Mediation, Collaborative Learning and Trust in Norwegian School Governing: Synthesis from a Nordic Research Project

Jan Merok Paulsen, Øyvind Henriksen


This paper analyses productive patterns through which school superintendents and subordinated principals collaborate at the local levels of implementation in the Nordic countries. The underlying theoretical premise is that the school governance systems in the Nordic countries, as a function of strengthened state steering and a variety of local political conditions, entail a series of loose couplings—described by the broken chain metaphor. The analysis is based on a review of findings from a comparative Nordic research project. The review reveals that school superintendents and principals to a large extent activate professional learning forums as integration mechanism—to make collective sense of ambiguous national reforms. Important learning conditions that emerge from the country reports, on which the reviewed research is based, seem to cluster and cohere around learning climate, interpersonal trust, leadership support and a shared knowledge base between the school leaders and the municipal apparatus. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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Copyright (c) 2017 Jan Merok Paulsen, Øyvind Henriksen

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