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Distributed leadership and the Malaysia Education Blueprint: from prescription to partial school-based enactment in a highly centralised context

Bush, Tony; Ng Yoon Mooi, Ashley

Authors

Ashley Ng Yoon Mooi



Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of the paper is to present and discuss the findings from research on the relationship between leadership theory and policy reform in Malaysia. The research was conducted in two dissimilar Malaysian states.

Research Design
The research was a multiple case-study design, with 14 schools (seven in each state). Within each school, interviews were conducted with principals (secondary schools), headteachers (primary schools), teachers, middle leaders, and senior leaders, to achieve respondent triangulation.

Findings
The findings confirm that the Malaysia Education Blueprint prescribes distributed leadership. Most schools embraced an allocative model, with principals sharing responsibilities with senior leaders in a manner that was indistinguishable from delegation.

Research Implications
A significant implication of the research is that policy prescriptions within major reform initiatives can lead to unintended consequences when applied in different cultural contexts. While distributed leadership is presented as ‘emergent’ in the international literature, it has been adapted for use in this highly centralised context, where structures assume a top-down model of leadership.

Practical Implications
The main practical implication is that principals and head teachers are more likely to enact leadership in ways which are congruent with their cultural backgrounds and assumptions than to embrace policy prescriptions, even in this centralised context.

Originality
The paper is significant in exploring a popular leadership model in an unfamiliar context. It also has wider resonance for other centralised systems which have also shown interest in distributed leadership but have been unwilling to embrace it in the ways assumed in the literature.

Citation

Bush, T., & Ng Yoon Mooi, A. (2019). Distributed leadership and the Malaysia Education Blueprint: from prescription to partial school-based enactment in a highly centralised context. Journal of Educational Administration, 57(3), 279-295. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEA-11-2018-0206

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 28, 2019
Publication Date May 13, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 29, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 1, 2019
Journal Journal of Educational Administration
Print ISSN 0957-8234
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 57
Issue 3
Pages 279-295
DOI https://doi.org/10.1108/JEA-11-2018-0206
Keywords Distributed leadership, Centralisation, Malaysia
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1708719
Publisher URL https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/JEA-11-2018-0206

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