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Palace and Tent - The St Gallen Group INTEGRATED THEORIES of School Organization


Palace and Tent - The St Gallen Group INTEGRATED THEORIES of School Organization


Central to this perspective is a tension between preserving and developing. The two main dimensions are:
1. Efficiency - Effectiveness.
2. Established organizations - Temporary organizations.

Efficiency: The task is to reach the goal by using a minimum of resources, in the quickest and most rational way possible. As a rule, this involves making work more routine in nature; it also involves heavily programmed tasks, narrow limits for what is allowed, well-drilled procedures and routines, and a relatively inflexible organizational structure.

Effectiveness: The task here is to reach the goal as quickly as possible, even if this entails more costs than necessary. The principle is that 'structure follows strategy'. This principle works best in dynamic situations or where development is associated with high risks. As the individual enjoys a large measure of freedom, this often leads to overlapping assignments; but it also implies great flexibility.

Established organizations: These are organizations that are established, without a mandate limited in time, for the purpose of resolving a specific set of tasks. The energy is thus directed toward resolving these established tasks.

Temporary organizations: These are organizations that have been given the task of solving one or more specific problems; they know at the outset that their mandate is limited in time. The organization might be a 'project organization', one in which the need for communication and co-operation is acute. For this reason it seeks to develop a flexible interdisciplinary team in order to resolve problems in the best way possible. 'Palace and Tent' displays the pattern shown in Figure 2.4:

Figure 2.4 'Palace and Tent' - The St Gallen Group INTEGRATED THEORIES of School Organization

The Palace is a stable organization that has institutionalized an effective solution to routine tasks, an organization that is well suited to a stable, gradually developing world. The theoretical underpinnings are derived from classical organizational theory (e.g. Taylor).

The Tent is an organization that survives in a rapidly changing world. As such, it is flexible, adaptable, quick-witted, and capable of learning. Hedberg et al. originally developed The Tent Concept' (Hedberg et al. 1976). They feel that 'the tent' should be continually concerned with strategies of change - they even go so far as to suggest that the structure itself can also be regarded as a process. Gomez and Zimmermann describe a number of related theories (e.g. adaptive organizations, adhocracy, informational-technological structures, etc.), all of which in some measure justify the benefits of'the Tent'.

Palace and Tent - The St Gallen Group INTEGRATED THEORIES of School Organization
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