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Distributed leadership: according to the evidence

Alma Harris (Centre for Leadership and Learning, Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 21 March 2008




This paper aims to provide an overview of the literature concerning distributed leadership and organisational change. The main purpose of the paper is to consider the empirical evidence that highlights a relationship between distributed leadership and organisational outcomes.

Design/methodological approach

The paper draws on several fields of enquiry, including organisational change, school effectiveness, school improvement and leadership. It systematically analyses the evidence in each field and presents a synthesis of key findings.


The evidence shows first, that there is a relationship between distributed leadership and organisational change, second, that there is evidence to suggest that this relationship is positive and third, that different patterns of distribution affect organisational outcomes.


The significance and originality of this paper lies in the fact that it: takes a normative position on distributed leadership and is chiefly concerned with the question of organisational impact; demonstrates the importance and necessity of further research about the way in which distributed leadership influences organisational outcomes; and acknowledges the methodological challenges in conducting research on distributed leadership but argues that such research will make a significant contribution to knowledge and theory generation in the leadership field.



Harris, A. (2008), "Distributed leadership: according to the evidence", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 46 No. 2, pp. 172-188.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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