Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the use of critical policy analysis (CPA) in the fields of educational leadership and policy. In addition to exploring how CPA compares to traditional research approaches in educational leadership and policy, the authors consider the influence of long-established ways of knowing, why scholars choose to engage in CPA and how and why scholars who utilize this approach decide on specific methods. Design/methodology/approach – The exploration draws primarily on the use of CPA in the USA, though the authors also examine how scholars working within the UK utilize CPA. Findings – In the review of critical policy literature, the authors identified a number of assumptions common to traditional and critical policy research theories and approaches. For example, systems theory and analysis, structural analysis, cost-benefit analysis, technicist models, and political models were commonly used within traditional literature. In comparison, critical policy researchers relied on theoretical perspectives informed by critical theory, feminist theories, and critical race perspectives, among others. Critical policy researchers used these perspectives to engage in critique, interrogate policy processes, and epistemological roots of policy work, reveal policy constructions, and examine players involved in the policy development, interpretation, and implementation processes. Notably, the work of critical educational leadership and policy scholars also emphasizes the importance of context, the theory-method relationship and methodology. Originality/value – While there is a growing movement occurring in the education leadership and policy fields toward critical analyses of educational research, little is known about how scholars decide what methods to employ when conducting such analyses. The authors discuss the possibilities for scholars utilizing these methods in order to explore the complexities of education leadership and policy problems.
International Journal of Educational Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 14, 2015
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