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Principal workload: Components, determinants and coping strategies in an era of standardization and accountability

Izhar Oplatka (School of Education, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 7 August 2017




In order to fill the gap in theoretical and empirical knowledge about the characteristics of principal workload, the purpose of this paper is to explore the components of principal workload as well as its determinants and the coping strategies commonly used by principals to face this personal state.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 50 principals, all from the elementary and secondary educational systems of Israel. The analysis followed the principles of qualitative research.


Four subjectively held constructs of principal workload, main sources of this workload, and the key strategies used by principals to face this workload were found in this study.

Practical implications

It is recommended to strengthen school autonomy, increase the number of positions of middle management, prepare future principals for the heavy workload, and encourage supportive superiors who are sensitive to this issue.


This study fills the gap in theoretical knowledge concerning principal workload, assuming that the particular characteristics of the school organization have some unique impact on this personal state. It also enables us to identify the types of this personal state occurring in educational organizations from the subjective perspectives of school members and stakeholders, thereby broadening the understanding of employee workload in various settings, including educational arenas.



The research reported in this paper was funded by the Israeli Ministry of Education, The Chief Scientist.


Oplatka, I. (2017), "Principal workload: Components, determinants and coping strategies in an era of standardization and accountability", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 55 No. 5, pp. 552-568.



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