EDD 8302 Analysis of the Harlem Children’s Zone Case Study

Analysis of the Harlem Children’s Zone Case Study

Capella University

Analysis of the Harlem Children’s Zone Case Study

This paper discusses a background analysis of the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ). The paper focuses on its organizational strengths and opportunities for improvement. In essence the paper offers an analysis of the context of an action project for completeness and adequacy using the HCZ case study. The paper also offers an explanation of the organizational dynamics of an institution using information drawn from the literature of systems thinking. Also schussed in the paper explanation of how to improve the context description in the case study. To finish with, the paper offers an explanation of how the action project is different from the organizational context in which it occurs.

Analysis of the context of the HCZ case study completeness and adequacy

In reference to Grossma & Curran (2004), the HCZ case study is a complete example of an action research. The case study begins with an abstract context within which the action research occurred. At the introduction, the case study has a description of the organization and its history. The case study has a set of action research questions on the situations of the organization that it is seeking to improve. The case study has research a methodology presented as the Bridgespan’s Approach.

Using the approach and the questions, the case study shows key decisions and the approach used to reach the decisions. The case study shows completeness in the whole action research process. Description in the whole research is creative and active. Instead of telling about the setting, the case study uses analysis and anecdotes to illustrate the story of the HCZ and the needed improvements using data, and reflections. However the case study is inadequate in the use of system thinking tools and language. There are no diagrams or other drawings to support explanations (Grossma & Curran, 2004).

Organizational dynamics in the HCZ

In reference to Grossma & Curran (2004), Organizational dynamics are the patterns of movement over time in the interactions between the people (staff and employees), the organization (administration and management), and the community. These patters can be described, for instance, as regular patterns of conformity and dependence, or as irregular patterns of noncompliance and aggression. As HSC keeps moving and growth, it can look back on the intense activities, which have had significant impact on the families and children of Central Harlem. The organization can be considered to have succeeded along all its important dimensions.

The HCZ demonstrates a team of staff with organizational engagement and commitment. The organizational commitment seems to be positively related to children’s achievement. It is also shows positive relation to staff career and job engagement and satisfaction, efficacy feelings as a teacher, and expectations for children’s success. There is also a good relation between commitments to student learning and student achievement. The five significant dynamics seen in the case study include job satisfaction, professional fulfillment, student achievement, families and children’s wellbeing, collaborative leadership, and learning climate (Grossma & Curran, 2004).

In reference to Grossma & Curran (2004), these achievements have given more children in Central Harlem richer life opportunities. However, the management feels that these efforts are insufficient to fully address the critical needs of these families and children. The organization is deciding to put much focus on its most important remaining challenge, which is quality education. This brings an organizational dynamic of Harlem Children’s Zone to financial issues and expansion. Other dynamics include the HCZ’s penetration, strengthening and reorganization of the management, and monitoring and evaluation of the program.

How to improve the context description in the HCZ case study

In context description it is important to communicate to the reader a clear picture of the overall context of the Acton research project. The description of the beginning of the research paper lays the foundation (strong or weak) for the validity, trustworthiness and credibility of the results and conclusions. Systems thinking, which has not been adequately used in the cases study should help in improving the context description. Systems thinking utilizes concepts, tools and habits to create a clear understanding of the complex interdependent structures found in the dynamic systems (Grossma & Curran, 2004).

The research should thus intensify the use of systems thinking to encourage understanding of the case study and the organization. With a better understanding of the case study and the organizational systems, it is easier to identify the influence points, which lead to the desired outcomes. These desired outcomes are the key decision areas that the action research project is seeing to transform or improve in the system (Grossma & Curran, 2004).

Difference between an action project and the HCZ context

The action project and HCZ context are near similar with clear differences. The action project offers a clear picture of the activities of the organization designed to attain the mission and vision of improving the situation of the children in Harlem. However, it is not clear if this is the whole picture of the organization. The context presented in the case study is one that needs funding to proceed with the phase one plan of the organizational improvement.

The action project details only the parts of the organization that needs improvement. With a clear understanding of the Canada’s commitment to Rheedlen’s (previous name of HCZ) continued rapid growth, the HCZ context appears to show the need for an improvement. The context presented in the action project shows unresolved questions about specific aspects of the organization’s growth (Grossma & Curran, 2004).

The action project pursued numerous streams of analysis to inform the research questions. Not surprisingly, the management, according to the action project found that no one analysis offered a one stop answer to the questions. As a substitute, put together, the action project analyses painted a picture of the HCZ its current context, its weaknesses and strengths, and its possible opportunities to move it forward – or improve its performance. The action project though does not give the actual real picture in the organization, an organization that is experiencing real financial difficulties (Grossma & Curran, 2004).

In conclusion, the action project shows the organization’s dynamic situations. While the action project shows completeness and adequacy, the case study does not show adequacy in the use of systems thinking. The context presented in the action project shows unresolved questions about specific aspects of the organization’s growth. The case study can be improved through intensifying the use of smart thinking (Grossma & Curran, 2004).


Grossma, A. & Curran, D. (2004). The Harlem Children’s Zone; Driving Performance with Measurement and Evaluation. Harvard Business School, 9-303-109

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