Exploring the theoretical base for teacher performance pay: a micropolitical perspective
Hayes, Susan Ansell
This thesis explores the usefulness of micropolitical theory to explain and predict teacher reaction to performance pay incentives. Drawing from the research traditions of rationalism, culturalism and structuralism, a micropolitical approach to analyzing education reform focuses attention on the ability of individuals (in this case, teachers) to respond rationally to incentives within a school context marked by certain structural and cultural constraints. Exploring the theoretical base for this educational reform shines light on the value of the micropolitical perspective while explaining how rational, cultural and structural elements of schooling interact to shape teacher behavior in pay-for-performance programs. Teacher response to performance pay incentives are first analyzed through rational, cultural and structural lenses. Then, the theory of teacher motivation is presented as an amalgamation of these three research traditions and thus, as an example of a micropolitical perspective. The case is made that this hybrid theoretical approach to understanding teacher behavior within pay-for-performance programs is stronger, and ultimately more useful, than the application of any one theory in isolation.