Working with "Quality" - how Lean and Appreciative Inquiry initiatives change social and emotional relationships in the day-care institution?
Sociology Department University of Copenhagen Copenhagen K, Denmark
European state and municipal governance of early childhood education and care is increasingly preoccupied with developing, ensuring and measuring "quality" initiatives, which are meant to improve day care institutions. Measuring quality initiatives has various constitutive effects such as typification, interpellation, fixations, creation of particular social relations etc. This issue of wider effects of measuring quality initiative is still a relatively little researched area (Dahler-Larsen 2008).
Consequently this paper deals with constitutive effects of different quality initiatives within two day care institutions as it reports on a study of a kindergarden, which has worked with LEAN (idea of slimming the organisation with respect to "time-wasting" activities) and another which worked with "Appreciative Culture" (reflecting the idea of focussing on what works well and successes) as a way of improving "quality".
The study addresses questions such as whether implementing Lean implies a typification of care that subordinates care activities under a rationalized, instrumental and optimizing world-view? Does focussing on successful activities lead to a de-legitimization of so-called negative emotions, and if so, how does this have effects on the social relationships between colleagues and between management and employees? Moreover, working with quality projects can be seen as including every involved member of the organisation, as everybody can contribute to the meaning of "quality" which seems an endlessly open signifier. Does the work on "quality" therefore create group emotion or energy given a learning process (Quinn 2007), or does it de-legitimise certain members´ notion of quality and therefore engenders disillusion and cynicism.
Methodologically, the study is based on analysis of documents, interviews and observation. The aim of the study is to contribute to an understanding of how quality initiatives work seen from within the institution rather than from totalising perspectives, which conceive the quality discourse in terms of governing and dominance.