Rearrange Your Problem and Evaluate Solutions Through the Human Resources and Political Perspectives

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An important task of a leader in a diverse educational setting is to promote equity and inclusion for students, faculty, staff, and community members. The role of the HR department is to align the employees’ goals and need to belong to the organization’s goals. In the graphic of the four-frame model, the metaphor for human resources is the organization as family. Bolman and Deal 4 frames model graphic Just as a specific relative may not receive an invitation to Thanksgiving, so do employees find themselves members of the “in” group at work or on the outside looking in at the favored team members.


The absence of equity and inclusion leads to powerlessness and ostracism from the human resources family for the marginalized group. No workplace is immune from office politics. All organizations must deal with opposing factions who seek power and resources in a competitive rather than cooperative manner. Status within a group may boil down to issues of favoritism; but there may also be ill-will against certain members due to gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, or other reasons. Equity and inclusion in education have been controversial topics since Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

Instead of segregated schools, stakeholders in 2018 are more likely debating whether students with disabilities are best served in the general education classroom, whether minority students are overrepresented in special education, and underrepresented in gifted programs, and how schools with men’s and women’s sports teams should ensure compliance with Title IX. Bolman and Deal’s (1999) work has us view a problem through different lenses as if we were holding a kaleidoscope. With each twist of the device, the picture changes. The new lens brings clarity where there was previously just a blur. Each new lens (human resources, political, symbolic, or structural) is equally valid, but one or two lenses may be better than others for a given situation.

There are also more perspectives than just the four mentioned in the article. Although technology is part of the structural perspective in Bolman and Deal (1999), it is important enough to merit its own week later in our course. In this week’s assignment, you will start learning how to reframe a problem using two of Bolman and Deal’s four frames–the human resources perspective and the political perspective. To use these frames successfully, you must ask yourself questions about your problem. How would your problem look different if you thought about it from the perspective of the human resources department? How would it look to members of the “in- group” at work? How would it look to people at work who self-identify as being female, African American, transgender, or hearing impaired?

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