Shanghai teachers’ perceptions on distributed leadership: Resource and agency

Meng Tian, Tuomo Virtanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose: Applying the resource–agency duality model of distributed leadership and motivation theories, this study investigated Shanghai teachers’ perceptions on how leadership resources were distributed and how various key actors exercised their agency in leadership work. The study also identified key motivators and demotivators behind the teachers’ motivation to lead.
Design/methodology: This quantitative study collected data from 327 comprehensive and secondary school teachers in Shanghai via an online survey. Chi square test, Spearman’s correlations, and Friedman’s test were conducted to reveal the relationships among variables.
Findings: Two most prominent leadership structures in Shanghai schools had the feature of one power centre. A high power distance between the principal and the teachers was reported in relation to the leadership structures. The distributions of leadership resources and agency corresponded to the school hierarchy. Principal was seen as the most important human resource and the key actor who activated mid-level team leaders’ and teachers’ agency. Teachers’ value as a leadership resource has not been fully recognised and their agency was largely confined to leading students learning.
Value: This study underlined that to promote distributed leadership in Shanghai schools, both organisational resources and the opportunities for teachers to exercise their agency should be present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-829
JournalECNU Review of Education
Issue number4
Early online date17 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


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