The designation of district central-office administrators to operate as boundary spanners among the central office, schools, and community agencies can help with the implementation of challenging policy demands. However, educational research teaches little about central-office boundary spanners in practice. This article addresses that gap with findings from an embedded, comparative case study of boundary spanners in the implementation of collaborative education policy. The study's conceptual framework draws on public management and sociological literature on boundary spanning and neo-institutional theories of decision making. Findings reveal that the boundary spanners in this case initially were particularly well suited to help with implementation in part because they brought non-traditional experiences to the central office. However, over time, many of the resources that aided them initially became liabilities that frustrated their work. This article documents the importance of examining boundary-spanning roles in implementation and suggests how central offices might provide supports to boundary spanners to increase their potential as levers of bureaucratic change.
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