1. Definition of Organizational Climate
Hoy and Forsyth (1986) defined organizational climate as a broad concept that refers to the teachers’ perceptions of the school’s work environment or an internal quality or set of internal characteristics experienced by its members that distinguishes one school from another and that influences the behavior of its members. The concept of climate is important in the analyses and practice of school supervision because it has a major impact on the behavior of both teachers and principals (Hoy and Forsyth, 1986). Denison (1996) explains that the attention was first focused on climate as a topic of study in 1996. Organizational climate is a psychological construct that is shared by members of organizations (Glick, 1985). Ekvail (1983) defined it as an attribute of the organization composed of behaviors, attitudes and feelings which are characteristic of the organization. Iqbal (2009) defined organizational climate as perceptions of organizational features like decision-making, leadership and norms about work. Smith and Piele (1997) look at climate as people’s shared perceptions of the organization or work unit.
Hence, the focus is on impressions, feelings and perceptions held by members of the organization. These perceptions are aroused by the organizational structure and social interactions among those who work on the organization. The present study is delimited to using primarily the perceptions of teachers about the principal attitudes to teachers and the teacher-teacher relationships.
2. Concepts and Instruments to Measure Organizational Climate
The wide variation in the conceptualization and definition of climate is reflected in the instruments used to measure the construct. Explicitly and implicitly, each climate’s instrument claims to embody the nature of the climate of the organization to which it is applied. There are four basic conceptual frameworks used to understand and measure organizational climate: open and closed climates, healthy and unhealthy climates, humanistic to custodial climates, exploitative and participative climates.
The most well-known conceptualization and measurement of the social climate of a school was developed by Andrew W. Halpin and Don B. Croft (Hoy & Forsyth, 1986). Halpin & Croft (1962) viewed the climate of the school as a combination of two dimensions of social behavior: principal-teacher interactions and teacher-teacher interactions. The leadership of the principal, the nature of the teacher group and their mutual interactions became the major components for identifying the social climate of schools.
The principal leadership behavior is categorized as supportive, directive and restrictive. Supportive behavior is reflected by genuine concern for teachers. Directive behavior is starkly task-oriented with little consideration for the personal needs of teachers. Restrictive behavior provides impediments for teachers to work. The nature of the teacher group is categorized as collegial, intimate and disengaged. Collegial behavior refers to supportive professional relationship among teachers. Intimate behavior refers to close personal relationship among teachers not only in but outside of the school. Disengaged behavior pertains to a general sense of alienation and separation among teachers in the school (Bandura, 1997; Hoy & Miskel, 2001; Hoy & Sabo, 1998; Hoy et. al., 1991).
Organizational Climate Description Questionnaire (OCDQ) created by Halpin and Croft is the instrument use to measure principal-teacher and teacher-teacher interactions. The OCDQ has been subjected to a number of criticisms during the last twenty years prior to 1986 (Hoy & Forsyth, 1986). A major revision of the instrument was completed at Rutgers University and a refined version of the instrument was developed – the OCDQ-RE for elementary schools and OCDQ-RS for secondary schools by Hoy and Tarter (1997).
OCDQ-RE has two general factors – one a measure of openness of teacher interactions and the other a measure of openness of teacher-principal relations. These two openness factors are independent which means that it is possible to have open teacher interactions and closed principal relations and vice versa. Thus, theoretically, four contracting types of school climate are possible. The first is open climate where there is cooperation and respect that exist between the teachers and between the teachers and principals. The second is engaged climate marked on one hand by principals’ ineffective attempts to control teachers and on the other hand high professional performance of teachers. The third is disengaged climate where the principals’ behavior is open, concerned and supportive but the teachers are unwilling to accept the principal and they do not respect each other or work as professionals. The fourth is a closed climate where principals stress routine trivia and unnecessary busy work and teachers respond minimally and exhibit little commitment to their work (Bandura, 1997; Hoy & Miskel, 2001; Hoy & Sabo, 1998; Hoy et. al., 1991; Hansen & Childs, 1998).
Improving the School Climate
Ngamije (2000) enumerated the following as ways to improve the school climate: increase parent and community involvement, implementation of character education, use violence-prevention or conflict-resolution curricula, peer mediation, prevention of acts of bullying, teachers and principals treat students fairly, provide a safe environment, and giving honor to most improved students.
Patterson et. al. (1986) gave the following characteristics of a healthy school culture: school site management and democratic decision making, strong leadership, staff tenure, curriculum articulation and organization, staff development, parental involvement, school-wide recognition of academic success, maximized learning time, district support, collaborative planning and collegial relationship, clear goals and high expectations commonly shared, and order and discipline.