26 SES 01 A, Democracy, Decisions and Norms
Research highlights the importance of school leadership in the development of the school, but also for the students’ outcomes (Leithwood and Day 2008). Swedish principals have, with a new Education Act (2010:800), a new and possibly powerful tool to support their leadership:
Management of the education
Principal and Pre-school director
9 § The educational work of a school unit [pre-school unit] should be led and coordinated by a principal [pre-school director]. These will work in particular to develop the education [...]
§ 10 The principal and preschool director decides on the internal organization of their unit [...]
The first section aim directly at the task of developing the education and the second section is more indirect. It gives the power to decide on the internal organization of the unit and this includes the power of delegation. The two sections could empower the leadership in schools, but they can also create a special tension between different interests concerning the governing of schools. In the decentralized Swedish school system the responsibility for the education is shared by, on one hand municipalities and independent school boards (Education Act 2010:800. 2 Ch. 8 §), and on the other hand principals.
The study examines whether there are professional norms among principals. The theoretical starting point is a sociology-of-law definition of norms; Norms are action instructions, norms are imperatives and thus directing actions, that is the very meaning of norms. Norms are socially reproduced; they must be shared by other people. Norms represent the individual's perception of the expectations surrounding their own behaviour and this is also a widespread sociological starting point, expressed as a social pressure on individuals (see Durkheim 1895, Rommetveit 1955, Elster 1992, Hydén and Svensson 2008).
Principals' professional norms arise and they are maintained and developed by the same three criteria and new laws need to be interpreted by the professionals (Leo 2010). This leads to the main question in the study:
- What professional norms can be found based on the leadership mission from the Education Act to develop the education?
To identify principals’ norms there is a need to study action instructions linked to school leadership, what kind of professional reproduction of norms can be found and how external expectations influence norms.
One conclusion based on the Education Act is that principals should use the internal organization and delegation as a means to develop the quality of education in order to reach the national goals. Leadership is about handling complex situations in constant change and this study will also address possible relations between delegation and a distributed leadership. According to research a distributed leadership is needed to be able to lead change processes in schools today (Harris 2004, 2011, Hargreaves and Fink 2006, Day 2007). Distributed leadership is "a form of lateral leadership where the practice of leadership is shared amongst organisational members." (Harris 2008: 174). Do principals use formal delegation to support a distributed leadership and what kinds of conflicts or tensions are linked with these issues?
Day, C (2007). What Being a Successful Principal Really Means. Educational Leadership and Administration, 19, 13-24 Durkheim, Emile (1982)The rules of Sociological Method and Selected Texts on Sociology and it´s Method. New York: Free Press. [ori.1895. Les règles de la méthode sociologique] Education Act (2010:800), Elster, Jon (1992) The Cement of Society, a study of social order. Cambridge University Press Hargreaves, Andy & Fink, Dean (2006) Sustainable Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Harris, Alma (2004) Distributed Leadership and School Improvement: Leading or Misleading? Educational Management Administration Leadership 2004; 32; 11-20. Sage Publications Harris, Alma (2008) “Distributed leadership: according to the evidence”, Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 46 iss: 2, 172 – 188 Harris, Alma (2011) “Distributed leadership: implications for the role of the principal”, Journal of Management Development, vol. 31 iss: 1, 7 - 17 Hydén, Håkan & Svensson Måns (2008) The Concept of Norms in Sociology of Law. I Law and Society, Scandinavian studies in Law, volume 53. Stockholm: Stockholm Institute for Scandinaian Law Leithwood Kenneth. & Day Christopher. (2008). The impact of school leadership on pupil outcomes, School Leadership & Management. Formerly School Organisation, 28:1, 1-4 Education Act (2010:800), Leo, Ulf (2010) Rektorer bör och rektorer gör. Lund: Lund University Rommetveit, Ragnar (1955) Social Norms and Roles, Explorations in the psychology of ending social pressures. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press
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