Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 375–417 | Cite as

Policy makers’ rhetoric of educational change: A critical analysis

  • Jasna KovačevićEmail author
  • Zijada Rahimić
  • Dževad Šehić


Reforms in education often fail due to insufficient time to implement them, too few charismatic leaders, the influence of the preceding culture, scarce resources or an incapacity to comprehend the complexity of the education system. Most studies dealing with the cognitive aspects of educational change investigate the meaning of change through the lens of the educators and principals and there is not as much research available on the perception and interpretation of change by policy makers and the language they use to communicate messages about policy that affect sensemaking–sensegiving during the process of learning about the changes. Guided by the premise that the language of a reform movement is shaped by its ideology, this article illustrates how press releases of the Ministry of Education in Canton Sarajevo in Bosnia–Herzegovina reflect an exploitation-oriented dominant reform logic. The results of frequency analysis, hierarchical clustering and multidimensional scaling imply that MoE is driven by a top-down perspective to educational change, with a focus on the procedural, organizational and collaborational aspects of reforms that primarily alter the structure of the education system but not its internal substance. We end this paper by suggesting that educational system as complex adaptive system cannot be controlled, but effectively managed through distribution of control and creation of few attractors, benefiting from self-organization in the technical core and making change in the official top-down rhetoric.


Complex adaptive system Dominant logic Educational change Postwar Post-socialism System leadership Sensemaking–sensegiving 



Bosnia and Herzegovina


Canton Sarajevo


Dayton Peace Agreement


European Union


Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina


Ministry of Education


Office of the High Representative


Republika Srpska


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jasna Kovačević
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zijada Rahimić
    • 1
  • Dževad Šehić
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Management and Organization, School of Economics and BusinessUniversity of SarajevoSarajevoBosnia and Herzegovina

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