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Generating change from below: what role for leadership from above?

Generating change from below: what role for leadership from above? PurposeIn recent years the benefits of distributed leadership have often assumed the status of an unchallengeable orthodoxy. There is a general acceptance that leadership is best when it is dispersed. In reality this is often little more than a form of “licensed leadership” in which those working in subordinate roles can only exercise their leadership in tightly prescribed contexts. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the contribution of teacher professional development to promoting a more optimistic vision of teacher leadership and, ultimately, organisational change. It explores the role of leadership “from above” in supporting classroom teachers to engage with and sustain change.Design/methodology/approachThe study, which was situated in the Republic of Ireland, employed a case study approach with 20 participants in five urban disadvantaged schools.FindingsThe paper seeks to demonstrate how a professional development initiative was used to promote significant and sustained change in four of the five case study schools.Research limitations/implicationsIt argues that in order to understand sustained change in schools it is necessary to better understand the complex ways in which leadership from above can generate change agency from below.Originality/valueThis paper offers a critical perspective in relation to mainstream distributed leadership theory and practice. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Educational Administration Emerald Publishing

Generating change from below: what role for leadership from above?

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References (70)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0957-8234
DOI
10.1108/JEA-07-2016-0074
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeIn recent years the benefits of distributed leadership have often assumed the status of an unchallengeable orthodoxy. There is a general acceptance that leadership is best when it is dispersed. In reality this is often little more than a form of “licensed leadership” in which those working in subordinate roles can only exercise their leadership in tightly prescribed contexts. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the contribution of teacher professional development to promoting a more optimistic vision of teacher leadership and, ultimately, organisational change. It explores the role of leadership “from above” in supporting classroom teachers to engage with and sustain change.Design/methodology/approachThe study, which was situated in the Republic of Ireland, employed a case study approach with 20 participants in five urban disadvantaged schools.FindingsThe paper seeks to demonstrate how a professional development initiative was used to promote significant and sustained change in four of the five case study schools.Research limitations/implicationsIt argues that in order to understand sustained change in schools it is necessary to better understand the complex ways in which leadership from above can generate change agency from below.Originality/valueThis paper offers a critical perspective in relation to mainstream distributed leadership theory and practice.

Journal

Journal of Educational AdministrationEmerald Publishing

Published: Sep 4, 2017

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