Organizational routines as coupling mechanisms: Policy, school administration, and the technical core

James P. Spillane, Leigh Mesler Parise, Jennifer Zoltners Sherer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


The institutional environment of America's schools has changed substantially as government regulation has focused increasingly on the core technical work of schools-instruction. The authors explore the school administrative response to this changing environment, describing how government regulation becomes embodied in the formal structure of four schools. Working at coupling government regulation with classroom teaching, school leaders transformed the formal structure, paying particular attention to designing new organizational routines. Analyzing the performance of these routines, the authors show how both government regulation and the technical core featured prominently, if selectively, and explore how routines enabled coupling by promoting standardization through alignment with common standards, by monitoring teacher and student performance, and by making aspects of instruction transparent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-619
Number of pages34
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • educational policy
  • educational reform
  • instruction
  • organizational change
  • organizational theory
  • school leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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