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A narrative review of the research on school leaders’ emotional labor: a typology inspired by Habermas’s cognitive interests

Yingying Huang (Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Hongbiao Yin (Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 25 April 2024

Issue publication date: 9 May 2024

112

Abstract

Purpose

Guided by Habermas’s three cognitive interests, this paper reviews the studies on school leaders’ emotional labor. It seeks to provide a typology of how researchers inquire about school leaders’ emotional labor by focusing on different understandings, topics and characteristics.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a narrative review with 38 studies finally selected for analysis. Guided by Habermas’s three cognitive interests, all the studies were examined carefully and were found to fall into different clusters of understanding of school leaders’ emotional labor.

Findings

The review revealed three understandings of school leaders’ emotional labor, namely instrumental understanding, practical understanding and emancipatory understanding. The instrumental understanding treats school leaders’ emotional labor as a tool to effectively control the schools; the practical understanding regards emotional labor as a way to build and maintain relationships and as the process of meaning-making; the emancipatory understanding perceives emotional labor as a site for school leaders’ reflection and action for achieving a more just and self-determined leadership.

Originality/value

This review contributes to the growing literature on school leadership and emotional labor by providing a theory-guided typology and synthesis of the existing understanding of school leaders’ emotional labor, which lays a knowledge base and points out directions for future scholarly inquiries. It also provides practical suggestions for educational policy, school leaders’ practice and leadership training.

Keywords

Citation

Huang, Y. and Yin, H. (2024), "A narrative review of the research on school leaders’ emotional labor: a typology inspired by Habermas’s cognitive interests", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 62 No. 3, pp. 325-340. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEA-08-2023-0181

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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