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Title: Principal perspectives : distributed leadership in Hong Kong international schools
Author: Wickins, Ed
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2013
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This research emerges from a deep personal interest in the leadership of Hong Kong international secondary schools. It seeks to understand the perspectives of school Principals. Some of the challenges they face are the same the world over; others are contextual and reflect a distinctive educational sector. What are the strategies that are used to meet these challenges and do they reflect expectations from the theoretical literature about school leadership? The dissertation adopts a qualitative, interpretivist epistemology and develops an "alongsider" research methodology which includes semi structured interviews with 22 participant Principals and their subsequent involvement in developing meaning from the interview data through two participants workshop conferences. This approach is intended to make the research authoritative, relevant and accessible to school leaders and policy makers to influence their practice. Two themes run through the research. The first theme reveals how Principals distribute their leadership in practice to build the capability of their schools. Many of their actions are seen as cultural as well as structural as they attempt to build a unifying vision and negotiate an appropriate pace of change in their complex cultural contexts. The research shows how the chosen theoretical lenses of distributed leadership; human, social and organisational capital investment; and leverage strategies can be used to represent the actions of participant Principals. The analysis concludes with the presentation of a generic model to describe how key processes are mutually supportive in a school's strategic journey towards building capability. The second theme focuses on the peculiar cultural context of the Hong Kong international secondary school sector. Five features of international schools are identified and evaluated leading to a conclusion that discusses how this particular context is distinctive. The tension between homogenising globalisation forces and the need to develop local strategies is discussed. Although cultural diversity is sometimes perceived as a challenge it is also identified as an opportunity for leaders to develop situational hybrid responses. A particular issue that emerges from the narratives is governance. The relationship between a Principal and the wider community through the mechanism of governance is a contextual challenge as it reflects two interfaces. The first is contextual, as often the Principal and the governing community in these schools emerge from different cultural backgrounds; the second reflects a generic challenge for all Principals to manage the internal professional world of their school within the wider political world. The research conclusions emerge from the discussions with participant Principals. They reflect a shared understanding as well as my own interpretation of the narrative themes. This wider ownership is used to generate reflection and debate within the educational sector with the aim of contributing to the development of school leadership practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available