Conceptualizing Professional Commitment-Based School Strategy

A Finnish Perspective

  • Jan Merok Paulsen Oslo and Akershus University of Applied Sciences
Keywords: school strategy, teacher commitment, community of practice, Finnish policy culture


Core values inherent in the Finnish comprehensive education system can in many respects be interpreted to cluster and cohere around a Bildung discourse, which is paradoxically seen against the backdrop of the system’s stable high rank in PISA, the hallmark of an outcome discourse. Yet the point is that within the frames of a Bildung discourse, the themes in focus for curricula go beyond basic skills with a similarly strong focus on societal values and culture. At the process level, Finland is more deeply and strongly infused with a policy culture that is more compatible with the Bildung tradition than the Anglo-Saxon outcome discourse—with its core values of organizing and leading for relations and teaching. As noted by Finnish scholars, such cultural traits of the Finnish system are viable and can be interpreted as associated with institutional path dependency, anchored in longstanding agrarian and social-democratic values. The current paper interprets these cultural traits also as manifest at the local level around a school strategy model close to the one characterized as a professional commitment strategy in the early 1990s by the American scholars Susan Rosenholtz and Brian Rowan. The purpose of the paper, however, is to advance this theoretical understanding a step further towards a conceptual model of commitment-based school strategy. This paper is, thus, a pure conceptual piece. To elaborate the early insights from the 1990s further, a case drawn from Helsinki primary school is used as an empirical illustration.

How to Cite
Paulsen, J. (2018). Conceptualizing Professional Commitment-Based School Strategy. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE), 2(2-3), 72-85.