Retheorising Distributed Leadership through Epistemic Injustice

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Existing distributed leadership theories and models have been dominantly focusing on distributing fiscal, material, and human resources to maximise school performance. The impact of distributed leadership on school effectiveness appears controversial. Critical scholars assert that using distributed leadership to promote trust and democracy is a self-fulfilling prophecy orchestrated by formal leaders. Micropolitics and power abuse can happen in distributed leadership if epistemic injustice is not explicitly addressed. To avoid making distributed leadership a new managerial tool, a re-theorisation is needed to drive distributed leadership towards epistemic reciprocity.
In this conceptual paper, we retheorise distributed leadership through the lens of epistemic injustice. Drawing on three concepts of testimonial, hermeneutical, and systemic injustice, we analysed how school members may be silenced or rejected as knowledge contributors in distributed leadership due to their deflated credibility, the lack of concepts or language, and the systemic discrimination.
Driving distributed leadership towards epistemic justice and reciprocity, we propose three approaches: building trust and self-trust; re-distributing epistemic resources; and reconfiguring relational justice. This paper makes a theoretical contribution by explicating why and how epistemic injustice is done to marginalised individuals and groups in distributed leadership. It also serves as the theoretical foundation for future empirical investigations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Management Administration & Leadership
Publication statusAcceptance date - 18 May 2021

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