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Strengthening school principals’ professional development through effective school ownership in Norwegian municipalities

Jan Merok Paulsen (Department of Teacher Education and International Studies, Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norway)
Kjell Brynjulf Hjertø (Department of Business Administration, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Lillehammer, Norway)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 8 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to investigate how school principals’ leadership competence is enhanced by participation in municipal school district leader teams in the Norwegian context.


The study investigated a field sample of 854 school principals working in 252 municipal school leader teams. Hypotheses were developed and tested by using multiple regressions and structural equation modeling; whereas individual- and group-level effects were tested using a hierarchical linear modeling approach. Moderator analyses where undertaken.


The results indicate that a supportive group climate in school leader teams is the strongest predictor of the principals’ learning outcomes. Moreover, trust to the superintendent and having a competent municipal school owner apparatus also predicted this form of professional development. Moderator analysis provides supplementary insights by showing that the positive effect of a trusting relationship to superintendents is contingent of a competent school owner.

Research limitations/implications

The study reinforces the crucial importance of school superintendents creating a supportive and risk-free learning climate within their team of school leaders. The study underscores the importance of a competent school owner in Norwegian municipalities and the study places emphasis on a trusting relationship between school principals and their immediate superintendent.

Practical implications

The study highlights the importance that school district administrators develop municipal school leader teams toward effective learning system through internal competence development and a supportive group climate.


The study provides empirical evidence regarding the complex dynamics involved in the professional development of school principals in district leadership teams.



Paulsen, J.M. and Hjertø, K.B. (2019), "Strengthening school principals’ professional development through effective school ownership in Norwegian municipalities", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 939-953.



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