Managerial rationalisation and the ethical disenchantment of education: a weberian perspective on moral theory in modern educational organisations

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This paper expbres the moral and ethical dimension of indeterminacy in educational administration within the context of the managerialisation of education. Drawing on Max Weber's seminal work on rationalisation, disenchantment, and the ethic of responsibility and the ethic of conviction, the author discusses the conflict between accountability and educational autonomy. While this conflict constitutes a key dilemma of educational leadership, educational theorists all too often attempt to resolve the conflict in favour of accountability over commitment consistent with managerial principles. By contrast, it is argued that mature educational leadership is characterised by an appreciation that conflicting ethical orientations are irreconcilable and that sound educational policy and practice must reflect practical realities and demands without sacrificing educational ideals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-603
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2002


  • bureaucracy
  • education
  • ethics
  • leadership
  • management
  • universities

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