26 SES 02 A, Educational Leadership - a Changing Discipline?
From the inception of the field of educational leadership and management in the latter half of the 20th century, a number of systematic reviews have considered the nature of relevant research and how it has contributed and might further contribute to supporting practice (Bridges, 1982; Murphy et al, 2007; Hallinger 2013). The large majority of reviews have been published in international journals rather than within Europe, and focus primarily on articles published in the US and the wider Anglophone world. Hallinger (2013) suggests that most are traditional literature reviews which use a bounded set of data to examine published research on conceptual, methodological or substantive issues in an exploratory or explanatory fashion. His analysis distinguishes the prevalence of exploratory research in the early period of the field until 1996 with all but two of explanatory reviews emerging since, indicating 'progression from exploratory to explanatory reviews that often occurs as knowledge accumulates in a field of inquiry over time.' (op cit, 2013: 6). He claims that reviews of research have a key role in establishing and forwarding knowledge in the field. Hallinger acknowledges that all reviews are value laden. The implication of his assessment of the maturing field and of the role of systematic reviews is a teleological orientation to research, based on a belief that as research increases in quantity, quality and synthesis, its support for practice will become increasingly secure.
This paper considers how a review of leadership and management research might respond to two conference questions: Do the ways in which educational research has been used in practice and policy within Europe provide a good foundation for the future? Or do we need to develop different strategies? This paper aims to make a contribution to reviewing the field's history and the implications for future research by questioning the apparently rational, teleogical orientation to research and its assumptions of both a positive trajectory for research itself and for its consumption by practitioners and policymakers. The paper explores how we might understand the production and consumption of research using 'a long tradition of studying the creation, diffusion, application, adaptation, abandonment and rejection of ideas and practices' (Sturdy, 2004: 196) from other disciplines. Sturdy suggests six alternative 'contemporary perspectives—rational, psychodynamic, dramaturgical, political, cultural and institutional'. Adopting this model as a heuristic device, the paper takes as a starting point the questions:
- What patterns are discernible in research on leadership/management theory published in key European journals on educational leadership and management from 1970 onwards?
- Do any or all of Sturdy's perspectives offer value in understanding the production and consumption of research, such as to guide a critical understanding for future research in Europe?
A key focus is the relationship between theories presented as an outcome of research and the adoption of related practice by practitioners and policymakers. Consequently the paper will also draw on a range of theory within the field of generic leadership and management on the diffusion, adoption and rejection of ideas by individuals and organisations (Mintzberg, 1979; Abrahamson, 1991; Fiol & O'Connor, 2003). Overall the paper will suggest that the construction of knowledge in the field of educational leadership and management may be hampered by a narrow teleological perspective which, unlike the generic field of leadership and management, is not mindful of the range of drivers and levers which underpin the relationship between production and consumption of research by practitioners in the field. It will suggest that greater sophistication in understanding this relationship will be necessary for research to be used more productively in Europe in the future.
Abrahamson, E. (1991) Managerial Fads and Fashions: The Diffusion and Rejection of Innovations. The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 16, No. 3: pp. 586-612. Bridges, E. (1982). Research on the school administrator: The state-of-the art, 1967-1980. Educational Administration Quarterly, 18(3),12-33. Fiol, C. M. & O'Connor, E.J. (2003) Waking up! Mindfulness in the Face of Bandwagons. The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 28, No. 1: pp. 54-70. Mintzberg, H. (1979) The structuring of organizations. New York: Prentice-Hall. Murphy, J. (2004). Leadership for literacy: A framework for policy and practice. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 15, 65-96. Hallinger, P. (2013) Reviewing Reviews of Research in Educational Leadership: An Empirical Assessment . Educational Administration Quarterly, online 0013161X13506594 Sturdy, A. (2004) The Adoption of Management Ideas and Practices: Theoretical Perspectives and Possibilities. Management Learning. Vol. 35(2): 155–179.
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