Abstract for: Modeling the impact of decision-making power on trust and success in public schools

The perennial debate about whether an improvement effort should be instituted from the top down (via upper management), or from the bottom up, i.e., delegating responsibilities and resources to the subunits of an organization, can be informed using a modeling approach. There are tradeoffs between the top-down and bottom-up approaches; while handing down a set of directives provides clear objectives and key performance indicators, a uniform approach may not resonate with each subunit. A centralized approach may undermine the trust between the management and subunit levels of an organization without buy-in. Conversely, a bottom-up approach to an organizational problem may be difficult to assess. We aim to model improvement efforts in an organization over time and evaluate the conditions under which a more delegated approach is favorable by varying the levels of bureaucracy and the number of organizational subunits. Thus far, we have conceptualized a generic structure of centralization in an organization over time. We intend to expand and calibrate this model based on real-world data on efforts to increase school enrollments using a Bayesian estimation framework. Then, we plan to test policies intended to improve the chance of an intervention’s success, including methods to increase buy-in, applicability, and measurability.