An exploration of two female principals' leadership in mainland China
Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to explore two dimensions of leadership practices (i.e. teaching and learning and sources of power) used by two exemplary principals in mainland China against a background of education reform and to identify how broader contextual factors have shaped these two dimensions of their leadership. Design/methodology/approach ‐ An exploratory case study was used that drew upon semi-structured interviews, observations and document analysis. Interviews were conducted with two principals, six teachers from each of the two schools and a superintendent who was the supervisor of the two principals. Findings ‐ The findings reveal that there are some common elements in both of the leaders' practices but also some subtle differences. Both leaders emphasise teaching and learning. One sees herself as curriculum expert; the other delegate teaching responsibilities. While both uses a top down approach, one principal uses an adversarial approach and the other a more facilitative approach. Research limitations/implications ‐ The study used a small sample size. It explored the leaders' practices in the light of broader contextual factors rather than personal factors or gender-based factors Originality/value ‐ Given the limited empirical research conducted on female principals in mainland China, this qualitative study provides insights into two dimensions of leadership used by two exemplary principals and explains their practices in the light of critical contextual factors such as contemporary and traditional Chinese culture and the school's organisational context.
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