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

King, Fiona and Stevenson, Howard (2017) Generating change from below: what role for leadership from above? Journal of Educational Administration, 55 (6). pp. 657-670. ISSN 0957-8234

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In 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. This article investigates 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.

The study, which was situated in the Republic of Ireland, employed a case study approach with 20 participants in five urban disadvantaged schools.

The article seeks to demonstrate how a professional development initiative was used to promote significant and sustained change in four of the five case study schools.

It 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.

This article offers a critical perspective in relation to mainstream distributed leadership theory and practice.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Teacher leadership, Change, Distributed leadership, Licensed leadership, Teacher professional development, Organic leadership
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Stevenson, Howard
Date Deposited: 16 May 2017 07:42
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 18:56

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