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The institutionalization of distributed leadership: A ‘Catch-22’ in English public services

By Graeme Currie, Andy Lockett and Olga Suhomlinova


Full text of this item is not currently available on the LRA. \ud The final published version is available at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0018726709346378, Doi: 10.1177/0018726709346378.Distributed leadership is promoted as being well suited to public service organizations because of their multiple goals, less pronounced managerial authority and presence of powerful professional groups. Drawing on qualitative evidence we analyse the complex process of the institutionalization of distributed leadership in English schools. Our analysis suggests that competing institutional forces simultaneously foster and stymie the adoption of distributed leadership. Consequently, the school principals find themselves in a classic Catch-22 situation, which they resolve by enacting a weak form of distributed leadership. Ironically, the implementation of distributed leadership is the most difficult in the schools located in socially deprived areas, that is, the very context where policy-makers expect distributed leadership to make the most impact. Moving beyond our specific case, we argue that distributed leadership, and leadership more generally, cannot be divorced from its institutional context and that the relative influence of divergent institutional forces depends upon the immediate organizational environment

Topics: distributed leadership, institutional theory, leadership, public services, schools
Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1177/0018726709346378
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/8840
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