A Distributed Perspective on Middle Leadership in International Baccalaureate Continuum Schools in Northeast Asia

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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
Professor James Spillane
Dr. Theresa Alviar
Funding Source
International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO)
Project Duration


This research focuses on middle leaders’ interaction with senior leaders, other middle leaders, and informal leaders, and the tools and routines that they employ when engaging in these interactions. Framing the study around DL in IB continuum schools, will result in the identification of leadership practices, the materials, resources and routines that middle leaders use and develop to support their practice, and the impact of contextual factor, such as participation in the IB continuum, that facilitate or impede effective leadership distributions. 

This study aims to 

  1. identify the impact of facilitating and impeding factors on distributive leadership.  This can inform future revisions of IB standards and practices, the IB leadership framework and corresponding professional development in a manner that will enhance leadership capacity. Given the recent thrust of the IB in the leadership arena, research that accounts for the impact of context, including the influence of IB mandates and structures, is essential; 
  2. identify specific middle leadership practices, including tools and routines, that show how middle leaders interact with formal and informal leaders and teachers. An evaluation of these practices and interactions can serve to document exemplars of effective IB leadership practice that can inform professional learning as well as provide examples of practice for use in other IB schools.
  3. develop a line of research on leadership in IB schools. This is sorely lacking in the literature. A distributed perspective permits an improved understanding of how leaders work together and of how context shapes leadership distribution. This research, in particular, will suggest context-relevant strategies that support middle leaders in their work.