- Dec 2017
Multilevel Boundary Crossing in a Professional Development School Partnership
"Akkerman and Bruining’s article, “Multilevel Boundary Crossing in a Professional Development School Partnership” (2016 Akkerman, S., & Bruining, T. (2016/this issue). Multi-level boundary crossing in a professional development school partnership, examines boundary crossing as a phenomenon at three levels of analysis: intrapersonal, interpersonal, and institutional.
Their case study uses an examination of a familiar educational context—school-university partnerships in the form of professional development schools (PDSs)—as an opportunity to deepen our understanding of boundary crossing. In particular, their analytical framework enables them to examine four modes of learning that are afforded by boundary crossing (identification, coordination, reflection, and transformation), which can occur at each of these three levels of analysis. This provides a rich and detailed view of learning opportunities in PDSs, both realized and missed. They highlight the unique role of brokers in terms of connecting across boundaries, and the ways a “chain of brokers” (p. 273) can experience, promote, and also impede each kind of learning at these three levels of analysis."<br> "Re-Envisioning Learning, Re-Engaging the Literature" https://doi.org/10.1080/10508406.2016.1167535
Terms such as brokers, boundary spanners, boundary crossers, and boundary workers are often used to denote them. Whereas the latter two terms are typically used to refer to people’s actual efforts and success in crossing boundaries (i.e., establishing continuity in action and interaction) between groups, the terms broker and boundary spanner typically, especially in social network theory, refer to a structural position in a network, where a person is found to be a more or less unique link between otherwise separate or disparate groups. Nevertheless, the common assumption in social network theory is that, precisely because of being in this structural position and creating what Granovetter (1973 Granovetter, M. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78, 1360–1380. doi:10.1086/225469[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]) called the “weak ties,” brokers or boundary spanners have a powerful position (Aldrich & Herker, 1977 Aldrich, H., & Herker, D. (1977). Boundary spanning roles and organization structure. Academy of Management Review, 2(2), 217–230.[Crossref], [Google Scholar]; Burt, 2000 Burt, R. S. (2000). The network structure of social capital. Research in Organizational Behavior, 22, 345–423.[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]; Lin, 2001 Lin, N. (2001). Social capital: A theory of social structure and action. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.[Crossref], [Google Scholar]; Tuschman & Scalan, 1981); from this powerful position they can either use information to retain positional authority and their status as a link between two or more groups or use it to join people together for mutual benefit (Obstfeld, 2005 Obstfeld, D. (2005). Social networks, the tertius iungens orientation, and involvement in innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 50(1), 100–130.[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]).
Related articles on brokers
As we elaborate in the next section on the intrapersonal level of boundary crossing, people who are in this situation can be referred to as brokers and typically have a powerful but challenging multifaceted position that is psychologically quite demanding.
Definition of brokers
Star, S. L., & Griesemer, J. R. (1989).
This is the foundation article for the term "boundary object".
Tsui, A. B. M., & Law, D. Y. K. (2007). Learning as boundary-crossing in school-university partnership. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23, 1289–1301. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2006.06.003
I know that boundary crossings have been important in the thinking of some colleagues working in teacher education at the University of Hong Kong.