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Co-Determination as a Path to Goal Commitment: Managing Danish Upper Secondary Schools

  • Camilla Denager Staniok EMAIL logo
From the journal World Political Science


Performance management systems that include goal setting have become a widespread instrument in public management, intended to ensure that the entire organization is working to meet the same goals. One key question, however, is how public managers can ensure their employees’ commitment to the goals that management has chosen to prioritize. This article examines the importance of “co-determination” for the relationship between managers’ goal prioritization and the goal commitment of the employees in upper secondary schools in Denmark. Co-determination has the potential to create a common direction and committed employees, thereby rendering it a valuable tool for public managers in goal setting processes. Analysis of ten qualitative interviews with teachers and principals provides rich insight into the concept of co-determination in the context of Danish education, and a quantitative analysis of two parallel questionnaires with 73 principals and 1353 teachers reveals how co-determination has a positive impact on the association between a school principal’s prioritization of the goal of achieving a high completion rate and the teachers’ commitment to the goal.


Table A1:

Coding List of Actively Applied Codes in the Analysis.

Main codesSub-codesDescription
Relevant areas of co-determinationIndividual conditionsTeacher statements about having influence on their own work tasks and planning
Organizational conditionsTeacher statements about having influence on the school’s goals, decision-making processes and work environment
Channels of co-determinationFormalTeacher statements about co-determination through formal channels such as the teacher representative and the Education Council
InformalTeacher statements about co-determination through informal channels such as working groups and ad hoc committees
The significance of co-determinationDialogueTeacher statements about the significance of co-determination for dialogue between employees and management
Exchange of informationTeacher statements about the significance of co-determination for the exchange of information between employees and management
Goal prioritization and goal perceptionsTeachers’ goal prioritizationTeacher statements about the overall prioritization of goals at the school
Teachers’ goal perceptionsTeacher statements about the specific goal of achieving a high completion rate
Principals’ goal prioritizationPrincipal statements about the overall prioritization of goals at the school
Principals’ goal perceptionsPrincipal statements about the specific goal of achieving a high completion rate
Table A2:

Principal and Teacher Prioritization of the Goal of Achieving a High Completion Rate.*

PriorityFrequency (p)Frequency (t)Pct. (p)Pct. (t)Cum. pct. (p)Cum. pct. (t)
  1. *(t)=teachers, (p)=principals. 14 teachers (1.03 pct.) wrote that the goal was not a priority at all.

Table A3:

Correlation Information.

(1) Goal commitment (t)1.0000
(2) Goal prioritization (p)0.01181.0000
(3) Co-determination (t)0.2432***0.0598*1.0000
(4) Interaction (goal prioritization* co-determination)0.1696***0.7447***0.6459***1.0000
(5) Difference in goal prioritization (p-t)–0.0933***0.6161***0.02310.4530***1.0000
(6) Age (t)0.0767**–0.0537*0.0089–0.0369–0.1029***1.0000
(7) Gender (female=1) (l)0.03630.02210.00500.02560.0055–0.1169***1.0000
(8) Seniority (t)0.0152–0.0602*0.0036–0.0493–0.0923***0.8167***–0.1158***1.0000
(9) Subject (science=1, else=0) (t)–0.0522–0.0075–0.0322–0.0232–0.00380.0794**–0.1669***0.04291.0000
(10) Part time (t)0.04820.01210.03230.0244–0.00980.1260***0.01320.0971***0.02161.0000
(11) Age (p)0.03010.0234–0.0078–0.01220.0328–0.0295–0.0228–0.0362–0.01900.02581.0000
(12) Gender (female=1) (p)0.03110.1067***0.03730.1012***0.0395–0.0070–0.0326–0.02660.01200.0099–0.0869**1.0000
(13) Seniority (p)–0.0094–0.1482***–0.0684*–0.1673***–0.0569*–0.0106–0.0410–0.00170.01460.01150.6873***–0.1717***1.0000
(14) School size (number of teachers)–0.05090.0127–0.0619*0.00120.0292–0.03870.0283–0.02270.0105–0.1176***–0.0421–0.0386–0.0591*1.0000
  1. Note: Correlations (Pearsons r). (t)=teachers, (p)=principals. *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.001.


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Published Online: 2017-12-4
Published in Print: 2017-12-20

©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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