Distributed leadership in a Maltese college: the voices of those among whom leadership is distributed in the college and who narrate themselves as leadership 'distributors'

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In this paper, I explore the relationship of democracy to educational leadership; more specifically, to the notion of distributed leadership as it unfolds within policy-mandated multi-site school collaboratives, with particular reference to practices in Malta. Under the policy framework ‘For All Children To Succeed’ introduced in Malta in 2005, Maltese primary and secondary state schools embarked on the process of being organized into networks, legally termed ‘colleges’. I explore leadership distribution among the leaders constituting the college and the subsequent inherent tensions within this educational scenario. The notion of distributed leadership as perceived by the leaders is examined, and especially the leaders’ reception of its presentation in the policy document as the leadership discourse; and its eventual (non-)enactment at both school and college level. A Foucauldian theoretical framework, specifically Foucault’s concepts of power relations, governmentality, discourse, and subjectification, is used to carry out a case study of a Maltese college, collecting data via semi-structured, in-depth interviews, participant observation and documentary analysis. Narrative is both the phenomenon under study and the method of analysis. The policy discourse does not unfold in a participatory democratic manner in practice, resulting in an organizational paradox where leadership enactment in a Maltese college is ‘directed’ from above, rather than ‘distributed’. These findings may be significant for educational practice, policy and theory in terms of the generation of problematization which may lead to further research on this contested topic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-175
JournalInternational Journal of Leadership in Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017

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