Understanding Middle Leadership Conceptualization and Enactment within School Leadership Distributions: A Comparative Study of International and Local International Baccalaureate Schools in Hong Kong

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Principal Investigator
Dr. Darren Bryant
Associate Director and Research Fellow of APCLC,
The Education University of Hong Kong
Professor Allan Walker
Funding Source
Internal Research Grant, HKIEd


Since the 1980s reform efforts round the world have stressed changes inspired by market economic principles and the needs of knowledge economy. These changes have included the decentralization of decision making and administrative authority to school principals, and the promotion of lifelong learning through reforms in the areas of teaching and learning. Such wide-ranging changes have placed increased responsibility on school leaders in directing organizational change and adapting to teaching and learning process. Research has stressed a congruent shift in the enactment of school leadership through the emergence pf distributed leadership as a crucial field of injury, exploring how responsibilities for leadership and management are shared across the organization and with it an assertion that all teachers may be leaders. However, an increased research focus on teacher leadership has resulted in a diminished focus on the role played by middle leaders (MLs) who hold formal positions of authority and shifting formal and informal leadership structures impact on them. Simultaneously, changes in school curricula have created the need for expanded middle leadership responsibilities. The purpose of this study is: 
  1. To analyse how middle leadership in IB DP schools is distributed beyond subject area administration to other leadership domains 
  2. To theorize middle leadership within leadership distributions through examining variations in teacher, middle and senior leaders’ conceptualization of the role and functions of Middle Leadership.
  3. To uncover the skills that Middle Leaders’ require to enact the role expansion indicated in Objective 1.
  4. To examine how Middle Leaders are developed for their roles within and outside their schools and to suggest strategies to support and strengthen their preparation.