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Taking a Distributed Perspective in Studying School Leadership and Management: Epistemological and Methodological Trade-offs

Abstract

"Taking a distributed perspective has the potential to offer fresh insights into how school leadership and management contributes to the school improvement process. In this paper the authors examine various methodological approaches to studying school leadership and management from a distributed perspective, comparing and contrasting what is learned about school leadership and management from each approach. Exploring these different approaches we identify two dimensions along which to consider the epistemological challenges they raise about measuring how school leadership is distributed across school staff - data source (top down and bottom up) and data focus (the organization as designed or the organization as lived). We also explore whether these approaches capture variation between schools and between activity-types in the distribution of responsibility for leadership work. The primary goal of this paper is to consider different ways of studying how the work of managing and leading schools is distributed among people in schools and the methodological and epistemological tradeoffs involved in this work."

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