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Article
Publication date: 8 July 2019

Jan Merok Paulsen and Kjell Brynjulf Hjertø

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…

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 33 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 18 June 2019

Marit Aas and Jan Merok Paulsen

A number of empirical studies and evaluations in Norway and Sweden shows variabilities in the degree to which the municipalities succeed in their endeavors to support…

Abstract

Purpose

A number of empirical studies and evaluations in Norway and Sweden shows variabilities in the degree to which the municipalities succeed in their endeavors to support school principals’ instructional leadership practices. In response to this situation, the Norwegian and Swedish directorates of education have developed a joint collaborative design for practice learning of instructional leadership. Based on findings from two separate studies, the purpose of this paper is to contribute to theory development and improved practice for school district administrators and their subordinated school leaders.

Design/methodology/approach

The study draws on the data from participants who completed the program in June 2015, June 2016 and June 2017, respectively. The data are based on individual reflection documents from students on their learning and new leadership practices 4 months, 16 months and 28 months after the end of the program.

Findings

The project subjected to this study, labeled “Benchlearning,” involved learning from experiences of others, observational learning, dialogic group learning and in the final round translating what is learnt into the social and cultural context in which the individual school principal’s school is situated. When participating school principals experience observation-based learning together with trusted colleagues, followed by vicarious learning from these experiences in their schools, the authors see some facilitating factors to be of particular importance: learning infrastructure, digital tools, compulsory tasks associated with preparation and subsequent experiments with their teachers. Emerging from the analysis was a systematic balancing act of autonomy and structure running through the various learning activities. Finally, a strong evidence was found that developing core competence in digital learning and formative assessment among teaching staff required enhanced distributed leadership across the whole school organization. By sharing leadership tasks on instructional issues with teachers and other non-leaders, principals succeeded in leveling up instructional leadership significantly.

Research limitations/implications

The implications of the study can be summed up in the following four principles. First, policy makers should take into accounts the fact that principals’ motivation and willingness to initiate change processes can be created in a synergy between structured school visits and engagement in learning groups based on a sound theoretical foundation. Second, within a socially contracted practice in a well-designed learning group, it is possible to raise principals’ level of self-efficacy. Third, a systematic reflection process on authentic practice is an example of how principals can develop their metacognitive capacity and how knowledge can be transformed into new practice. Finally, educators should be trained to be process leaders in order to create a balance between demand and support in promoting principals’ learning of new instructional leadership practices.

Practical implications

School district administrators should take into accounts the fact that changing practices will be supported by sense-making processes involving discussions about how new instructional practices are justified. Specifically, shifts in talk and actions will also involve shifts in the ways people relate to each other and how they relate to their internal context. Further, leadership programs should include trying out new practices as the focal learning mode, accompanied by individual and collective reflective activities.

Originality/value

The findings of the study underscore the mutual interdependence of distributed leadership and student-centered focus accompanied with the school’s learning capacity as enabling conditions for principals’ practice learning in the field of instructional leadership.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 57 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 6 May 2014

Jan Merok Paulsen and Kjell Brynjulf Hjertø

This purpose of this article is to contribute to the research on the role of individual and group-level autonomy and absorptive capacity for inter-organizational knowledge…

Abstract

Purpose

This purpose of this article is to contribute to the research on the role of individual and group-level autonomy and absorptive capacity for inter-organizational knowledge transfer.

Design/methodology/approach

The study investigated a field sample of 274 individual participants in 82 groups who were taking part in a large-scale benchmarking project in the Norwegian public sector. Hypotheses were developed and tested by using multiple regression, structural equation modeling and hierarchical linear modeling and included an empirical test of moderator effects.

Findings

The findings suggest that individual and group autonomy, along with individual experiences of absorptive capacity, supports complementarily inter-organizational knowledge transfer.

Research limitations/implications

The study reinforces the idea that individual and group autonomy are enabling conditions for knowledge transfer from project settings to parent organizations. Absorptive capacity, in line with more recent theorizing, is conceived of and measured as an organizational meta-routine, and we recommend replication of this study in various multi-level settings using longitudinal designs.

Practical implications

The study encourages managers to focus on distributing powers to individual facilitation and boundary-spanning roles and on creating cross-functional venues that promote the sharing of knowledge across different organizational units. The study also recommends that practitioners pay attention to the prominent role of autonomy at both the individual and group levels to support the dissemination of knowledge across boundaries.

