ERG SES D 10, Educational Leadership
At the core of this study is the emerging understanding of relational leadership. It is a relatively new term that views leadership as a process of social construction through which one can further the understanding of the leadership process (Uhl-Bien, 2006). The focus of leadership has shifted from focussing on individual leaders to one that is collective (Gronn, 2015) and based on human relations (Cunliffe & Eriksen, 2011; Ospina & Foldy, 2015). In these sharing-emphasizing processes, leadership becomes a consequence of relational collaboration, which is fundamentally seen happening within relations between the different stakeholders. The focus of this study is on the collaboration and relational dynamics among the participants of an experimental lab called the COLLABORATORIES . The participants of this project are nine students from the University of Jyväskylä studying in the Faculty of Education and Pscyhology, coming from seven different countries. Besides the study will collect data among school management and school leadership teams in schools in India.
The theoretical framework for this study relies on theories emerging from research on leadership as a collective and constructive process. In spite of a large number of publications, there does not exist a solid theoretical foundation for sharing leadership (Dinh et al., 2014). Consequently, this study would focus on how leadership evolves as a collaborative and socially constructed process in the course of building on a knowledge capital as a community of learners. In the COLLABORATORIES lab, the students are working towards building a knowledge capital and a shared sense making of collaboration. From a research perspective, the learnings from the lab will highlight how decisions and actions are embedded in collective sense making and processes from which structures of social interdependence emerge.
The way knowledge construction happens in a collaborative model is dynamic and helps further the understanding of leadership as a process. Collaboration is an integral part of the group relationships so that leadership can come from anyone in the group (Zander & Zander as cited in Kramer & Crespy, 2011). However, collaboration may encounter challenges and it is through collaborative relationships that knowledge and important resources are accessed and created within a community. Knowledge creation in organisations is a process of reflexive social interaction (Tsoukas, 2009) including a unique mix of individuals and organisations with different backgrounds.
According to Uhl-Bien (2006), relational leadership is a social influence process through which emergent coordination (i.e., evolving social order) and change (e.g., new values, attitudes, approaches, behaviours, and ideologies) are constructed and produced. It is not restricting leadership to hierarchical positions or roles, but views leadership as occurring in relational dynamics throughout the organization. At its best, leadership as a collaborative practice takes up a dialogical approach signified by non-judgemental inquiry, while reflecting on diverse views being exchanged (Raelin, 2016).
Diverse relational characteristics will be examined in studying these processes emerging from the COLLABORATORIES and leadership workshops among school management teams using the relational leadership model.These include being purposeful (committed to a group or activity), inclusive (inclusive of different points of view), empowering or empowered, ethical (having productive values and standards) and being process-oriented (accomplishing group purposes) (Komives, Lucas & Mc.Mohan, 2009).
· How do the enabling and constraining factors manifest and develop in a collaborative socially constructed process?
· What are the enabling and constraining factors in a socially constructed collaborative learning environment?
· How to strengthen collaboration based on the understanding of the enabling and constraining factors found in a collaborative learning environment?
The primary data collected from the students would be based on the data emerging from the COLLABORATORIES lab. This includes videos and audio recordings, class observations, reflections from the students in the discussion forum enabled for the project and data from their learning assignment. The data from the school management teams and leadership teams would include video and audio recordings from the workshops and from the focussed group interviews and individual interviews held with the team members.The data will be systematically coded based on the emerging themes from the group discussions, reflections and class observations in the Collaboratories lab. The entire data would be studied and analysed through the lens of dialogical relationship with focus on the inclusiveness, purposefulness and empowerment among the team members and across various teams. A thematic analysis approach would be adopted to analyse and study the data. The suitability of the thematic approach is high because it can be used across a variety of theoretical frameworks. It also provides possibilities to use it as an essentialist or realist, constructionist method or a contextual method (Braun & Clarke, 2006).The deductive approach will be used for the relational leadership theory and the dimensions related to the relational dynamics to understand the implications of the theory in context to the COLLABORATORIES project and the meanings emerging from the school leadership teams. By means of the inductive approach, the codes and themes would arise and be directed from the data that emerges from the project, team workshops and the interviews.
Research on leadership in collaborative contexts can be studied from various perspectives including individuals, organisations and collaboration. Although this study includes all these components the emphasis is on the relations between people supposing them as the source of genuine leadership. This study contributes to empirical and theoretical research in order to add to the understanding of the leadership dynamics as observed through the research projects. The supposition is that the research would provide new insights on understanding of relational leadership in collaborative and complex contexts of the 21st century education. The outcomes are suggested to aid in understanding the nature of leadership in relation to inter-organisational teams. Finally, this doctoral study would also provide a foundation for further research in drawing from the theory of relational leadership and its empirical application in building a synthesized framework for leadership as a social and collaborative process at various organizational levels.
Cunliffe, A. L., & Eriksen, M. (2011). Relational leadership. Human Relations, 64(11), 1425-1449 Dachler, H. P. (1992). Management and leadership as relational phenomena. Social representations and the social bases of knowledge, 1, 169-178. Drath, W. H. (2001). The deep blue sea: Rethinking the source of leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Komives, S. R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. R. (2009). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. John Wiley & Sons. Tsoukas, H. (2009). A dialogical approach to the creation of new knowledge in organizations. Organization Science, 20(6), 941-957. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/25614709.pdf. Uhl-Bien, M. (2006). Relational leadership theory: Exploring the social processes of leadership and organizing. The leadership quarterly, 17(6), 654-676
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