Steering Committee Members in School Networks: Distinctions in Admission Processes

Tanja Sturm


School networks—defined as people cooperating in order to initiate and emphasize school and professional development—have been established in German speaking areas since the beginning of the 1990s. One of their common goals is to raise the number of their active members. This purpose is connected to the idea of incorporating as many teachers as possible into possible innovations of the network. Steering committees are the operation centers of these kinds of school networks. They coordinate and organize the school and professional development initiatives of a network. Therefore, steering committees link existing members and potentially new ones. Thus far, little is known about how steering committee members organize entrance into their networks.
Taking this issue as a starting point, this article focuses on the ideas and concepts of admission processes between existing steering committee members and new ones from the perspective of steering committee members. The data is taken from a qualitative study that was done by interviewing steering committee members of the Austrian "Regionale Netzwerke" [regional networks] in the winter 2007–2008. These regional networks are one out of four groups in a nationwide project that have the goal of strengthening natural sciences and mathematics in Austrian schools.
Three different types of admission modes to networks have been identified among fourteen interviewed steering committee members. These modes are situated within the field of common school structure and content of the network and the understanding of homogenous or diverse perspectives in the network. The three reconstructed types of entering modes—content-homogenous, content-diverse and bureaucratically-homogenous—are defined by distinctions that are conceptualized here as habitual practices. All identified types are illustrated with excerpts from the interviews and are compared with each other. On the basis of these findings, concluding perspectives are discussed—both for further investigations and for the practical use of networks as a school development strategy.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1003234


networks; school development; professional development; steering committees; distinctions; problem-centered interview; documentary method; construction of types and typologies

Copyright (c) 2010 Tanja Sturm

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.