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Examining the planning and management of principal succession

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this study is to examine principal succession planning and management by analyzing current practices of handling school leader succession in four Georgia school systems. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Looking through the lens of organizational leadership succession theory, the practices of school systems as they experienced changes in school leadership were examined. Participants included superintendents, assistant superintendents, other central office leaders, and principals. A multiple-case approach was selected with semi-structured interviews providing the major source of data. Findings ‐ Findings suggest the following: there is a difference in the sense of urgency for the planning and management of the succession of principals; the development of aspiring leaders was identified as a critical component of planning and management of succession; mentoring was an essential practice through the succession process; and reliance on collaborative partnerships with outside organizations was highly valued. Practical implications ‐ The implications of the study include a call for further research to determine the differences in leader succession planning and management needs related to the varying contexts. In addition, the study implies that building collaborative partnerships with university preparation programs and other external professional development organizations may assist systems in the planning and management of principal succession. Originality/value ‐ The originality of this study stems from the lack of literature that directly examines the experiences and practices of principal succession. The findings can inform school system leaders of succession planning and management issues and practices that exist in the four systems studied. As leadership becomes more recognized for its impact on student achievement and school performance, it is imperative that succession is managed and planned to ensure sustainability and effectiveness.
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Keywords: Development; Educational administration; Educational planning and administration; Leadership development; Mentors; Succession planning; United States of America

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 16, 2012

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