System leadership in Victoria, Australia
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2014 Dr. Sean Casey Butler
System leadership has emerged as a concept in work on educational leadership in recent years but is a concept with little empirical foundation. This research examines system leadership in the context of the jurisdiction of Victoria, Australia. The research finds that system leadership does exist in Victoria, but, significantly, that it does not manifest in ways anticipated in current literature and that school principals do not exhibit system leadership as a result of systemic structures and operations. Three research questions are posed: 1. To what extent is system leadership a feature of the Victorian education system and, if present, how is it manifested? 2. What are the operational relationships between leaders in the system and are these supporting the policy priorities of the DEECD? 3. To what extent is system leadership leading to school improvement? The research draws on interviews with three classes of leader (seven senior managers, thirteen Regional Network Leaders and eighteen principals). Using qualitative methods the research finds that system leadership is a feature of the Victorian education system and that operational relationships between leaders in Victoria support the achievement of DEECD policy priorities. The research finds little evidence of, although great potential for, school improvement resulting from system leadership. The research exposes a new and interconnective leadership role in Victoria operating between the DEECD and schools, the Regional Network Leader, and considers how these roles relate to promoting system leadership, particularly in the context of creating adaptive public policy and environments conducive to successful governance in post-industrial economies. A definition of system leadership is established and tested alongside a review of literature pertinent to the area of study.
Keywordssystem leadership; systems leadership; system thinking; systems thinking; systems; education leadership; cooperation; co-operation; networks; network leadership; public policy; education policy; DEECD; Regional Network Leaders
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