Decision-Making Strategies in Education Management

The value of strategic management, especially in the context of education, has increased dramatically in recent decades. Principals have to rapidly react to changing environment focusing not only on the internal issues but also on a long-term strategy. This paper aims at examining the two decision-making strategies that might be utilized by principals including shared decision making and rational-analytical decision-making strategies.

Shared Decision Making

First, it seems appropriate to identify the term of decision making. According to Eisenfuhr (2011), “decision making is a process of making a choice from a number of alternatives to achieve the desired result” (p. 7). In its turn, the shared decision making strategy assumes by its very definition a decision made by a particular group.

This strategy is essential to perform one of the most significant tasks that are to be performed by principals. In particular, community engagement and democratic principles follow shared decision making. DeMatthews (2014) points out that teachers and parents should also be involved in the educational process to help their children to achieve better outcomes in studying. Due to shared decisions, it is expected that principals will do their best to provide students with high-quality education and ensure their comfort and security.

It is necessary to emphasize that autocratic, joint, consultative, and delegation compose the shared decision-making strategy (Lunenburg & Ornstein, 2011). An autocratic decision almost does not require any participatory actions of others except a principal himself. It might be applied in cases when confidentiality and security of students or staff are under the threat of violation. However, school-based management requires calling a special team that might consist of parents, teachers, police, or other interested parties to resolve the situation (Lunenburg & Ornstein, 2011).

A consultative decision-making technique presumes several consultations with teachers and parents, yet principals should make a final decision on their own. By asking ideas and opinions, principals receive necessary information promptly and can make relevant decisions. For instance, they might ask to complete a wish list of required resources so that budget money might be divided following the teachers’ needs. A joint decision is a collective way of decision making when all the members of a team discuss an issue until the final decision.

Androniceanu and Ristea (2014) consider that this strategy helps principals to create positive behavioral support among the staff that is achieved by communication and mutual agreements. Some issues might be delegated from principals to staff and parents, yet clear limits should be established to prevent any misunderstanding.

The mentioned strategy might be used, for example, in choosing books for literature lessons or in creating curricula. After delegation members made their decision, it is to be approved by the principal. Thus, the shared decision making would benefit both teachers’ and parents’ engagement. At that, the increased quality of decisions, staff satisfaction, and a clear vision of alternative ways would follow the shared decision strategy.

Rational-Analytical Decision Making

Another strategy that might be applied by principals is the rational-analytical decision-making strategy. Principals should possess critical thinking and problem-solving techniques. To make appropriate evidence-based decisions, they are expected to identify goals and desired outcomes. Stremba and Bisson (2009) argue that it is of great importance to separate relevant information from the irrelevant ones.

For example, the principal should learn all the peculiarities of teachers including both positive and negative traits. After that, the school leader should properly evaluate information and suggest possible improvements. At the same time, it is crucial to take into account alternatives choosing the best way out. In other words, rational-analytical decisions are justified by an objective analytical process not relying on experience.

Information about the situation under consideration should be accurate, complete, and sufficient. The analytical material should be prepared by experts having knowledge and experience in the corresponding area. In the process of development of administrative decisions, a focal role is played by an adequate assessment of the situation and various factors that affect its development (Lunenburg & Ornstein, 2011). With this purpose, it is necessary to form an evaluation system, which should include the following aspects:

  • criteria characterizing evaluating issue;
  • system of performance and scale, with which an issue is estimated for each of the criteria;
  • principles for comparative assessment of suggested options and solutions.

The rational-analytical decision making strategy might compose a centerpiece of school reforms concerning organizational changes. According to Chitpin and Evers (2015), the utilization of this approach leads to effective solutions. It embraces the most important issues such as job satisfaction, educational programs, and others.

Once a decision is made, the principal should implement it (Stremba & Bisson, 2009). However, in a school organization, the decision-making process depends not only on the principal but also on personnel. Therefore, to conduct a successful implementation, it is important to develop and maintain the problem solution support. Thereby, the rational-analytical decision making strategy focuses on evidence and rationality to provide appropriate solutions.


Androniceanu, A., & Ristea, B. (2014). Decision Making Process in the Decentralized Educational System. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 149(1), 37-42.

Chitpin, S., & Evers, K. W. (2015). Decision-making in educational leadership: Principles, policies, and practices. New York, NY: Routledge.

DeMatthews, D. (2014). Shared decision-making: What principals need to know. Principal Matters, 100(2), 2-4.

Eisenfuhr, F. (2011). Decision making. New York, NY: Springer.

Lunenburg, F. C., & Ornstein, A. C. (2011). Educational administration: Concepts and practices (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Stremba, B., & Bisson, C. A. (2009). Teaching adventure education theory: Best practices. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.