. Giancola, O., Grimaldi, E., Romito, M. (2019), “La digitalizzazione della scuola. Temi, teorie e metodi di ricerca”, Scuola democratica, 3: 461-479, DOI: 10.12828/97097
  19. Gorur, R., Hamilton, M., Lundahl, C., Sjödin, E.S. (2019), “Politics by other means? STS and research in education”, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 40(1): 1-15, DOI: 10.1080/01596306.2018.1549700
  20. Granovetter M. (2017), Society and economy: framework and principles, Cambridge, MA, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  21. Grimaldi, E., Landri, P., Taglietti, D. (2020), “Una sociologia pubblica del digitale a scuola”, Scuola democratica, early access, DOI: 10.12828/97096
  22. Guastavigna, M. (2012), “Gli aspetti amministrativi delle tecnologie digitali irrompono sulla scena della scuola”, Bricks, 2(3): 33-40.
  23. Gui M. (2019), Il digitale a scuola. Rivoluzione o abbaglio?, Bologna, il Mulino.
  24. Hackett, E.J., Amsterdamska, O., Lynch, M., Wajcman, J. (2008), The handbook of science and technology studies, Boston, MIT Press.
  25. Hofman, R.H. (1995), “Contextual influences on school effectiveness: The role of school boards”, School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 6(4): 308-331, DOI: 10.1080/0924345950060402
  26. Jasanoff, S. (2012), “Genealogies of STS”, Social Studies of Science, 42(3): 435–441, DOI: 10.1177/0306312712440174
  27. Joerges, B., Nowotny, H. (eds.) (2003), Social studies of science and technology: Looking back, ahead (Vol. 23), New York, Springer.
  28. Kadel, R. (2005), “How Teacher Attitudes Affect Technology Integration”, Learning and Leading with Technology, 32(5): 34-35,
  29. Karim, S., Mitchell, W. (2000), “Path‐dependent and path‐breaking change: reconfiguring business resources following acquisitions in the US medical sector, 1978–1995”, Strategic Management Journal, 21(10‐11): 1061-1081, DOI: 10.1002/1097-0266
  30. Kopcha, T.J. (2012), “Teachers’ perceptions of the barriers to technology integration and practices with technology under situated professional development”, Computers and Education, 59(4): 1109-1121.
  31. Latour, B. (2005), Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network theory, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  32. Law, J. (2009), “Actor network theory and material semiotics”, in Turner, B.S. (ed.), The New Blackwell companion to social theory, Online: Wiley-Blackwell.
  33. Maggi, B. (1997), L’autonomia delle scuole e l’attuale struttura della pubblica istruzione, Rome, Ministero del Tesoro, Commissione Tecnica per la Spesa Pubblica.
  34. Meyer, U., Shaupp, S., Seibt, D. (2019), Digitalization in industry: Between domination and emancipation, London and New York, Palgrave.
  35. Miele, F., Tirabeni, L. (2020), “Digital technologies and power dynamics in the organization: A conceptual review of remote working and wearable technologies at work”, Sociology Compass, 14(6),
  36. Orlikowski, W.J., Barley, S.R. (2001), “Technology and institutions: What can research on information technology and research on organizations learn from each other?”, Management Information Systems Quarterly, 25(2): 145-165, DOI: 10.2307/3250927
  37. Orlikowski, W.J., Scott, S.V. (2008), “Sociomateriality: Challenging the separation of technology, work and organization”, Academy of Management Annals, 2(1): 433–74, DOI: 10.5465/19416520802211644
  38. Ouchi, W.G. (2006), “Power to the principals: Decentralization in three large school districts”, Organization Science, 17(2): 298-307,
  39. Pandolfini, V. (2016), “Exploring the Impact of ICTs in Education: Controversies and Challenges”, Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, 8(2): 28-53,
  40. Parker, G. (2015), “Teachers’ autonomy”, Research in Education, 93(1): 19-33, DOI: 10.7227/RIE.0008
  41. Pelgrum, W.J. (2001), “Obstacles to the integration of ICT in education: results from a worldwide educational assessment”, Computers and Education, 37(2): 163-178, DOI: 10.1016/S0360-1315(01)00045-8
  42. Pinch, T.J., Bijker, W.E. (1984), “The social construction of facts and artefacts: Or how the sociology of science and the sociology of technology might benefit each other”, Social Studies of Science, 14(3): 399-441, DOI: 10.1177/030631284014003004
  43. Powell, W.W., DiMaggio, P.J. (eds.) (2012), The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis, Chicago, University of Chicago press.
  44. Roncaglia, G. (2020), Cosa succede a settembre? Scuola e didattica a distanza ai tempi del COVID-19, Rome-Bari, Laterza.
  45. Selwyn, N., Facer, K. (2013), The Politics of Education and Technology: Conflicts, Controversies, and Connections, London, Palgrave.
  46. Vaira, M., Romito, M. (2020), “L’emergenza COVID-19 e la scuola. Una riflessione su alcune contraddizioni emergenti dalla crisi”, Scuola Democratica, early access.
  47. Weston, M.E., Bain, A. (2010), “The end of techno-critique: the naked truth about 1:1 laptop initiatives and educational change”, The Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment, 9(6): 5-25.

Joselle Dagnes, Domenico Carbone, Eduardo Barberis, Nico Bazzoli, Decision-making processes, conflict and coordination in Italian schools in the era of distance education in "STUDI ORGANIZZATIVI " 1/2021, pp 51-78, DOI: 10.3280/SO2021-001003