26 SES 01 A, Democracy, Decisions and Norms
The current literature has emphasised the key role of leadership on school improvement (Hallinger and Heck, 1996; Harris and Muijs, 2005). In this sense, a growing consensus is being developed around the idea that the leadership that produces a real impact on school results is in a great extent distributed (Gronn, 2000; Spillane, 2006; Harris, 2009). This idea assumes that leadership can proceed from many places and agents (Anderson, Moore and Sun, 2009;) and instead being associated to a particular role or status it is embedded in the specific workflow that a community of practitioners unfold (Gronn, 2003) and in the organizational learning and knowledge that such social dynamics produces.
An important part of the research literature on distributed leadership has focused on the complexities of such distribution in schools: sources, scope, effects (Gronn, 2002; Spillane, Halverson and Diamond, 2004), and particularly on the patterns and modalities of distribution that different schools adopt in order to meet its own needs (Spillane, 2006; Anderson, Moore y Sun, 2009; MacBeath, 2009).
On the other hand, the extend of the interest about the distribution of leadership in schools should lead us to a deeper understanding of the nature of power and influence in educational settings, which is –far from any doubt- a pending debt of the leadership and management studies (Busher, 2006; Thomson and Blackmore, 2006). Similarly, the distributed approach should lead the field to a more informed reflexion on the barriers and possibilities of a more democratic functioning of schools (Woods, 2004; Hatcher, 2005).
However, the research methodologies applied to the analysis of leadership and power dynamics in the school organizations have failed to capture the complexity of the phenomenon. Usually they put in the hand of the researchers a limited amount and type of data. In the research project presented in this paper a wide variety of methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative are being developed in order to get the big picture of the influence and power phenomenon in school organizations. The project is being developed in 39 primary and secondary schools in two Spanish / Andalousian provinces: Huelva and Seville. The research methodologies being applied include: daily logs of the leadership practice; social network analysis; shadowing; in-depth interviews; and observation of meetings and rhetorical discourse analysis of such meetings. The two first methodologies are being developed right now in a first, extensive phase of the inquiry, while the rest will be developed in a second, qualitative phase with a reduced group of the schools participants in the first stage.
Anderson, S.E., Moore, S. and Sun, J. (2009) Positioning the principals in patterns of school leadership distribution. En Leithwood, K., Mascall, B. and Strauss, T. Distributed leadership according to the evidence. New York: Routledge, pp. 111-136. Busher, H. (2006) Understanding educational leadership. Berkshire, UK: Open University Press. Gronn, P. (2000) Distributed properties: A new architecture for leadership. Educational Management and Administration, 28 (3) 317-338. Gronn, P. (2002) Distributed leadership as a unit of analysis. The Leadership Quarterly, 13(4), 423-451. Gronn, P. (2003) Leadership: who needs it? School Leadership & Management, 23 (3) 267–290. Hallinger, P. and Heck, R.H. (1996) Reassessing the principal’s role in school effectiveness: A review of the empirical research. Educational Administration Quarterly, 32 (1) 27–31. Harris, A. (2009) (Ed.) Distributed leadership. Different perspectives. Dordrecht: Springer. Harris, A. and Muijs, D. (2005) Improving schools through teacher leadership. Berkshire, UK: Open University Press. Hatcher, R. (2005) The distribution of leadership and power in school. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 26(2), 253-267. MacBeath, J. (2009) Distributed leadership. Paradigms, policy, and paradox. En Leithwood, K., Mascall, B. and Strauss, T. Distributed leadership according to the evidence. New York: Routledge, pp. 41-57. Pitts, V.M. and Spillane, J.P. (2009) Using social network methods to study school leadership. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 32(2) 185–207. Spillane, J.P. (2006) Distributed leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Spillane, J.P., Halverson, R and Diamond, J. (2004) Theory of leadership practice: a distributed perspective. Journal of Curriculumn Studies, 36 (1) 3-34. Thomson, P. and Blackmore, J. (2006) Beyond the power of one: redesigning the work of school principals. Journal of Educational Change, 7:161–177 Woods, P. (2004) Democratic leadership: drawing distinctions with distributed leadership. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 7(1), 3-26.
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