This article argues that policy development and evaluations should not only incorporate whether and to what extent the policies achieve the intended goals, but should also take the unintended consequences of the policies into account. Based on the classic work of the sociologist Robert Merton, this article addresses the side-effects of attempts that have been made by the Lithuanian national government to improve on the governance of basic and high-schools. The intended goals of the policies concerned the increase of autonomy of school governance through the decentralization of responsibilities; increasing autonomy of and control over school governance; increasing market-driven governance, inducing competition and collaboration between schools, and altering the relation between service providers and recipients.

An in-depth analysis shows that there were serious side-effects. Due to the limited knowledge and capabilities at the local level the policies resulted in sub-optimal decision-making at the school level. As the transfer went hand in hand with national laws and strict regulations, stipulating the financing and content of education, setting standards and uniform requirements this reduced the ability of schools to make autonomous decisions and rather turned them into bodies implementing national standards. A decrease in cost-efficiency is visible as every school has to make its own plans; administrative burdens increase, and insufficient funding results in a transfer of shortages instead of transferring the responsibility to find solutions for those shortages, and instead of becoming more collegiate, the relation between schools becomes competitive resulting in distrust with all the expected negative consequences.

The plans to increase the autonomy of school governance could have developed rather differently if these unintended consequences had been taken into account beforehand. If such side-effects would be anticipated, that could have resulted in more realism, less one-sided and unfounded optimism and in the end, less frustration and demotivation.

Frequenza di pubblicazione:
2 volte all'anno
Argomenti della rivista:
Social Sciences, Political Science, Local Government and Administration