Perceptions of School Leaders and Teachers about Shared Decision Making in Saudi Arabia

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Shared decision-making has become a topic of interest in education in many countries and it is gradually being adopted in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia. In some school administration and management models, shared decision-making entails decentralisation of educational decision-making and the redistribution of power to the teachers and the school community. The educational system in Saudi Arabia has been developing for a while, with various reforms being implemented. Since 1975, various educational programmes have been adopted from Western countries in order to improve the educational system. Many of these initiatives have focused on high schools to minimise the gaps between higher education and general education. Indeed, the public education in Saudi Arabia has experienced significant changes intended to improve all aspects of school level education: the school buildings, teachers, students, and the curriculum. In this regard, the current reforms in the school system aim at ensuring that there is success in the modernisation of public education and supporting the relevant stakeholders to lead the future of the nation. In addition, decision-making is a crucial factor in the current developments in educational reforms. However, despite the significance of the decision-making process in schools, there is a small source of literature on principals and the teachers’ decision-making in educational organisation in Saudi Arabia. This is further worsened by the fact that the history of educational decision-making is diverse and most of the literature on the matter has been conducted in the West, including the Anglo-American, as well as some European countries. This thesis seeks to determine the perceptions and understanding of the principal and teachers about shared decision-making in Saudi Arabia, as well as reviewing other relevant reports and other scholarship in order to develop a model that is suitable to the Saudi school system. The study used a mixed methodology from both positivist and interpretive perspectives in order to answer the research questions. Since the goal of the study was to gain an understanding of the decision-making process, which occurs in the schools in Saudi Arabia, it was helpful to have insights provided from both perspectives. In this case, the purpose of positivist was to determine the frequency of various events, attitudes, experiences and other aspects of the topic, as well as certain kinds of causal relations, among others, whereas interpretivism aimed at acquiring understanding of the research subjects’ experience, thought, and context. The study found that the role Ministry of Education (MoE) in the decentralisation initiatives focuses on the development of administrative plans, policies, and regulations that empowers the school principals while carrying their school administrate mandate. However, the factors that are negotiable for decentralisation include administration of functions of the staff; administration of student personnel; physical resources; financial resources as well as the management of community relationships, whose functions are distributed among the principals and the teachers. These findings mostly apply to schools in Saudi Arabia, specifically in the country’s regions where the study took place. In this regard, future studies should research other regions of Saudi Arabia, as well as comparatively across Gulf countries. The study also recommends further studies that consider larger numbers of participants using other methods such as case studies, and quantitative or qualitative methods in order to obtain more in-depth and comparative outcomes. Moreover, future researchers in Saudi Arabia, and the entire Gulf region, may consider carrying out a longitudinal study on the principals and teachers’ experiences of shared decision-making where changes are being made, and their impact