Originality/value

The study provides empirical evidence regarding the simultaneous role of individual autonomy, group autonomy and absorptive capacity that together provide the explanatory power required for knowledge transfer in inter-organizational settings.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 2 September 2014

Jan Merok Paulsen, Olof Johansson, Lejf Moos, Elisabet Nihlfors and Mika Risku

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the superintendent position, its relation to the local political system and the function as superior of principals in the school…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the superintendent position, its relation to the local political system and the function as superior of principals in the school district in order to illuminate important district-level conditions for student learning. Influences from historical legacies and policy cultures are investigated by means of cross-country case analyses.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on data from national surveys of superintendent leadership in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.

Findings

A key point is the observation of a mix-mode system of hard and soft governance. Municipalities, schools, teachers and pupils are – in different degrees across the Nordic countries – subjected to external evaluation and assessment by central control agencies, where the streams of reports, assessments and performance data are assembled. However, shifts in the governance systems are only modestly reflected in the self-reports on the superintendents’ role. Overall, superintendents in the cases express a self-preferred leadership style as professional learning facilitators who focus on pupil orientation, which positions the superintendent in “crossfires” between conflicting stakeholder demands.

Research limitations/implications

The paper reinforces the importance of superintendent leadership in local school governance. It underscores the importance that superintendents facilitate learning conditions for school leaders, teachers and students, which we see as a promising path for further research.

Originality/value

The paper provides empirical evidence regarding superintendent leadership situated in local social and political contexts within the Nordic countries. The cross-country analysis illuminates how path-pendent historical legacies mediate current reform trends.

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 28 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 8 August 2016

Jan Merok Paulsen, Kjell Brynjulf Hjertø and Saku Petteri Tihveräinen

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between school leadership practices and teacher empowerment in the Finnish policy culture. Specifically, moral…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between school leadership practices and teacher empowerment in the Finnish policy culture. Specifically, moral leadership and distributed leadership enacted by school principals are tested in a simultaneous design as predictor to two distinct yet related aspects of teachers’ sense of empowerment, respectively, in their work domain and their classroom domain.

Design/methodology/approach

The study investigated a field sample of 246 individual teachers from ten Finnish primary schools. Hypotheses were developed and tested by structural equation modeling.

Findings

The results indicate that moral leadership exerted by school principals support teachers’ sense of empowerment both in work domain and classroom domain. Distributed leadership, in the meaning of sharing instructional leadership tasks with teachers, supported work domain empowerment but did not predict classroom domain teacher empowerment. Taken together, the model show the value of school principals facilitating teachers in decision-making processes paired with showing a strong moral basis in their relationship with teachers.

Research limitations/implications

The study reinforces the importance of moral leadership and distributed leadership as conjoint drivers for teachers’ sense of empowerment. It would be highly valuable to replicate this study in various multi-level settings.

Practical implications

The findings recommend school leaders to put emphasis on facilitative, ethical, and authentic practices in immediate relationships with their teachers.

Originality/value

The study provides empirical evidence regarding the partial relationships between principal leadership practices and teacher empowerment.

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 30 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 26 August 2014

Kjell Brynjulf Hjertø, Jan Merok Paulsen and Saku Petteri Tihveräinen

The purpose of this paper is to seek to investigate Etienne Wenger's theory of social learning in a community of practice by modeling two simultaneous aspects of teachers…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to seek to investigate Etienne Wenger's theory of social learning in a community of practice by modeling two simultaneous aspects of teachers’ collaborative learning: their engagement in close-knit internal groupings and engagement with colleagues that work externally to the core group. These two learning processes are related to two social-cognitive outcomes: teachers’ organizational commitment and their sense of impact.

Design/methodology/approach

The study investigated a field sample of 246 individual teachers from ten Finnish primary schools. Hypotheses were developed and tested by using multiple regression and structural equation modeling.

Findings

The results indicate that local engagement supports teachers’ organizational commitment. However, this form of collaborative learning behavior did not support their sense of impact. Moreover, external engagement with trusted colleagues supported sense of impact but not organizational commitment.

Research limitations/implications

The study reinforces the importance of teachers’ engagement in communities of practice. Specifically, the results suggest two specific social-cognitive outcomes related to two different learning processes situated in teachers’ community of practice. It would be highly valuable to replicate this study in various multi-level settings.

Practical implications

The study highlights teachers’ engagement in communities of practice as a source of their motivational basis and their commitment. Findings recommend school leaders to facilitate internal and external learning communities.

Originality/value

The study provides empirical evidence regarding the partial relationships between teachers’ local and external learning engagement and the social-cognitive outcomes of these forms of learning behaviors.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 52 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

Keywords

Content available

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 28 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

Content available

Abstract

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 57 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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