An analysis of the leadership and management of dual-culture co-principals in international schools in China

  • Adam Neufield

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


As the number of ‘non-traditional’ international schools in some parts of the world rapidly increases, questions are emerging about the legitimacy of this global subset of schools. At the same time, since these schools operate in locations that arguably call for unique solutions to a variety of local challenges, it seems necessary to consider alternative leadership models for them. One such alternative leadership model is the dual-culture co-principalship, a model currently used in some international schools in China and one that may become more important in the future. The aim of this study, then, was to analyze the leadership and management of dual-culture co-principals in international schools in China. This aim was accomplished through an analysis of their sense-making and decision-making processes using a critical incident method and thematic analysis. Five themes emerged from the thematic analysis, revealing a variety of factors and influences on the sense-making and decision-making processes of dual-culture co-principals. When viewed through one particular institutional theory framework, the emerged themes revealed that dual-culture co-principals face a variety of challenges with respect to securing legitimacy for their international school in China. Several implications resulted from this enquiry, and a number of suggestions for future research have been provided.
Date of Award19 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorChris James (Supervisor) & Tristan Bunnell (Supervisor)


  • dual-culture co-principalship
  • leadership and management
  • culture
  • international school
  • legitimacy
  • institutional theory
  • critical incident method
  • thematic analysis
  • grounded theory

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