Leadership and institutional change in the public sector: The case of secondary schools in England

Currie, Graeme; Lockett, Andy; Suhomlinova, Olga
October 2009
Leadership Quarterly;Oct2009, Vol. 20 Issue 5, p664
Academic Journal
Abstract: Leadership should be viewed as being embedded in a societal context and influenced by (as well as influencing) the institutional environment of organizations. Extant research on leadership, however, has largely neglected the effect of the institutional environment. To redress this imbalance we examine leadership in the context of institutional change in secondary school education in England. Specifically, we examine the co-existence of an emerging, government-prescribed, results-oriented approach to leadership (the new institution) with a more traditional professional value-based approach (the old institution). Our methodological approach utilized both quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative analysis suggests that there are no significant performance differences between the two leadership approaches. Furthermore, school context does not appear to influence the leadership style employed. The qualitative analysis enabled us to better interpret these findings and to examine the enactment of leadership. The analysis suggests that although the new regulatory environment has fostered the development of the results-oriented leadership, it has not fully replaced professional value-based leadership. Rather, we found pockets of resistance to the policy-prescribed approach precisely in those areas that were targeted by the policy, namely, in schools with high percentage of socially deprived students. We conclude that a complex relationship exists between leadership and its institutional context.


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