A phenomenological investigation into educational leaders' perceptions of themselves, their followers, and their organisational contexts

van der Mescht, H. (1997) A phenomenological investigation into educational leaders' perceptions of themselves, their followers, and their organisational contexts. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.

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Leadership is a richly researched ana widely covered topic, attracting the attention of virtually every discipline within the human sciences. Research which focuses on leadership within an educational context is, however, a relatively recent development. Most of the leadership research conducted in this century has been driven by the needs of industry. Consequently, leadership theories have tended to emphasise the instrumentality, measurability and effectiveness of leadership. Leadership models, intent on being prescriptive and 'learnable', have been inclined to oversimplify the complexity of the leadership phenomenon. Another factor which accounts for these features is the research approach adopted by researchers, which has largely been positivistic. This study is an attempt to investigate the underlying dynamics of educational leadership. It is an in-depth study of five educational leaders' perceptions of themselves as leaders, of the people with whom they interact, and of the organisations within which they work. The study is conducted along the lines suggested by phenomenology, a highly qualitative, anti-positivistic research approach, which encourages the researcher to set aside pre-conceived notions of the phenomenon, and to describe what is found exactly as it presents itself. My findings have highlighted a wide and richly varied range of psychological, emotional and cultural factors which seem to play significant roles in how leaders perceive themselves, others and their environments. Most of these factors have been either entirely ignored or very scantily covered in mainstream leadership literature. Educational leadership emerges as a complex, virtually undefinable phenomenon; new and challenging research approaches and methods have the potential for increasing our understanding of how leaders lead, which in turn will have implications for leadership education and selection.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Educational leadership
Subjects:L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Education > Education
Supervisors:Smith, Clive
ID Code:3795
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:24 Oct 2012 12:04
Last Modified:24 Oct 2012 12:04
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