An Organisational Study of the Free Kindergarten and Playcentre Movements in New Zealand
The free kindergarten and playcentre organisations were subjects of case studies for an examination of strategic choice processes in voluntary organisations, using an open-systems theoretical framework. The patterns of strategic choices in each movement, over time, were described; then four recent decision processes and their consequences analysed. The data about the strategic choice processes gathered by participant observation were validated by three small surveys: one of 138 parents of pre-school children, one of 62 free kindergarten and playcentre staff, and one of 162 playcentre and kindergarten volunteers. General conclusions are that the patterns of strategic choice processes both reflect and influence each organistion's structure and functioning. Both voluntary organisations are constrained from making strategic choices which would satisfy the demands of prospective clientele who desire new forms of early childhood education services – the playcentre movement is constrained by its ideology and its method of delivering pre-school education via parent participation in all aspects of the organisation; and the kindergarten movement is constrained by the accumulation of many rules which inhibit the organisation's ability to adapt to changing social conditions. The playcentre organisation's pattern of decision making has been ahead of its time in the extent of members' participation, and so also has it been with its dual education programme – children and parents learning together; but the kindergarten organisation's children's programme – children and parents learning together; but the kindergarten oganisation's children's programme is better matched with the greater demand for kindergarten pre-school education.